People who work in marketing have been at the forefront of social media — flogging everything from Apples (not computers — the company has a very limited presence on social media) to zoos. But success, i.e., sales. have been elusive. Only a minority of marketers claim that their companies have increased sales through social media and then after as much as three years of effort! The recently released Social Media Marketing Industry Report documents many of the challenges and frustrations marketers have experienced and the lessons they have learned — useful for any recruiter working with social media.
Some key insights are:
The biggest benefit from social media is increased exposure.
Only about a third of marketers think their efforts on Facebook are effective.
Blogging and YouTube is where most increases in activity are planned.
Only about one in four believes they can measure their social media activity, i.e., figure out an ROI.
What these suggest for recruiters is that a social media strategy must have a long-term focus. You will (may) eventually make hires from your efforts to recruit from social networks, but the best you can hope for in the short run is increased awareness of your employment brand. The short run can be a couple of years and require as much as 6-10 hours of work every week. And it is difficult, if not impossible, to make the case that any investment of $X in social media will produce Y hires. There isn’t enough data and history to know.
You need a multi-pronged approach. Limiting your efforts to Facebook or LinkedIn is not enough. A presence on YouTube and active blogging is necessary to gain wide exposure. Blogging allows candidates to find more in-depth material on key areas of interest, associated with your employer and your jobs … more than any conversation on Facebook or company profile on Linkedin. Blogging is also a cheap way to raise search engine rankings but only if done well. A blog doesn’t have to be all original content but it must be well organized and well curated (think ERE). Blogs also have the added advantage of working well on mobile devices, which is where social media is increasingly accessed from.
Keep it Simple
When using social media always remember which word comes first. Social means having a conversation and sharing thoughts on a subject of mutual interest. Trying to create a rich media experience doesn’t help and can even be a turnoff to your audience. Target’s recent experience with Cartwheel is exhibit A in this regard. Launched with much fanfare, Cartwheel offers Target customers the opportunity to get discounts on products and have those shared with their friends. Sounds great, but the page, while content rich, is too complicated and not easy to use on a smartphone. And who really wants to share all their purchases at Target with others. How’d you like to see a notification on your news feed “… just saved $3 on a box of ex-lax at Target! You can too”? This is an extreme case, but the point is that when it comes to social media even a marketing powerhouse like Target can get it wrong. Keep it simple.
What emerges is a rather muddled picture about social media. Even seasoned marketers are struggling to make sense of it. Recruiters can gain a lot from their work.