It makes sense- candidates trust a human voice more than a corporate logo, and learn more about a company through social media than through careers pages and job descriptions. And yet, only 45% of Fortune 500 companies include a link to social media on their careers page. There is clearly an opportunity here.
We’ve thought through how to build a social recruiting strategy that goes beyond “good” or “average”, and came to the conclusion that it hinges on good planning and better execution. Here’s how:
1. Start with assessing where you are
Many companies have a decent presence online: they post regular updates on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, they have a page on Glassdoor, and some form of interaction with their online followers. And unless you are a household brand or a hot, up-and-coming tech unicorn, you might not expect more of your own social pages.
Some companies, however, seem to have mastered a way to build social recruiting pages that spark visitors’ curiosity and invite them scroll down. And down. And down some more. We found examples of these companies in every industry from business services to hospitality to construction, so a less-than-glamorous industry is not an excuse for boring social pages.
How do you compare with these companies? If you want to have a sense of where your own social media recruiting strategy stands, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you struggle to identify your employer brand’s tone and personality online? Is it inconsistent across all your social pages?
- Do you find that you merely push the same information through all of your social channels? And is it mostly job posts and general company updates?
- Do you publish content on an ad-hoc basis instead of relying on a long-term schedule, driven by a strategic goal?
- Is it hard to determine what returns you are getting on your social media investments?
If you have answered yes to one or more of these questions, then there is probably room for optimization in your social recruiting strategy. And yes, you will need some resources to accomplish that, but good planning, careful execution, and a wise usage of automation will get you most of the way there.
2. Lay down a marketing strategy
So where should you start? Social media is still just a channel, not a recruitment marketing strategy in itself. A marketing strategy of any kind, including one destined to help you attract candidates, starts with two things: Segmentation and positioning.
Segmentation is the process of dividing a target audience or market into groups of individuals who share a common trait, like a geographical location, a professional background, or a level of seniority. You might have encountered this process when creating talent pools or candidate personas.
After segmenting your target candidate group, you must decide what clear, defined spot you will hold in their mind, what image you will build; that is your positioning. It will impact every marketing decision you make, starting with your employer brand.
Say for instance you are a gym chain. You might hire for corporate roles, mostly business and operations related, and studio roles, mostly for instructors or admin staff. There will be roles where a fitness background is necessary, and others where it is only desirable.
Location will matter for studio-based openings, but not as much for corporate roles, if you are willing to persuade your candidates to move for a job at your company. Those are all criteria you can use to segment your target candidates.
Now, how will you position yourself in the perception of these different audiences? Brainstorm a few possibilities and run them by your employees: do they consider their company to be a fun, relaxed place, or a rather fast-paced, energetic environment? Does your company reward creativity or discipline? And what is your corporate brand? How can it support your employer brand?
These are the questions that will help you define who you are as an employer, and will give a consistent and unified voice to all your social recruitment efforts.
The concepts themselves are pretty simple: who am I talking to, and what am I telling them? That’s basically it.
Even so, don’t skip this step or short-change it. When thinking about your positioning, be realistic about who you are as a company: if everything about your culture and values says one thing, but you are trying to sell another, candidates will notice further down the recruiting process. But don’t look at this as a constraint. A good recruitment marketing strategy is not supposed to be attractive to everyone, but to filter out the bad fits and attract the good.
Build a plan based on your strategy
Now that you have an idea of what kind -or kinds- of candidates you are targeting and how you want them to perceive you, you can draft an outline of your social media recruiting plan.
i) Define the goal of your social recruiting strategy
It could be to simply grow your employer brand or to attract more candidates. You could also have a specific issue in mind, and plan to use social media to address it, like building a stronger presence with the LGBT community or raising your offer acceptance rate. Whatever they may be, these goals will guide your plan.
ii) Learn more about social media channels
Make a list of all the channels that are available to you, with a note for the content formats that do or do NOT work for them.
Instagram, for instance, is not the best channel for text, or for official company updates. Twitter is not just a podium for one-way transactional announcements. LinkedIn works great for industry-related content and company updates, and your videos or live streams will do very well on Facebook. Be sure to consider the less obvious options as well.
Try WeChat if you are expanding in Asia or courting Chinese candidates for your local offices. Use Quora to answer questions about getting a job in your industry, for example.
Don’t forget specialized platforms where you can find a specific group of candidates: StackOverflow or Github for programmers, Dribble or Behance for designers, AngelList for entrepreneurship-oriented professionals.
You need to know these channels well: their reach and demographics, the key to success on each of them, and the type of content that they expect to find on them. They are the tools at your disposal for building a solid social recruiting plan.
iii) Line up content ideas
Start with obvious gaps and discrepancies between your current employer image, and the one you want to build. Back to the gym example: Current employees tell you that they really appreciate the career progression options that the company offers them, but your social media only talks about great facilities and membership benefits.
To correct that gap, share how your company promoted 4 instructors to studio managers this past month. Talk about the measurable efforts they made to keep their studios organized and welcoming, and why that matters at your company. Your marketing department might also be open to collaborating on a “Life At Company” page or account similar to this one.
Keep in mind, though, that it’s not only about pushing content. You will also be reacting to candidates and interacting with them: reviews on Glassdoor, questions or messages on LinkedIn or Facebook, replies on Twitter, answers on Quora…
Will you always tag candidates with their name? Will you be smooth and formal in your comments and answers, or will you bombard your audience with cheerful exclamation points and shouty capitals? What about emojis? How will you address inappropriate language or topics? And negative comments? These small details matter in establishing your voice and personality, and it’s a good idea to formalize them.
In addition to your original social marketing strategy and your stated hiring goals, these guidelines can become your sanity check whenever you are unsure of what to share next on social media or how to respond to a specific interaction.
3. Good planning, better execution
Execution is where most people fall short, because it requires persistent and relentless attention to every tedious little detail. It’s worth it, however; over time, solid execution invariably builds up to a great social media presence.
What does that look like? Take a look at @underarmourjobs’s Twitter feed, for example. You can immediately pick up on what matters to them as a company: being a team, giving back, and pushing yourself to be better all the time.
Their Facebook page carries the same focused, consistent, and well-documented message.
There is no shortcut for that result, unfortunately- it comes from ensuring that every single piece of content that goes out on your channels is “on brand”, or consistent with the employer brand and positioning you’ve defined for yourself in the planning phase.
This content can take many, many different forms. It shouldn’t be limited to an endless list of job postings interrupted here and there with a picture of your headquarters. There is so much more that prospective candidates want to hear from you! Interview simulations, employees’ work-related travels, webinars with a hiring manager…
It doesn’t have to be spectacular- not every company has Starbucks’s deep pockets and can create custom interactive lenses on SnapChat – but it can be authentic and engaging for your ideal candidates. Pan Macmillan’s Frankfurt Book Fair vlog may look uninteresting to the general candidate population, but is perfect geek-out material for book lovers.
Netflix posted a video of employee’s cats reacting to “that scene” on Stranger Things [ spoiler alert!] to their Life At Netflix page. GE’s Instagram account consists almost entirely of pictures of engines, compressors, planes and complex machine models- an irresistible treat for engineering-minded candidates. This level of quality comes from working every day on finding interesting tidbits to share with candidates.
Great execution also means paying attention to social interactions. Be reactive, but not a machine. Don’t systematically reply: “Thank you for your interest! Please refer to our careers page” at every comment or message; no one likes a copy-pasted answer.
Pro tip: Automation for social media
Think that’s too much to do for your recruiting team? Never fear. There is a slew of tools you can use to automate scheduling, posting and monitoring messages and mentions on social media, such as SproutSocial, Buffer, or Hootsuite to mention only a couple.
You can free up time to focus on connecting with other departments at your company to source great content, or to try channels that are a little out of your comfort zone.
4. Make sure to measure it all
Another advantage of automation is that it usually comes with analytics. You’ll be able to track things like number of retweets or likes, mentions, conversions to your career pages or your application page. More importantly, however, you’ll be able to iterate and improve on your social recruitment strategy.
A good analytics feedback loop should help you measure your performance on two dimensions:
i) Long-term Employer Branding efforts
For this, Talent Promoter Score (TPS) is a great bet. It’s a measure of brand advocacy by candidates- exactly like a Net Promoter Score, but for talent acquisition. The higher your TPS, the stronger your Employer Brand, and the more likely you are to be known among your target audience as a great employer. You can compare TPS across social media channels, for instance, to understand where you perform best.
Another good metric is Brand Awareness. This is another marketing metric that can be tweaked to be used for recruiting: Select a pool of random individuals that could be potential candidates, and send them a survey asking the following questions:
- Have they ever considered working for your company?
- Would they consider working for your company based on what they already know about it?
- Have they ever visited your social recruiting pages?
Do this on a regular basis- say, every 6 months- and you have an idea of how your employer brand is growing. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service is a cheap way to have access to a diverse and representative sample of respondents. Take a look at this guide for details on how to create an Amazon MTurk survey.
ii) Short-to-medium term recruiting goals
You need to make sure you are hitting your more specific recruiting goals as well. Keep track of candidates that were sourced through your social recruiting pages, and measure how they are doing on general recruiting metrics compared to candidates sourced elsewhere. Make sure, again, to track the progression of these numbers over time.
Do they convert faster than other candidates and cost less to hire? Do they perform better at interviews? Are they more likely to accept offers? Do they stay longer at the company?
If retention rates are lower than average, for example, it might mean that you are talking too much about the interview and onboarding process, but not enough about the work culture at your company. If offers are extended but not accepted, it could be because your social media-sourced candidates build expectations about the offer that are not met with reality.
Ultimately, building a great social media recruiting plan is important, but you need to keep iterating on it and changing what doesn’t work. Constant improvement is part of a great execution, and a great execution is what will take you through that last step from good to great.
Candidate Engagement: the complete guide
If you’re looking for more advice on the best way to communicate with talent, the guide we put together on candidate engagement is going to be right up your street.
It covers every aspect of communication, from sourcing, to nurture, to re-engaging past applicants.