Social Media: An Essential Recruitment Tool

You’ve heard how companies are increasingly utilizing social media to recruit new associates, but what exactly does that mean? Jobvite‘s 2011 survey provides a look at which social networks recruiters and hiring managers use to find and assess prospective employees.

How Many Businesses Use Social Media?
Social Recruiting Plans

The answer is just about every company does, with almost 90% responding that they either already do or plan to use social media as a recruitment tool.

This makes sense, as more job seekers search for positions via digital means. Early in my career I poured over pages of job listings in the Sunday New York Times classifieds section weekly. Today’s digital route is much more efficient in finding opportunities and marketing themselves online.

Which Social Networks Are Most Important?
Social Networks for Recruiting No surprise here, LinkedIn, long known as the social network of professionals and recruiters, gets the most play with 86.6% of respondents utilizing that network. Launched in May 2003 as a business-related social network, LinkedIn’s 120 million members are a prime audience for talent recruiting and vetting.

What’s impressive are the numbers posted by Twitter and Facebook. Dismissed by many businesses, they provide a large, often different recruitment pool, with insight into prospects’ character via status updates, photos and affiliations.

When Do Companies Look at Your Social Footprint?
Use of Candidate ProfilesAnd as you can see, you’ve got an almost three out of four chance that the company you’ve applied to will search out your online presence – even if you do not provide them with their links.

Advice: Do your own social media audit. Perform a Google search on your own name and see what is returned. Check out all of your mentions to see which you should take down, modify or request a correction.

Remember: What happens online, stays online — for all to see or discover. 

When Your PR Problem is Your PR Agency

Image representing Wikipedia as depicted in Cr...

A friend of mine got a job in the PR department of a large corporation, one that prides itself on the veracity of its products. It wasn’t long before s/he was pressured to “fix” information on Wikipedia that the company felt reflected poorly on its management. This is a “PR Fail.” Here’s why:

What critics and skeptics fail to realize is that Wikipedia is self-policing, with published policies and standards  — in particular regarding Conflicts of Interest (COI) — and about 100,000 regular editors who add or review. Try to game the system? You’ll succeed short-term but, eventually, you’ll be found out. The latest case in point: PR firm Bell Pottinger.

One of the largest lobbying firms in the UK, Bell Pottinger is under scrutiny for allegedly editing entries about its clients, violating Wikipedia’s COI (see article links, below). Worse, it apparently sees this as “business as usual”, stating:

I can’t see any bad headlines for our clients,” he told the BBC. “You won’t find anybody, including journalists, who doesn’t do exactly the same thing.” – Lord Bell, Chairman 

I disagree. Every client involved will suffer damage to its reputation. What Lord Bell fails to comprehend is that social media is a self-correcting organism. There’ll always be someone with the time and resources to ferret out the truth. Attempts to misrepresent or obfuscate information get discovered and the blowback is worse than facing the facts from the start.

This concept is nothing new. In 1596, Shakespeare wrote: “but at the length truth will out.” And, in a quote generally attributed to Abraham Lincoln, 1858, “you cannot fool all of the people all of the time“. My advice to organizations and individuals alike, is to conduct social media with accuracy, integrity and transparency. That’s how it works.

As for my friend, s/he left that company over a year ago, in part because of the lack of support for social media done right. But the all-too-often encountered attitude of PR bigwigs that social media is something to “handled” persists. So choose your digital PR firm wisely.

Oh, and that old saw about all PR is good PR? Hardly.

Related articles

Who Owns Social Media? Ultimate Answer: The Opposites

I’ve seen it first-hand. Despite companies aspirations to openess and full cooperation, there exists a rivalry over “control” of social media with the main combatants Communications/Public Relations (“PR“) and Marketing/Advertising (“Mktg”), leading to internal battles, mistrust and inefficient social media use by both.

And each discipline has valid reasons for wanting this. For PR, social media is a communications, corporate reputation and thought leadership opportunity which will lead to increased, unpaid brand mentions — “earned media”. Mktg views it as an additional opportunity to advance its message to potential and current customers to advance its sales goals.

PR Only or Marketing Only Doesn’t Work

Both have valid points. And the truth is, that utilizing social media by one area without the other is a losing proposition. Organizations that relegate social media to marketing only are losing the vital advantage that social listening; conversational engagement; brand enhancement and thought leadership brings when marshalled by PR. Also, improper use/overuse of social media for purely marketing/advertising purposes can have the opposite effect of turning off your audience to your social media efforts entirely. Similarly, social media use by PR only is a lost opportunity to connect with the audience to convey the value proposition of its goods and services.

And so, in most companies that have realized the advantages of leveraging social media there exists either dual strategies or, worse, no strategy at all as both areas do their own thing. This leads to fierce competition for resources and recognition, departmental distrust, and breakdown in communication (ironic, given social media’s utility for increasing communication).

So Where Should Social Media “Live”?

Of course, in a discipline as young as social media (very few of us have been paid social media practitioners for over 10 years) PR and Mktg are not the only areas where leadership social media mat reside. For my 10 years working at AOL it was in the Product division; during my tenure at BusinessWeek it was part of the Digital division; and when I worked at Bloomberg L.P it lived in Communications, but then later consolidated (to my chagrin) into Marketing.

While not the ultimate answer (see below), if forced to make a choice mine would be PR. The upside potential for understanding audience sentiment; deepening end-user engagement; developing brand supporters, loyalists and defenders; and raising awareness of the organization’s goods, services and leaders is best handled by communications pros.

The one caveat: the need for a social media professional, one who has a visible social media footprint, a  and documented success as a paid professional  on staff to lead the organization in developing an overall social media strategy; implement best practices; develop internal social media policy; evangelizing social media internally including education and training and working with other departments such as HR and, yes, Marketing to employ social media the right way is an absolute requirement.

The Ultimate Answer

That is not the final answer to the “who owns social media” question — it’s the way most companies should proceed at the early stages of this discipline. The ultimate answer is: the opposites: “No one” and “Everyone“.

A fully integrated, successful social media strategy’s goal should be where both no department feels that they own social media; but every department is responsible for utilizing it as part of a comprehensive, coordinated effort.

Sad, But True (and Funny)

Another in a long line of reasons why companies need to hire an on staff social media professional.

In Defense of Women, or “Another Day, Another 77 Cents”

Women don’t need me (or any other man) to defend them, as they are quite capable of doing so themselves. But they do deserve my support and that of all men in their long and ongoing effort to achieve equality when it comes to treatment in the workplace, today earning about 77 cents for every dollar a man earns for similar work.

Married to a top corporate executive with two daughters working in the education and government fields, I have witnessed first-hand the challenges each face in pursing their careers. Two events last week got me thinking once again about this issue. The first, was the celebration of Equal Pay Day (Apr. 12) which strives to increase awareness of the discrepancy between male and female wages. The second was attending the “Shine On: Celebrating Women Making a Difference” awards at Radio city Music Hall (Apr. 11).

Despite the emergence of women as keen, capable business leaders the latest info shows they still only make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns for a similar job. To quote the Department of Labor,

While women hold nearly half of today’s jobs, and their earnings account for a significant portion of the household income that sustains the financial well-being of their families, they are still experiencing a gap in pay compared to men’s wages for similar work.” (Dept. of Labor, Equal Pay Day Toolkit)

Yes, progress has been made over the years, and certainly,  there has been a fundamental change in the role of women in the workplace. While Stay at Home Moms (SAHM) remain a vital part of society wage equity has certainly lagged behind the realities of today’s workforce where men are not necessarily the family’s main wage-earner.

Portrait Monument image via WikipediaCongress as well has hampered equal pay progress by failing to pass HR:1519 The Paycheck Fairness Act in both 2009 and 2010 (although reintroduced last week with 168 congressional representative sponsors). Ironically, Congress itself is an equal-pay workplace, mandated to pay senators and representatives specific salaries regardless of gender. Of course, Congress also kept the Portrait Monument (left), dedicated to the pioneers of women’s suffrage Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, in the basement of the Capitol for 76 years before restoring it in the Rotunda in 1997, and even then said it’d only be there for one year (though obviously extended).  Hmm…

On a brighter note, Good Housekeeping — a “main stream media” magazine publisher that has remained relevant for over 125 years — celebrated women making history with its Shine On awards. This year’s winners were:

  • Christy Turlington Burns – For her work as an advocate via her Every Mother Counts
  • The sOccket Girls – Four Harvard grad students for combining  soccer with enlightenment
  • Elizabeth Blackburn – Nobel prize-winning scientist whose work may unlock a cure for cancer
  • Michelle Rhee – Controversial forward-thinking educator for her Students First organization
  • Lisa Switkin – Urban planner of green space including the High Line park in NYC
  • Indra Nooyi – Chairperson and CEO of Pepsico, Inc. also active in Water.org

Amazing people all, I was impressed with their intelligence, eloquence and passion to improve society.

Oh, and they just happen to be women.

To Stop the Bleeding AOL Applies a Patch

+ + =

When I was at AOL, we had two areas that appealed to our members literally where they lived: Digital City (later CityGuide and now City’s Best) for local content features; and AOL Local which provided local based community forums. These areas really resonated with our members because as vast as AOL was in its hey-day, these relevant offerings touched them on a personal level.

Flash forward to the present, and those halcyon days are long gone. AOL is now a smaller player on the online scene with niche properties replacing the walled-garden portal. And, it is making a big splash in the formerly safe-haven for local media — hyper-local news — with Patch.

Patch sites have sprung up all over the U.S. and their success is taking its toll on local news orgs. It just launched its 500th site in Hopkins, Minnesota and despite Patch editor-in-chief Brian Farnham’s contention that, “We aren’t there to compete, but to just add another voice to serve the community,” Patch is causing local news media to make changes.

After the launch of Sonoma (Calif.) Patch, the local Sonoma Index-Tribune was forced to drop its three-month-old content paywall in order to compete.

Will Patch be AOL’s salvation? Combined with it’s niche sites (TMZ, Popeater, LemonDrop, et. al.) I think it just might. What do you think?

Would your employees recommend you?

Think your employees would recommend your company or its products? Think again. A recent study by Advertising Age reveals that only 27% of employees would recommend its products or services. Worse, almost twice that amount, 49%, are actually company detractors.

As for blocking employee access to social media, the survey found that active social media participants are likely to support the company 48% of the time with far less (only 22%) likely detractors.

With a 78% likelihood that your social media savvy employees would not speak poorly of the company, it pays (literally) to let, no, to help your employees be your best ambassadors in the social media space.

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