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Employers must develop a social media strategy that does more than push corporate messages

Zain Wadee , 03 May 2013

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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

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So don't start there then!

Jon Ingham, Strategic HCM 03 May 2013

So it's not really a 'social media recruitment strategy' at all then, it's one plan for implementing and getting employees to use social media effectively, and another for developing them as advocates to provide a better way of providing referred employees. Recruitment's the wrong place to start (though of course, if that's the pain point - as it often is in UK HR functions, you need to deal with that). But at some point, and ideally now / before you face these pressures on recruitment, HR teams need to be planning to engage and develop their workforces to use these tools much more effectively than most do now.

Tools & strategy

Morgan Pierce 10 May 2013

HR should look at new tools like www.ReferStar.com, available to help companies improve employee engagement in the referral process by leveraging social media to extend recruitment efforts to the social media contacts of employees. Give employees the tools they need to become employer brand advocates, but make it easy and 'lazy' - click of the mouse functionality. Be careful to look for features that protect the employer brand, so that any broadcasting that is done, is done within the confines of brand integrity.

Social media tech and strategy go hand in hand

Peter Linas 10 May 2013

From a recruiter's perspective one of the most important things when using social networks is to make sure that each one doesn't just become 'another job board'. The beauty of social media at a fundamental level is interaction, and if you're recruiting internally or as part of an agency, then sharing relevant, informative content with your networks will ultimately attract higher quality candidates. The next thing to consider is network relevance. Unsurprisingly, the social media network to post jobs to is dependant on the type of position and industry being recruited into. And finally, anyone involved with recruitment and social media will realise how time consuming using it properly can be. Obviously not every candidate you're connected to will be online at the same time so it's necessary to make sure vacancies are re-posted regularly. This process saps a recruiter's time, but is being remedied with specialist software designed to manage the process of vacancy posting and content sharing - and it's certainly being well received in the recruitment sector - our social media tool, Bullhorn Reach, is the fastest adopted software in the recruitment sector ever!

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