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What to Consider Before Jumping on the Pinterest Bandwagon

by Jun 5, 2012, 5:38 am ET

As with other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest was not designed with hiring in mind. After all, it’s not your typical recruiting site. So, using a traffic magnet such as Pinterest for this particular function requires some improvisation.

According to Dr. John Sullivan, Pinterest should be a strong contender when implementing new recruitment channels, and rightly so — it’s impossible to ignore the explosive growth over the past few months. Increases in user accounts, unique visitors, and pageviews have made Pinterest the third largest social networking site after Facebook and Twitter, respectively.

However, the challenge lies in attracting the right candidates: the ones that will not only benefit your organization, but also your bottom line. Additionally, while the traffic and usage patterns on Pinterest highlight its great potential for businesses, there are some fundamental differences that must be taken into account as organizations start looking at Pinterest as another important platform to engage with their target audience.

Compared to Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest has so far attracted a more targeted demographic: recent reports show that most of the users are females. Plus, while the simplicity and ease of use are both great characteristics of Pinterest, it’s mostly viewed as one-directional transmission of information. That is, many “pin” a piece of content, but there’s little engagement beyond re-pins by others, comments, or a gain in followers.

A closer look at Pinterest shows that it is generally less conversational or “social” and more a place for displaying your content or media. Additionally, compared to players like Facebook or Twitter, the level of engagement isn’t on par, particularly when it comes to passive candidates.

However, despite any initial drawbacks, Pinterest may still be a viable player in the social recruitment space. So, if you’re interested in Pinterest as your next recruiting tool, consider the following questions before jumping on board with your hiring efforts:

Finding Active and Passive Job Seekers

Generally, what brings users to Pinterest is not the pursuit of finding their next job, but discovering new brands and content. This is done predominantly through photos and, to a lesser extent, linked video content. However, according to Forbes, users spend an average of “1 hour and 17 minutes trolling the site, well ahead of LinkedIn (17 minutes), where over 150 million professionals have posted their hopes for career advancement.” So while Pinterest may not be in your recruiting strategy yet, it could be considered when looking at the amount of time people are spending on it.

In recent months, there have been numerous articles and outlets reporting on the usage of Pinterest for active job seekers. They often suggest to job seekers to upload visual resumes, portfolio work, pin potential places they want to work, or jobs they want to have. However, the concept that needs to evolve is how to find those individuals who are browsing Pinterest and might be great candidates for your open jobs. These could be active as well as passive candidates. Currently, with no traditional communities and groups, active and passive candidates are scattered among the majority of users who pin recipes and products.

Pinterest’s recent hashtag feature may be the most direct way to source candidates — but these active job seekers must usually find you first. This recruiting strategy could be supplemented by appealing to the majority of job seekers who fall under the “passive category.” In order to get the attention of these passive candidates:

  • Pin content that your target audience will identify with and want to continue following.
  • Post items that are focused on the values, mission, and day-to-day life of the company.
  • Provide a link on each piece of content so you can continue the conversation elsewhere, such as a talent community, social network, or company website.
  • Add links to Pinterest from your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ pages to provide your audience on those networks an opportunity to see more, and different, content about your organization.

Who Your Audience Is

Through its design, function, content, or combination of all three, Pinterest has garnered a selective and very targeted audience. A 2012 infographic by Tamba states that the majority of users are women age 25 to 54, with interests in the industries of fashion design, public relations, venture capital, SEO & marketing, and graphic design.

The audience isn’t as diverse as LinkedIn or Facebook at the moment. Although Pinterest is still a young social platform that will likely grow and segment into different interests and users, for the moment it seems that the industries that can take advantage of Pinterest as a recruiting source revolve around design and tech as well as written and marketed content. More hands-on industries, like science, engineering, and healthcare, may not appear to be an ideal match for Pinterest’s visual-based audience; however, with some creativity, these industries may also be able to benefit.

Interacting with Candidates

Back to LinkedIn and Facebook — what they do best for social recruiting is encourage engagement and communication. Direct messaging, wall posts, and commenting accomplish this well and can even attract passive candidates instantly.

However, as we noted, the concern with Pinterest is the limited two-way communication function. Only through commenting on actual pins can interaction take place and even then, it may not be the most effective method. As a result, Pinterest may not be able put the “social” in social recruiting, in a traditional sense. Hope is not lost though! If you’re using Pinterest, think about encouraging and redirecting the conversation onto your talent community, blog, Twitter, or Facebook account instead. When you do this, you’re able to use one the most popular social networks despite its current limitations.

As the site continues to evolve, Pinterest could prove to be less of a shiny new platform and a more relevant and targeted source for getting in front of active as well as passive talent. The creativity and innovation of job seekers, employers, and recruiters jumping on board can help in rapidly evolving the usefulness of this platform. So, allocate some time to incorporate Pinterest into your broader social recruiting strategy, seek out those target candidates, and most importantly, keep an eye on referral data and metrics to see how well “pinning” works for your organization.

What do you think? What are your thoughts on Pinterest’s future in social recruiting? What are some other factors to consider before implementing it?

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.

  • http://www.techtrak.com Maureen Sharib

    I think one thing many of these social networks have in common is that their active members are (probably) more likely to be unemployed or underemployed.

    Just sayin’.

    Is that what you really want? (Gee, I wish I could italicize “really”!)

    Maureen Sharib
    Phone Sourcer
    513 899 9628
    513 646 7306

  • http://www.bayardad.com eric holwell

    I think it’s funny how much attention Pinterest is getting when so many companies still don’t use Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Reddit and even LinkedIn effectively. In addition, I have seen a lot of organizations use stock photos on Pinterest – STOCK PHOTOS! How is that building brand awareness, peaking interest, telling a story and driving traffic?

    There was an article in the Harvard Business Review in 2011 titled “Social Media and the New Rules of Branding,” written by Patrick Barwise, a professor of management and marketing at London Business School. The content of this article stressed that social media makes it more urgent than ever that companies get the basics right, developing and reliably delivering on a compelling brand promise. It is no secret that a lot of organizations struggle with this foundation and therefore never experience the full power of social media. Pinterest is the new shiny object, which is too bad because the web is already saturated with stock photos.

  • http://identified.com/ Calvin Jhunjhnuwala

    I think Pinterest allows companies to show what their company is really about through photos. Yes, the features and whole “social” part may be limited, but there is a huge pool of potential candidates that are using this medium- they can’t be ignored. I see Pinterest continuing to grow for the next couple of years as companies flock and try to integrate themselves in the Pinterest community.

    Check out this blog post from Identified, the company I work for. We provide three tips on how to recruit on Pinterest:
    http://employers.identified.com/blog/bid/78818/Using-Pinterest-for-Social-Recruitment

  • http://www.verticalelevation.com Carol Schultz

    @Maureen: Bravo!

  • Keith Halperin

    Ia ask Pinterest (or other non-LI SNs)-using recruiters:
    1) How many hires did you get exclusively and directly from Pinterest (or other non-LI SNs)?
    2) How many of your hires were only on Pinterest (or other non-LI SNs) and not somewhere else where you could directly go after them?
    3) How long did it take you from initial contact through hire?
    4) How much did it cost to set up your FPinterest (or other non-LI SNs) recruiting?
    5) What was the opportunity cost of using Pinterest (or other non-LI SNs) as opposed to other proven methods (like ERs, improving your corporate jobsite, or direct sourcing of candidates)?

    Keith “Show Me the Easy, Fast, and Affordable Hires” Halperin

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