Social Media: It's About Engagement by Raghav Singh


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Social Media: It's About Engagement by Raghav Singh

  1. 1. SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGE PEOPLE Social Media: It’s about Engagement Some of the same social-media mistakes being made by recruiting departments were made when job boards were new. Social media can work, but not when concepts like “community” are given lip service. By Raghav Singh T he basic idea behind using social media for recruitment is simple: people are social animals, and that means one of two things. First, they have lots shows an inverse correlation between self-esteem and ac- tivity on social networks.The likely explanation is that on- line social networks let people develop an illusion of hav- of friends, so send them job postings and they’ll ing hundreds of “friends” that they can broadcast their lives distribute them to their friends, which should produce to. Most of us know of at least a few people who post the candidates. Second, they want to belong to groups. most trivial and intimate aspects of their lives on their Face- Involve them in talent communities and eventually they’ll book pages, things that they would never say in a face-to- become candidates.That’s how it’s supposed to work, but face conversation. the record shows that getting hires is Another study recently found that for elusive.The CEO of a vendor that makes men, the number of connections on a so- an application for recruiting with social cial network is a status symbol: a way to media recently told me that the vast impress others, especially women. Re- majority of its clients make only a small Many [recruiters] make search also shows that the primary basis number of hires through social networks. the assumption that for people to choose whom they connect social networks work with on social networks is ethnicity, age, The Personal vs. The Professional the same way religion, and sexual orientation. One reason why getting results is dif- All the main motivations people have for personal and ficult for recruiters is because many to join and participate in social networks make the assumption that social networks professional purposes. are personal, and the benefits are not work the same way for personal and Research shows that equally available in the workplace. Social professional purposes. Research shows this is not the case. capital is hard to build in the workplace that this is not the case. because relationships with others are The popularity of social networks at a not primarily social, and policies and cul- personal level is largely because they ap- ture restrict speech. Programs like diver- peal to people’s Id—the part of their psyche that consists sity programs discourage limiting one’s circle of contacts of desire.The desire to build social capital and support their to individuals of similar ethnicity, age, religion, and sex- aspirations. Social capital is created by the relationships ual orientation. that give a person a sense of belonging—friends and con- Employers are increasingly using social media to screen nections that may be of help in say, finding a job.This can out candidates and even monitor them after they are hired. contribute to a person’s sense of well-being and self-es- Whatever the merits of doing so, such behavior creates an teem.This is borne out by data that shows people who are environment of distrust.This is why products that are in- most active on social networks tend to have low-self es- tended to foster collaboration between employees and tap teem. This doesn’t mean that everyone who is active on social networks in the workplace are not used much, while Facebook is suffering from low self-esteem; the research collaboration in the public domain (Wikipedia, Linux) is14 Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership | | February 2011 ©2011 ERE Media, Inc.
  2. 2. SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGE PEOPLEflourishing. Informal and off-the-cuff remarks, risky and ly you get to know the others there.The social cost of leav-unusual ideas, are guaranteed to result in mistakes and fail-ing is high.ure.Who would want to set themselves up to be attacked Employers that have created successful talent commu-based on what was recorded on an officially provided so- nities—a reliable source of hires—include Sodexo, Mi-cial network? crosoft, and Hewitt, among others.Their success has come All of these factors make for powerful headwinds that as a result of focused and diligent efforts to create a higha recruiter confronts when attempting to use social net- level of engagement with the members.The model that’sworks for finding talent.The fact that making referrals has emerging also suggests that talent communities work bestno negative consequences is not relevant. Most people when they are narrowly focused—the same types ofdon’t make such distinctions in using social networks as- jobs, at a similar level, or narrowly defined skill sets.Thatsociated with their employers. ensures that the participants have a lot in common. But once they are set up, creating engagement requires an on-Talent Communities going effort to keep the participants coming back. This A talent community is supposed to be a pool of talent means starting and encouraging relevant conversations andto be used to get hires. Most are set up providing content that’s valuable to theto collect business card information from members. Data on participation in socialanyone on the career site who does not networks shows that less than 10% ofwant to apply for a job or leave a resume. people in online communities typicallyThis does not create a community. It pro- [Collecting] business drive most of the content. About 1% areduces a marketing database—a list of heavy contributors, and 9% are intermit- card information fromprospects who may have an interest in tent. The bulk—90%—are just there toemployment at that employer.That may anyone on the career read and observe. Given this 90-9-1work if the employer does not require site who does not want rule, it’s critical that a talent communi-skilled professionals—retail stores for to apply for a job or ty be seeded with some heavy contribu-example—but for any position that in- leave a resume...does tors if it is to succeed. Find people whovolves even a modicum of specialization, not create a community. are very passionate about the field, indus-this is near worthless. Knowing that a per- try, or discipline to join.son’s title is “Account Executive” does- One caveat here is that the heavy con-n’t help much if you’re looking to hire tributors should not be restricted muchsales staff. in what they contribute. The best ones A community means a group of people that share some generate controversy because they have strong opinionscommon interests and interact with each other.What cre- and original ideas, which is what people like to read.Thatates a community is engagement. It is not a random group can make legal and marketing departments very uncom-of strangers that don’t know the existence of each other. fortable, but an employer can’t have it both ways. Start put-People coming into a store or movie theater don’t form ting too many restrictions on what people can contributea community. or require approvals and the community will become a This is where social media can be the most effective for wasteland with little or no engagement.recruiters. By bringing together a group of disparate in-dividuals to form a true community—an engaged group— The Evolution of Toolsa recruiter or an employer can create a private pool of tal- Software applications for supporting talent communi-ent to draw on. But engagement is not easily achieved, on- ties have started to evolve in the direction of creating en-line or offline. Think about your close friends and the gagement. Much of the scarcity of results can be attrib-groups you joined voluntarily. What made you join, and uted to applications that focused entirely on job distribu-more importantly what makes you stay? It’s the engage- tion.This is just an extension of an employee referral pro-ment you have with others there: the quality of conversa- gram, where participation by employees is rarely beyondtions; the value of the content you receive; and how close- the single digits. Recruiters want simple solutions, and the©2011 ERE Media, Inc. Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership | | February 2011 15
  3. 3. SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGE PEOPLE early applications that emerged gave the impression that distributing jobs through social networks was the way to go—connect, select, broadcast. Paying rewards do little to improve the outcomes since the likelihood that an em- ployee will collect one is small, and the amount is not very large. This is a familiar path for recruiting. The social media space is mirroring the job board space of the ’90s. Back then the emphasis was on distributing jobs to as many boards as possible—what can be labeled the Pontiac strat- egy (wider is better).That was what their ad agencies were Through all of the changes and recommending. Eventually, clients realized that only a innovation our industry has seen dozen or so were useful, and the boards began to find nich- over the past decade, ERE Expo es. Most recruiters have realized that going wide was not has been innovating right there the answer, and they need is to go deep, not wide—to fo- with you. And the 11th annual cus their efforts on the niches they are targeting, despite ERE Expo Spring conference is anything ad agencies say. Today, measurement of job board results is common, no different. and employers are moving away from them, but it took 15 years for that to happen. So job distribution is still where we see the most products, and these have some val- ue, but these are low effort, low yield solutions. Unfortu- Returning to San Diego with a brand nately there’s no free lunch. Newer tools are starting to new speaker faculty and agenda, emerge—Cachinko being an example—where the focus ERE Expo 2011 Spring will bring is much more on creating engagement, but widespread you more than two days of adoption will require a shift in thinking among re- learning and networking as you get cruiters. your 2011 recruiting strategy up to speed. Raghav Singh is a partner at The A-List,a Minneapolis- Save based staffing services provider. He has previously been $100 with in product management and marketing roles at several HR technology vendors. His career has included work as discount code a consultant on enterprise HR systems and as a recruiting and HRIT leader at several Fortune 500 companies. SD11CRL! REGISTER TODAY! www.ereexpo.com16 Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership | | February 2011 ©2011 ERE Media, Inc.