A Guide to Social Media Recruitment

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

What is social media recruitment and how can your organization benefit from it?

To find out we recently had a chat with Andy Headworth who is the author of “Social Media Recruitment, How to Successfully Integrate Social Media into Recruitment Strategy” as well as the Managing Director of Sirona Consulting.

You can listen to the interview below, keep reading for a summary and don’t forget to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

Do you have a step by step guide to creating a social media in recruitment strategy?

Absolutely, I’ve got an eight stage process. Which has defined and I use this with clients regularly.

  1. Set Your Objectives. So, the first one is the most important thing, which is actually setting your objectives. So this is the thing that a lot of people don’t do. So they don’t actually know why they are doing it in the first place. So you and I being around this industry long enough to now and have the experience of the CEO that decides to do social media, because their son or daughter says they should do Twitter, we’ve both seen that. But so the first thing is, understand your objectives for each of the platforms that you’ve done your homework on and decide that you’re going to use. So LinkedIn is different from Twitter, it different from Facebook, is different from Pinterest so each will have a different objective.
  2. Define Your Audience. Number two then is, and probably combined with number one is to define your audience. So understand what your audience is, what you’re recruiting for, what they look like, where they are based, what sites they are on, create your persona and map that. And that takes some time but that needs to be done effectively to get some proper results in social.
  3. Choose Your Platforms. Then it’s the question of choosing your platforms. As I said in one, then you set your objectives for those platforms. So most people default and go straight to LinkedIn without even thinking about it, especially in the IT and tech space. A lot of those candidates are no longer active on those platforms, they’re on other ones. So get rid of the assumptions and open your mind.
  4. Select Your People. Number four, make sure you choose the right people in your team that is best suited to and motivated to be involved with your social activities, whether that’s sourcing on social, whether that’s the community managers, whether it’s the recruiting team that is actually doing the engagement and pushing the content out.
  5. Provide Training. They then need to be provided with very, very good training and understanding so that they are using the platforms correctly.
  6. Define Your Content Strategy. What’s the content that’s going to come out on those platforms, is it going to be your content is it going to be other people’s content, is it going to be created by the employees? Whatever that looks like and again with the objective to meet the objectives that you set in stage one so it might be branding, it might be attraction, it might be actually getting them to apply for jobs.
  7. Measurement. You have to measure what you are doing on a weekly or monthly basis. It needs to be tweaked, changed to maintain what you are trying to achieve.
  8. Monitoring. And on an ongoing basis, things need to be monitored and this is monitoring for your brand, your website, your people, campaigns and simple tools like Google Alerts and Mention are good starting for that. But a lot of the big brands now have Radian6 and Meltwater and all the other ones that are the big monitoring platforms in place.

So that’s the eight stages, each one in its own right can get quite complicated as you can appreciate but that the simple process that I use and it works.

What are some of the mistakes to avoid?

How long have we got? It’s the reverse of some of the strategy there I’ve talked about there. So the first thing is, is not taking the time to do some homework first, so it’s jumping in with two left feet and assuming that everyone is on a particular platform, or you think they are on a particular platform. The first thing is not understanding your audience and where they are.

The second thing is not enough focus. So again we see it regularly where a company will set up a LinkedIn company page, Facebook page, Facebook profiles, Pinterest page, Instagram and there’s not enough focus. There’s too much content required and they are just blunder-bussing it so that a big problem.

So then we get to the content piece, it’s like the, me, me, me, they always talk about themselves and it’s not exciting enough, unfortunately even for the big brands. They need to talk about them, their employees, what other people are doing, share other people’s content. Posting jobs in streams too often is… Two or three years ago they would have got away with it but now it’s changed and people push back on that, I think. So it’s a negative aspect and the final piece is actually not reviewing it, not checking the metrics, not looking at how it’s working and just keep blindingly posting and not checking to change it.

How does social media impact employer branding?

A huge impact, in my opinion. I think the availability of social networks has given everybody a voice. So that’s potential employees, existing employees, alumni from your company. And it’s a voice to express an opinion, talk about the company, talk about anything to do with that brand as well as the company. So you add in the technology like mobile, the proliferation of video apps, image apps, mobile cameras, the ability to find or to share more content information about what it’s like to work in that particular company, it’s really helping employees now to get a feel for what it’s like to work there, so it’s a very powerful tool.

And for me, it’s no longer optional. Yeah, there is an expectancy now from a job seeker to go to a search engine whether that’s Google, whether it’s a career site search engine and find information out about companies. We’re seeing in America Glassdoor, for example, is a lot bigger than it is here in the UK and Europe but we’re seeing them expand here, as more and more people are looking to see what the brand is like online and what people are saying about them. So done well, it massively aids recruitment and retention, done badly or even not at all and I think we know how badly that can affect the company.

Do employers need a content strategy?

I think they do if they don’t have a content strategy they don’t tend to post content, I think that’s the simple answer to that. We both know how hard it is to create and find good content. I think the thing I would say to people is that when you talk about content strategies there’s an assumption that people are thinking we are talking about their own content all the time, which I think is a mistake. I think there aren’t many people that can produce the volumes of content to post four or five times a day, seven days a week and keep it interesting and relevant to your audience.

So I think that it’s important for companies to look outside that, plan their content, plan what’s coming up. Not too far in advance, three or four weeks is more than enough to keep it current but utilize external content targeted to your audience, supplemented by your own existing content to keep things interesting and fresh. And make sure again it’s not about me, me, me, but it’s about all sector, our industry and the relevance to the audience.

Do you have to advertise on social to have success?

The first thing I would take that back to the objectives. So the first thing I’d say to someone, “Let’s look at your objectives.” If your objective is to maximize your reach, push content out there and whether that’s jobs branding, it doesn’t matter what it is. Then I say, “Facebook in their own wisdom, as an example, has made it pretty much impossible now to work on an organic strategy.” Just to take Facebook as an example I think is it 10% of your likes on your Facebook page are going to see organic content if you are lucky. If that. So I think that you don’t have any choice nowadays. Because I think the interesting thing is how you spend your money. Do you do pure Facebook PPC advertising down the right-hand side, do you do sponsored post, do you sponsored updates? And I think that’s the interesting one which comes back to mobile. So if you think about all the methods that we can advertise on social media, it needs to be a method now that goes through a mobile phone. We know that 50% of LinkedIn’s traffic is on mobile. We know that also if you look at, I don’t know how much traffic on Facebook, it’s huge, is on a mobile phone on a mobile app. You can’t place PPC adverts on a mobile phone so the actual strategy of social advertising has to be thought of carefully, and where that fits in, and what stream it comes in.

How do you measure ROI on social media recruitment?

It comes back to the objectives again. So you can do a number of different things. At the moment, for example, I’m working with a couple who are literally day two and day three, not literally but near as damn it, and they just want to have numbers. To start with, they just want to get some traction so we’re looking at reach, we are looking at expanding numbers. So that’s a question of setting some targets, measuring them and achieving them so are very simple ROI, whether we are spending money to do the promotion or whether it’s the time taken and the resources used.

You could look at the exposure than of how big your networks are to start engaging with people that can expand your exposure again based on your objectives and they are similar with influence. There is another simple but also very complex ROI which is on placements. If you have a very good ATS, if you have a very good recruiting system or CRM system that you can track jobs, for example, or links and effectively tracks back into the system when people apply or come in via that method, then that’s a very straight forward way of determining an ROI because you can base it on direct applications, for example, from a link.

The challenge with social comes in is, let’s just say you as an organization push some content out, start engaging people in January. That candidate sees that content in January, it registers for the first time, it’s your brand and thinks what a great place to work but they are a contract at the moment. But you stay in contact with them for three or four months and it might be LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and you start to build a relationship and eventually six months later they come to you. How are you going to track that initial contact, and what will that source of the initial engagement come from be? Would it be that first time they saw you on that social network or would it be the other ones subsequently? So I’m not convinced that’s the easiest part to track ROI, maybe you start looking at the ROI of the engagement piece and measuring that. But I think that’s still the piece that we are probably missing in the industry, the long term tracking of initial contact.

What companies are doing social media recruitment right?

There is a lot, more than people think. So there are a few favorites of mine, Maersk I know you’ve covered them before, in Scandinavia I think are one of the best examples in the last few years of how to do it right. They’ve done it primarily on Facebook I think anyway and do it in a very interesting way. They used images and they went out they asked their own employees, what do they use? I know you’ve done the interview I think it’s about 85% of them used Facebook so they went to Facebook, they listened to their staff were. They’ve done a very, very good job.

Spotify does some very interesting things around sourcing and engaging candidates using their playlists to engage candidates which I think is a really cute way of doing it. Boots the Chemist in the UK, traditional retailer has been for ages some of the stuff that Mark Rice and his team are doing with Boots around, engaging candidates. And we are talking about retail operatives and retail assistants throughout a long three or four-month period via Twitter, via Facebook, via Pinterest, Instagram, images, videos. Really nice way of engaging the candidates and then when they are ready they may then we’ll see go in and try to track them as a particular candidate.

KLM so they’ve always done some fantastic stuff around social and employer branding as well as recruiting. And we all chastised some of the big brands, sometimes like the big accountancy firms, and I won’t mention them, but all the ones we all well know [e.g. EY & Deloitte]. But they do some really funky stuff now around particular aimed at graduates. So they go after that marketplace and they use gamification, social media, they use all the different channels images, video, different attraction campaigns. So I think there’s lots of examples and they are the big ones that you see.

Connect with Andy on Twitter @AndyHeadworth.


Our newsletter is exclusively curated by our CEO, Jörgen Sundberg, for leaders who make decisions about talent. Subscribe for updates on The Employer Branding Podcast, new articles, eBooks, research and events we’re working on.


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