Employers must develop a social media strategy that does more than push corporate messages
Zain Wadee, May 03, 2013
Social media is becoming a critical part of the recruitment and employee engagement tool kit as major organisations adapt to the digital age.
The massive rise in prominence of social media in all walks of life has lead many major global organisations to increase investment into social channels such as LinkedIn and Facebook in order to attract and retain talent, and this investment is driving internal change towards a focus on digital within corporates of all sizes.
At a roundtable event hosted by Hyphen last month, attended by a large number of senior HR and resourcing executives from major blue chip organisations, it was clear that top of the agenda is developing a social media strategy that does more than just push corporate messages or list reams of vacancies.
Everyone at the event agreed companies need to develop an authentic persona and ensure content is engaging, or talent will simply tune out. But, as became clear through discussions, many firms are falling short of the golden mean.
Paul Harrison, managing partner of social strategy firm Carve Consulting, told delegates, 'provide and pray' the strategy that characterises much of what passes as social recruiting today, will simply not effectively attract talent.
We are therefore seeing a divide between organisations that can successfully engage and those that make basic use of these channels simply to broadcast information of varying relevance to audiences.
The key consideration for organisations when opening up and communicating through social media channels is to ensure that a well-thought-through strategy sits at the heart of the desire to engage, and is aligned to both internal and external audiences.
Internal engagement plays a significant part in the success of an organisation's social media recruitment strategy. Our own research shows that if workers are disengaged from this strategy, they will be less likely to share corporate information with personal or professional contacts via social channels.
Research from Hyphen, which polled over 1,500 UK professionals last year, showed fewer than one in five (17.4%) believe their organisation has a social media strategy that reaches and engages internal audiences, and a third (33.9%) of employees are not aware that their employer does anything to engage them with their social media activity. This group reaches nearly half (45.4%) among graduate or entry level staff.
Developing recruitment and talent-focused channels on social media sites should not be seen as a place solely to offload information about recruitment schemes and new roles, operating as a simple broadcast service to potential talent. Remember people hire people. Effective use of social media as a recruitment channel should seek to encourage engagement and affinity with the employer brand, and adapt to the needs of the target audience.
The thinking behind this is simple but smart. Empowering employees with the tools, training, trust and time to become authentic, advocates will in turn create a culture of sharing the great, work employees create throughout a company, increasing the attractiveness of working, or partnering with, the organisation amongst potential candidates, clients and business partners.
Organisations of all sizes are beginning to understand the value of communicating effectively through social media. But in order to harness the real potential of social media channels, companies first need to think hard about what they are saying, who they are saying it to, and how they will maximise the opportunity to engage. Viewed in this way, I believe that the move beyond a 'provide and pray' approach to the creation of a genuinely effective talent engagement strategy could bring significant value and return on investment to resourcing teams.
Zain Wadee (pictured) is managing director at recruitment consultancy Hyphen