How to Broadcast Your Brand

6 minutes, 8 links

You’re reading an excerpt of The Holloway Guide to Technical Recruiting and Hiring, a book by Osman (Ozzie) Osman and over 45 other contributors. It is the most authoritative resource on growing software engineering teams effectively, written by and for hiring managers, recruiters, interviewers, and candidates. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, over 800 links and references, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.

Once you know what story you want to tell, it’s time to get it out into the world. There are a number of different mediums you can use to broadcast your story, but regardless of the mediums you choose, you’ll want to craft compelling content around the story, which means you’ll have to get good at content marketing.

Content marketing refers to creating content that promotes a company’s brand implicitly rather than explicitly. Rather than paid advertising, content marketing means creating content (blog posts, videos, a podcast, et cetera) that represents your company’s values and interests and is meant to attract the kinds of customers and candidates that the company is interested in. . The content may or may not mention the company.

This Guide won’t cover how to create content, but we recommend HubSpot’s manual on content strategy to get started. With great content in hand, there are a few ways to get it in front of the right people.

Blogging

Today, it seems like every company has a blog—bigger companies might have blogs just for engineering. Stripe, Etsy, and Airbnb were among the first companies to start posting on engineering-specific topics on a regular basis. Of course, back in the early engineering blog days, because the concept was so new, even a post about how to best visualize uptime was fresh and exciting. These days, you have to work harder to be heard, but great content is still rare enough that there’s plenty of opportunity to stand out, and the sooner you start, the better. Over time, those companies’ posts helped cement their status as extremely desirable employers for engineers, and the value of their content has continued to compound

Before you’ve built up an audience that will come to you, know the places that can get your content noticed. Hacker News and Reddit (/r/programming in particular) can be great ways to amplify your signal. Getting on the first page of these forums can be challenging, and there is plenty of discussion about what makes a good post title. Stick to your company values when creating content, get feedback from readers and continually iterate on your strategy, and you may be surprised by how much of your content gets picked up. .

Syndicating your posts on other blogs is also a great way to get eyeballs. Some great sites that regularly take submissions include freeCodeCamp and Hacker Noon.

Events

Some companies choose to host events like hackathons, meetups for customers or users of their product, casual gatherings for other companies in their space, or parties to celebrate an accomplishment. Events that work to amplify your brand can be a great option, but they may not be as effective at establishing a brand that doesn’t yet have a following. When you’re early, hosting your own events can be more trouble than it’s worth—with a well-placed, well-executed blog post, you can get much more return. Events also take a lot of coordinated manpower and budget.

You might consider offering to host events for prominent meetups or other companies that might be ahead of you with branding but behind on resources. For instance, if you use some tool or language that has a loyal following and a dedicated meetup, donating your office and buying some pizzas and beverages is cheap and well worth it. A more formal sponsorship arrangement could also be a win-win for you and for the group.

Conferences

Like events, conferences are a double-edged sword. Sponsoring them, especially when you’re early, is probably not a great strategy for brand building because, just like events, conference sponsorships are more meant to reaffirm existing brands than to create them.

However, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to give a talk at a conference whose attendees are people you might want to hear about something sticky that also promotes your brand, you should jump at the opportunity.

Social Media

Social media for brand building is extremely valuable. Building a brand through social media takes a lot of time and repeated effort, and requires a stalwart dedication to what can feel like a thankless task—but it is worth it. A social media presence can also be crucial for hiring as your company grows—70-80% of jobs are found only through the “hidden job market,” which includes social media as well as personal networks. Often, the social media presence of founders is the first channel for broadcasting a new brand. Stay tuned for the Holloway mini-Guide to Using Twitter for Professional Growth. For now, start with Canva’s “Introduction to brand building through social media.”

Coding Challenges

If you find yourself with a really interesting premise for a coding challenge or have some very unique data that engineers might really enjoy playing with that they couldn’t find anywhere else, hosting a coding challenge and then advertising it (either on Hacker News, Kaggle, or somewhere else) could be a great way to build brand. Stripe had a ton of success getting their brand out there and make payments look exciting with their Capture the Flag challenge, for instance. That said, they were among the first to do this, and today the bar is high. Poorly designed or banal coding challenges are worse than none at all and can alienate your audience, so tread carefully when deciding to use this approach.

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