How to Launch in the Social Space

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  • By
    Melissa Murray Balsan
  • in Emerging Media

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Feel pressure to add social media to your recruitment mix? Chances are you've been putting it off for one or all of these four reasons:

  1. Lack of urgency — Existing responsibilities claim priority over new developments.
  2. Impact — You can't predict an earth-shattering ROI, so it's difficult to sell up the chain.
  3. Organizational fear — Someone forwarded the Domino's Pizza employee video to everyone in the company without showing how they responded and are growing stronger from it.
  4. Analysis paralysis — You've got the green light to create a social recruiting presence, but are unsure how to get started.

Sound about right? Read on.

This scenario is common. We meet social media evangelists every day who totally "get it" and are nearing their breaking point trying to convince those who don't. Pushing social media uphill in an organization riddled with naysayers often involves debating countless public social media disasters to convince everyone the anticipated rewards are worth any small risks. Before you throw in the towel, try practicing these four ways to sharpen your lobbying skills:

Wise up on the big "C"

Compliance. It's the trump card the critics will undoubtedly pull from their sleeve to discredit social media sites for recruitment. Be ready for this objection and practice your rebuttal. There's a difference between using social media sites to source candidates and extending your employment brand to attract candidates. In fact, Anthony Scarpino, Director of Talent Acquisition at Sodexo, describes it best here:

By participating in social media to source, a recruiter uses a site like LinkedIn to seek out candidates and contact them either directly or through an introduction about an opportunity. This involves targeting and evaluating attributes of the candidate profile. This type of sourcing should follow a standard process to ensure equal consideration of all candidates and is most effective when initiated from individual recruiter accounts.

Social recruiting differs in that the main goal is to motivate people to join the company's talent community, apply to jobs, attend job fairs, and experience the culture. Calls to action for candidates on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., typically link back to a job posting tied to an OFCCP-compliant application process. Simply put, social recruiting is experiential marketing. It's about showing people that your company is a great place to work, connecting them to peers who can affirm what you claim, and answering questions. It leaves the screening up to the trained recruiters.

Be savvy about the sites

Facebook boasts more than 500 million users, and eMarketer predicts the site to reach 57 percent of the adult U.S. internet population this year. Despite widespread adoption, most arguments opposing social recruitment still claim that Facebook isn't an appropriate site for career-related content. This is steadfastly false.

According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 74 percent of participants were interested in seeing job opportunities posted on company social media pages. HR departments have seen as much as a 65 percent increase in employee referrals with Work@, a Facebook application that matches jobs to employees' friends using career information listed in public profiles. Even more astounding, more than 54 percent of job seekers say they are more likely to apply to a company after becoming a fan on Facebook or following a company on Twitter. Arm yourself with these stats so you can confidently defend the need to use the largest and fastest-growing social networks on the planet to unlock passive candidate streams.

Resist the Field of Dreams whisper

Even if you've never seen the 1989 American sports drama Field of Dreams, you probably recognize the often misquoted line whispered to the main character in a dramatic cornfield scene: "If you build it, He will come." There's a chance that no less than half of your company feels this way about creating a social media presence.

Those who make this assumption generally fear that people will bombard social media page(s) with negative comments. In their minds, there's a virtual lynch mob just waiting to strike — rejected candidates, disgruntled employees, and former staff with hundreds of bones to pick. In this nightmare, the page goes live and a Batman signal illuminates the Internet, drawing people in by the thousands to attack. Albeit a dramatization, this is an unfounded fear you must educate decision-makers about.

Without advertising, company Facebook pages only grow by an average of 35 fans within the first month. Not only are pages not blitzed by raging lunatics, they're not graced by the avid supporters, either. A campaign is essential to effectively launch a new Facebook page and should consist of Facebook advertising, integration on existing Web properties, and employee support. And, if mobsters do find their way to the page, have an effective management strategy in place to respond. If criticism occurs, this CB Social white paper reveals that 63 percent of users have a better impression of a company that responds to users' negative posts than those who do not address negativity.

Give them something to talk about

While some of us may be too young to remember Bonnie Raitt, we can all learn from her catchy Let's Give Them Something to Talk About tune. Without real, resonating examples of why a brand should participate in social media, the idea will remain just that — a good idea and a "when we get around to it" item on a perpetual to-do list. Even worse, it could become a "we should've done that years ago" item after the opportunity has passed by.

The easiest way to get people to pay attention to social media is to show them conversations taking place that involve something important to them.

  • For HR and recruitment, check out sites like Glassdoor; Vault; and Jobitorial for an indication of your employment brand.
  • Browse Yahoo! Answers; Ask; Yelp; and Amazon reviews for product questions, ratings and buyer reactions.
  • Use sites like 48ers and Social Mention to see how much buzz exists about working at your company. Check out Openbook to search for keyword mentions of your company in Facebook status messages.
  • Set up Google Alerts and advanced Twitter search feeds to learn about conversations as they unfold. Get notifications in real time by enabling the email setting on Google Alerts and using the feed option for a Twitter query to push new tweets to your RSS reader.

Share select examples from these free search sites to start conversations around what it would be like if you had a social media page to host and respond to conversations. Share the positive remarks and help alleviate the fear that nothing good can come from social recruiting. Take note of recurring topics and misconceptions — these are important concerns that will shape your social media messages.

The point: Ignite the need to participate in social media work by alleviating fears and uncovering conversations that excite your biggest critics. Once the need is clear, you'll know how to use social media to support internal initiatives and have a sense of urgency with which to act. With a clear goal, the impact on your recruitment and the organization as a whole will be much easier to measure.

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