It makes sense, then, that higher employee engagement levels are going to result in workers being more motivated and productive, and also more likely to speak positively about your brand in the outside world.

Ultimately it leads to a better company culture, although improving company culture in the first place can lead to higher levels of employee engagement.

In this post I’m going focus on how L’Oréal used social media to create a sense of community within the business, not only increasing engagement internally but also creating an attractive employer brand externally.

If you want to learn loads more about how businesses can use social media to enhance their brand, get your ticket for our Festival of Marketing in November and come check out the Social stage.

Employees are your best brand spokespeople

L’Oréal traditionally used employee testimonials in a bid to attract new talent, but it found this approach wasn’t working well enough.

A Nielsen study found that while consumer trust in brands is falling, in friends and family it is stronger than ever.

This was the basis for L’Oréal’s strategy: The idea that people would trust their peers on social media when it came to L’Oréal being a great place to work.

“People are already talking about you everyday,” says Onish. “If you go through social media you’ll see people tweeting about a successful meeting or posting on Instagram while they’re still at the office.

“We wanted to encourage that and get people to spread the message about their careers with the outside world.”

Using hashtags to create a community

L’Oréal created two hashtags to get people talking about their working lives on Instagram.

#LifeatLoreal was initially designed as a way for corporate comms to find out what was going on in the various offices across the US: What the fun events were, what the culture was like, and so on.

What L’Oréal didn’t realise was how much exposure this would have outside of the business.

“Suddenly we saw an opportunity,” says Onish.

A big campaign went out encouraging more employees to share their experiences, with prizes such as iPads and GoPros on offer and the chance to be featured on L’Oréal’s social channels.

#lifeatloreal social media campaign

#lifeatloreal social media campaign for employee engagement

The second hashtag, #LorealCommunity, was all about getting people to share how they interact socially with colleagues both inside and outside of work.

#lorealcommunity social media campaign for employee engagement loreal

#lorealcommunity social media campaign for employee engagement loreal

“It’s a way to get people to start showing they have groups of friends outside of work who are also colleagues,” Onish says. “People can see what our culture is like and they know what to expect from working here.

“When people comment externally like that they are contributing to the success of the company as a whole.”

The results of the hashtag campaigns? An increase of 200,000 unique impressions on Instagram.

“We’re reaching people we haven’t been able to reach before,” says Onish. “This allows us to connect with people who need to be convinced in a softer way about having a career at L’Oreal. “

Why a proper social media policy is important

Onish believes the key to success in this area is to have a proper social media policy in place.

The problem is that many brands think of a social media policy as a dry, unfriendly document that should sternly lay down the social media law.  But Onish says that is the wrong approach.

“Social media policy is not about blocking Facebook at work,” he says. “It’s about telling people what is important on social media, and why, and putting the tools and tactics in place to help them use it in the right way.

“Don’t just say what they can’t share. Instead, define the things you do want them to share and show them the official and safe way to do it.”

The end result of all this, according to Onish, is the ability to make L’Oréal’s culture stand out and create a stronger brand message.

“Happiness starts at home,” he says. “Before you start looking at external campaigns, see what you can do internally to amplify your brand voice.”