What’s the ROI of Social Recruitment?

Social recruiting has been a hot topic for the last several years, and organizations have been spending a lot of time and money getting “social.” But is it worth the investment?

Talent professionals are starting to question whether they should invest more time and money in social or refocus on more traditional, tested methods. And they want to know what metrics are needed to answer this question.

The way people interact with potential employers has changed. Today’s job seekers want much more information about organizations before they apply for a job. They want to understand the nature of the work and the culture of the business. Social media can help organizations share that information, but it’s difficult to measure the influence.

It Used to Be Simpler
Not so long ago, engaging with candidates was a bit simpler. There was a career site and a few job boards — much the same as when you posted jobs in the newspaper. A job seeker could find information about the company from the career site and then apply. Tracking their route was simpler because there were fewer paths to the company’s door.

With the explosion of social media, candidates have many more ways to learn about a company — for instance, by following the company on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. They may research the company in other online platforms such as Glassdoor.com. They may search for a job on an aggregator like Indeed.com but still apply via the company’s career site. Since it’s the last click that is usually tracked as the candidate source, it’s tough to use traditional metrics to measure whether social tools are adding value.

Are You Saying the Right Things to the Right People?
To measure (and increase) return on social media, talent leaders must understand why it’s being used. An effective social recruiting strategy focuses on the relationship between the target audiences and the employer brand and level of influence.

Organizations need to look at their employer brand and determine whether that brand is reflected in the various social channels used. Employers that produce clear, consistent and human content over the long term can strengthen their relationships. But when that message is unclear, job seekers will be confused. When a company’s social media presence doesn’t align with the actual recruiting process, the organization might appear to be untrustworthy in the candidate’s eyes.

A clear understanding of the target audiences is critical. Knowing what kinds of people will be successful within the organization can help talent leaders target them in the appropriate social networks. Demographics may drive the specific social networks that are used as well as the tone of the company’s communication style and focus of content.

But above all, organizations should embrace the complexity of their target audiences. For most organizations, there is not a single target audience, but a variety of people from multiple generations in many regions, with differing languages, interests, etc. The more they can segment the target audiences and personalize the message, the more it will resonate.

Employer branding company Universum conducted a survey on why the top 5 percent of graduates follow certain companies as an employer of choice, and why they discount others. The survey identified the top 50 brands by country and globally. While some brands are listed in multiple countries, such as Google, the message is that while recruitment strategy might be global, there is a massive difference over what the message needs to be on a local basis.

According to Universum, top candidates follow a company in social media for an average of seven months before they apply for a job. That’s seven months of content, consistency and influence that the company may need to bring to the relationship.

Time for a New Approach
Social media will continue to influence the way people seek jobs and the way employers recruit. Business leaders want hard and relevant business data to determine the value of social recruiting. Traditional metrics still provide some visibility, but talent leaders need to be looking at how the company’s employment brand appears, who the company wants to engage with, how long these relationships last and what content influences behavior.

A new age needs a new set of metrics to properly understand the candidate and applicant journey. The next generation of metrics will track the whole relationship with your target audience long before some of them become candidates. The focus will be on content connections and influence.

Bucky Couch is executive vice president, Americas, for Lumesse, a global provider of integrated talent management offerings. He can be reached at editor@talentmgt.com.