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Building Trust With Candidates Using New Media: The Old Rules Still Apply

Once again, the worlds of marketing and recruiting have collided.  You’ve probably heard (and if you haven’t, I’m telling you now) that one of the most important elements of using social media effectively is to be authentic…but how, exactly, do you do that?

Mashable’s Greg Ferenstein recently addressed this issue on a blog post called “The Science of Building Trust with Social Media,” talking about how psychological behaviors of social media users can help guide companies in their marketing efforts.  

The same lessons, however, apply to recruiting efforts – that is, the same way companies might use social media to build trust with their customers can be applied to building trust with employees and candidates.  Here are some of the key takeaways of his article, from a recruiting standpoint:

A Quick Response is Better Than No Response at All
Because telling forms of trust – like voice intonation and body language – do not transfer over email, job seekers will instead base their opinion of how trustworthy you, as an employer, are on how quickly you respond.  Does this mean answering every job seeker question that gets posted to your company’s Facebook page?  

Actually, yes, it does. 

Even if you don’t have the time to give the most thought-out response to every single question right away, it is important that you show current and potential employees that their voice is being heard.  The least you can – and should – do is write a short post to acknowledge that you’ve seen the message and will answer the question in more detail at a later time.  “It is better to respond to a long Facebook message ‘acknowledging’ that you received the message, rather than to wait until there’s time to send a more thorough first message,” Ferenstein says.

Case in point: Notice below how CARQUEST Auto Parts recently responded to a job seeker inquiry via its Facebook page - and the appreciation and positive feedback the company saw as a result of doing so.

Even if job seekers are using social media to express frustration or disappointment, employers and recruiters should see this as an opportunity to open up a line of dialogue about how to better the candidate experience.  Notice how staffing firm Staffmark quickly responded to a comment on its Facebook page, and how that response turned not only into positive feedback, but also an opportunity for the company to improve the quality of its candidate and employee experiences.

Written Communication is Better Than No Communication, But Video Communication is Best
Ferenstein already established that voice intonation and body language don’t transfer through written communication, so it’s no surprise when he points out the benefit to using video above all forms of communication when trying to get the most important messages across.  “The more non-substantive information the medium can convey, the more data a listener has to decide how trustworthy the speaker is,” Ferenstein writes.

As evidence, he cites the video Domino’s Pizza president, Patrick Doyle, put out last year to apologize for an infamous employee YouTube prank.  You can see the impact Doyle’s apology had on viewers below.  The video is overlaid with a graph of user reaction to show how “believable” viewers gauge his apology, based on body language and inflection.

What does all of this tell us?
Just as it did before social media came along, authenticity rules – it’s just a matter of figuring out how to best convey that authenticity across new technology.  

In an environment where candidates are getting increasingly frustrated because they feel either misled or ignored by recruiters and hiring managers, it’s no wonder that employers are hesitant to build a social media presence – afraid that having a public profile on a site like Facebook will make them vulnerable to criticism; however, what Ferenstein illustrates (and what is further illustrated in the experiences of CARQUEST and Staffmark) is that companies can actually utilize the viral aspect of social media to show job seekers and employees alike that they are listening to them and do care – and turn that criticism into brand loyalty.

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
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