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Getting More Value From Your Social Media

by
Kevin Wheeler
Nov 23, 2010, 5:28 am ET

Platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and a variety of proprietary platforms are becoming core to successful recruiting, learning, relationship building, and marketing.

However, most organizations are operating without an overarching strategy that defines how to get a solid and visible return from their social media approaches. Recruiters have become caught up in the technology and are using these tools without much focus on whether they are working or not. Organizations are creating Facebook fan pages, LinkedIn groups, and so on with little understanding of their goals for doing so. While there may be cases where a recruiter can say that they made a hire because of a social media tool, there are few organizations that can show a consistent return or prove that some other approach would not have worked just as well.

Many traditional tools such as email, job board postings, and face-to-face meetings may be as successful (or even more so in some cases), but are abandoned in the excitement generated by the social networking platforms.

Before social media will become a mature process for recruiting, we need to build appropriate strategies and measurements to gauge its success.

Here are five things to consider:

Focus on a Goal
Before anything, establish what you hope to gain from adopting social media platforms. Do you want to increase brand awareness, drive more interested potential candidates to your career site, or convert social media group members to employees?

What are you promising your hiring managers that could not be more easily or cheaply done through some other media?

Start with a written objective that is small enough to achieve and that can be done through some sort of social media application.

Know Who You Are Recruiting
Are you trying to hire mostly experienced mid-career professionals, or are you after recent college graduates? Are you focused on building a talent community for future recruitment or are you looking for immediate hires?

These are key questions to ask when it comes to choosing a strategy and a recruiting platform. Social media is most effective with younger candidates and most likely would be a marginal choice if you were recruiting executives or seasoned professionals. You need to deeply understand where people go to look for jobs, what attracts them to your company, and how to reach passive candidates.

Using referrals or telephone calls may work better than Facebook or LinkedIn, and nothing should be excluded from your initial strategy planning. To assume that everyone is connected, has a Facebook profile, and uses LinkedIn is flawed.

Tie All Your Social Media to a Destination
I believe that proper implementations are hierarchical in nature. All your social media efforts should drive potential candidates to a central place: ideally your talent community. Many organizations have a Twitter account, a Facebook fan page, a LinkedIn page, and perhaps other social media vehicles as well. While these are valuable ways to approach a variety of people and offer many channels for communication, they can also lead to candidate confusion and to a loss of ROI.

By having a central website or talent community as an endpoint where candidates can learn about your organization, find more details about an open position, and where you can screen and communicate with candidates, is a core element in a successful social media strategy.

Use and Educate Your Hiring Managers
Asking hiring managers to communicate with candidates via Twitter or Facebook can be a real asset. They can provide authentic information, answer questions, and even close offers. But to make this a legal and effective process, you need to provide hiring managers with some education on how to effectively use social media. Provide them with guidelines, work with your legal department to build an agreed-upon process for communication. Keeping all social media interaction with the recruiting department limits its value and lowers ROI.

Look for Crossover Benefits
Use a broad array of tools to source candidates but look for areas of synergy. For example, how can your job postings drive potential candidates to your Twitter or Facebook accounts? How can you leverage a quick phone chat to invite someone to join your Facebook fan page? The goal should be to always get interested people to your destination site or talent community. Social media is primarily for sourcing and communication, not for selling or closing a candidate.

I have put a together simple chart (above, click to enlarge) to help organize thinking about the value and use of a variety of social media tools.

In every case, the strategy is to use social media in a casual chain: to move people from casual or no awareness of your employment brand to being actively engaged in learning about possible opportunities and ultimately to become an active candidate and/or employee.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

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  3. Steve Lewis

    Great article, Kevin. I love the chart you created. Two key points I have taken away from your article – be sure to have a strategy and defined measures of success when launching social media recruiting in your organization; and have a common destination for those with whom you engage with SM tools. Great advice!

  4. Ken Jeffers

    Great post, Kevin. The social recruiting dialog need to start focusing more on value and return and less on how to use the tools. If recruiters read more successful case studies, they’d be more likely to craft a strategy and dedicate resources to social media … and it would help them justify the efforts to management.

    One perspective that gets far too little attention is that of the job candidate. Your presentation at ERE Expo last month, Kevin, did a great job of focusing on the candidate’s point of view. Messages like “Social media and mobile are king in appeal, reach and effectiveness” and “Most programs are B-O-R-I-N-G and ineffective for GenY” are dead on.

    For anyone who hasn’t seen Kevin’s presentation, it’s a must see at:

    http://www.ereexpo.com/2010fall/conference/agenda/conference-sessions/#session-157

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  6. Megan Stanish

    Clear, concise and truly helpful. Thank you for a great article with solutions and ideas that can readily be put into practice!

  7. Keith Halperin

    I think that the emphasis on SM for recruiting is considerably overblown. Here’s why:
    1) Activities related to sourcing candidates are overwhelmingly in the $11/hr outsourced resource area, and when they’re not it’s in the $44/name “purple squirrel finder” (PSF) category. So, if your time is worth more than $11/hr and you’re not a PSF, leave the sourcing (through SM and other means) to them. (Of course if you’re the only one doing it: go to LinkedIn, find a good person, pick up the phone, and call them directly.)
    2) Having the bandwidth to build a candidate pipeline is a rare luxury. Either you’re too busy filling current needs or you’re so not-busy that you aren’t there. While creating a future candidate pipeline is a very good idea, you should not have a recruiter responsible for both current needs and a pipeline, unless they need to do both to stay busy. Otherwise, it’s like expecting someone to effectively run both a sprint and a marathon- the skills are rather different.
    3) Employment branding is not in corporate hands anymore: with sites like http://www.glassdoor.com, it’s in the hands of the employees and candidates. Even if it were, branding is beyond the scope of recruiting, residing in those mystical and wondrous lands called ”Marketing” ,”MarCom” or “PR”.

    In summary: SM is a *pleasant diversion, but rather peripheral to a recruiter trying to quickly fill current needs, except for the exception I mentioned.

    Cheers,

    Keith “the Contrarian” Halperin

    *Aka, “major time-suck”

  8. Keith Halperin

    Hi Kevin,

    I think that the emphasis on SM for recruiting is considerably overblown. Here’s why:
    1) Activities related to sourcing candidates are overwhelmingly in the $11/hr outsourced resource area, and when they’re not it’s in the $44/name “purple squirrel finder” (PSF) category. So, if your time is worth more than $11/hr and you’re not a PSF, leave the sourcing (through SM and other means) to them. (Of course if you’re the only one doing it: go to LinkedIn, find a good person, pick up the phone, and call them directly.)
    2) Having the bandwidth to build a candidate pipeline is a rare luxury. Either you’re too busy filling current needs or you’re so not-busy that you aren’t there. While creating a future candidate pipeline is a very good idea, you should not have a recruiter responsible for both current needs and a pipeline, unless they need to do both to stay busy. Otherwise, it’s like expecting someone to effectively run both a sprint and a marathon- the skills are rather different.
    3) Employment branding is not in corporate hands anymore: with sites like http://www.glassdoor.com, it’s in the hands of the employees and candidates. Even if it were, branding is beyond the scope of recruiting, residing in those mystical and wondrous lands called ”Marketing” ,”MarCom” or “PR”.

    In summary: SM is a *pleasant diversion, but rather peripheral to a recruiter trying to quickly fill current needs, except for the exception I mentioned.

    Cheers,

    Keith “the Contrarian” Halperin

    *Aka, “major time-suck”

  9. Joseph Murphy

    Kevin, you offer an excellent invitation to have a strategy and metrics for social media sourcing.

    To optimize social media it must be tracked by source through various stages and filters such as number of candidates who engaged in the application process by source, number of hires by source and quality of hire by source.

    Sources can vary significantly in overall yield. That means a more objective understanding of the social media value stream is essential. An example of a firm doing it well is here http://bit.ly/daAl23

    Joseph. P. Murphy
    Shaker Consulting Group
    Developers of the Virtual Job Tryout

  10. James Dimer

    While social media has become the “go to” technology for recruiters, there has been little in the way of true benefit pubslihed that says it is a successful way to recruit.

    Kevin’s article is moving that way although i do concur with Keith’s comments of social media as a pleasant diversion rather than a critical component of the sourcing mix.

  11. Courtney Hunt

    PS to my response to Keith’s comment: That determination/approach doesn’t have to be universal, however. Different approaches can be used for different segments of the employment population. They key is to be thoughtful in deciding the best way to proceed.

  12. Courtney Hunt

    (second attempt to share original comment)

    This post was shared with the Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community by Ron Thomas.

    Some of the ideas dovetail nicely with Part 7 of the Social Media Primer (http://tiny.cc/SMinOrgsPrimer7), as well as the Social Screening White Paper (http://tiny.cc/SocialScreeningPaper) and follow-up blog post (http://tiny.cc/SocialScreeningFU).

    Keith Halperin’s comments raised another important factor for consideration: An organization has to decide whether its talent acquisition efforts are primarily short term, tactical and reactive or longer term, strategic and proactive. If they choose the former approach, social media may not be worth the effort. If they choose the latter, then social media should be approached from that perspective.

    Courtney Hunt
    Founder, SMinOrgs Community

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