One of the most common questions I receive when discussing social media for recruiting and candidate engagement beyond return on recruitment investment is, “How do I manage it all?” Social media is a tool to communicate and build relationships similar to email, the fax machine, or telephone. Like building a community through any communication tool, social media recruiting requires training, preparation, and most importantly, boundaries, in order to be effective.
When recruiting and developing relationships with job seekers, time is money. While the average US Facebook user now spends nearly 16 hours a month, recruiters can develop effective relationships on the big three social networking platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) without spending a large time investment.
Social Media Recruiting Best Practices
- Your Target Audience. This is key in areas of marketing and sales. In order to be effective with your time and money, you must know and understand who your target audience is. When it comes to social media recruiting, this is no different. This means asking newly hired employees questions, researching on the web, and the willingness to experiment with different websites and communities. While this idea may seem obvious, it makes no sense to spend hundreds of hours building a community and creating profiles and groups on LinkedIn targeting construction workers if the platform demographics are college educated, white collar males, age 40 and above. Yup, it has happened.
- Engagement Not Sales. The beauty of social media recruiting is the power of transparency in the conversing and influencing that occurs online within the social networks. Companies, individuals, and professionals must establish a sense of value within the community you wish to grow with. Focus on value with quick messages and resources from your blog but mostly from the websites and blogs of others. Social media and the information contained with these community is done with a pay it forward mentality. Many of these messages can be scheduled in advance using social scheduling tools like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, freeing you up to focus your efforts on building relationships. And by building relationships, I mean picking up the phone and meeting those influencers for coffee. Take those online connections offline focusing on helping them instead of just helping you.
- Inserting Yourself Into Conversations. When it comes to social media, it’s a community with cultural norms and expectations that are unique to the ecosystem like any other. To develop a stronger talent pool, know the norms. By doing your research up front you begin to understand how relationships are built and who the key players are within the community. To focus on building professional relationships, start by closely following 15-25 influencers online, and then, inserting yourself into the conversations. This includes commenting on their blogs, tweeting them directly, and sharing their content through the various online channels. Building these relationships upfront allows for creating favor in advance. And calling in those favors when you need them.
Building a talent community on social media takes time. It is not a 2 week or 3 month process. Like a community in real life, the process is ongoing. By researching up front, creating structure and focusing your efforts, you can maximize your time spent when it comes to whatever your end goal is when it comes to recruiting and building talent communities online.
Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a HR consultant, new media strategist, and author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. Jessica is the host of Job Search Secrets, an internet television show for job seekers.