Is Social Recruiting Maturing As A Technique?

Illustration by Dreamstime.

Earlier this week, I attended the #socialrecruiting summit put on by ERE (TLNT’s parent company).

I know I’m biased, but the event itself is always very good. There were some good discussions that took place outside of the actual sessions but I was even more impressed with what I heard from a couple of the presentations I was able to attend.

We’ve been talking broadly about social recruiting as a technique for several years. We’ve put on four summits focused on the topic of social recruiting and it has been on the agenda of the ERE Expo even before that. But much of the discussion has focused on theory, techniques that are thought to work, higher level branding and experimentation with hopes of education, not ROI. All of that is good, necessary, and still part of the discussion moving forward.

What I saw Monday at Microsoft headquarters though, were two companies that were willing to open up their playbook and the data from their results and share it with the attendees. For me at least, it indicated that many companies were starting to move beyond social recruiting experimentation and into social recruiting maturation.

Microsoft talent communities

One of the most interesting takes was from a little company in Redmond, WA you might have heard of called Microsoft. John Phillips and Heather Tinguely presented what amounted to be a case study of the 200+ communities Microsoft has built over various social media platforms. While Microsoft heavily segments its groups (as to be expected), there were some universal truths about how the communities they built could best succeed.

They found that Facebook for instance was most effective at evangelizing the company brand. This seems to mesh with the whole idea of becoming a “fan” of a company on Facebook. It was a place where they could share employee videos, stories, and push hard on a branding message.

But when it came to applications from Facebook, it was sorely behind other social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. In fact, LinkedIn has the best application percentage of any platform while Twitter ended up pushing more overall traffic. Microsoft has seen quite a bit of success with using Twitter as a broadcasting tool for jobs while using LinkedIn to build affinity groups (groups that are based on a certain topic rather than around their company).

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UPS shares cost per hire and other metrics

When the folks that ran the UPS campaign presented their case, I thought it was a nice contrast to many of the other companies that attracted a more technologically savvy group of employees. UPS also just recently started using social media so it was a great way of talking about what kind of investment it takes to really get results.

UPS started with a $15,000 investment in building out and expanding a social media presence for their jobs. As you can imagine, this is a tiny fraction of their overall recruiting budget. They focused on using Twitter and Facebook because it fit with their target demographics in the 18-35 year old range.

They found that having engaging conversations on Facebook was easier than having them on Twitter (where many folks are simply broadcasting or lurking/consuming content). On one of their accounts over the year, they received 3,200 clicks to an application, 1,200 people’s data captured, 50 fully completed applications, and 12 hires from that campaign.

Maturation continues

By the end of the year, UPS had made 16 hires from their social media campaign (for an aggregate cost per hire of a little less than $1,000). While that figure might be high, remember that they had no momentum on their side. With the data from their campaigns, they can make better decisions as to how to spend money to get a lower cost per hire and realizing the benefits of momentum now that they already have an established presence.

I imagine more conferences that focus on social recruiting as a technique will continue to see maturing techniques and data analysis from companies that are honing their processes to perfection. The level of nuance displayed by the presenters about the effectiveness of their techniques will prove extremely useful as social recruiting continues to be adapted and implemented at companies across the board.

Lance Haun is the practice director of strategy and insights for The Starr Conspiracy, where he focuses on researching and writing about work technology. He is also a former editor for ERE Media, broadly covering the world of human resources, recruiting, and sourcing. 
 
He has been featured as a work expert in publications like the Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, MSNBC, Fast Company, and other HR and business websites.
 
He's based in his Vancouver, Wash., home office with his wife and adorable daughter. You can reach him by email or find him off-topic on Twitter.

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