The Web is continually impacting marketing strategies and tactics, and let’s face it – a significant part of recruiting is marketing. The latest buzz is around using social media, or Web 2.0, to help recruit top talent.

Marketing Is Changing

With the onset of social media, marketing departments can no longer control the message. Power is shifting to the end user. Individuals can influence the perception of a brand and buying decisions of their online friends through such online media as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs.

Many employers view social media channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and blogging as ways for the younger generation to have fun and stay connected with friends and colleagues. As a result, they often view social media as a distraction for their employees while at work. They believe it leads to lost productivity and profits. But what many employers have yet to understand is that there’s also an opportunity to use these technologies to positively impact, and even grow their businesses. Savvy recruiters have discovered this and use social media to find and attract top talent. Studies show social networks trail only employee referrals as the best source for finding new employees.

Five Social Media Channels Well Suited for Recruiting

There are hundreds of social media websites or services on the Web today and many more on the horizon. Given limited resources, it’s important to carefully decide what channels are appropriate for your recruiting efforts and are likely to produce the highest return on investment. Channels come and go as the underlying technology evolves and people’s preferences change so it’s important to invest your resources strategically. These five channels are most commonly used for business.

YouTube 

A free video sharing website founded in 2005 has become one of the most popular sites in the world. Registered users can upload and share an unlimited number of videos, each up to approximately five minutes in length. Registered users’ accounts are called “channels” and can be branded with the user’s logo and colors. Videos can be played on the YouTube website or embedded directly into another website, such as an organization’s primary marketing site. YouTube can be considered a free video hosting and streaming service.

  • Use video to present recruiting information, facility tours, and employee testimonials.

LinkedIn 

Founded in 2002 LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site mainly used for professional networking. Registered users build their network of contacts, people they know and value in business, by sending out or accepting connection requests. Introductions to new contacts can be made through your connections. This gated-access approach is intended to build trust.

  • Develop and grow your personal network of professionals that you can reach out to when looking for top talent.
  • Stay in touch with former valued colleague as potential candidates.
  • Look for candidates by searching LinkedIn profiles. Review prospect profiles to determine if they are worth reaching out to using LinkedIn’s InMail™ feature.
  • Ask your employees to use their network to help identify referral candidates.
  • Pay the required fees so you can post your job openings on LinkedIn.

Facebook 

A free social networking website with over 1.23 billion monthly active users worldwide as of December 31 2013. Registered users can invite other users to be their “friend.” Once a friend request is accepted, they become part of the user’s network. Friends can send each other private messages or write on each other’s “wall” – a message area owned by a user that can be viewed by all their friends. Additionally, users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school, and region. Personal pages can also include applications ranging from games to suggested reading lists. Business can also have a presence on Facebook by creating a business page or group.

  • Post openings to your organization’s business page. Registered users will receive notices when you post. You can post the jobs manually, use a third party tool like Involver, or use the proprietary development language called Facebook Markup Language (FMBL) to develop your own job listings.
  • Post the YouTube videos you’ve created on your business or group page.
  • Help keep your Facebook business page alive by ensuring organizational news, photos, and links are current and frequently updated.

Twitter 

A free micro-blogging service created in 2006 that enables registered users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the sender’s profile page and delivered to the sender’s subscribers who are known as followers. Registered users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter website, Short Message Service (SMS), or external applications (e.g., TweetDeck or Twhirl). A February 2009 Compete.com blog entry ranked Twitter as the third most used social network.

  • Actively look for top talent by searching for keywords in member profiles and tweets. Search for industry specific terms and terms like job seeking, resume, or hire.
  • Look for industry leaders on Twitter, see who they follow (and who follows them) and work that network of connections to source top talent.
  • Use Twitter to send messages, or tweet, about your organization’s openings, latest recruiting news, and upcoming events.

Blogs

Typically thought of as an online diary, a blog (short for “web log”) is usually maintained by an individual with regular entries or posts. Posts are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. A key component of a blog is the ability for readers to comment on and subscribe to content. Businesses can use blog posts to share commentary, descriptions of events, news or announcements, or links to other website content. This helps give your organization a personal face and can reinforce your employment brand.

  • Make sure your organization’s blog occasionally has postings about what the work environment is like, the talent that you’re looking for, and available openings.

Clean House First

Remember, once you’re an active part of the Web community, it is likely visits to your organization’s website will start to increase. A major goal of social media marketing is to drive traffic to your website. Top talent is not going to contact you about working for your organization from something they read on Facebook or a 140 character message they saw on Twitter. Social media channels help support your marketing funnel. Social media marketing isn’t intended to replace all your other marketing channels. In online marketing, the real due diligence happens on your website and in person-to-person interactions.

Before you start driving recruits to your website with social media marketing, take some time to audit your website. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Are you confident your current website provides visitors with exactly what they need and expect?
  • Is the information useful to your target audience?
  • Does it differentiate your organization from other organizations?
  • Does it present your organization’s personality or brand well?
  • Is it designed to recruit talent?
  • Can recruits apply for positions online? Is that process user friendly?

Remember, online communities are like your neighborhood hangout, and your website is like your home. As in the real world, take care to make sure your home is ready for company before inviting people over for a visit. You can only make a first impression once.

Conclusion

To successfully add social media to your organization’s recruiting marketing mix, you must start with a clear understanding of your goals, resources, and constraints. Then build and adopt a social media marketing strategy based on that understanding. Select channels that help you reach your target audience. Measure your results and adjust your strategy based on your findings to maximize your return on investment. Done well, you’ll reap the benefits of accelerated messaging that helps you find top talent.

 

Joe Rotella, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Joe Rotella, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Chief Marketing Officer at Delphia Consulting
Joe is a leading thinker and a professional speaker in the areas of HR technology, marketing, and web usability. He is a well-recognized speaker for the Society of Human Resources Management.