Build Your Brand Through the Wisdom of the Crowd

on January 5, 2012

This is a story of how Spark Media Solutions helped its client, Dice, build brand awareness and industry respect by proactively gathering and publishing the knowledge of its industry peers.

Company: Dice is a recruiting site for tech. Recruiters and employers are Dice’s customers as they pay for tech job listings and to gain access to Dice’s specialized niche tech database to find the best talent.

Situation: Dice had recently relaunched its resources blog ( and was sponsoring a conference held at Facebook called the ERE Recruiting Innovation Summit (#RIS11).

Challenge: Dice wanted to showcase its social recruiting expertise plus gain recognition and further traction from recruiters, HR bloggers, and influencers, whether they were at the event, viewing the event’s live stream, or just watching the social media channels.

Solution: Ramp up excitement before, during, and after the event by producing valuable media for and about the recruiting community. The value comes via the content itself, but also through soliciting members of the community and promoting their ideas and knowledge. To simplify our efforts and make it clear what we were doing, we focused the majority of our content on a single theme. We asked everyone, “What’s your most innovativerecruiting tip for 2012?”

The innovative element was critical because it tied into the theme of the conference, Recruiting Innovation Summit. Plus, we knew if our content was going to have any value we needed to entice participants to offer up new ideas, not the same ones recruiters have heard over and over again.

Ultimately we decided to create four media assets:

  1. Giant tip article: Crowdsource and write a huge list of innovative tips for recruiters. Aim to publish at least 30 tips because that seemed to be a critical number for search and for social media recognition.
  2. Speech bubble photos: Take photos of people holding up speech bubble white boards and chalk boards with their innovative recruiting tip and their Twitter handle. The recruiting community is heavily involved in Twitter so this was a good avenue to utilize.
  3. Compilation video: Produce a video of many people answering the question, “What’s your innovative recruiting tip for 2012?”
  4. Industry luminary interviews: Conduct one-on-one interviews with industry influencers about innovative recruiting and other relevant industry issues.

We were able to achieve all four goals:


For a conference that had only 200 attendees our recognition extended well beyond the people in the room. Along with Dice’s premier sponsorship at the event, including a live stream and tweet-up sponsorship,  the reach of all our content was in the tens of thousands of views.

The photos received over 33,000 views and the article received hundreds of shares via social networks.

More important than the numbers was the community’s commentary on what we were doing. Here is just 

Those photos turned out to be our most retweetable content:

  • “Love what @EmployersonDice is doing w/the photos & the tweets at #RIS11. Great way to soak up insights.” – Blair Hite, @BlairAtVolt
  • “Have you seen the tips and pictures on @EmployersOnDice? love the effect.” – Bill Boorman, @BillBoorman
  • “@EmployersonDice I’m loving the photos on Flickr!” – Danielle Z. Moseley, @Dzittel
  • “Wow! Tons of great tips from great recruiters!” – Jennifer McClure, @JenniferMcClure
  • “Loved the content, Joy (photographer), and the photo format was perfecto!” – Lisa Thorell, @LisaT2
  • “Brilliant concept brilliantly executed” – HRExaminer Staff, @HRExaminer
  • “Genius way of showing them!” – Mark Sullivan, @sullivanmarkd

To extend the length of our coverage we chose to publish the six one-on-one expert interviews weeks after the conference.

What we learned

Whenever Spark Media Solutions takes on a new media production effort we make a note of what works and what doesn’t work. We wanted to share some of that knowledge with you. Here are some of our takeaways from the project and the event.

  • Recruiters are outgoing people that are happy to participate in a fun project like our whiteboard speech bubbles.
  • The whiteboard project had valuable content and built in virality. The content of each photo was a tip that was tweeted out with a person’s handle who inevitably retweeted the photo to their followers.
  • The question, “What’s your most innovative recruiting tip for 2012?” requires a lot more thought and contemplation than can be captured in a quick sound bite on camera or on a whiteboard with limited space. While answers were good and valuable for the video and speech bubbles, they weren’t comprehensive enough for the bigger article. The answers we had crowdsourced before the event were more thorough because there was a lot of back and forth, follow up questions, and people had more time to compose their thoughts.
  • If time permits, it may be better to publish the article before the event so we would have had some relevant content to point back to from all the photos we tweeted out. This was not the case here given our quick turnaround. Each published photo on Flickr allows you to add some links. While we pointed back to the main blog, it would have been nice to point back to an event-relevant article.
  • To pull off this project you must have the right balance of aggressiveness and charm in person and online. This is critical for success. It’s a subtle balance that has to be played correctly to get the content you want.
  • People really enjoyed seeing other conference goers at the event on the screen. It increased participation in the project and reduced our need to explain what we wanted them to do. They got it immediately.
  • Proofread people’s boards before you photograph them for two reasons. First, we needed to be able to read recruiter’s tip and their Twitter handle because we retyped everything again in Flickr and Twitter. Second reason is to catch handwritten typos. There were many cases where people had spelling mistakes on their whiteboards. We caught all but one and were lucky enough to fix that error in Photoshop.
  • The mere fact that we were so visible capturing content in photos and video made Dice a beacon of influence at the conference.
  • A good time to get people to participate is during the pre- and after-party.

While the community recognition Dice received was fantastic, the best acknowledgement came from noted industry pundit John Sumser of HRExaminer who in his article “Branding 2012”said, “ showed up in Palo Alto and changed the dynamics of conference marketing.”

“Dice used the Recruiting Innovation Summit to announce its material entry in the social media sweepstakes. By building a treasure trove of links, content and connections, they raised their profile in ways that most marketers can only dream of,” said Sumser.

The reason marketers dream of this kind of recognition is because they’re still doing “marketing.” Our approach is to create editorial media that puts businesses in the center or lead of key industry conversations. Content, not marketing copy, is the currency of social media and search. We produce a lot of media at conferences and trade shows simply because it’s one of the best methods to gather and produce a lot of content very quickly. While handing out water bottles and swag may be valuable for name recognition, we find that at a conference or trade show creating content is a far more valuable technique for building industry visibility and deep relations.

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