The best way to learn about Social Recruiting: just do it.

In the past week when there have been discussions around employer brand (reputation) using social media at #truleeds and blogs about measuring the ROI of social recruiting, it’s ironic that our latest social recruiting campaign addressed much of that and more. (Not to mention being the most interesting and effective we’ve been involved in to date.)

To us, there is so much to be discovered by ‘doing’ social recruiting, you can learn something new almost every time you get involved in it. Well, we think so. Here are few stats that ‘bust’ a few of the social recruiting ‘myths’ going around at the moment:

In just five days, the opportunity reached an audience of over a million and a half Twitter users – from direct tweets from our account and a few ‘celebrity’ tweeters – and that was without counting the multitude of ReTweets. Pure broadcasting which not only increased follower numbers on Twitter and Facebook but generated conversations about the role with appropriate candidates attracted solely by these broadcasts. These conversations covered everything from qualifications, relocation, age limits, other roles and even work experience – offering the chance to build connections for now and the future.

Employees regular tweeting was ReTweeted on the recruitment account to show the personality and scope of the roles – and so building on the employer reputation.

YouTube was introduced as a channel and with almost 500 views in this first week, it added a whole new perspective and opportunity to ‘sell’ the opportunity.

And the ROI, well in the first five days over 900 applications have been received (in contrast to the creditable 650 received from last year’s 3 week campaign). The application process, more involved than form-filling or CV-attaching, requires applicants to write 2,000 words including a 500 word critique – so there is a high level of commitment required to apply.

Last year, when we first launched this campaign it was an experiment (which subsequently was a success) and since then we have kept the social networking community involved. So this year there was an existing audience ready for the re-opening of applications. We could have left it there but why not try more? So we did. Adding a YouTube channel, deciding to ‘Fangate’ the Facebook page and inviting the employees to participate, has generated a whole other spectrum to the recruitment.

We’ve already learnt a great deal and will no doubt have even more knowledge by the time the campaign finishes. Then, we’ll have to see what we can do with it in 2012.


  1. Alconcalcia Said:

    I know I’ve said it before, but I’d still like to regularly see more blogs/testimonials about success stories via social other than for aspiring television script writers/news trainees for a household name broadcaster or other such desirable roles with a high profile organisation.

    No one doubts it works for ‘name’ companies – any channel will work for the likes of BBC, ITV, Virgin, Apple, Google,etc.etc. as people have always wanted to work for such organisations, but the jury is still very much out for every other type of vacancy with lesser light businesses.

    Are you saying social works, full stop, or would you concede that there is always a better chance of a healthy response when it’s a particularly desirable role with a ‘name’ company (for example, BBC Radio alone receives 15000 unsolicited play scripts a year, tv many more, so clearly there are lots of budding writers out there)? It’s just that reading about the success of the ITV campaign may make people in general think ‘hey, this could work for me too’ – even though they may be a firm of accountants no one has ever heard of, but will it? And, if that’s the case, why aren’t there far more success stories out there? Finding them, other than for the aforementioned ‘name’ companies is frankly like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack!

  2. I think Alconcalcia makes a good point – most of the case studies I’ve seen about social media recruitment have so far been very ‘obvious’ brands and roles.

    Where are the campaigns for hard to recruit roles -care home nurses, traffic wardens etc? Is this because no-one has tried it for these roles or has no-one had success with them?

    Personally, I think there IS a lot to do with social media in these roles – getting across WHY they are interesting careers, speaking to people about their worries about the roles etc but I’m struggling to convince my bosses without any similar data.

    Any marketing company want to do a campaign for me for free to prove the concept? 🙂

  3. Alconcalcia Said:

    That is entirely my point Gareth. If back in the day I phoned the media and asked for some data and testimonials and all they could give me was facts and figures for high profile ‘wanna work for’ outfits like the BBC or Apple or Virgin, I wouldn’t be impressed. All these conferences tend to have speakers from multi-national corporates banging on about how wonderful social has been for them. That’s great, but where’s the data and testimonials to back up the argument for any company other than (and these are just 3 high profile organisations that spring to mind as recent speakers at conferences) the likes of Pepsi, G4S and The Army. There just isn’t an abundance of information to fill an SME with excitement at the prospect of blowing a load on youtube videos and clever viral bits and bobs. In fact, there’s a severe lack of it, and that would be my issue were I still buying media. Give me the facts and figures that stack up for all, not just the chosen few.

  4. Have to say I can agree with you both up to a point. Although the reason for this post wasn’t just to talk about the success of a campaign rather to highlight that Social Recruiting is a method that you only really learn what it can do, if you actually try it.

    Sure there are many studies of well known brands that have used it successfully but in our experience these don’t frighten off ‘smaller’ brands, they actually excite them with what social recruiting can actually bring to their recruitment and employee engagement. We’re working with a couple right now – we’ll have to see what the results bring.

    @Alisdair – Back in the day, did you always go for the safe media bet then? Was direct mail, non-recruitment press, outdoor never a consideration against the tried n tested recruitment media? All methods not strictly with a guarantee of success but which, on many occasions, were more effective and successful than the traditional ways. Much like social media of today, in some cases.

    @Gareth – There are many ‘bosses’ like yours and if you wait for a case study that shows it will work in your area, then someone has got there first. If you don’t put your toe in now, you’ll see someone else reap the benefits.

    • Gareth Said:

      I agree to a large extent but the real point if my comment was my question about HAS it been tried with really tough roles? And if so, what happened?

      I think what is missing from a lot of the talk is the old development adage of fail early, fail often. Where are the stories of failures, partial or otherwise, and what did we learn from them?

  5. Alconcalcia Said:

    “you only really learn what it can do, if you actually try it” – that may be the case, but it’s not a great answer to give to a client that wants to recruit but is slightly wary about going down the wrong path. Yes, if it’s a free add-on, no harm done, but once you get into the realms of video and landing pages and viral shenanigans there is obviously a cost implication which might be hard to sell in using the line to clients who are perhaps smaller and more traditional “you only really learn what it can do, if you actually try it”. Not least as the beauty of social was originally that at it’s entry level it was free.

    “Back in the day, did you always go for the safe media bet then? Was direct mail, non-recruitment press, outdoor never a consideration against the tried n tested recruitment media?” – Yes, of course it was. Many’s the campaign I ran using a combo of press, radio and open day or poster sites, targeted mail shots etc., but you still had to have what you perceived as your banker on the schedule, even if at the end of it all you actually found the best person came from the radio ad or because they saw a poster at a bus shelter.

    I get the feeling these days that no one is actually quite sure of what the best channel is anymore. You get some saying job boards are dying, you read blogs saying the corporate careers site will be a thing of the past soon and yet more extolling the virtues of social recruiting (which in turn will then be slagged off by one of the of the aforementioned groups) and yet you go online and try and find a goldmine of testimonials from ‘the client in the street’ so to speak and they’re virtually non-existent. The only success stories you’ll invariably stumble across are, as I said before, from household names.

    Maybe those who are already reaping the rewards of social are just playing their cards close to their chest, but I hark back to the day when as an ad agency exec I’d pick up the phone to the media and ask for facts and figures regarding a certain age range or professional group along with any recent success stories they might have. If their answer had been “er, well, you only really learn what it can do, if you actually try it” they’d have been laughed at and quickly crossed off the schedule .

    In short, I suppose the burning question for me, or rather potential advertisers who remain unconvinced about the power of social recruiting across the board, is – where on earth are all the testimonials and facts and figures that support social recruiting in general, not just for the ‘name companies? Success stories in the form of a presentation at a conference from a high profile organisation are fine, but they aren’t, to my mind, any guarantee at all for mere mortals and SMEs that social recruiting will work for them over and above channels where they already have a presence – and that is where the problem lies for many.

  6. Matt Alder Said:

    The reason no one knows what the “best channel” is Alasdair is because there is no such thing anymore. Nor will there ever be ever again, the genie is not going back in the bottle. There are now as many different ways to attract and engage with talent as there are companies recruiting. This isn’t just about social either, the whole communications landscape is fragmenting and no one will ever be able to put it back together again however much they would like to.

    I really like Mark’s blog post, not because it’s about social but because it is about learning what works in this fragmented landscape through experimentation. All kinds of companies are doing this kind of experimenting not just the big brands conference organizers are keen to get on their programmes. I’m working personally with some success at the moment with a charity, two SMEs and a public sector entity all of whom know they have to change the way they recruit to get the best people into their organisation. Just because they aren’t shouting about it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

    Companies who stick to the “tried and tested” are going to find that they are paying through the nose and not getting anywhere near the quality of talent their competitors are finding. Not only that they will also find their “tried and tested” methods sometimes don’t even exist anymore. Have you be asked to write a traditional trade press ad for Personal Today, Computer Weekly or Accountancy Age recently? No I didn’t think so……..

  7. You’d be surprised Matt. Only yesterday I took a brief for a Head of Comms where they wanted to make a splash in the trade press and online (and realise there is less competition in the pages of the magazine and yet they get double whammy with online presence too) , plus I regularly write stuff for Guardian online and other job boards that still seem to be thriving despite some people’s assertion that they will die. Indeed just trawling through the 60+ pieces of copy I have written this month and, apart from complete web content for a start up business, editing a book for a major recruiter and writing a newsletter away from recruitment, the vast majority of my recruitment related stuff is client direct for online media sites/specialist job boards plus some local press.

    I’ll say it again. I think we have made recruitment more complicated than it need be. There are two simple needs – one is the need to fill a vacancy, the other is the need to find a job or move jobs. it should be simple to hook up the two. All this stuff about engaging over months, having talent communities and building a profile with wannabe employees all sounds nice and touchy feely, but your average punter doesn’t want touchy feely, they want feely feely findy jobby now! Many are also far too busy to spend nearly enough of the time it would take to engage in such activities on a regular basis. There will be exceptions of course, but that’s all they are right now – exceptions, with very little evidence and hard facts to support a universal migration from other channels.

    I even heard yesterday someone who moved from the national press to work at Facebook but left after a year as “there’s no money in recruitment at Facebook”. They’re fads basically. Fads that desperately need monetising big time before they are gobbled up by the next bright young thing in social media. In the meantime, the household names are reaping some reward but it is by no means indicative of the overall pull of social networks in recruitment terms. Until the job boards DO die and the media and trade press throw in the towel with their own online careers portals I cannot see social recruiting taking off big style. Famous last words? Maybe, But I’ll take a punt on it.

  8. Matt Alder Said:

    I’m kind of thinking this is a pointless argument as for ever example you have I have a counter example. However what I will say is this; I was with a small Scottish charity yesterday who have stopped their local press and job board advertising as they are finding they recruit better people by engaging in social and professional networks. That is really the key point, companies have no problem getting shedloads of applications these days and job boards and trad media deliver them applications bucketloads. But the thing is employers don’t want loads of applications they want the right applications, hence the charity’s social recruiting engagement strategy. Surely the fact that my example here isn’t Unilever or Microsoft but a local Scottish charity who are saving time and money by getting fewer better quality applications must resonate with you? Or are you just going to keep on ignoring everything that doesn’t fit you narrow view of the world as you always do 😉

  9. Matt Alder Said:

    oh and I chose those trade press examples because they have all ceased publishing a paper version if you hadn’t noticed

  10. One swallow does not a summer make Matt. I am pleased that a charity of all organisations is using social media and getting results, but overall, the success stories are so few and far between that there is no way that the majority can decide here and now that social recruiting is where it’s at. Fewer applications doesn;t necessarily mean better quality applications either. Rather, it probably just means there are less appropriate people actually seeing the message.

    My view isn’t narrow, it’s one that’s shared by many. Social media is great for some things – I get business from it myself, but, when it comes to recruitment, the percentages reach wise don’t stack up, plus, a lot of good people don’t have time to pfaff around engaging here and there,. Nor do they appreciate unsolicited intrusions to their online space. In short,yes, there will be a few success stories, but not universal ones that inspire confidence in the majority. My advice would be, unless you’re a household name/high profile company, by all means give it a go if it’s cheap or even free but treat it very much as an ‘add on’ – don’t throw too much money at it as it’s still in its infancy and is unproven in reaching high percentages/appealing to the mindset of the total audience in any vertical market as a recruitment vehicle and is thus, as yet, not the holy grail some would have you believe it is.

  11. Matt Alder Said:

    Your advice sucks in a word! The whole point is this charity ARE getting better applications and recruiting informed quality people. Not ifs no buts no might be no theory they are getting them. When they do any kind of advertising they get too many inappropriate applications to make it a cost effective option. Their words not mine and lots of other companies are tell me the same thing

    I’m not suggesting this is mainstream we’re still only at the start. What am I suggesting is that if a small rural Scottish charity can make social recruiting work then lots of other people can and lots of other people will.

    Stick to your overpriced mass market rubbish recruitment if you want, I’m going to carry on working with companies and organisations that appreciated the world is changing. I also not going to bother debating this with you anymore. I’ve just provided you with the non household name case study you’ve been calling for and on that note as far as this pointless debate is concerned then I’M OUT

  12. With respect Matt, if you were a media rep selling me social I’d need far more convincing before investing too much I’m afraid. By ‘mass market rubbish recruitment’ I assume you mean channels like for instance Guardian online, The Grocer, Brand Republic etc. as well as the generalist and niche job boards. A bit of a sweeping generalisation when the alternative is a mere handful of success stories.

    I am, despite your protestations, open to anything new provided the figures stack up and enough testimonials are freely available. The trouble is, they don’t and they aren’t! As it is, I sense that the whole swirl of social recruiting conferences are by and large about the converted preaching to the converted – we are still hearing many of the same old soundbytes we’ve been hearing for a couple of years now, just from diffferent speakers. And yet, for all the furore, the take up remains relatively slow and there are still many, many people out there who remain unconvinced that social recruiting should be viewed as nothing other than an inexpensive add on for all except the household names. That view may go against your success story with that charity, but one success story,even four or five, alone would never have convinced a media buyer looking for a targeted medium in the past,so why should it now? A combo of mass market recruitment rubbish AND a dabble in social,maybe. I just don’t like the way that existing channels are being written off before social has barely proved itself other than in small pockets of success and a huge portion of theory from the early converts.

  13. Alisdair, don’t you get the fact that social media is not a fad anymore? For marketing or recruitment. Think how many consumer campaigns now reference a facebook page rather than their own company url as one example.

    As an agency, we’ve seen (and are seeing) the results of social recruiting for ourselves and the rise of interest from clients (large and small) who you wouldn’t have thought would entertain it – so your so-called lack of case studies and hard facts don’t seem to be an issue.

    They can see the positives and the advantages, unlike yourself.

  14. I have no argument where consumer campaigns are concerned Mark. Never have had (though it will be a cold day before I ever ‘like’ a packet of cornflakes or a tyre manufacturer on Facebook). I am glad you have had successes as an agency (as there’s nothing worse than getting buy in to something and it failing), but if these channels are so successful for recruitment purposes, they should be being shouted about a hell of a lot more by the owners. Instead, it’s the likes of The Army, and G4S and today, Accenture, that stand up and talk about how great social recruiting is for them, not the medium’s owners. I’ve heard tell of agency people phoning up Facebook much in the way one used to phone the media and being told they don’t have any testimonials per se. That, to me, isn’t a channel that’s sure of itself, despite the odd success here and there of a few recruitment oriented customers. Therein lies the issue for many people still. Hell, it’s not even my concern anymore but I take an interest in new developments just like anyone else. I also question it when it appears to be being over hyped in some circles (not yours I hasten to add. You’re just reporting facts.I wish a few more would, other than the household names that pop up at every conference)

  15. Matt Alder Said:

    Ok I’m back but I’m not debating with Alconcalcia I’m still out, however I have to flag up the issue he has just inadvertently brought up.

    The thought of “agency types” phoning Facebok up for recruitment testimonials literally made me lol, what a complete FAIL! Genuine social recruiting isn’t about advertising, Facebook isn’t a media channel it is freeware platform and tools that companies can use to build their own capacity. Facebook monetizes itself (and it makes a lot of money by the way) via highly targeted cost per click advertising that is for most part self service. Of course they don’t carry testimonials for social recruiting, other than providing the tools they have no involvement in what most companies using them for recruitment are doing. I doubt they care either

    “Agency types” might do well to notice that their clients are quietly getting on with this without their “help” because as I said before IT ISN”T ADVERTISING. There won’t be testimonials because each company is using the platforms and tools in a different way. Household names at conferences are just the tip of the iceberg. For the most part this is a quiet revolution as I’m discovering more and more when I look past the obvious. While we’ll talking about household names though…. at SRconf today we’ve seen a parade of new case studies from the likes of Unilever, Accenture and Intel. Did anyone see their Recruitment Advertising Agency standing proudly behind them to talk about how they devised the strategy? No? That’s because the clients are DOING IT ALL THEMSELVES.

    Wake up “agency types” the tide is turning and if you’re not careful you’re going to be marooned forever on OldRecAd Island and I hear there isn’t enough food left on there for all of you…….

    • Matt, have to agree with your reaction to the ‘Facebook testimonials’ comment – perhaps it was a PPC question, but who knows?

      Also noticed the ‘lack’ of Recruitment Ad/comms agencies at/or in the Twitter stream of #srconf not sure why there is such a lack of apparent interest?

      Don’t put all of us ‘agency types’ in the same HMS OldRecAd heading for that iceberg… LOL

  16. Matt Alder Said:

    Whoops sorry I did mean to say “with a few notably exceptions like the author of this blog who really get it” lol

  17. Matt Alder Said:

    and you’re right about the lack of interest. All of the companies presenting still a have a recruitment advertising agency at least in theory anyway. Why they aren’t all over this I really don’t know. Another FAIL!

{ RSS feed for comments on this post} · { TrackBack URI }

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: