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Social Media > Survey Results > Talent Acquisition

How 35 Percent of Companies are Using Social Media, and What Turns Workers On — and Off — to Companies

Woman selecting a candidate in her social networkWhat have companies been doing in response to tough economic times? Eating their feelings with lots of ice cream. Well, believe it or not, many companies have been busy digging into social media — and some are finding hidden treasure. According to a new CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,500 employers and 4,400 workers, 35 percent of companies have been using social media to promote their company in some way. Let’s take a look!

Of this 35 percent of companies:

  • One-quarter (25 percent) of these employers said that they are using social media to connect with clients and find new business.
  • 21 percent are using it to recruit and research potential employees.
  • 13 percent are using social media to strengthen their employment brand.

And it’s not just those Fortune 500 companies getting into social media, either. Businesses of all sizes and industries report using social media to promote their companies:

  • 29 percent of organizations with 500 or fewer employees
  • 38 percent of companies with 501 to 1,000 employees
  • 44 percent of companies with more than 1,000 workers
  • The leisure and hospitality industry topped those surveyed, with 57 percent in that industry saying they use social media to promote their business. Leisure and hospitality was followed by 48 percent in the IT industry, 43 percent in the retail industry, and 41 percent in the sales industry saying the same.

Managing your company’s social media strategy

So, a lot of businesses — of all sizes — are trying their hand at social media. The bigger question (and the one some of  you may be asking yourselves) is, how are businesses managing all of this? We know involvement in social media doesn’t happen magically; it takes people and time and dedication. And, judging by survey results, there’s no one way of doing it:

  • 43 percent of employers report that their marketing department handles social media outreach
  • 26 percent say public relations handles it
  • 19 percent report that human resources does it.

How many people are involved? (Enter “How many social media experts does it take to fix a light bulb” joke here):

  • One-quarter (25 percent) of employers have 1 – 3 people communicating on behalf of their organization.
  • 11 percent said that more than six people communicate for their company via social media.
  • 7 percent report that 4 – 5 people handle the work.

The most troubling stat? A whopping 57 percent said they didn’t know how many people were involved in managing their company’s social media strategy (and I’m guessing many didn’t know who was doing it, either). While this may be common, it’s important for companies to have a plan before they jump headfirst into social media (and if you’ve already made that jump, it’s never too late to clean up your process). You might want to check out our social media e-book that covers the A to Zs of social media for businesses, and then, when you need a quick refresher, read about best practices for using social media for recruitment.

A word on risks and guidelines

Some businesses are avoiding social media altogether because of potential risks involved, but as research has shown, the perceived risks don’t outweigh the proven rewards — and people are going to talk about your company whether you have a social media presence or not (hint: it’s better to be involved in social media so you can listen, participate and respond). If you have a plan, set realistic goals, and create social media guidelines, you can minimize those risks even further. Social media guidelines not only help you set up and communicate company expectations of social media use to your staff, but also encourage learnings and knowledge about best practices. There’s a full list of companies’ social media policies here for you to reference.

What do workers want?

Workers report that they’re using social media to do more than connect with friends; they’re also using it to research jobs and companies. Want to get inside workers’ heads to find out what they don’t like about your social media use — and what will make them flock to your company’s pages on social media sites? You’re in luck: CareerBuilder’s survey talked to more than 4,400 workers and got all the juicy details:

What workers most want to see on a company’s page on social media sites:

  • Job listings (35 percent)
  • Q&A or fast facts about the organization (26 percent)
  • Information about career paths within the organization (23 percent)
  • Evidence that working at the company is fun (16 percent)
  • Employee testimonials (16 percent)
  • Pictures of company events (12 percent)
  • Video of new products/services (10 percent)
  • Company awards (9 percent)
  • Research or studies that the company has conducted (9 percent)
  • Videos of a day on the job (8 percent)

Workers’ biggest turnoffs when encountering a company on social media sites:

  • Including the company’s communication reading like an ad (38 percent)
  • Failure to reply to questions (30 percent)
  • Failure to regularly post information (22 percent)
  • Removing or filtering public comments (22 percent)

What can employers take from this?

By knowing what the people potentially interested in your company want, you can start making your company pages more engaging and interactive (some great tips here).You might get some great inspiration by reading about what companies like Old Spice did to engage social media users, or you might take a closer look at your own company story to find a unique way to speak to job seekers on their level and tell your story.

It may also be wise to read up on social media recruitment etiquette to learn how to play nice with other businesses, stay away from the social media traps many businesses fall into, and avoid backlash from candidates and even your own employees (ahem, avoid being one of those businesses thought of in the “workers’ biggest turnoffs” above).  It’s clear that workers don’t want to talk to a boring, “corporate,” faceless brand — so use the information above to hear what they’re saying and inject a little extra personality into your online brand.

Amy K. McDonnell

About Amy K. McDonnell

Originally hailing from Ohio, Amy is the editorial manager on the content services team and has been with both CareerBuilder and the city of Chicago for nearly a decade. She writes on a range of recruitment topics on The Hiring Site, striving to bring a dose of clarity and humor to sometimes complicated issues around employee attraction, engagement and retention. When she's not working, Amy spends as much time as possible reading, pretending to be a chef, writing short stories, eating Nutella out of the jar, waiting for CTA buses and trains, going to see her favorite bands live, and spending time with people who inspire and challenge her.

Great information, I would have thought that there was a greater penetration of social media use by companies then what is shown here. But I suppose that just because you're involved in it and the companies you interact with are on it, means that everyone is using it and using it effectively.

Amy Chulik
Amy Chulik

Hi Courtney,

Thanks for your comment and for reading. And yes, these results deal with public-facing applications of social media, though many of the survey questions involve internal processes. I don't think that this skews the results; this survey isn't about social media solely for intra-organizational use.

As far as a timeline, this information was just released, and the survey was conducted among more than 2,500 employers between May 18 and June 3, 2010. Hope this helps.

Courtney Hunt
Courtney Hunt

I think it's important to note that these results reflect the EXternal applications of social media, which skews the results somewhat (e.g., the question about who manages the social media strategy). Also, I think I read somewhere that the data was collected in late 2009/early 2010 - is that true? Given that adoption rates are increasing, it's important to have a context for knowing how to interpret these numbers.

Thanks for doing the research and sharing the results. I will share this report with the Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community.

Courtney Hunt
Founder, SMinOrgs


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