Are You a Novice or Maven When it Comes to Social Media?

Oct 28, 2011

If you weren’t at LinkedIn’s Talent Connect last week in Las Vegas (Oct 17-19, 2011) you missed the recruiting event of the year. Since most of the work I do is with SMBs (small to medium size business), I was asked to lead a program on how to create a big brand without the big name. As part of this I introduced a new concept for how companies should benchmark their social media presence and effectiveness: the Social Media Pyramid. I know many of you will be vying for awards at the Spring 2012 ERE Expo, and social media will play a role in quite a few of the awards, so I thought I’d give you my guidelines for using the Social Media Pyramid as guide.

Most companies are using a hodgepodge of social media ideas, trying a little of this and a little of that, in the hope something works. Rather than proceed in such a haphazard manner, I’ve decided to give some structure to the process by creating five levels of social media effectiveness based on currently available technology.

This hierarchy approach will be further refined over the next few months, but for now use these guidelines to figure out where your company stands and what you need to do to become a social media maven. (We’re hosting a webcast with Jobvite on November 3, 2011, describing the Social Media Pyramid in more depth.)

Novice: to rank at this inglorious bottom level all you need to have are Facebook and LinkedIn company pages with your boring job descriptions posted in some illogical and uninteresting order. Now all you need to do is to get people to follow you, with these followers regularly pinged via Twitter or the social media’s site internal pinging machine when a job is opened. Despite what any vendor tells you, this type of social media program is designed to stay in touch with active candidates who have excess time on their hands. If you have a big employer magnet, it might be all you need, though.

Minimalist: to move past Novice on the social media pyramid you need to have some type of CRM system driving your messaging and do at least two other things. First, be a little different. Second, be found.

At one level being different means your social media site is more robust; perhaps it has a game or something unique to keep prospects engaged, maybe the company vision/mission is presented in more compelling terms; or, best of all, the jobs themselves are a little bit more exciting. Being found, especially for the SMBs, means someone can find your company by searching on Google or one of the job aggregators with just a job title and a location without your company name. If you can’t get this part right, just think of how many prospects aren’t seeing your job postings.

Progressive: now we’re starting to get serious. Being serious starts by implementing a hub-and-spoke model for your social media efforts where prospects are driven via aggressive marketing programs to your page, microsite, group, or circle. The idea is to group all similar jobs into a master job class — for example, all hydraulic design engineers from mid- to senior-level — and then differentiate how you manage each of these master classes. From these master or landing pages you need to offer unique content and drive prospects to specific jobs as they open up via robust CRM systems (differentiated messages depending on master class and the prospect’s job-seeking phase).

In addition to the hub-and-spoke approach, true Progressives offer a means to easily connect prospects directly with employees they know both before a req is open, as well as after. At the Progressive stage social media metrics enter the picture. Tracking source of candidate opt-in and hire rates by channel allows for both the appropriate allocation of resources and as a means to improve the content and process.

Maven: aside from doing all of the above, Mavens realize that true passive candidates, especially the best, aren’t going to partake in the social media shenanigans in similar fashion to active candidates. Differentiation at the job level is critical for success at the Maven level. For one thing, just consider that the best passive candidates won’t even consider another position unless it represents a true career move. In this case a laundry list of traditional job postings won’t get much attention.

On top of the messaging, the process passive candidates use to engage, compare, and select the best of competing opportunities must also be different. From a social media perspective it means the job titles must be enticing, the job description themselves compelling, and the methods of attracting and staying in contact unique. It goes without saying that the process used to connect jobs with prospects through a company’s ERP system is automatic, robust, and professional. Very few companies are at this level, so if you’re one of them, you’re certain to become an ERE finalist.

World Leader: following are the most important components of a social media World Leader program. As you review the factors, rank yourself from bad to great to give your company some type of initial benchmark. If you rank outstanding on each of these measures, not only will you be a certain ERE Spring 2012 finalist, but probably the top dog award-winner, as well.

  • Career-focused messaging: if you don’t have a big employer name, assume all you’re attracting are active candidates unless all of your emails, job postings, Twitters, chats, and voice mail clearly describe career opportunities.
  • Auto Outbound PERP: a proactive ERP means your employees are formally connecting with the best people they’ve worked with in the past. This is important, since with “Auto Outbound PERP” once a req is opened your employees are notified if they have any strong first-degree matches. This auto-outbound ERP system is more effective since it drives passive candidate referrals, while an inbound auto-ERP process allows active candidates to find employees they are connected to.
  • Virtual Talent Community: Whichever company has the best passive candidates directly connected to their employees will win the new war for talent. Building talent pipelines of active candidates is great for filling positions quickly, but not for raising a company’s overall talent level. A VTC by class of job requires aggressive PERPing, great recruiters, true career opportunities, fully engaged hiring managers, and a competitive compensation structure.
  • Interactive CRM: Most recruiting CRM systems offer nothing more than the ability to deliver a series of timed, group-based messages. Direct marketing-based CRM systems have the ability to send a series of sequences and semi-individualized messages to prospects based on their job-hunting status and interests. In some ways this is akin to a virtual recruiter assigned to each prospect in your VTC.
  • An aligned talent-centric strategy and tactics: The criteria top people (whether active or passive) use to initially engage with a company is different than what’s used to decide whether to accept an offer or not. The former is more about compensation, title/company, and location. The latter is more about growth and opportunity. On top of this, most companies use the same apply/assess/recruit/close process for both passive and active candidates. No matter what social media programs you use, this mismatch will preclude companies from attracting and hiring as many top performers as possible.

Developing a series of social media recruiting programs should be part of an overall talent acquisition strategy. Based on what I’ve seen, most companies instead assign the role to someone who’s social-media savvy, rather than a person who is charged with developing a companywide program for improving quality of hire. As Magic Johnson said at LinkedIn’s Talent Connect, strategy drives tactics, not the other way around. This seems like good advice whether you’re playing basketball, running a company, or climbing the ranks of the Social Media Pyramid.

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