Google: Connecting with Emerging Generations

Part 3 of 3 in my consumer engagement series. Previously published:

In this post, we’ll dissect how to connect your brand with emerging generations, specifically as an employer brand. We’re talking about the live streamers, lurkers, and anonymous peer-to-peer driven communities of people who may not use traditional social media channels at all. To put labels down — Millennials and Gen Z.

The secret to connecting with these communities lies in authenticity, transparency, purpose, value, and contextual relevance. Read on in the Q&A below for more.

The Secret to Connecting your Brand with Millennials and Gen Z

Ana Cantu, Global Social Media Lead at Google, interviewed by Ted Rubin




Ana, previously Head of Social at eBay and Managing Editor at Dell, now leads the Global Social team as a People Programs Manager at Google here in California. She comes from a journalism background at the LA Times and Austin American Statesman, a career path that favors transparency and authenticity. Ana now manages millions of followers across Google’s Life@Google & Google Students global social channels, managing the best employment brand in the world. She was previously managing editor for, which gets > 50 million unique visits and 3 million applications each year, and project managed the site redesign. She launched Google’s first-ever social media training program, and spends her 20% project time becoming a Google for Entrepreneurs expert. Ana also contributes to Google’s re:Work project, aiming to make work better for everyone.

It’s safe to say Ana is an expert in employer branding and social marketing. 🙂


Q: What do you typically look at when screening applicants?

What the candidate is good at (depth of knowledge in a specific space), and what the candidate wants to do with us. What specific solutions do they look to bring to Google, or what do they want to build. Google does weigh cultural fits and cultural contributions in the hiring process, and values transparency as is seen in their corporate culture. #Googlegeist

Q: In marketing to future generations, how do you sell something they can find for free?

Look at what’s being done with the Atlanta Hawks (shoutout, ATL!). The CMO, Melissa Proctor, is thinking outside the box with events like Swipe Right Night to bring together a community that otherwise might not attend.

Swipe Right Night is Tonight! [credit]
^ You know I had to throw in the Atlanta example — Go Hawks!

Q: What makes Google a better workplace, specifically?

Take a look at re:Work, sharing “best practices, research, and ideas from Google and other organizations to put people first.” This is all posted publicly, and often updated with thought leadership around hiring, managing, unbiasing, and people analytics for example. Check out this March 20th article from the NASA Johnson Space Center about astronauts in training. Super interesting stuff — I know I could get lost on re:Work.

In making Google a better workplace, Ana performed the initial research on job descriptions, hoping to align each role’s description closely with the actualized day-to-day. Really fascinating work around culture and hiring.

She found that the smartest people do not always create the best teams. Ana’s responsibilities include attracting talent and then developing these employees to become their best selves. Actually, career growth and personal development are big at Google. Getting out of your comfort zone to do things you’ve never done before.

However, psychological factors in a team setting can interfere with developing talent — for example, psychological safety. An indicator of psychological safety appears when a team speaks on balanced terms (e.g. there’s no dominant speaker).

“Put the “brainstorming” back in brainstorms!” – Ted Rubin

It’s crucially important to build a sense of trust, safety, and belonging, and in doing so Ana has built her team out to be a diverse group of (mostly female) employees including members of the LGBT community and immigrants. Looking back at HP’s leadership initiatives, you must be able to understand the people you’re selling to! Maybe Ana and Alex are on to something here. 🙂

Q: How do the younger generations engage around jobs?

Most people don’t come from Ivy League schools, or a paved path to Google. Applicants might prefer to submit through YouTube or video methods, as opposed to cookie-cutter online forms. Always be thinking about what’s new, what’s next, and how the new workforce engages with your brand.

One example of ads we see resonating with millennials focus on inclusiveness. Test copy and imagery with different types of language and different types of people. Your content should be an honest representation of your culture, not just whatever stock images you could download in 30 seconds.

Q: Fighting interview bias?

Structured interviewing cuts out unstructured biases. Being asked the same questions makes it easy to compare apples to apples, if you will. What is a good answer has already been outlined, and interviewers are more interested in how you work through a problem vs. the answer you give.

Related – take a look at this recent Business Insider article on prepping for a Google interview. (It’s PM specific, but some great example questions and thought starters.)


Special thanks to AT Kearney for hosting, and the Brand Innovators crew for having me (Marc Sternberg, David Teicher, Brandon Gutman & co.).

2 Replies to “Google: Connecting with Emerging Generations”


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