If you have been watching the Olympics as I have over the past month, you have more than likely heard about McKayla Maroney’s story. But if not, here it is in a nutshell:
After winning a team gold with the US women’s gymnastics team, it was her time to shine in the individual events and her specialty, the vault (for which she was the world champion and overwhelming favorite.) She had the greatest difficulty (and pressure) of all the competitors and with one mis-step she lost out on the gold, winning the silver in the event (which is exceptional in itself since she fell.)
As she was accepting her Silver medal on the podium, she was obviously displeased with her fall and in a moment that was caught on film gave this iconic look included above. In the age of the internet and social sharing, this simple photo (which is a few seconds in real-life) has become an internet sensation. The Tumblr site McKayla is Not Impressed has now compiled thousands of meme with her likeness in different scenarios that are pretty funny making her an internet celebrity of sorts.
With the press in their post-Games interview frenzy, McKayla has been one of the big draws and everyone wants to ask her the same question “what do you think of the image and this new internet trend?”. To this question, she could have gone a number of different directions. Refuse to answer the question. Play the sympathy card. But what she did was great, she embraced it.
In all her interviews, she makes sure to make the face that everybody knows, says she thinks it’s pretty funny and even joins in on the joke on her Instagram page. By doing this and embracing it, she has been able to create something from a branding standpoint that is much bigger than if she just won the gold medal in the first place. One that should be somewhat lasting in our short attention span world.
So what can we learn from McKayla for our employer branding and social recruiting strategies. Here’s a few things I’d take away:
Respond when you can: No matter your organization, there are stories shared and thoughts about you that you cannot control. While many of these thoughts can be done off-line, the ones that are happening online on social media, blogs, forums and message boards are something you should be apprised of.
While not every situation deserves a response (especially malicious ones), I would try to respond to every reasonable criticism, question and story that you receive or find. This should be done in a cordial manner and should be done timely. This also can be essential in responding to candidates questions on the apply and interview process and help create a better candidate experience.
Join the Conversation: While a response is nice, a conversation is really what you are shooting for. Whenever a candidate, employee or observer says something about your organization from a recruiting perspective, it is an opportune moment to engage with them not only on that issue but to deepen the conversation. It really depends on the issue but the more it feels like they are speaking with a real person and less they feel they are speaking with a question responding robot, the more likely they are going to walk away with a positive view.
On top of that, knowing that an issue exists internally presents a great opportunity to start the conversation and elicit opinions from candidates and others on how you can improve upon and make your process or messaging better as well.
Make it an Asset: Just like McKayla, there’s is always the opportunity to take an issue and make it into an asset. Whether that’s problem resolution with a candidate that hasn’t heard back after submitting a resume, an issue that should be resolved in your interview or apply process or recent company news that isn’t all that flattering. The way you handle all these situations can make this an asset or a big black mark on your organization.
While you have control over what you say about your recruitment marketing organization and employment opportunities on your Career Site and social channels, your full employer band is really shaped by others. Become a little more like McKayla Maroney listen to what’s being said and make sure to embrace it and respond, you’ll be in a much better place than if you choose to ignore it.