With the number of social media users growing by over 300% in the past three years, it is imperative that employers focus on building a strong presence on relevant social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and blogs. While these platforms open up huge opportunities for sourcing talented professionals, they also bring some key challenges and risks…
Sending the right message on the right platform
The first challenge that many companies face is deciding their social media messaging strategy. The focus needs to be on answering not only what your brand is saying, but also to whom. This should then be compared to the messaging on your company’s own website, and the promotion you’re doing through job boards. Often, we’ve witnessed companies disperse all of their messages via all the tools available, resulting in a lot of irrelevant information. Consequently these companies end up with a negative and sometimes even boring online presence.
The most popular employer brands online have discovered the right combination of what and whom. While LinkedIn has proved effective for discussion forums around specialised skills/industries and quick polls, Facebook and Twitter are great tools to create viral discussions, or ‘buzz’ about brands.
The idea is to add value through customising the messages on these platforms, rather than overwhelming the audience with an information overload.
Credibility – it’s all user-generated
Another challenge that employers face arises from the very cornerstone that has made social media so popular — it’s unregulated! Typical examples include the inflation of skills, titles and experience. While a hiring manager might deem an online profile a perfect fit, there is no foolproof validation method. Conducting specialised background checks is an essential service provided by recruiters, and is an increasingly popular solution. Even with some of our own clients, these checks have proved critical in deciding on the right candidate and eliminating fraudulent candidatures early on in a process.
Employee testimonials – online is viral
From a risk perspective, the fact that all current, former and future employees of a company are already online becomes a big challenge to manage. Several reputed organisations have suffered blows in the last two to three years with former employees publishing blogs and posts that bad-mouth former bosses, or express negative opinions on practices. Given the size and speed of the social media space, this challenge is not going to disappear. In some cases, it may actually bring to light some genuine issues that the company should address, which are unknown to its management. The best way to address this challenge is by engaging internal stakeholders from a positive and proactive perspective, as opposed to an aggressive and reactive approach. The company has to make peace with the fact that they can’t stop these opinions from being expressed, however they can influence them over time with the right messaging and use of these platforms.
The important point to remember is that despite all the progress in technology and mobile platforms, social media is a great sourcing, long-listing and branding tool — but nothing more. The hiring process involving human interaction is irreplaceable and social media should never be considered an alternate to physically interviewing and selecting candidates.
What’s your opinion on using social media for employer branding and candidate sourcing?
MD, Michael Page International (India)
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