May 4, 2011

Social Media Trends

The first four months of 2011 have shown that social media is far from a fad. More and more ordinary people are joining networks, sharing pictures, uploading video, and opening their personal lives to friends and colleagues.

Facebook now has well over 700 million members. LinkedIn is about to go public, making it the first of the social media firms to do so. Empire Avenue is streaking forward, educating us on how to make social networking valuable, while Twitter continues to grow as a tool for sharing and crowdsourcing information.

The benefits of joining any network are quickly apparent: connecting easily to friends, staying in touch with distant family and friends, finding employment or a mate, sharing information, learning, and being entertained are all positive outcomes.

These outweigh the potential risks about lack of privacy. People are increasingly sophisticated about what they share and why they share it.

Very few are sharing things that might affect their careers or personal lives; the greater danger may be that some users are learning how to game the system and manipulate their social image. Hopefully, the power of the crowd — their own friends and associates — will limit this.

Video Job Posting?

According to ComScore, YouTube is the second-most-used search engine in the world after Google. The trend is for people to focus on exploring and learning by watching a video rather than by reading a description.

It seems obvious to me that recruiters should be making short videos about the jobs they are seeking candidates to fill. By getting hiring managers to make a 1-3 minute video describing a particular position, its requirements, and perhaps by interviewing someone who already does that function, a recruiter could have a powerful attraction tool. It is a medium especially suitable for mobile applications which are all the rage right now.

Employees could send short videos to friends as part of a referral program, and if the job descriptions are done well enough, there could be a viral effect as people watch the video and forward it on to friends.

I am not talking about the realistic job previews I see often on corporate career sites. I am talking about the actual job description being a video with a verbal indication on how to apply.

I am actually surprised that I haven’t seen this being done yet given that it is very easy to make videos and that YouYube provides special channels for distributing them. If you are already doing this for current, open positions, I’d love to get a link.

Down With Communities

It seems like every organization is using social media to attract and engage interesting and qualified people in their opportunities. While they call this “community” building, I am not sure that is the best term. A standard definition of community is, “A group of people living together in one place.” It also implies that they are made up of a spectrum of people.

But corporations are striving to build groups made up of only people who have the same general interests and abilities. This is a special interest group, not a community.

Maybe that would be clearer to everyone if we got out of the community hype and began to build very specific SIGS. People understand that better, and realize that they can belong to many SIGS at the same time. It is rather difficult to be part of several communities. One firm calls them “hives,” and I like that term a lot as well — both corporations and candidates are after the honey.

Job seekers can now scan a vast array of possibilities and explore potential jobs they would never have been aware of prior to social media. The same goes for recruiters who can now touch thousands of people who were invisible before.

Serious Games and Learning

Empire Avenue is a fascinating product that has the potential to raise the social media game to a new level of interaction and understanding.

Basically it is what is called a serious game — one that is fun but is also educational — and results in a useful outcome. Each person who joins becomes a “stock” that can be bought and sold using play money. Whether anyone buys your stock depends on your perceived value. That value is based on two factors: how many people have bought shares in you and on your level of participation in various social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.

The more you participate, and the more others retweeet, comment on your posts, or engage in conversation with you, the higher your stock price goes. Each stock pays dividends, and so when you purchase someone’s stock determine how it will improve your own wealth. It is always wise to choose people who have a significant social profile.

Empire Avenue then is both a social media aggregator as well as a way to score and track your ability to use social media effectively. By experimenting with various ways of tweeting and communicating, by building larger and more useful networks of people who respond and engage in conversation, the faster and higher your stock prove will rise.

I look at this as a useful recruiting tool, an educational product, and a fun experience. And, if you are so inclined you can purchase shares in me by joining Empire Avenue (free) and going to my profile. I am still pretty inexpensive!

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