Step up your game on social media.
By Sal Loukos
A skilled recruiter knows not to underestimate the power of social media, but are these networks being used in the most effective way possible? Right now, recruiters are scouting—and at times even spamming—social networks in search of hidden talent, hardening users to such typical pitches.
To capitalize on social channels for talent acquisition, recruiters must move away from simply identifying candidates and generating immediate applications. Now that social recruiting is an established practice, it’s time for the next iteration, where companies, sourcers, and recruiters use it as a buzz-building mechanism to create awareness. If done effectively, the “buzz” produces employment branding that can increase applicant traffic and referrals.
This practice uses social networks to promote company stories in order to create short-term traffic and long-term awareness of potential candidates. It takes into account the fundamental difference between conducting direct, unsolicited outreach and cultivating buzz to fuel mutually beneficial relationships over time. Like viral marketing, it isn’t always a direct recruiting process. It moves beyond pushing jobs over LinkedIn or Twitter and into the realm of intelligently sharing ideas to create responsiveness and encourage conversations on industry-specific matters. The first approach actually doesn’t fall far from the old job board adage of “post and pray,” while the newer approach strategically builds a talent community by appealing to candidates’ specific interests.
Both large corporations seeking hires from the new millennial generation and smaller companies with little ad budget can benefit from recruitment buzz building. It’s an inexpensive yet efficient way to promote an attractive employment value proposition and get the word out fast.
Calculating a Plan
Creating buzz on social networks or sustaining a credible social presence is not an easy task. It requires a community manager to curate audience-specific content that displays originality and consistency. A clear vision and measurable goals need to be set at
Identifying the goal and audience. What are you trying to accomplish? Who are you trying to reach? How will you gauge success? The strategy will change depending on whether the goal is to attract a younger crowd or audiences with a specific skill set, promote executive level jobs, get direct leads, or keep candidates warm.
Millennials, passive candidates, active job seekers, IT or manufacturing candidates, blue collars, and senior level executives will all have a preferred method of communication and network. Engaging your target audience requires familiarity with their social hangouts, listening in on their conversations, and detecting the macro trends of their dialogues. Having deep insight into the whereabouts, social behavior, interests, and motives of an audience is indispensable to recognizing what buzz to share and the best channels to use.
Finding the crowd. It takes followers to get followed. A groundswell requires widespread reach. This demands both extensive distribution of your own story on multiple channels, and a sizable network willing and able to share the content to create a viral effect. While gathering a crowd is one of the most challenging elements of buzz building on social networks, you do not always have to create connections from scratch. Participating in conversations in already established groups will help you connect with new users and enhance your credibility. Look for industry-specific LinkedIn groups or Twitter chats and hashtags that already have a robust community—and be both a listener and contributor. Also look to influence the influencers—connect and converse with industry leaders as they tend to have huge followerships.
The nice thing about building buzz versus direct solicitation is that you aren’t spamming people. You’re subtly putting out meaningful and important content that people are drawn to read and share as a means to build a community of strong candidates that know, trust, and will respond to future job openings. Remember, this is not hunting, it’s farming. Engage both with individuals who might be a direct fit for a job, and those who add value in another way like connecting you to an established network.
Keeping the crowd interested with content. Content creation has traditionally been the realm of marketers, but recruiting has become increasingly about building a trusted and known employer brand, which has caused the two worlds to collide. Recruitment buzz building can be a great tool to support a company’s overall communication strategy and should be aligned with branding and marketing. Cash in on your company’s marketing department. Marketers can help to develop a clear vision as well as provide valuable branding material. This partnership will ensure that a cohesive message is shared across all company outlets.
If content is king, originality is queen. Content worth sharing—think quality over quantity—is key to building a viral buzz. Make sure that topics are relevant to your audience and appeal to the masses. Where and how content is shared impacts your success. Other avenues to consider:
• Make use of multimedia. Share a video that showcases current employees talking about their most challenging projects, rewarding achievements, and company culture.
• Build a blog for hiring managers to discuss open roles, their
importance, and incentives for joining the team. Candidates want to know who they’ll be working with. This will appeal to like-minded candidates by providing a glimpse into the types of responsibilities that would traditionally be included in a job post, as well as culture and values.
• Create Twitter handles, Facebook pages or LinkedIn groups that are
dedicated specifically to careers. For this to draw a wide audience, the tone of the content shared needs to be inventive, distinct, and somewhat provocative. Humorous, true-life, dramatic, or astonishing stories have proven effective in producing buzz. Examples of this include turning an IT job description into an enticing video demonstration of the cutting-edge technology used for the job or designing an infographic of the five reasons a candidate should work at your company.
Tailor messages to each delivery channel and its audience. Ongoing discussions will work best on social hubs such as LinkedIn groups, curated content is best shared on micro-blogs or Twitter, and infographics and videos will be received best on visual display channels such as YouTube or a company career portal.
Once buzz is established, continue providing consistent content and material to support and reinforce its credibility. And don’t be afraid to experiment and try new tools or strategies, like Pinterest. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and emulating approaches that other recruiters have used to create a popular and desirable employer brand is a good place to start.
By empowering employees to act as brand ambassadors, Starbucks has successfully established an attractive employment brand. Their tool belt includes everything from widgets, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), and really simple syndication (RSS) feeds to a complete Twitter/LinkedIn integration. Starbucks’ buzz-building strategies are made even stronger by their constant innovation and ability to turn social outlets into culture pages. They’ve developed video content with the “My Starbucks Story” campaign on YouTube, where employees are asked to make short videos about the work they do. Hiring managers host an active discussion on Twitter by individually responding to applicants and promoting the hashtag #tobeapartner, a catchy phrase that captures Starbucks employment’s value proposition of growth and partnership. A LinkedIn page displays the benefits of working at the company through current employee references and information on their headquarters in Seattle, which has been voted one of the world’s most livable cities.
Social buzz is all about using what your company already has to cultivate relationships and expand your message’s reach through community management. So remember to personify your own and your company’s social presence, both contributing and participating in the crowd you’re trying to build. Most recruiters already use social networks for searching, but it’s time to transform the way we’re using these tools to create buzz that will return dividends in the long term.
Sal Loukos is sourcing manager for Seven Step Recruiting.