There’s been quite a bit of hype about social media. Perhaps you’ve even become an evangelist (or at least a believer) by yourself. Social media is self perpetuating; networks are echo chambers that magnify their own importance. This is why no matter how successful you feel social media has been for your recruitment efforts, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself a few critical questions.
Are you really generating regular client inquiries and business development opportunities on social media? Are any of the many platforms you’re posting on actually attracting a steady stream of passive candidates? There’s a good chance, if you look at the time and money you’ve spent on social and your actual results, the answer to these questions is a qualified no.
This is the case for a majority of employers and agencies, and if you’re even on social, you’re already likely ahead of the competition, even if you’re not fully leveraging these networks to drive real business results. The nice thing about social is that this medium has a short memory span, so it’s alright if you haven’t achieved the kinds of outcomes you were hoping for when you bought into the buzz.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. In social media, there are no real “experts” or “gurus,” as even the most experienced or successful social savants are really just figuring all this out as they go along; dumb luck, if anything, plays as big a role in all of this as best practices. This means you’ve got a pretty big safety net to constantly tweak and refine your social media strategy to stop spinning your wheels and start delivering real recruiting ROI.
The opportunity cost for inaction is that while they might not be there yet, if you can’t figure social media out, your competitors will eventually. That’s why there’s no better time than now to start building a head start, even if it means not always getting everything perfect the first time.
The Deadly Sins of Social Recruiting.
Here are the four biggest mistakes you’re probably making when it comes to social recruiting if you’re not getting the results you’d like, and some tips and tricks for making social media work for attracting, developing and hiring top talent across industries, functions, levels and segments. While there may be no “right way” in social media, here are some of the most common ways recruiters go wrong.
Too many people think of social as a bullhorn or broadcast vehicle. This leads to many companies blindly posting content and buying followers or fans, sitting back, and somehow expecting results. This is no better, nor more effective, than the old “post and pray” model of recruiting. We all know how that works out. If you don’t have a strategy for social, you need to remember that the point of any marketing activity, social media included, is to drive sales.
That is why it’s imperative organizations consistently ensure that any sort of social media presence is targeted to an audience with the purchasing power – direct or indirect – to help you achieve those goals.
Relevance is key; if you don’t target a specific audience, you’re unlikely to reach the specific kinds of candidates you’re looking for in the first place. Being everything to everyone never gets anyone anywhere.
One of the best parts about social media is that it can allow businesses who really commit to creating meaningful connections, community and conversation is that social media allows a way to showcase subject matter expertise and reinforce market leadership through cutting edge content and curation.
By sharing great content that’s highly targeted and relevant, social media offers recruiters an ideal way to stay top of mind with existing clients, customers and candidates. This constant presence means that if an opportunity opens up at an employer, or an A-List candidate wants to feel out new opportunities, you’re more likely to get that call than the other guy who’s just sitting there shooting off InMails.
In order to properly focus your social recruiting efforts, you’ve not only got to define your audience, but also what you want them to do. You need to have a clear cut goal in order to develop the call to action that you hope to drive through social media; this can be building future relationships, driving referrals, or getting a butt in a seat in a week. What do you want to get out of social recruiting?
- Lead Generation: If this is the primary goal, then consider creating an asset like a survey, proprietary research or a private market report. For candidates, getting them to sign up to a newsletter or job alert notification, a webinar or recruiting event is a great way to add value and attract the passive talent we’re all looking for on social media.
- Relationship Building: This is a great way to make sure that current clients or candidates, past prospects or potential new partners can not only always have an easy way to connect with you while getting the chance to engage with – and learn more – about you as a person and as a professional. This proximity generally leads to deeper relationships, more trust and, if done the right way, more business. Remember, social media is a long term game, and relationships take time. Always build to last. Results are better that way.
- Career Development: Having an active presence on social gives you access to a huge audience of similarly minded professionals, and recruiters in particular seem heavily prevalent across many social platforms. With so many voices clamoring for attention, using social to showcase your unique perspectives, personal observations and professional expertise can be a great way to drive business. What’s more, over time it can also lead to many other outcomes, like being asked to speak at key industry events or trade publications. This is the exposure that money just can’t buy, and the credibility most recruiters just can’t earn.
- Candidate Experience: People want to work with people, and social media lets recruiters actually be humans. By putting a face with the name of an employer brand, giving candidates the information they need and providing a point of contact that extends well past the point of apply, even if there’s no point in them applying. By engaging with candidates, providing them information they need to succeed in their job search and careers (at your company or otherwise) and ditching that whole gatekeeper mentality, you’ll be a beam of light into that “black hole.” An ATS is a system of record; social media is a system of engagement – and the better that engagement, the better the candidate experience. If for no other reason, this is why you should be on social media.
- Candidates being encouraged to register their resume with you or being enticed to a web page where they can view your open vacancies?
To clarify, everyone in your recruiting organization needs to know exactly who you’re targeting, where and how they can be reached and what action you hope they take to produce the outcome you want from social recruiting. This way everyone’s aligned, understands expectations and are monitored, measured and managed on social media success in a standardized, systematic way instead of just hoping whatever they’re doing is working.
If that’s the strategy, chances are, it’s not.
It’s important to think of your social media profiles as landing pages – in fact, that’s really what they are, and this is reflected by how search engines use social profiles within their web results – often ranking these networks at or near the top for most employer brand or employment specific keywords. Understand that candidates will come to these pages through search engines as well as from within these social sites.
This is why, like a landing page, they must be designed with conversion in mind. They must be compelling enough in terms of design and copy to capture initial interest and drive candidates or clients to answer your designated call to action.
Like any other web property, there are a slew of analytics that must be monitored and managed, tweaked and refined so that the results are consistently producing real results and real recruiting ROI at your organization.
Here’s an example. If a recruiter can drive 100 qualified candidates to look up at least one of their published profiles, then what percentage of them will actually take action to form that initial connection?
Will they follow you (and effectively opt-in to ongoing updates)? Will they add you on LinkedIn (and grant you access to their professional network?) Will they click through to the links on the company pages associated with your profile and actually fill out an application? The best ways to make sure is simple: be yourself, not the brand.
From your bio to your postings, don’t constantly share a bunch of information about your company and careers; let your personality out and focus on why they should get to know you as a person, not you as a recruiter; we’re all much more tolerable human beings when we’re being humans and not salesmen. Talk about work from your perspective, and add some insight and information to the jobs you do post. If your accounts are more or less automated feeds from job boards and career sites, then your conversion rates are going to be even worse than a Nigerian Prince in need of a bridge loan.
When looking to go from doing this well to killing it on social, consider surveys show it’s about 45x more likely candidates will follow, friend, fan (or whatever) a recruiter’s personal profile over a company careers or employer branded account. That’s a pretty convincing business case to lose the automated feeds, brand policing and centralized corporate career profiles in favor of giving recruiters enough trust to be themselves on social media. The difference between converting 1% of candidates and 45% of candidates is nothing to sneeze at – and if you’re on social, you’d be pretty stupid to ignore these statistics. You do you. Literally.
Conversion optimization doesn’t stop with a well crafted and personal profile, thoug. Recruiting organizations are continually dealing with a ton of variation in messaging and candidate (or client) communications, from different messaging depending on where a lead is in a funnel to whether or not they’re actively in process or proactively pipelined; whether you’re looking for candidates or looking for referrals; if you’re targeting new clients or nurturing existing ones.
There’s an infinite amount of variables, and it’s up to you to continually test the most effective message and method for making sure your call to action is answered. This is called A/B testing, and it drives up results for social recruiting by showing real stats in real time, and what’s really working (and what’s not). This will help you control your spend and optimize your approach for your targeted audience. If your candidate messaging is limited to “send us your resume,” you’re likely only going to attract the kinds of people already applying for your jobs; passive candidates or clients convert when you address them, their needs, and how you can help as specifically as possible.
This isn’t easy, but by consistently testing and optimizing your messaging and methodology to ensure that you’re consistently converting social recruiting leads into qualified candidates, you’ll be able to quickly generate the type of data you need to get the candidates you want for any particular industry, specialty, function or location. And you’ll finally have the numbers to prove it.
You can be one of those companies that has the reputation for having the absolute best social media presence in your industry or sector. You can be one of the most innovative and progressive companies in terms of social recruiting, with amazing profiles, killer copy and networks of some of the top candidates and clients in your field.
You can even have one of those conversion rates from social profiles – let’s say, 50%, which is ridiculously high, but not unheard of – but here’s the thing: you’re still only getting 50%. And in a market where every candidate counts, half is pretty much nothing. When recruiters see social recruiting results, they often stop doing the exact same stuff that made them successful – engaging less, bragging more, forgetting (as social media fame often makes us) that candidates need us more than we need them – that’s when everything normally falls apart.
Social requires constant commitment. And good is never good enough, no matter how good it is.
Every social site you’re on should be seen separately; don’t integrate with some app, as many employers do. Every site will reach a different segment of your audience and candidate pool, different UI/UX (LinkedIn, for example, allows you to select the associated thumbnail pic with a company status but Facebook does not) and functionality (LinkedIn doesn’t support hashtags, Twitter does), so integrating these through a single point of contact will hurt your chances of growing your network and engaging your fans.
Make sure that even when using the same post or link, you know which type of candidate or client is most likely to be viewing your profile or updates, and tailor your messaging according to what’s appropriate (and works best) on each respective site. Most sites will tell you how many people – and who – are looking at your profile, following your updates or sharing your content, so use this as a departure point for building a site specific profile and presence instead of one generic “personal brand.”
Social recruiting isn’t one size fits all, and making sure your profile gets seen – and making sure candidates engage with you on social and answer your call to action – means that every site, from your favorite platform to the necessary evils your company requires of recruiters, need to become a part of your daily routine, and that you’re constantly growing your audience. If you’re not seeing growth, try something new, but within a few months, you should really start seeing an increase in the flow of new leads to your profile.
In social media, a new fan or follower isn’t necessarily going to apply, but the more people who view your profile or connect with your social presence, the more warm leads (and candidate information) you’ll have to proactively build a presence and pipeline today for the opportunities that might interest or fit them tomorrow.
Consistency and diligence are key – you’ll get the worst results the minute you stop giving social your best effort.
For recruiters, social engagement is critical; it not only improves the candidate experience, but can provide recruiters with the kind of megaphone and huge audience hanging out on these platforms they’d otherwise be unable to reach.
Done the right way, this can lead to cultivating legions of fans who regularly share and comment on your updates, drive new fans and followers to your profiles and help grow your presence by helping you reach ever larger shares of your total target market.
Even if you’re doing all this, though – even if you’re a social media rock star who has case studies and white papers written about them – let’s not forget that reach and revenue aren’t necessarily correlated.
If all you’re doing is building buzz without building business, you’re not really extracting any real value from social recruiting – at least, not any monetary value, which is the reason we’re doing any of this in the first place. Sure, if you’ve got a good following and engaged fans, if you’ve got a strong brand presence and profiles on social, you have an asset. But you’re undervaluing this asset by failing to achieve its full recruiting potential.
Earlier, we talked about aligning social media with your existing sales funnel or hiring cycle, and making sure that your results align with the outcomes or objectives you want your social recruiting programs to produce. This creates a baseline to show whether or not social is moving the needle, or if you’re just spinning your wheels. If you don’t know where you are, you can’t know where you’re headed.
Once you’ve established an audience, once they trust you, only then can you hope to get value – you’ve got to give a whole lot, first. It’s tempting to want to blast out a bunch of promotional messages, the kind of direct, short term calls to action (CTAs) that might drive some of your audience immediately, but lose just as many potential prospects in the process by coming across as just another recruiter or salesy social account. Far more potent is actually engaging individually with your prospects, and personalizing your call to action. If you say their name, chances are, they’re going to lisen.
Consider these two recruiting teams:
Recruiting Team #1 sends out a Tweet, a LinkedIn Update, a sponsored Faceboook post, and a template e-mail asking everybody to schedule an appointment to discuss their career options. No specific job, location, recruiter or any other pertinent information other than a link to a “Contact Us” page with an e-mail address and 800 number.
Recruiting Team #2 listens to the people they’ve interacted with, on their own communities or on others, when they talk about their careers, their jobs or even their goals. They listen to clients who might share open positions and engage with those clients around sharing information, not selling services; about starting a dialogue, not an RFP. They individually contact every qualified candidate or client and then proactively arranges for that one on one conversation at the appropriate time, based either on external social signals or direct contact from earlier social recruiting interactions.
You don’t need to be a “guru” or “thought leader” to know that the second approach kicks the crap out of the first by a factor of 50. This is why so many recruiting businesses are seeing such poor results from social media; they succumb to the temptation of promotion, of the asking for favors instead of sharing of tips or tricks; to the ease of automation and high tech over the hard graft of one-on-one interactions and personalized communications.
But if you have any doubts as to the ultimate payoff for taking the road less travelled, all you have to do is implement some sort of big data, analytics or even a simple tracking solution for proof that hard work in social recruiting pays off – and if you’re not willing to put in that hard work, you’d do well to stay off of social.
It’s taken us hundreds of social media accounts for recruiting businesses around the world, tens of thousands of hours and innumerable fans or followers to get even the basic insights I’ve shared here. The thing is, we learn something new every day, and the one thing I am always surprised by is how many employers or recruiters think social media just isn’t working for them, even though they’ve been investing in all the wrong places and focusing on all the wrong things when it comes to social recruiting.
There’s a good chance that if you’re striking out on social recruiting, one of the culprits is listed above. The good news is these shortcomings are easy to address; sure, it might take some resources, but if you’re already investing in social, and one of these is happening at your organization, you should reinvest in solving these core capability gaps, first. If these continue to be problems, not even the fanciest career site, most expensive agency or dedicated headcount or departmental time dedicated to social will possibly pay off enough to justify your ongoing spend on social recruiting. Fix this stuff, first.
You might not get it at first – in fact, no one does – so all I can say is don’t get frustrated, and realize that as long as you know why you’re recruiting with social media, who you’re targeting, how well you’re aligning that strategy with the business and measuring results, you’ll be OK.
If not, you’re probably going to be fighting an uphill battle when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of candidates today – and even more so tomorrow.
If you need any help along the way, all you have to do is ask. That’s how you learn, you know. And if you have a success story or want to teach us what’s working for you in social recruiting, please leave a comment in the box below.
All I can say is, good luck.
Tony Restell is the founder of Social Hire, a consulting firm dedicated to partnering with candidates, recruiters and employers to better leverage social media in the hiring and job search process. If you’d like to learn more about his step-by-step process for getting results with social recruiting and business development, click here.
A published author and frequent commentator and contributor on issues related to social media, marketing and recruitment analytics, Tony has over 15 years in the online recruiting industry as an entrepreneur, business leader and consultant, and is a graduate of Cambridge University.
By Tony Restell
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