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Key takeaways:

  • Authentic Candidate Engagement: Madigan Cochran and her team at Capital One transformed the social media strategy to engage with candidates authentically, leveraging user-generated content and dynamic storytelling to showcase the unique employee experience.
  • Data-Driven Iteration: By experimenting with different content types and themes based on candidate feedback and engagement data, Madigan’s team refined their approach, leading to increased engagement and follower growth, particularly on Instagram.
  • Future Focus on Instagram Stories: Looking ahead, Capital One plans to leverage Instagram Stories to further enhance their talent brand storytelling, recognizing the platform’s potential to connect with potential candidates in a more immersive and engaging manner.

Since joining the team in August, Capital One Social Media Strategist Madigan Cochran and her team have been transforming Capital One’s social strategy by thoughtfully engaging with candidates to strengthen their pipeline of passive talent.

“We want people to be able to walk away with an accurate and authentic understanding of the Capital One associate experience,” explained Madigan.

Partnering with their in-house creative team, Madigan and team worked to rethink their approach to social messaging and how they could create more engaging content that would help keep Capital One top of mind for candidates who may not be actively searching, but could be open to a potential role change.

Madigan kicked off this process with a creative brainstorming session, leveraging design thinking to ensure that the messaging met candidates’ needs.

“Using our associate population as our own internal experts, we explored the key aspects of our culture that make that Capital One experience unique,” said Madigan.

Then, they took those ideas and turned them into quarterly themes for their content calendar. In the first quarter, they started with a campaign called “Find Your Fit.”

“We wanted to explore the idea that candidates don’t want to just know that you have a great workplace, they want to know why your workplace would be great for them,” explained Madigan. “Through our associate stories, we’ll showcase the countless career paths and opportunities available at Capital One.”

Madigan’s goal with these themes was to make Capital One’s talent marketing messaging more inclusive in an effort to bring people into the conversation.

For Madigan and her team, the goal is to be able to use this more inclusive strategy to better attract passive candidates.

“Timing is so important in the job search process. You can’t always rely on identifying candidates who are actively looking, so you want your content to be memorable enough to ensure you are top of mind when they decide they’re ready to start looking,” said Madigan. “That’s where I see our strategy really working — we want to make sure people know why it’s great to work here so that when they are ready to apply for a job, we’re at the top of their list.”

After getting leadership buy-in and mapping out the direction for their first quarterly theme, Madigan said they are ready to hit the ground running in Q1 of 2019.

“I’ve already been experimenting to see what does well and what doesn’t. Now, I am using those learnings to see what we’re already doing well, and what we could do better to drive engagement and click-throughs,” explained Madigan. “Starting in January, we’re excited to build on that knowledge and incorporate it into this bigger, quarter-long strategy that leverages a consistent thematic and message.”

She said they initially focused on how their user-generated content compared to the content that their creative teams produced. “What people are really responding to are the photos that feel authentic to the channel, often times mirroring what they see their friends and family posting.”

Since implementing Madigan’s more inclusive strategy, Capital One has seen a jump in engagement and followers on Instagram.

“Once we found that tactic resonated more with people and started running more content in that same vein, we saw an immediate growth in the number of followers and clicks on our social channels,” said Madigan.

Another big change they incorporated on their channels was increasing the use of dynamic content. She and her team have transitioned into using more gifs and videos in their content strategy to show a more dynamic depiction of Life at Capital One and the types of roles available.

Through trial and error, they’ve learned a lot about how her team can provide content that resonates with their audiences — and it’s not always the content they’d expect.

“In social marketing, you have to put the wants of your audience first, and in order to do that, you need to find out what they’re interested in and responding to,” she said. “You have to be really conscious and examine the data to make sure you are hitting the right messaging points. Something might be an engagement post, but it should drive click-throughs and keep people interested in your future content as well,” said Madigan.

She shared that they saw an increase in applications as a result of content using associate photos and copy about recent promotions, which was surprising.

“I didn’t think it would do as well as it did,” she explained. “And it blew everything out of the water that month. The more you overwork things in social, sometimes, the less it resonates with the audience.”

She said those learnings are something you have to take to heart as a strategist — and something to make sure you drive home with your creative team, too.

One of the things Madigan’s team is most excited about in 2019 is launching Instagram Stories.

While they already active on Instagram, they haven’t delved into the Stories function yet, which Madigan anticipates being a terrific opportunity for Capital One to tell their talent brand story to potential candidates in an even more engaging way.

“Instagram Stories are fantastic because they pop up at the top of the app, and there is no differentiation between business accounts and personal accounts,” explained Madigan.

As they move into the next phase of the project in the new year, they’re hoping Instagram Stories will afford her team the opportunity to connect more deeply with potential candidates through that channel.

“We’re excited to have the ability to draw them in with a more complete story and to have the opportunity for an even greater audience to engage with us through the Stories functionality,” said Madigan. “It’s easier to tell potential candidates a full story there than through a traditional Instagram post.”

For anyone interested in using social media to create passive candidate pipelines, Madigan said you sometimes just need to take the leap.

“It’s important to partner closely with your risk and legal teams to get additional perspectives around conversations that might seem tricky or difficult,” she said. “It’s worth it to be as authentic and real as possible.”

She also advised being flexible and not being scared to experiment with the content you’re putting out to find what works best for your candidate segment.

“In the digital space, what works right now might not work in six months,” said Madigan. “You have to always be open to trying new things and never get so stuck in your ways of thinking that you’re throwing out or dismissing new ideas. I think that’s been one of the things that’s really helped me move forward in my career. Audiences surprise you, so make sure that you’re always experimenting.”

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