Social Walls for Employer Branding

“It Helped Us Increase Awareness and Let People Perceive Us as a Creative Employer — Somebody Who Is Open to New Ideas and Tries to Go With the Times.”

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Three people with emoji props taking a selfie in front of the social wall at the Netzsch booth.

NETZSCH Pumps & Systems is an excellent example for how to use social walls for employer branding. The company integrated a social media wall into their booth at an education fair focusing on traineeships.

To entice future applicants, NETZSCH combined Instagram content produced by existing trainees with targeted Native Posts. They also set up a contest visitors could participate in using the Direct Posts feature right there at the booth.

We talked to Veronika Beck, Head of Global Marketing at NETZSCH, to find out more. Veronika shares how her marketing team implemented the social wall on rather short notice and how the company is using social media to support HR efforts to get more applications. (And if the name seems familiar to you, you might remember Veronika from when she worked in the marketing department a few years ago. 😉)

Veronika Beck

Veronika Beck

Head of Global Marketing, NETZSCH Pumps & Systems

Could you tell us about NETZSCH and how you use social media in your communication strategy?

I work for NETZSCH Pumps & Systems. It’s a global company based in Waldkraiburg in Germany. We have a lot of sales offices and production sites around the world and, in total, around 2,000 employees. Most of them are located either here in Germany or in Brazil. This is a family-owned company with a very long history and has been growing substantially for the last couple of decades. 

NETZSCH Pumps & Systems started integrating social media into their marketing in 2019. But there wasn’t a clearly defined strategy in place yet. In April 2020, when a new colleague with a strong focus on social media marketing started working here, social media became more relevant. They started doing reports on it, trying to figure out when and what to post, building awareness, especially globally. But they were still holding back a little.

In the beginning, everyone was doing something worldwide, but it wasn’t a coordinated effort yet. There was no corporate social media strategy. So they spent a lot of time getting everybody on the same level. And we’re still struggling with that from time to time, but we’ve come a long way.

When I started working for NETZSCH, we took the next step. We moved forward in our strategy and began to address people more directly. We started focusing more on their advantages, speaking less about the product and showing more about our company, what we are doing, the people who work here, etc. 

We now create a lot of content related to our brand and HR that we didn’t produce before. We’re also documenting small things on social media now; for example, events for our trainees or that we’re expanding our existing production site.

Screenshot of a tweet by Netzsch Pumps & Systems about the sustainability of their new campus construction. The included photo shows project manager Jakob Bartinger with the quote “We can operate the entire new building without using fossil fuels.”
Source: Twitter

And we noticed that people are interested in seeing a little more of what happens behind the scenes and that we’re concerned about our environmental responsibility, for example, with the new office site we’re building.

We’re still balancing how much product content to show and how much brand content. We’re growing our following and engagement but also trying to get people from social media to our website and, in the best case, getting them to submit a form and create a real lead. So we started reporting on how many impressions we have, how many of those impressions make it to our website, and how many of those then actually submit a form.

So what would you say is the main target group for your social media accounts?

Mostly it’s our customers, the people who should buy our products. But, of course, it would be naive not to use social media for HR as well. This is where it gets a little bit complicated at the moment because the marketing department isn’t responsible for HR marketing, but we are responsible for social media.

So we just started to create some HR content on our website by writing some blog posts about what we are doing, our benefits, why you should work here and why it’s a great work environment. And we’re doing HR posts on social media once or twice a month.

Screenshot of a tweet by Netzsch Pumps & Systems showing a cute fluffy dog wearing a Netzsch bandana; the caption references “the flexible working model” that “allows employees to balance their private and professional lives so that caring for a pet is not a problem.”
Source: Twitter

We all know that people check social media before they apply somewhere. I think the statistic I once researched showed that over 80% of applicants check social channels before applying. So not using social media in that context would be a waste of potential. 

Our trainees are an essential group for us here at NETZSCH Pumps & Systems because many of our employees started as trainees and then stayed on. Many employees have been working here for 25 years or more, having started as trainees.

Screenshot of a tweet by Netzsch Pumps & Systems introducing Julia, one of the trainees. The photos included show Julia with some boxes, smiling at the camera, and working on a laptop.
Source: Twitter

But in the last couple of years, HR noticed a drop-off of people applying. The quality of applications is also dropping, so we wanted to do more to address potential trainees directly.

So that’s where the social wall comes into it?

We had a big trade show coming up that focuses on trainees, so I had the idea to use a social media wall because young people love social media. Our trainees also have their own Instagram account that they take care of by themselves.

I wanted to give them the opportunity to show their Instagram, show the content they’re creating, and also make it clear that when you start working for NETZSCH as a trainee, you have so many possibilities. You can be creative and have your own projects.

And then we figured we could also use it for a giveaway. So we gave away some AirPods!

Screenshot of a tweet by Netzsch Pumps & Systems where they promote the booth at the fair, the social wall and the contest with the Apple AirPods as a prize.
Source: Twitter

To participate, people had to come to the booth, take a picture with the Direct Post feature that offers, and upload it to the social wall. We also prepared some props, some emoji on sticks, for them to use.

Three people with emoji props taking a selfie in front of the social wall at the Netzsch booth.
© NETZSCH Pumps & Systems

It was a little tricky because most of the people at the trade show were under 18. So we checked with a lawyer and ended up having to get each participant to sign an additional agreement that it’s okay for the photos to be shown on the social wall. So we asked for their contact details to notify the winner and, at the same time, asked them to sign the agreement.

How was the response you got? Did you see a lot of participation?

Yeah, especially on the first day, on Friday, because the young people were there without their parents. It was a lot of fun, and they really enjoyed the social wall. On Saturday, most of the young people attending were with their parents, and we noticed they were holding back a little more.

But yeah, the feedback was great. We also used other features of the social wall, such as Sponsored Posts. We had some special videos prepared that highlighted our various traineeships, which allowed us to showcase the different positions that we’re offering much better. The videos had already been produced before and were shown at the local cinema here. We just added some subtitles for the social wall. And everybody really enjoyed those videos.

GIF of the screen at the Netzsch booth showing the social wall with a promotional video running in the middle.
© NETZSCH Pumps & Systems

It’s just nice because we had something on the wall that was moving all the time, showing new content, our faces, and our Instagram content.

So your content mix came from the trainee Instagram account, the Direct Posts and the Sponsored Posts, which you used to add additional content. Am I missing something?

Exactly. And then, of course, we also had some Sponsored Posts explaining how to participate in our giveaway. We also added some calls to action. with a few “if you’re interested in NETZSCH, check out our website and apply here” kind of posts.

Screenshot of the Netzsch social wall showing various photos people have taken with the Direct Posts feature at the booth and a post uploaded by Netzsch that promotes an open position.
© NETZSCH Pumps & Systems

So, about that trainee Instagram account: How do you go about guiding them?

Not all of our trainees are part of the Instagram group; only those specifically interested in it. And there is always somebody from HR and marketing available to help them. We set some ground rules, defining what’s okay to post and what isn’t. But aside from that, they come up with the content. They are the ones who decide if they want to post an image, a story, or a video, and they do it all on their own.

We help a little bit here and there, and they meet up once a week and discuss the topics that are coming up that they want to share. Sometimes they also have to check back for security reasons — things like whether everyone is wearing a helmet, for example — just to be on the safe side.

Instagram post by the Netzsch trainees’ Instagram account showing a bunch of people wearing hard hats posing with heavy equipment.
Source: Instagram

Overall, were you happy with the content you got from people? Or would you do something differently next time you’re running a social wall with Direct Posts and a contest?

Next time, I would like to have the screen be more prominent. We spontaneously decided to use a social wall only two weeks before the trade show. So the concept of the booth was already fixed. I knew there would be a screen, and there was a discussion about what we should show on the screen. And I was like, “hey, let’s use it for a social wall.”

So, next time, I would set it up more prominently because this time, it was more at the back and to the side, and I would position it more at the front to get more attention.

Did you have the social wall embedded on the website?

For HR, it’s a little bit more complicated because we share our career website with other business units. We have a holding company, and beneath it we have three legal entities that are separate from each other. One is Pumps & Systems, but there are also two other companies. And we don’t have a lot in common, but we still share the career portal.

And that, of course, makes it difficult to embed a social wall that only shows content from Pumps & Systems. So if we had embedded that, we would have needed to integrate the content of the other companies as well. And we just didn’t have enough time for that.

What has the social wall helped you achieve at this particular event?

We wanted it to get more people to the booth. But I think, at the end of the day, it helped us increase awareness and let people perceive us as a creative employer — somebody who is open to new ideas and tries to go with the times.

Screenshot of the Netzsch social wall showing various photos people have taken with the Direct Posts feature at the booth. In the middle of the wall there’s a selfie of some people wearing Netzsch-branded shirts and smiling happily at the camera.
© NETZSCH Pumps & Systems

Do you feel this helped other departments in the company get into social media and social walls a bit more?

Definitely. Especially those working in production liked the social wall a lot. People in production usually don’t have a lot of touch points with social media, and they enjoyed it a lot when they came to the fair.

HR liked it as well. It took a while to explain how a social wall works, its possibilities, and what we can do with it. But when they understood it, they liked the idea and wanted to try it. Also, to be honest, it’s not like you’re spending thousands and thousands of Euros on something where you don’t know what you will get out of it. So one of my arguments was: if it fails, it’s only 200 Euros.

I loved that it was super easy to set up the wall. I convinced HR to use it but then left on vacation, and I basically left one of my colleagues in charge of the social wall. I was like, “okay, I’ll show you some settings here. You can change the colour here; you can add a logo there. If you have any further questions, just contact the support team, and they will get back to you in five minutes.” And that’s basically what he did. But he rarely even needed support because it was so easy for him to set up and customise. So that was fantastic.

So now that people are on board, what kind of potential social wall use can you see happening at NETZSCH in the future?

Funny you should ask, because we’re actually considering integrating it in our reception area here on site.

Nice! With what kind of content?

I think it will be a mixture of our different social media accounts. We have a lot of screens around here. Most of them are used for internal company TV. But you know, in the lobby, where you also have a lot of guests, you don’t want to show your hardcore internal communication content. So the social wall will be great for that.

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Our takeaways

It’s a logical instinct for a product company to want to promote their products on social media. But more and more companies are noticing that that isn’t necessarily the kind of content that is right for social channels.

This is especially true for companies using social media as part of their hiring strategy. Potential applicants can easily look up information about a company’s products on the company website. But they need to have a way to find out more about a company’s culture and benefits. And that’s where social media comes in.

Employer branding is about people

When NETZSCH pivoted to posting less about their products and more about the company, they quickly saw how well that resonated with people. Being able to show who a company is, is invaluable for employer branding and marketing.

Drive hiring by sharing your company culture via social media. It’s a great opportunity, and applicants will definitely check for this kind of content. Show the benefits and advantages your employees enjoy and future employees have to look forward to; things such as NETZSCH’s bike scheme, for example.

A twitter post by Netzsch promoting the company’s bicycle leasing scheme, one of the employee benefits at Netzsch. The post includes a GIF of someone with a bike helmet riding a bike.
Source: Twitter

You can also show in other ways that you take your environmental responsibility seriously, as NETZSCH does when they post updates about the new campus building, for example.

Basically, any kind of behind-the-scenes content that gives a positive glimpse into life at your company is beneficial. But ultimately, showing the people who enjoy working at your company is the best way to get new applicants interested.

Twitter post by Netzsch introducing employee Verena Wiesenbauer who is Netzsch’ head of accounting. The included photo shows her wearing sunglasses, looking sporty, and smiling at the camera next to the quote “My varied job and great team make me come to work with a smile on my face every day.”
Source: Twitter

It’s a joint effort

For an effective employer branding strategy on social media, HR and Marketing have to work together. As Veronika said, coordinating these things can take extra effort when something overlaps both departments in scope. But if you take the time to set things up, you can get great results.

Social Walls, for example, are easy to set up and use and can be shared between departments. You can even give multiple people at the company access as admins and moderators of your social wall.

Social walls are also helpful for incorporating social media into career fairs to show your content on the wall and to collect user-generated content during the event. You can also provide some props to make it more fun and set up a contest to provide an incentive.

We keep hearing from various customers how well Direct Posts work for trade shows. They offer an easy and quick way to participate. People don’t have to use their personal social media accounts to post to the wall, and the QR code makes everything even easier. Just scan the code, take a photo, add a message, and hit “post”. 

Three people at the Netzsch fair booth standing in front of the social wall screen, their backs to the camera. One of them is holding up their phone to scan the QR code at the top right corner of the social wall.
© NETZSCH Pumps & Systems

But, as Veronika pointed out, make sure you clear things with a lawyer regarding image rights, especially when minors are involved. And while you’re at it, also get their consent to reuse the photos in the future — user-generated content can be a treasure trove for marketing and promotion materials, printed and digital alike.

Employee advocacy

If you want to step it up, you can leverage employees by turning them into employee advocates. In a way, that’s what NETZSCH has done by handing an Instagram account over to their trainees.

I think that’s a great idea because your employees are your best advocates and can make a difference in showing your company culture. Involving them also makes them happy. But, of course, not everyone is into this sort of thing, which is why it should be just as voluntary as it is for the trainees at NETZSCH, and there should be some oversight to make sure everything is still on-brand and in line with the overall strategy.

Instagram post by the Netzsch trainee account that shows the trainees sitting around a lunch table and posing for the camera. The post is in German and announces the trainees taking a summer break.
Source: Instagram
Instagram post by the Netzsch trainee account showing two people posing as they’re practicing CPR on a dummy during a training session.
Source: Instagram

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