When Social Recruiting isn't Social.....

After over six years (I just counted them!) of banging the drum for social media in recruiting I sometimes feel I should be really pleased that the discussion has finally tipped into the mainstream. I'm noticing more and more that many large employers are looking much more seriously at how they can expand their activity beyond LinkedIn into Twitter and Facebook as well as other platforms and techniques. However I'm just finding myself getting more and more frustrated as somewhere along the line the whole idea of being social and the power of conversation is either being lost or deliberately disregarded. There is much I could write on this theme but thought for now it would be best to post an article I've just written for AGR regarding this whole topic in graduate recruitment:

SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE?

After several years of hype and experimentation, 2012 was the year that social media began to move into the mainstream of graduate recruitment, but harnessing its huge audiences in an effective way remains challenging. Matt Alder, digital social and mobile strategist and founder of strategic advisory company MetaShift, sheds some light on how the industry can take charge…

With almost 100% penetration into the student audience, Facebook is undoubtedly the new “campus” in graduate recruitment, and Facebook’s importance will grow even further as tuition fees bite and many students study closer to home, potentially disrupting the notion of specific universities being focused talent pools for particular companies. Facebook gives employers the opportunity to create their own virtual talent communities that aren’t limited by physical geography.

There is some great work being done in this area by the likes of Unilever and Ernst and Young, and a growing number of companies recruiting graduates have a presence on Facebook. However, despite a lot of progress, there is a very long way to go before companies truly leverage this platform’s power. There are two key areas the industry needs to focus on for the future:

Community focus Firstly employees need to see their Facebook pages as a community that transcends the traditional graduate hiring cycle and offers them a year wide opportunity to engage a broader target audience than just final year students. There seems to be a real trend towards running competitions that drive “likes” to company Facebook pages but often very little thought about what happens afterwards. I’ve seen employer pages with thousands of likes and no subsequent content or engagement beyond the initial competition. This is a huge missed opportunity and potentially brand damaging as there could be a perception that the employer doesn’t understand the channel or the behaviors of their target audience.

Understanding algorithms Secondly having a basic understanding of Facebook’s “Edgerank” algorithm is absolutely vital for success. It is estimated that only about 10% of users who “like” a page will see content posted by that page in their news feed. With so much content being posted to the site, Facebook uses the Edgerank algorithm to target only the most interesting and relevant content to users. Videos and images are optimised over text based postings and the more likes, shares or comments a particular content post receives the more Facebook optimizes it. Of course likes, shares and comments also mean the content could be posted to the news feed of the friends of the user who is interacting, dramatically increasing its reach.

Facebook is obviously the biggest platform but it is not the only route to building conversation with potential graduate hires. Twitter, employer created communities and even LinkedIn all have enormous potential. Graduate recruiters should also remember that these platforms are about helping to create and curate conversation about their employer brands; they are not just another channel to broadcast corporate messages.

Mobile mania Looking to the future, the most important thing for employers to consider as they develop their social media strategies is the vital role of mobile. The majority of social networking traffic comes from the mobile internet via smart phones. It is becoming increasing difficult to buy a mobile phone that doesn’t have internet access these days and there some great entry level products in the market working on the Android or Windows platforms. I believe almost the entire target market for graduate recruitment own a smartphone and this phone is the hub of all of their social media participation.

The implications of this are quite dramatic. Most graduate recruiters are attempting to direct traffic generated in social media platforms to their own recruitment websites. My own research has revealed that most companies do not have a mobile optimised or enabled website and are therefore delivering a poor or even non-existent user experience to a large number of their visitors.

At a recent conference I attended the head of talent acquisition for UPS said that their biggest mistake with social media was to start any activity before their mobile site had been developed, such was the positive level of its impact on their success. UPS are probably one of the most successful hirers of talent from social media in the world. It is a point well worth considering.

This article originally appeared in the December edition of the AGR Graduate Recruiter Magazine which you can view here