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Socially Regarded: How Real Companies Get Social Media Recruiting Right

If reading Amy Chulik’s recent post about how one third of employers use social media to promote their organizations – and one quarter use it to recruit and research potential employees – has you thinking that you should be doing the same, you might want to check out the recent interview between CareerBuilder’s Vice President of Corporate Marketing, Jason Ferrara, and Melissa Murray and Christina Bottis of  Personified.

As Emerging Media Consultants for CareerBuilder’s consulting arm, Murray and Bottis help companies build and manage their brand presence online to recruit employees and build customer loyalty.  The three recently sat down to discuss in more detail the various ways in which companies are leveraging social media to enhance their employment brands and recruit talent. Read excerpts from the interview below, or listen to the complete audio version of the podcast “How Companies Use Social Media to Recruit” here.

Jason Ferrara: My first question is, what are companies doing with social media? How are they conducting their recruitment efforts using social media?

Christina Bottis: We see companies using it more to build their overall employment brand – either companies that are trying to launch a new brand, heighten brand awareness, or shift existing brand perception.

Melissa Murray: They see it as a place to rally their evangelists and get them spreading recommendations about their brand, about what it’s like to work there and they use Facebook as a platform to do so. And they also use it to defray any negative comments about their brand. For instance, people may come and post questions or suggest things that they’ve heard that are maybe misconceptions about what it’s like to work for a company and that company has an immediate opportunity to not only answer that particular individual but also show the rest of the community that that wasn’t true.

JF: I do hear that from people I talk to as their hesitancy around social media is “I don’t want people to say bad things about us.” What is your response to that?

MM: First and foremost, people are going to say negative things about you regardless [of whether you have a social media presence of not]. So if they have a negative opinion to share, they’re either going to turn to their friend and talk about it, or you can provide a forum where they can come and share those thoughts and you can have the opportunity to respond.

CB: And usually, all these people [who are posting negative comments] want is to know is that your brand cares and you hear them. That’s all they want, just a little validation. And usually, the most negative situations do a 180-degree turn.

JF: So it’s the ability to respond and show that you care which is one of the major ways to change perception using social media.

CB: Precisely.

JF: Melissa, tell me a little bit about fans. Are fans really important? What does it mean for my organization to be fanned by someone?

MM: Well it’s really someone raising their hand and saying “I like this company” or “I am interested in this company.” If you think about it in terms of careers pages, it’s someone that says “I aspire to work at this organization” or “Someone I know works at this organization, and they’re really happy and so therefore I’m going to fan you because that’s an expression of endorsement.” And I think that today, particularly with how busy and overwhelming even Facebook is becoming, for someone to raise their hand and say “I’m a fan of you” is pretty profound. I think that that’s a win in and of itself.

JF: And should companies be measuring fans as a success metric for their involvement with social media?

MM: I think in the beginning that’s a good place for organizations to start just to see that they’re gaining traction. But then once you’ve got a good healthy base of fans, it’s really about engagement, and it’s about how many of those 400 or 500 fans are actively responding when you pose a question, or how many of those people are expressing sentiment by liking things that you post or are posting content themselves.

JF: Ok, so engagement is really the ultimate metric of social media success. Can you talk a little bit about what companies need to do to properly resource social media within the organization and then what alternatives they have to that?

CB: Ideally you could give one person this responsibility because it’s a daily task. You are trying to foster a relationship with current, prospective, and even unknown, candidates so it’s something that you continually need to be working on. And if you’re not continually engaging, you’re going to see your existing fan base decrease. So ideally, you would want one person managing it, whether that’s internal or outsourced, that’s the ideal.

The biggest problem today in this industry is that people jump in without any sort of plan. While you may have somebody in your company who you can have man this ship, if they don’t know where they’re going, it’s pretty much meaningless.

MM: And I think there’s skill sets there, too, that people might overlook. When you really break it down, you need to have PR skills, you need to be able to respond in a way that isn’t going to accelerate any negative sentiment that appears on the wall. You need to have marketing skills, so being able to portray the organization in a positive light and convince people and sell them on why they would want to work there. There really is a bigger, wider skill set that’s required to do something like this than what people initially think.

JF: How would a company who wants to begin to use social media for recruitment, specifically, how would they get started? What do they do first?

MM: Social media is truly just an extension of what you’re doing today, so taking elements of your existing strategy that are successful and applying them to social media is the easiest way to start. For example, if internal referrals are a really great source of hires for an organization let’s take that internal referral program and spread the word on Facebook. Let’s engage your existing employees on Facebook and provide easier ways for them to share openings or career opportunities at your company with their Facebook friends. We’ve seen a lot of organizations post up job openings on their Facebook wall and then encourage people to share that with their friends who they think might be a fit and they get a lot of really good applications that way. So that’s one way to take something that’s a tried and true recruitment practice and apply it to social media.

CB: Once you have established your fan base and you feel like you’ve got an established community, then it’s time to look and see where you can expand to create more of a synergy. But Melissa hit it on the head: if it’s not integrated into your existing marketing recruitment efforts, and if it’s not well integrated, it’s severely damaging to the real overall effect it can have.

MM: And I think, too, for a lot of the companies that I’ve worked with that are successful in social media, they’ve gotten to the core and the root of their story. A perfect example is David’s Bridal. We recently started an engagement with them, and I sat down with one of their regional recruiters and she told me, we spoke for about 30 minutes, and I was about ready to join them when she was done. But it was really talking about what the true spirit was behind their brand and why people – once they were inside the organization – wouldn’t want to leave.  So it’s those elements that I use to create the posts and the things that I talk about on the page. Finding those little elements that are unique about a company’s culture, and really bringing those to light on the page, is the easiest way to engage and get started.

JF: Well Melissa and Christina, thanks very much for sharing that information and sharing those stories with us. It’s such an exciting new place to be for a lot of companies and I think that hopefully listeners will get a lot of value out of this conversation and take that first step.

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.

Great article! It really reinforced and highlighted some of my preexisting ideas on Social Media as a recruiting tool.


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