Gangnam Style going viral and your Recruitment Content

In today’s hyper connected world, it’s incredibly interesting how an unknown quantity can become an internet sensation in a short amount of time.  Just ask Korean rapper PSY.

Although he has been relatively successful artist in Korea for the last 11 years, you would be hard-pressed to find someone in the US that knew his name.  But now with his music video and song “Gangnam Style” (you probably want headphones if you click the link) that number is growing by the day.

The video is outrageous, has a funny dance and the song is surprisingly catchy and has led to the video seeing over 200 million views on YouTube.  Due to this internet success, PSY himself has now appeared on SNL, Good Morning America and other media outlets across the U.S.  And while this may be just his 15 minutes of fame, PSY is trying to make the most of his internet popularity and enjoying every moment of it.  What this viral craze does for his career is anyone’s guess, however.

The real point of looking at this example is to look at what made this song and video hit the level of popularity that it did.  PSY has been making funny and ridiculous videos for years now so it’s important to try and understand why this one was singled out.

What lessons can we learn from PSY from a recruiting content perspective and in what ways can we make our content more compelling and viral to our target audiences.

Focus less on Viral and more on your audience

Nearly every media outlet asks PSY about his newfound internet popularity and if he ever thought that Gangnam Style would ever be this big of a hit.  To this, he always responds no.  He tried to create a fun video and song that would be popular in Korea and thought the song would be received well but not in his wildest dreams did he think that this would be this big and popular across the world.

In this way, he meant to cater to his audience and created something that was compelling to a much wider group.  It wasn’t his intention to cater to this group but due to the unique content he produced he was able to broaden his appeal.  The fact is he didn’t do much different from what he was doing before.  He didn’t change his focus or switch his target audience but just continued to produce his music and videos.  It just happened that this particular song hit it big with the internet audience.

The key I think that we can pull from this is that it isn’t about working really hard on one piece of content to optimize for being viral to the wider audience but to focus on consistently creating new and relevant content for your audience and see what pops.  Try different mediums (blogs, videos, podcasts, etc.) and use recruitment metrics to understand what types of content and ideas really resonate with the audience you are trying to recruit.  Then try to replicate and produce similar content to this in order to continue improving your content creation process.

For recruiting content, it’s becoming more and more important to evaluate content based on outcomes.  How good was the content at converting qualified candidates?  How many new candidates did it bring to the Career Site?  Depending on the type of content, the goals and expectations associated with it will change.  But the fact is, many times you will never know what content you produce will really resonate with your audience and what won’t.


Improving the viral nature of your content

While having a viral video or blog article can be great exposure for your organization, the real measure of success for any piece of content you create is it’s ability to resonate with your target audience.  Reaching 200 million views is great but if it’s the wrong audience the campaign wasn’t all that much help.

When creating content for your candidate populations, you can focus on a number of different areas in terms of making your content more compelling, shareable and overall more viral to that audience.  Here are a few to start with:

Be Relevant:  As content readers, we as a population are becoming less interested in the macro and more interested in targeted and relevant content that fits our interests.  As a content creator, this means that we need to go deeper into how we target our messaging and content to our different target populations.  This may mean less “Why work at ABC company?” and more “Why should Engineers work at ABC company?”  The more you can create content that is interesting and relevant to specific candidates the more results you should see from these campaigns.

Focus on Tone: While this will vary based on the organization (and how stringent the compliance issues are), you should really focus on finding the right tone of your content.  From being fun and playful to being more formal and educational, depending on the content you are trying to produce you need to find the right balance in terms of your tone.  Let your tone reflect your organizational culture and give a look in to what it will be like to work at your organization.  This can be a great way to filter out candidates especially if you are a vibrant and unique culture that is not for everyone.

Be Consistent:  Basically, this is all about providing content on a regular basis and having ways for candidates to find out about new content easily.  Whether it’s through an RSS feed, Talent Network email campaigns or your social feeds, you should have a way for candidates to opt-in to hear about new content.  And then you need to ensure that you fill those feeds with relevant and fun content that appeals to your target audience.

Try Different Media Types: Different media types can be great at achieving different goals.  Video can be very good at communicating simple messages and selling candidates on your company (as well as put a face to your organization.)  Blog articles can be a great way to produce daily content and educate candidates.  Audio such as podcasts can be a great way to exhibit thought leadership in your space and go deeper into the messaging and content you want to provide.  Depending on the goals you want to accomplish, different media types can have different affects on your strategy.

Rinse, Measure, Repeat:  With all the content you are creating, it is extremely important to measure the effectiveness of all the recruitment marketing content you produce.  Try to gain insight into what works and determine why it was successful.  Then use this information to create better targeted and more successful content in the future.

The best you can do is to try different content types, tones and styles and see what sticks with your audience.  And produce a lot of it so you have the data points to see what makes an impact on your overall conversions.

Focus on Making Lasting Content

When creating recruiting content, it’s important to focus on content that is relevant to the targeted candidate populations you are marketing to as well as ensure that the content you produce remains relevant and useful to these candidates.

Creating a funny viral video or blog post will last your organization a few weeks at most in terms of usefulness but a series of blog posts and videos about your company culture and employees can be a lasting resource to candidates trying to figure out if they want to work for your organization.  Because in the end, viral isn’t your goal, conversion is!

Views: 352

Comment by Aaron on September 19, 2012 at 10:21am

Hi Chris, 

I like what you have to say, do you have some examples of recruitment content that matches your criteria/suggestions? 


Comment by Jerry Albright on September 19, 2012 at 11:00am

I'm with Aaron - though I might be even a bit more cynical in my thought on this.

Viral recruiting content?  What???? No way.  I would LOVE to see an example of this.  Thinking that the general population is going to go crazy over some Youtube video involving your employement brand - or opening - or whatever "content" you're pushing is just ridiculous.

Comment by Chris Brablc on September 19, 2012 at 11:12am

Thanks for the comments, Aaron and Jerry!

Jerry - I'm with you on this point.  Viral and recruiting content is probably not going to happen and a focus on that is probably a wasted effort.  My main point is that you need to focus on creating content for your audience and the candidates you are targeting.  And then measure how effective this content is for getting these qualified candidates through the door.  That's really what's important when you are creating content, not how many views your videos or blogs get.

Aaron - I think there are a number of companies that are doing good things from a recruitment content perspective from Sodexo (with their blog) to PepsiCo (their employment videos) to Davita (in tracking everything).

Comment by Aaron on September 19, 2012 at 11:26am

Hi Chris, 

I am not being cynical I am really interested to see some examples. I see a lot of companies create great content for their brands online but when it comes to hiring they can fall short - great execution on FB, Twitter et al but their blog or careers page is like something from the 90's. Plus, even when companies do focus on FB, Twitter et al in an attempt to go social is that the most relevant audience. Hiring professionals must collaborate with marketing to bring their employer brand to life in the way you have described. And who knows we may see a viral Recruitment campaign - the tools are available to do it! 

Comment by Chris Brablc on September 19, 2012 at 12:34pm

Great comment, Aaron!  I agree with you with most of it and I think companies are beginning to step in the right direction with their Career Sites and working with marketing to merge their employment brand with their marketing brand.

I think the main problem right now is that many organizations built out their Career Sites with old technology (typically using ATS offerings).  These solutions provide a lot less flexibility than the more robust solutions that are in the marketplace.  So in many cases they are unable to take advantage of more progressive employer branding and Career Site campaigns that they want to do.

I would say that we'll be seeing more and more examples of integrated branding campaigns for recruitment that show positive results for companies in the near future.

Comment by Martin O'Shea on September 20, 2012 at 11:57pm

Great article and comments! 
But I'm really uncertain about whether it would be successful as I think the fundamentals are always going to be there in terms of having an actual conversation with some. However I can see it being very useful for certain individuals as a lot of the time people will be looking to see what type of environment they will be working in, the culture within the office and possibly seeing the types of people working there may encourage them to join. Has a job spec can only tell/show  you so much compared to other means (videos,pictures etc). 


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