We just described how SAP needed to stand out from the crowd in 2016, with its biggest year for employment branding, by humanizing the brand and showcasing employees telling their life stories. Our new EVP asks of candidates: Bring Everything You Are. Become Everything You Want. To reinforce this inspiring EVP message, we needed a vehicle to convey our humanization, one that was engaging, disruptive, and conveyed SAP in a playful, as-yet-unseen way.
At SAP, we believe if we laugh, it lasts. We appreciate the lighter side of work and wanted to convey the unique features of our company, culture, and people via a regular dialogue with potential candidates and employees.
The result: we brainstormed and brought to life a weekly humorous cartoon series, Life at SAP Illustrated.
We kicked of the project in March 2016 by analyzing different employee personas, to create a select group of co-workers and their families and friends as the stars of the comic. To get the characters just right, and authentically SAP, we looked at the key components of SAP’s DNA and our EVP: respect, innovation, work-life balance, diversity and inclusion, job-interest alignment, entrepreneurship, and more.
It was this insight that helped us to concept and create a mixture of fictional characters to illustrate the diverse employees and attributes of our company.
The main characters include:
- Karen, a remote employee living the U.S. She is a working mom married to a Latino. She has a young son and a pet.
- Hans, a developer from Germany. He has great attention to detail and is SAP’s newest hire.
- Lily, a more senior female developer from China. She is very motivated, passionate, and athletic.
- Winslow, the team manager from the UK. He is African American who is team-building focused. He is known for his analogies and inspirational quotes.
Every week we post a new strip, showing a humorous look at human relationships, technology, work, and home lives, all focused on the modern day at SAP. It is a workplace comedy that explores relationships and SAP’s culture.
Just a few of the real life topics we have humorously featured in the cartoon:
- SAP’s “Buddy” program used during onboarding
- Supportive nature of our employees when we accomplish milestones
- Access to senior leadership in Coffee Corner Sessions
- Women in leadership at SAP
- Corporate social responsibility
- Big data in HR
- Leadership in the digital future
The cartoon has really taken off. We are seeing cross-departmental teams embrace it. We have created an internal site that houses our cartoon with almost 500 members; developed T-shirts and decal stickers for employees and candidates; promoted the cartoon on our career site, developed 20-foot billboards; included the cartoon in our PR efforts; partnered with sales teams to help concept and write cartoons; partnered with SAP customers on developing co-branded comic strips; and included the characters in our video game!
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To date, we have published over 25 cartoons about Life at SAP. It is one of our favorite types of content to publish because cartoons are … well …fun! You can get more insight into the planning process and view all the strips here.
How It Has Been Been Successful
We wanted candidates and employees to come to our channel to catch up on the latest developments of our fictional characters, creating that stickiness through repeat visits, positive sentiment, and engagement.
Our metrics show the very high engagement levels:
- “Coffee Corner Session”: 116,707 reach, 11, 533 engagements
- “Strength in Numbers”: 61,408 reach, 4,490 engagements
- “Remote”: 25,656 reach, 2,312 engagements
- “Coffee” Gif: 25,277 reach, 1,988 engagements
We are proud of these engagement levels. All too often companies get focused on the size of their Facebook followers, with some big companies touting 500,000 or a million followers. But what is the engagement in the community? If content in those channels results in only a handful of likes/comments/shares, then is it a successful channel? Isn’t that effectively only “broadcasting,” shouting into a megaphone into the wilderness of social media, hoping someone hears? The goal must be engagement levels.
We are also seeing that the cartoon is driving traffic to our career site, with over 40,000 candidate click-thrus, and helping the brand through positive word of mouth about Life at SAP.
Even more impressive: The cartoon is created and designed in house, without creative agencies! It’s all DIY. Naysayers may think that that SAP has big, or even unlimited, resources. This is simply untrue, and we have to be creative to make an impact. Small companies and startups, who also have smaller brand and candidate marketing budgets, could add a cartoon to social channels today at very little cost. Tap into local art students who would love the exposure of having their work published by a company. Inventive minds seek solutions. Defeatists give up and moan. Life can be a cartoon …