The Kevin Costner principle of if you build it they will come, rarely applies to social recruiting. The first part of any social recruiting plan starts with building the social places, setting up the feeds and preparing the accounts for activity. The second phase is generating content and encouraging contributions from others. This starts with enlisting the help of brand advocates. For many organisations, the failure point is an over reliance on recruiters for content and managing the content. This falls down because the recruiters just don’t have the time to maintain it with their main  responsibility of sourcing and managing open vacancies now.The other down side of recruiters providing the content is credibility with the outside world. It’s not a case of knocking the recruiters, but candidates expect them to say the workplace is great, who they really want to hear from and see is the people who work there. It’s a simple principle, programmers want to hear from programmers, they don’t want to hear from recruiters. Recruiters contribute to the communication on jobs, the process to apply and to be accessible when wanted, the rest of the content comes from the business. Once you’ve got brand advocates contributing content, promote your social places in the business to bring in new fans, friends, followers etc. Your most important employer branding is your internal employer branding, and your internal talent community. Once they start talking in public, the outside world wants to listen in, and some even want to come in and look for themselves. So far all the growth has been organic, and if your going to start spending on bringing people to your social places, you need populated and busy sites to attract them to, with regular content and engagement. To speed up the process it’s time to start considering social advertising. In my view pay-per-click rather than pay per impression campaigns provide the best first option and the best value. This is quite different to traditional advertising, where the objective is to reach as big an audience as possible. Social advertising works best when you take a much more targeted approach, thinking sniper over broadcast in approach. The smaller the target audience, the lower the pay-per-click cost. Targeting a smaller audience also means you can be very specific in copy and image. Better to place multiple ads to small audiences, than one catch-all ad, In my experience, the click-throughs and conversions are much better when you take this sniper approach. It’s worth taking time over this, or looking to automate this process.

Facebook in particular lends itself to automated research and advertising using applications designed for this purpose. My preference is for Work4Labs, where target groups come from parsing the job spec for interests that match, and automating the ads, including the essential analytics off the back-end. My other recommendation for social advertising is to split test ad’s. Because you are paying per click, it’s not going to cost you any extra cash. Try 3 different texts or images aimed at an equal size section of the market e:g: 50 possible candidates in the target market per ad, then run them and test the results and go with what works best. Better to make decisions on what you know works rather than what you think works. Too many decisions of what works in social are based on guesses, data tells the real story. Each of the social channels offer different options and require a different approach:

LinkedIn.

LinkedIn pay-per-click ad’s are proving very effective, and I think are under rated by many. The ads are usually job ads, although you can also promote community spaces. talent networks or your LinkedIn group. The benefit of this channel is that you can target by geography, employer, job title, skills, keywords, any of the LinkedIn fields. The targeting in this channel is a little more obvious because the data in the profile is all related to work. The other optional feature of LinkedIn PPC advertising that is proving to be very effective is the photo ads that take the profile picture of the target and puts the image in the ad, under the heading “picture yourself here.” I think the association of the personal picture associated with the job makes these ads really stand out, and makes the target candidate really consider themselves working with you. If you do go down the route of LinkedIn PPC, you need to include the “apply with LinkedIn” button at the end of it, or a social sign in that uses LinkedIn data for a one click registration. It’s logical that when candidates come to you from any of the channels, they are going to want to use the data from the attraction channel to apply. The other benefit is that when you place the ad, you get shown 26 profiles that match the job based on location, skills and keywords. LinkedIn is clearly getting better at matching, and you might find who you want in this list before you start advertising.

Facebook. 

Facebook is the life channel that has the largest population of users, and the widest range of people. Advertising in the channel is less obvious than a professional network like LinkedIn, where you can target on professional information. What I’ve found on Facebook is that advertising fan pages work, but advertising jobs is a lot less effective. I would advise building an active fan page first, and adding an application for seeing, sharing and applying for jobs.Your fan page will work best when the name of the page (with the exception of graduate recruiting) is not careers or jobs. No passive job seeker or the curious want to be seen liking or commenting on content on a page that points them out as a job seeker. The campaigns I’ve been involved in show that candidates coming from Facebook need to stay within Facebook when applying. You lose an average of 35% of applicants when you push them to an ATS, and an additional 30% within the ATS who never complete. The desperate stay with it but the good tend to disappear. Make application simple and quick, and remember that the majority of applicants coming this way will be coming from mobile. This means a mobile application process is essential. In my last post I reported how over 50% of the traffic on Facebook career application BranchOut comes from mobile, and how the real hike in  sign ups came when they made inviting and sign up simple by mobile. If ever you needed the evidence of the importance of mobile, this is it. The new time line for brand pages will also enhance this. Historically the application tabs weren’t visible on mobile, but the new layout positions 2 apps in larger buttons at the top of the page. Positioning the job app at the top of the page, together with the mobile accessibility and the whole timeline design, will increase the effectiveness of Facebook as a recruiting channel significantly. Watch this space! PPC ads can be targeted against interests, location, education, fans of pages etc. If you have never considered the channel before, check your target audience size by clicking the place an ad button on your profile. Set up a dummy ad, which will take you through to the targeting section. Test different combinations to identify target audience size, and think copy variation to entice the audience to click-through. It’s worth remembering that ads are the most liked and shared content on Facebook, and that linking ad’s to a Facebook destination, rather than an external site reduces the cost by at least 65%.

Twitter 

This might not be your first thought when considering a PPC campaign, but the introduction of sponsored tweets last year has changed this considerably. It’s proving to be the cheapest of the channels, with the highest apply and click-through rate. Sponsored tweets benefit from being promoted to the top of a search stream for anyone searching for related content or jobs, and lots of people use twitter as a search channel, (something that gets often overlooked.) You can also position ads against hashtags for industry events and chats that will attract your target audience. Twitter attracts browsers who are passing through the stream and get attracted by headlines.

When you’re considering text, it’s worth remembering to include hashtags that include location, principle skill and the word jobs. 8 x more people search twitter for jobs rather than job, one letter makes a big difference. I can’t explain the logic, but tweets with links in the middle of the text are 5 x more likely to be opened than links at the end. As with all PPC advertising, because you are paying for clicks, it’s worth running 3 different tweets to test what works best before committing to one ad. Tweets also get sent to the timeline of users with matching bios or a history of posting relevant tweets. As with all twitter recruiting, remember the geek words. Thats those words that are unique to a discipline, but identify the users as doing the job. Targeting through geek words in bios or content reaches a very relevent audience.

My experience with twitter is that you will attract a greater level of click-throughs, with less applications and efficiency, but the volume makes it well worth considering, particularly when you are trying to populate a talent community or network. Click troughs should go direct to a single job page, with a twitter style blue cloud background. This gives the feeling of still being in twitter, with a simple CV upload or apply with LinkedIn button. like Facebook, a lot of traffic is going to be coming via mobile, so the process needs to work easily with mobile job seekers.

PPC is an essential part of your social recruiting effort, supported by a simple application process, mobile friendly, and a social presence to provide extra content and attraction. Good luck in your efforts and let me know what works best for you.

Bill