TripAdvisor’s 10-step process for building an employer brand

A group of people working around a large desk

8 mins, 19 secs read time


Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno is Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse, where she gets to share her love of the written word and endorse the use of the Oxford comma on a daily basis. Before joining Greenhouse, Melissa built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.

When you wake up in the morning, what motivates you to get up out of bed and go to work? Maybe it’s a project that you’re particularly passionate about, a coworker who always has a fun story or a smile to share, or, let’s be honest, sometimes it’s the promise of an endless supply of snacks.

But you know what’s funny? If you asked a handful of coworkers what they love most about their jobs, you’d get a grab-bag of different answers. Not everyone is motivated or inspired by the same things.

This makes things interesting when it comes to understanding and communicating your employer brand. There’s no single way to define your company or the work people are doing there.

Lori Russo, TripAdvisor’s Head of Global Talent Acquisition, and Employer Branding & Sourcing Strategist Stacy Zapar don’t see this as a challenge, though. When you allow employees to share their authentic voices and stories, you create an employer brand that’s relatable and honest. But this type of branding doesn’t happen overnight: Lori and Stacy used a 10-step process to define and build TripAdvisor’s Employer Brand.

Want to learn the 10 steps that the Talent Acquisition team at TripAdvisor followed to build their employer brand and get some ideas for how you can put these strategies in place? Read on!

Step 1: Dig for great content

The first step in building their employer brand was the process of learning about TripAdvisor employees—what did they love about their jobs? Which projects were they working on? How did they decorate their work spaces?

Beyond discovering how to define the company culture, this process allowed Lori and Stacy to determine if there was any existing content the employees were creating themselves. Was anyone already writing about their work in a blog or posting photos of the office on Instagram?

Spending time learning about employees and what they were already creating served two purposes: It helped Lori and Stacy define what TripAdvisor’s brand was all about and it also formed the basis of the campaigns that they went on to create during later stages of the employer brand rollout.

Step 2: Build an employer brand roadmap

There’s a lot to tackle when it comes to employer brand, and you can get lost in the tactics if you just start executing without first giving your strategy some serious thought.

Stacy suggests that you think about each phase and build an employer brand roadmap. The TripAdvisor team first planned out their overall strategy and devised their social platform rollout (which we’ll cover more in the next few steps). Then they began to think about more granular things like how often to post. So, the point here is not to get ahead of yourself. Take one step at a time.

Step 3: What’s in a name? Create a brand

The TripAdvisor Talent Acquisition team had been using @TripAdvisorJobs as their Twitter handle, and they had been using Twitter mainly as a place to push out job openings. But as they considered their employer brand, they realized that @TripAdvisorJobs was not the best reflection of who they were or who they aspired to be as a brand.

Their goal was to create a name that could be consistently used across all social platforms. Because TripAdvisor is consumer-facing, they also wanted to choose something that would resonate with their consumer brand.

In the end, the Talent Acquisition team settled on the name @GoTripAdvisor. They liked the fact that there were a few different ways of interpreting it—when you go on a trip, you “Go (with) TripAdvisor,” or you might proclaim your support like a cheerleader with an enthusiastic “Go, TripAdvisor!”

Step 4: Choose a hashtag that reinforces the brand

Hashtags are a huge part of many social media platforms (especially Twitter and Instagram), so Lori and Stacy wanted to choose a hashtag that would align with and reinforce TripAdvisor’s employer brand.

The TripAdvisor team decided to use the hashtag #GoTripAdvisor (the same as their Twitter handle) to saturate the market. This made it very clear that “Go TripAdvisor” was their employer brand.

Step 5: Establish pillars of content

Stacy and Lori didn’t want to simply continue posting job openings to TripAdvisor’s social channels—they wanted to take a more well-rounded and thoughtful approach to what they were sharing.

Their approach was to generate several “pillars of content” or buckets of things to talk about. Each pillar would help drive home what TripAdvisor is all about and also address some recruiting and employer brand challenges.

Here are the pillars they opted to include:

1. Life at TripAdvisor
Little snippets and snapshots of life and the work people were doing

2. Work it
Career advice and job search tips that were useful to job-seekers in general

3. Love travel
Vacations and feel-good, travel-related material

4. Locations
Local insights and events about Boston (the company’s HQ) and other office locations

Step 6: Train all recruiters on social media

During this step, Lori and Stacy offered social media training to every recruiter on the Talent Acquisition team. Only a handful of recruiters had personal Twitter handles when this initiative began, so part of the training was coaching recruiters through setting up a Twitter handle and learning how to navigate the platform. This training helped ensure that everyone was aligned with how to engage and reinforce the “Go TripAdvisor” brand through their personal social channels.

Stacy also believes in the power of the “social media mullet.” You want your social media presence to be mostly professional, with a little bit of personality thrown in as well. Just as Stacy and Lori didn’t want the @GoTripAdvisor accounts to be nothing but job openings, they didn’t want recruiters to constantly push TripAdvisor content and nothing else. They encouraged recruiters to showcase their own personalities and interests as well as content from the TripAdvisor Talent Acquisition team.

Step 7: Establish goals and benchmarks

The next step was to set goals and benchmarks for the Talent Acquisition team. Recruiters were assigned specific goals, e.g. they were each responsible for tweeting at least five times a day from their personal accounts. Social media and employer brand-related activities were tied to each recruiter’s key performance indicators (KPIs), and the Talent Acquisition team also ran contests to encourage recruiter participation. Setting goals and benchmarks gave recruiters concrete guidelines on how they were expected to contribute and made it clear that social media and employer branding initiatives relied on everyone’s frequent participation.

Step 8: Develop a content curation strategy

Stacy likens content curation to “storing your acorns for the winter.” It basically means that you look around online and find things created by other people that you think would also appeal to your audience. If you recall the pillars of content at TripAdvisor, three out of four were not actually directly linked to TripAdvisor. The pillars of “Work it,” “Love travel,” and “Locations” would all be perfect for making use of curated content because there are a number of people who aren’t affiliated with TripAdvisor who are creating great content on those topics.

At TripAdvisor, they opted to use Pinterest as their content curation tool. The platform is free and intuitive to use, and it’s also public-facing, so anyone outside TripAdvisor could opt to follow the GoTripAdvisor Pinterest board if they so desired, which reinforces the GoTripAdvisor brand through yet another platform.

Step 9: “TweetAdvisor of the Week” rotation plan

Instead of asking one person to bear all the responsibility of managing the @GoTripAdvisor Twitter account, Lori divided the responsibilities amongst all 25 recruiters on the Talent Acquisition team. Each week, one recruiter would take over the @GoTripAdvisor account and become the “TweetAdvisor.” TweetAdvisor responsibilities include scheduling all the outgoing tweets and responding to any mentions or direct messages that come in. The rotation plan had two main benefits: first, it meant that no single recruiter had to dedicate all their time to social media, so everyone was still able to carry out their regular recruiting tasks. Second, it meant that the @GoTripAdvisor handle always had a personal touch. This wasn’t some impersonal, corporate account, but a dynamic representation of the company’s culture and employer brand.

Step 10: Weekly content calendar schedule

The TweetAdvisors are encouraged to schedule all the social posts at the beginning of the week so that they can spend the majority of their time during the week focusing on engagement with followers and fans (who may also be candidates or customers), such as responding to mentions or direct messages. Stacy and Lori estimate that recruiters spend about an hour queuing up content on Friday or Sunday and then dedicate about 15 minutes to social media engagement each weekday. Creating a schedule like this ensures that someone is always monitoring what’s going on in social channels and helps create a consistent experience for followers and fans.

Ultimately, employer branding is about encouraging employees to share their authentic stories. Follow this ten-step process to uncover and communicate all those great stories that are taking place within your company!

This blog post was based on a presentation given by Lori Russo and Stacy Zapar at the Greenhouse Summit in 2015.