Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What employers can learn from Twilight

Not since Harry Potter have I seen such obsessed fans. The buzz started several months ago in anticipation. And November 20th is almost here.

Don't know what happens on November 20th? Ask your daughter. Or granddaughter. Or, heck, pretty much any woman between the age of 16 and 30. That's the day that New Moon, the second installment in the wildly popular Twilight series, hits theaters. Why should employers care about this, other than anticipating that certain staff members will be out of the office that day? Read on.

Like Harry Potter, the Twilight books (written by Stephenie Meyer) are enormously popular, and the movies are too. Also like Harry Potter, fans range the demographic spectrum, although the most rapid fans seem to be women (not surprising given the protagonist and the love triangle she's in the middle of).

Most employers would kill to have the kind of brand devotion that Twilight fans have. If Twilight was an employer, they would be competing with Google for top talent. So what can we learn from this phenomenon that can help us with branding our organization?

1. People like good stories. Twilight was a phenomenon way before Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner (the male lead actors). Whether you're in banking, IT, public utilities, or a flower shop, you have stories to tell about how your organization has impacted others--or how your employees have impacted each other. Are you telling these stories, or letting stories be told about you?

2. People still read. Related to #1, the Twilight phenomenon, like Harry Potter, began with the books. There's a lot of hype about video these days, but given something interesting, people have no problem spending time reading it. What does your recruitment material look like--is it entertaining? Educational? Would you read it even if you weren't interested in a job there?

3. People like fantasy. There's an awful lot of reality out there right now--the recession, H1N1, wars--and people like to take a mental break. Don't be afraid to break out of the mold and try telling a story that takes people away from their day-to-day lives.

4. People like contests and "sides". One of the biggest, possibly the biggest, dramas within the world of Twilight is the competition between the two main lead male characters. Fans identify themselves as being on "Team Edward" or "Team Jacob". This isn't something you see employers do very often, and it requires a bit of built-in loyalty, but it's something that can engage fans even more.

5. People like being fans. There's something primal about being part of a group of people who share the same interest. If you give people something to be a fan of, they'll enjoy connecting with others who share their passion. This is what the Facebook fan pages are all about. Google has 300k+ Facebook fans. Twilight has over 4 million.

6. You can brand almost anything. Branding is about more than your website, or your recruitment fliers. It can become part of everything your organization does, if it's strong enough. And it's more than just a logo, it's about the organization's philosophy and accomplishments. Look around and you can probably see Twilight branded on almost everything. I'm surprised they don't have Twilight adhesive bandages. Oh wait, they do.

As November 20th approaches, be prepared for a media onslaught about Twilight. Whether you're a fan or not, use it as an opportunity to think about how your organization could garner that kind of excitement. After all, that's what leads high potentials to want to apply.

No comments: