HOW TO: Create a Social Media Recruiting Strategy

Social Media Recruiting is growing in popularity this year. But we still have a long way to go, as most HR and Talent sourcing teams are yet to fully adopt this new tool and many are still wondering how to go about it.

In reality, no one is a Social Media Recruiting expert. The reason being that one person’s knowledge and advice for a company in a particular industry might not apply to another company – even within the same industry. This could largely depend on the culture of the company, as well as its people and processes.

Besides, Social Media methodologies are constantly changing, and its real value for a business can be only determined by how an organization benefits from its implementation, in this case – within the recruiting function. New technologies and services are launched often, and some of these tools might work better for some than others.

In this post, I will try and write a comprehensive guide on How to Create a Social Media Recruiting Strategy. But in doing so, I will avoid claiming that these are ‘the top tips’ or the so-called ‘steps to success’. However, it might just work for you!

One thing worth noting is that Social Media Recruiting should be one of the parts of your direct sourcing/recruiting strategy. It is not expected to replace your existing channels, but could act as an enhancement. I know some companies who may be planning to reduce the use of other traditional means of attracting talent in favour of Social Media, but that is what they feel comfortable with. They might have made that decision after a period of experimenting with social media and noticing some reasonable successes with Social Recruiting.

The 5 Steps below is aimed at assisting you create a successful social media recruiting strategy, that will take into consideration your organization’s overall strategy. You may call it the ‘5 Rs for Social Recruiting Strategy’. Ok then, lets get cracking with the steps.

1. Reasons

In a nutshell, this asks: Why Social Recruiting? First, you need to look at the reasons why your company will need a Social Recruiting Strategy. These could be in the form of your current objectives and future aspirations. It will be harder to recognize the relevant tools and strategies that you may want to create and implement, if you cannot come up with a set of reasons, goals or objectives. Some of your goals may be to reduce individual or overall recruitment costs, hire more engaging employees, create a forward thinking corporate culture or more open work environment.

Other reasons or objectives might be to improve your employer branding and employer reputation. Hence, its important to evaluate these goals and identify the reasons why you should create a Social Media Recruiting strategy.

2. Resources

After you have seen reasons why a Social Media Recruiting strategy will be valuable for your organization, you may now want to look at the How. In this case, you want to ask what resources you have that will enable you to create and implement a Social Media Recruiting strategy. Some of these could include your current employee(s) skills and experience with Social Media tools, as they apply to recruiting.

It might be possible to find someone within your organization who may have some strong interest in this area and who may take up a relevant role as your Social Media Recruiting coordinator. It is important that whoever is responsible for your Social Recruiting strategy is pasionate about it, as this does involve a lot of conversations and engagements with candidates on Social Media. If you deem it relevant, you might want to work with an external partner or consultancy over a period of time, while looking at what other companies have done or are currently doing.

3. Realities

This part will be the core of this post. It examines the actual existing realities of your company, which will assist you in creating an effective and successful set of strategies.

Who are your Candidates & Communities?

In its simplest form, Social Recruiting involves sourcing and hiring talent via Social Media. Your first reality check is: who are your candidates. Of course there is also the case of where are your candidates, but we will get to that soon. When you identify the ‘reality’ of who your candidates are, then you can also recognize who your communities could be. Whoever you identify as your target candidates and communities, it is recommended that you research more about their professional activities in Social Media.

You may want to consider: Where are they? What are they doing? What are they saying? What are they saying about their employers? What do they think about your company and your competitors? It is useful to watch the conversations before jumping in with your own opinions. If you can’t find an active community for your target candidates, why not create one and nurtue it? Understanding who your candidates are and where these communities may be is a key step in assessing your Social Media Recruiting strategy.

Who are your Employees & Partners?

This takes into consideration what in-house or external resources you may have/need for implementing a Social Media Recruiting strategy. Do you already have employees who can manage your Social Recruiting strategy? Can you find someone within your company who can develop an interest and skill set strong enough to coordinate your in-house efforts? Is their a budget for staff training, workshops or conferences, to provide them basic/advanced tools they may need? Will you require the services of external partners who may work with you in implementing a SMR strategy?

While Social media tools and technologies are seemingly free or cheaper, it does require a lot of patience and committment to make the implementation worthwhile. Doing a reality assessment on your existing resources (financial, personnel, time, partners, technologies, skills etc) will help you broadly determine what possibilities will be most suitable for your company. Mind you, an analysis of these resources doesn’t automatically guarantee immediate success, as failures in certain aspects of your implementation might not be a bad thing after all.

What are your Successes & Failures?

Yes, you want to be successful in creating and implementing a Social Media Recruiting strategy, but this might not come so quickly. However, it’s important to ask: What your successes (and failures) are? How will you define success in your strategy? Will they be any/all/some of: reducing hiring costs, attracting quality candidates, better employee engagements, higher staff retention, improved employer reputation, increased open communications, better corporate transparency etc? Listing these successes will help in evaluating the right tools that will support your strategy creation and implementation.

A honest appreciation of potential failures and mistakes is also healthy, as this gives you more determination to want make it a success. There is nothing wrong with some mistakes and and bumps along the way. Social Media is dynamic and always evolving on a daily basis. Hence, these ‘realities’ should be adaptable to the ever changing times, tools and technologies theirin.

What are the Technologies & Tools?

Having identified your candidates & communities, employees & partners, successes & failures, its time to understand the technologies & tools to get the most out of your Social Media Recruiting strategy. You may already know and use LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook as a sourcing tool. But are they really the right tools for your specific company? Are your company’s blogs or online communities the relevant engaging platforms? Does your careers website or job application forms take away the ‘Social’ from recruiting due to their complex fuctions?

A look at the technologies and tools, including but not limited to ATS, RSS, plugins, widgets, applications and softwares, that will make your strategy seemless will be ideal at this stage. One good way to determining what tools to use will largely depend on where your candidates are and what communities they are involved in. Also, a review of your own resources will assist you to decide on the technologies and tools that can be most applicable.

What are your Metrics & Deliverables?

In some areas, Social Media Recruiting can be measured and monitored just like an Online recruiting strategy. Usually, your company probably have recruiter accounts with different job boards or recruitment channels and are already tracking clicks, applications and hired candidates from these traditional sources. In using Social Media for recruitment, you want to identify the tools and technologies that is most relevant and how to track metrics and your Returns on Implementation. Some of these ROIs may include the number of visitors to your website, number of clicks in Social Media, number of jobs viewed, number of applications made, volume of hires based on visits/clicks/applications etc.

You may also measure the depth of conversations and degree of engagements you are having with candidates on Social Media eg Twitter & Facebook. In reality, the number of your Twitter followers or Facebook fans may not be the best metrics, but having a large and active community is always a plus. It is vital to be able to measure these indices throughout your Social Recruiting process and to be flexible enough to engage based on the direct the conversations are going. To learn more about Social Media ROIs, click here.

4. Responses

It is one thing to create a Social Recruiting strategy and another to willingly accept feedback and responses. Social Media is a multilogue, where many conversations can take place at the same time, with or without you. For your Social Media Recruiting strategy, it is important to have a way to receive responses and inputs from candidates throughout the hiring process. Whether you use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube or run an online community to engage with candidates, it is vital that you allow comments and conversations in the open, and respond to them appropriately.

It is hard to know exactly what the feedback will be. They could be questions, criticisms, suggestions or commendations – whatever they are, you want to handle them in the most engaging and responsible manner. I know this is a recurring cliché in Social Media in Recruiting, but it doesn’t harm to reiterate them: You must be active in the conversations, listening to the community and engaging with the candidates, openly and appropriately – and manage the feedback and responses effectively to be successful in developing your Social Recruiting strategy.

5. Results

At the end of it all, you want to be able to actualize your strategy and analyze the results. Hence, this will form a core aspect of your overall Social media Recruiting strategy. What have you achieved in the overall process? Have you realized your reasons and goals for embarking on this journey? Has your resources delivered on its expectations over this time? Are the technologies and tools you have used provided you with the right channel for sourcing talent and engaging with cadidates in Social Media? What are your Returns on Implementation?

Is there a a reduction in hiring costs vs improved quality of talent, if these where part of your initial objectives? What mistakes did you make, and how did you learn from these to make your overall strategy a success? If you feel the strategy was a failure, what better ways can you improve on your processes  in order to ensure you achieve a reasonable success in the long term?

Creating a Social Media Recruiting strategy requires a lot of efforts, but the journey and the destination are the rewards. As both ways, you will have learned, evaluated and measured the most suitable ways to ensure an eventual success. And then recycle these steps again, while adapting to the changing trends in Social Media.

What are your thoughts regarding the steps above? Will they be relevant to your creating a Social Media Recruiting Strategy? Are there other points that I may have missed in the post? Comments and corrections are warmly welcomed.