Conviva Customer Highlight: Cisco – What happens when your employer brand team becomes your company’s number one influencer?

By Mike Metzler

August 17, 2020

There are not a lot of B2B HR departments out there that run social accounts that get more views on their Instagram Stories than even influencers do. Such an idea is almost laughable. HR departments are usually more likely to enforce social media policy than to lead strategy around it. This unexpected success is what makes the @WeAreCisco team so special. They are not only using the account to develop personal connections with current and future talent, they are social media trailblazers, with countless awards to their credit and over 275k cross-platform (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram) followers.

In the past 18 months the WeAreCisco Instagram has done something that’s truly difficult. They’ve managed to consistently grow their reach on their Instagram Stories. Their stories, which were getting under 2000 views in early 2019, are now consistently reaching over 5000 people per story. It’s not just new followers delivering the increase, they have built a hyper-engaged audience. Their Instagram Stories reach rate in the past 30 days is 20% higher than ‘Brands’ category average from Conviva’s 2020 Instagram Stories Benchmark Report. Traditionally as accounts get larger, their reach rate on Instagram Stories declines, but the opposite appears to be true for WeAreCisco. We sat down (virtually) with the WeAreCisco social team, Jen Burns, Social Media Manager and Carmen Collins, Employee/r Brand & Social Media Lead) to discuss what happens when your employee/employer brand team becomes your company’s number one influencer.

Line Graph of WeAreCisco's Instagram Stories Reach Past 18 Months

Thank so much for taking the time to chat with me today. Let’s start with Instagram Stories. Can you talk about WeAreCisco’s approach to Instagram Stories and why Instagram is an important platform for engaging with current and future employees? How has your approach to Instagram and Stories evolved from, say 18 months ago? What things are you doing now that weren’t then and what have you learned during this time?

Our team is constantly testing and learning, based on social algorithm changes. With that, in the past 18 months, we have pivoted our approach to Instagram Stories. We were initially looking at completion rate and reach, along with link clicks. We learned that some of those metrics need to be ones that we “watch” to help us tell our metrics story while others, like reach, should be measured against a goal. Completion rate and reach are almost contradictory (we know social media users have short attention spans), so we look at them separately, depending on the goal of the Story.  We have always placed our employees at the center of our content; that has not changed. We ensure that we’re creating Instagram Stories that truly tell a “story” and that are generally longer than six slides.

How do you incorporate so many diverse employees from all over the globe into your content? What tips could you give to other companies looking to do something similar?

That’s our culture at Cisco. We empower our employees. They know to use the #WeAreCisco hashtag in their posts about working at Cisco. We’ve branded that hashtag for over six years, so employees know to use it to share their #LoveWhereYouWork story.

As far as tips for others, we would encourage other brands to ensure they’re REALLY considering using employees as advocates, and to encourage them to be themselves – to be transparent. We recently posted on social about #NationalTattooDay and the amount of response we got was overwhelming. People are so encouraged to be themselves when they are allowed to be themselves! And that’s how we win with employees at Cisco. J It really hits home, “Be You, With Us.”

How have work from home policies impacted how you incorporate current employees into your content?

Cisco makes the technology that powers the work from home movement, thus Cisco employees are used to being virtual already. Whatever experience employees are facing at the time, that’s the content they share. When the pandemic hit, the shift they experienced was the content our followers experienced.  It’s been great to see how Cisconians (that’s what we call Cisco employees) have been #WorkingFromHome all around the world. Some have kids. Some have pets. Everyone is welcome. And through #WeAreCisco, we are together, apart. That’s just how we work.


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Meet Katy. A virtual intern, she made it her summer mission to learn and grow by building meaningful relationships with as many people as possible. She started writing down the names of Cisco employees and set up meetings with them. “One of the most amazing things I discovered through these 30-minute chats was that every single individual I spoke with had an overwhelming sense of passion and care for Cisco as a whole. The inspiration and intention poured out of every sentence of their story and I realized that these are some of the most genuine, driven, and passionate people I have ever met. This is truly what it means to be a dream-seeker and bridge-builder.”⁠ ⁠ .⁠ #accessibility #A11Y [Katy wears a Cisco hat & shirt, holding her laptop.]⁠ ⁠ .⁠ #WeAreCisco #LoveWhereYouWork #Cisco #Intern #Interns #Internship #Internships #WorkFromHome #WorkingFromHome

A post shared by We Are Cisco (@wearecisco) on

It’s sometimes hard to tie ROI back to recruiting and brand awareness efforts. What KPIs does your organization track to show success through social media?

It depends on the channel. But, our team has built a funnel that ties back directly to the business goals. We’re able to prove that our efforts on social media directly impact the business. From top of the funnel (awareness) to further down the funnel, like clicks to the Careers site, our team ensures our efforts are making a difference for the business. Awareness, engagements, and actions are our primary KPIs.

How do you use social data and analytics in order to improve your social strategy?

Conviva is our lifeline when it comes to tracking social metrics! It’s our go-to for any metrics-related questions that our team or others may have. We love the fact that we can analyze specific campaigns, compare YoY metrics, and have the ability to tag our content for categorization and further analysis on what’s working on what social channel.

While you’re very active on Instagram Stories, you’re also active on IGTV, where you are producing different series, and now also on TikTok®. Why is it important for you to invest in newer platforms like you have?  

We approach every strategy from the perspective of our goals, the funnel, where our audience is, what the channel offers for reaching that audience and metrics (thanks Conviva!) We never just jump in for the sake of jumping. But we’re also never afraid to try new things – and having our executives support that has been one of the best parts of our jobs.

We consistently post on Instagram Stories, as it has proven to be one of the best channels for us in terms of reaching our audience. We recently started a different content series on IGTV and we’re taking an episodic approach so that our audience can expect consistent content from us. We’ve seen great results. We value the fact that our audience gets a unique experience on each channel in which they reach us (we consider IG Stories, IG feed and IGTV to be three different channels).

With TikTok® we launched a pilot program, partnering with our interns and employees to tell the story of what it’s like to work at Cisco. We went in with eyes wide open and, in all honesty, if we hadn’t been working virtually, and if the pandemic hadn’t sent everyone into the vortex of watching TikTok® videos, the opportunity might not have been right. Of COURSE we considered the risks. It’s like if you’re walking down a road, and there’s a spider farm on one side and a nuclear power plant on the other. Things could go TERRIBLY wrong. But you could also get Spiderman. So we plan for the mutant spiders, but we almost always get the hero experience because of it. That’s where our intern audience was. That’s where our employees were. That’s where we could have impact. Not only have our interns gotten involved, but even some parents – the metric surprises we were gifted with all summer prove we made a smart choice

@weareciscoHey ##interns, this isn’t goodbye! Cheers to a fantastic ##summer. ##WeAreCisco ##LoveWhereYouWork ##Internship ##Intern ##Students ##Careers @jlawbeauty♬ season 2 episode 3 by glass animals – caneshuga

Thanks so much for your time! You can follow @WeAreCisco on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok® here.