The Madness Of The Mobile Question #TruLondon

Would you buy recruiting software from me if I told you it would only work 80% of the time? You’d say yes, but what about the other 20%? Would you buy an ATS if I told you that at the moment it could handle% of your applications, but within 2 years most of the applications could not access your system? You’d think I was mad, and send for the men in the white coats.
When you set out to build a career site or recruitment website, one of the options is to add mobile compatibility. This seems like madness. Shouldn’t all new sites be built for mobile as standard, and any A.T.S. or other career technology that doesn’t function with mobile should be upgraded or phased out? It seems madness to me that vendors are even asking the question of new customers. We should just build to mobile. It seems like robbery to build something for a customer that you just know isn’t going to work. Mobile is not an optional extra, and selling any type of web technology without mobile compatibility is frankly thieving.

When considering mobile, I think we also need to consider how this is going to impact on the way that you work.It goes well beyond the technology. Building the mobi site, the application or the browser sniffer. As with social, infrastructure is more about people and how they behave with this technology than about the techie geeky bits, and that’s what most people fail to think about. Give people an avenue to talk to you, and they probably will do.If you are doing any kind of social recruiting, then people are more likely to be coming to you by mobile than not.

Times are a big factor you need to consider.Mobile has shifted when people are looking to engage or coming to your site. Mobile is busiest in the down times. That means generally when they are commuting, and increasingly when watching TV etc in the evenings.Get on a train for a commute, pretty much everyone is on a device. Stand in a que for a sandwich, and their doing much the same thing. Mobile is a down time device, and for the working, job browsing is mostly a down time activity. I refer to job browsing as the people who are not actively hunting but are curious, tempted by tweets, links etc to have a look, and that the majority of the people you are probably trying hire.People are inherently nosy, and social recruiting plays to this.If you are looking to engage and respond to your audience, to woo them with conversation and answers to their conversation, then you are going to need to be live when the audience is active.

Video is a big part of employer branding. A video lets people look inside the organisation and see if they can picture themselves there. When I heard Richard Cho of Facebook giving a few stats at #ATCSoMe, I was amazed at the volume of video that is watched on mobile devices. Whilst I can’t recall the exact number, I remember that it exceeded the volume watched on a PC. Since then, I’ve been looking at what you need to do with video to make it effective via a mobile device. In the extreme this means 3 videos for 3 different types of device: Phone, Tablet, PC., determined by a browser sniffer that reads what device you are using, but for most of us it means no flash and thinking about content. Flashy graphics and lots of movement might look great on a PC, but how does it look on a smart phone? Can you even read it? Talking head, or limited movement between shots and images look best. The same applies if you are embedding slideshare or prezi. Single screen images with single line text, easy to read. The best advice is to run the proposed content through a mobile to check what it looks like before going live.

At #trulondon5 Peter Gold ran the track on applying by mobile. It was generally agreed that what most people actually want to do is talk to you or express an interest rather than apply. They have seen enough to be interested but not enough to commit yet.This is when you can convert them from curious to candidate. It’s the point of taking a social approach to recruiting, and mobile is only going to increase the volume of curious. If you manage these people as traditional ad response rather than the curious, and leave them waiting till you are ready to respond then you are going to fail. Plan who, how and when your going to respond to requests to talk, because it needs to be instant. You want to be able to profile people quickly, and that means adding social sign ins like apply with LinkedIn, showing the headlines of the profile to the recruiters before they respond.

Final thought, in amongst all this shiny new stuff, don’t forget text. What I’m seeing is those recruiters who are using text are getting great results, because you are texting a link mostly to a smart phone with internet access. Texts get almost instant opens, and quick response. A.T.& T’s Carrie Corbin gets a fantastic response with this for their talent network. Don’t underestimate text.

Bill

LinkedIn, FaceBook Or Twitter: Social Pay Per Click Recruiting

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

 

 

The Sunday Shout Out: @KevinGreenREC #CIETT2012

Turning a trade body or institution social must be one of the biggest challenges. When you are a member organisation, and the REC, (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) there’s a lot of barriers to change. For a start, as the oldest and biggest body representing the recruiting industry in the UK, everyone who works in the sector has an opinion and a stake, member or not.
What I have witnessed from similar trade bodies like the larger CIPD, and SHRM in America in the early days trying to be social is that your really on a hiding to nothing. You make the right moves, but people are quick to be critical, either that they are not going fast enough, not getting it right or not really understanding what social is. Your also giving people the opportunity, often for the first time, direct access to the powers that be, the opportunity to communicate and be critical directly and very publicly through twitter and other public channels. It’s a brave man who opens themselves up to this, and in terms of the R.E.C, is Kevin Green.
If a trade body wants to be genuinely social and reach not only their members, but the wider industry at large, then they really need to understand how the social channels work. The etiquette and what to expect. The REC are very much getting this bit right, by Kevin operating a fairly busy twitter account, and encouraging others within the organisation. This is very different to other member organisations who have tried to harness the broadcast potential of the channels, without really being willing to get involved in the conversation. You only get to know social if you are social.
The recruitment agency sector have been slow to adopt social recruiting, and there has been lots of reasons for this. The move towards social by the REC can only help to get more of their members moving to explore the social recruiting options.
Every time we run #trulondon, I invite the trade bodies (and there’s new ones popping up all the time), to attend and take part. To talk to the people who are forming a new section of the market, and are probably doing it out of the established framework. The people who don’t necessarily from the old guard, and are not connected with the trade bodies, but would really benefit from dialogue. The people who are less bothered about what the lawyers are saying, and more about things like candidate attraction, sourcing and what is going to help them solve their real problems. People who are more interested in knowing what technology can help them in their business, and less in who has paid to be endorsed. I know from feedback that Kevin’s track proved an excellent addition to the agenda, and the fact that the REC were willing to engage in this way was a real plus for them. Engagement is about everyone being involved and available, and not just the marketing or social-media department.

It’s the social difference between word of mouse marketing and traditional advertising. In most cases I’ve not had a reply to my invite, so I was delighted that Green not only wanted to attend, but also to run a track, in order to talk and listen to recruiters about their views and opinions on what the future would be for recruiters. It was a very interesting track, and placed Green and the REC in the conversation, rather than trying to peer in from the outside.
In another move to do something different, Green is bringing the #tru format and philosophy in to the heart of the CIETT conference 23′rd – 25′th May. The CIETT world conference is the global conference for trade bodies and the leading recruitment businesses from around the globe, who get together in one place each year. Follow the hashtag #CIETT2012 to keep up to date with the event.
In the middle of what has always been a very traditional conference format, I’m going to be hosting 2 hours of unconference to look at how social is impacting on recruitment. That means 6 tracks that are going to offer something very different, bringing unconference to the establishment.
The tracks and track leaders are:

> Steve Ward – Cloud Nine/Elkie holland – Prospectus IT – The Social Agency
> Jorgen Sundberg – LinkHumans – Recruiter Branding
> Andy Headworth – Sirona Consulting – The Social Channels
> Siobahn Coccorran – Oracle – The Impact Of Direct Sourcing
> Jonathan Campbell – SocialTalent/ Bill Boorman – @BillBoorman – Social Sourcing
> TBC – Mobile Impact

I will also be acting as ring-leader/sheep hearder/community DJ for the tracks, as well as working with Kevin to look at how we can run a blog squad, twitter reporters, livestream etc to socialise the event for an audience outside the room. A trade body should after all be a voice for everybody and not just the members.

With the level of participants I think the content will be ground breaking, and a welcome diversion to the delegates who will have been spending a day and a half essentially listening. The event is at The Landmark Hotel in Central London. If you’re in the UK, CIETT is a genuinely global event, that aside from #tru (of course), will be by far the biggest recruiting event in Europe this year. Take the opportunity to get along, and bravo to Kevin for wanting to do something different

Green joined the REC in June 2008, and has led the organisation through a significant restructure, against a background of significant period of legal change including the Agency Workers Regulation, and the recession, which has had a devastating effect on many of the members, who have been increasingly turning to the REC for support and help. They are the leading lobbying organisation on recruitment matters, trainers, regulators and ombudsmen, among plenty of other things, as well as being the recognized spokesmen for the industry. Green has to have his eye on a lot of different conversations, with an opinion on most things, so he will be right at home on Twitter.

Green is no stranger to change. Before becoming CEO at the REC, he was HR Director for Royal Mail letters, who he joined in 2003, and was part of the management team who transformed the business from losing £1mn a day to £600Mn profit.

Prior to this he was MD of strategic HR Consultancy QTab, who had an enviable client base, which brought him to the attention of Royal Mail. I remember when Green was appointed by the REC, it raised a few eyebrows given that he came from the corporate HR sector rather than the Agency sector. From when I first met him after his appointment, it was clear that he was not afraid of change, and wanted to listen to what the industry really wanted. Members were questioning what they were getting from their trade body, and change was needed. The formation of APSCO also had the impact of splitting the membership base. Change was needed, and Green brought that change.

Hats off to Kevin for getting social. Please go and follow him and share your views and thoughts wherever you are, and follow the other members of the REC who have started tweeting. They need all of our encouragment on the journey to being the social voice of the industry, and I hope you can join us at CIETT.

Bill

LINKS:

CIETT2012

The REC

FOLLOW @KevinGreenREC

 

BranchOut Grows Up, And Up, And Up

I’ve been watching the numbers growing on the professional networks that live within Facebook for a while now. It’s something I’ve been monitoring to see how they are taking off and growing.Like a lot of people, I signed up for BranchOut in the early days. I wanted to see what this new network was all about. I’ve done the same with Monsters BeKnown and Indeed. Branchout got a lot of bad press in the blogosphere in the early days around posting on walls, pointless quizzes and what many regarded as spamming.I spoke to BranchOut founder Rick Marini about this at #truSanFran. Marini was hosting us in his new office, and this gave us access to the team. It’s been interesting to see how his vision has evolved in a short space of time.

Marini outlined some ambitious plans. He outlined how in the early days it was important to make noise and gain a critical mass. This was achieved by the wall postings and other initiatives, but once you get users, it’s important that you listen to them. The functions were also fairly limited in those days, with no real potential for doing anything other than making connections, posting jobs and issuing/receiving recommendations. This was also around the time that LinkedIn took a very public stand against what was being positioned as a competitor network, and pulled access to the A.P.I. Monster had also recently launched BeKnown, who with global reach and the Monster network are a credible competitor in the same space.

BranchOut had also attracted significant investment totalling $24Mn, and were using this investment to assemble a significant product team with creative licence to look at what the users were saying, how they were using the platform and the constant change that was going on where they lived within Facebook. Notably BranchOut were one of the companies involved in working with Facebook to develop mobile and other applications, building the first mobile app on Facebook. The features the users didn’t like were dropped, and the interface was changed to make it easier for users. It’s now very easy to navigate the platform from one screen.The mobile app was built by an engineer in their spare time and now represents 40% of their total traffic. A number that is expected to grow to over 50% by the half-year, proof again of that mobile is critical.

The feature I’ve always liked is being able to see how you are connected in any company, and who your connections are connected with. It’s useful because you can message within the platform without needing to send messages in what many view as a personal space. It’s also a great way to gather names when sourcing. Connecting has proved to be quite easy. Without a lot of effort I have 1,472 connections, which represents about 40% of my Facebook network. With each connection added to my BranchOut network, I gain access to the professional details of their friends, searchable by connections or employing companies even if they don’t have a BranchOut profile.

When you log in to BranchOut, you get some prompt boxes to update your profile where it is needed, and most notably a very simple to use feature for inviting your Facebook friends to connect with you on the platform, which filters which friends do not already have a profile, and a one click invite in batches of 50. Judging by the growth in numbers, it seems to be working well.

The home page has an update box to share news, accomplishments, events etc with your BranchOut network, with the option to post to Facebook and Twitter. Other tabs enable you to share links, give endorsements and post jobs. Posting jobs are a 2 screen job title and job description. This is free to post, share with your contacts and is searchable by anyone in Branchout.

An enhanced job listing allows a lot more customisation and like all of the platform, is very simple to use from a single screen. The enhanced features allow for Job Title, (with the option to post a catchy headline), Company, Location inside and outside of the U.S, a job description with pasting options, job type by industry,experience and tenure and the facility to add perks. Application is either by one click-through BranchOut with the personal profile, which I think is a great feature, making application quick, easy and also simple by mobile, or by external website or ATS. The latter will no doubt cause a drop off, my recommendation would always be for the one click, staying in a Facebook environment that all the data I’ve seen proves to be important. You can post anonymously or by name, add a unique reference number and there’s even a tick box for adding a commitment to consider US Veterans. This last feature I’d like to be extended to incorporate UK military veterans, and others from the global audience, with over 50% of the 10Million registered users residing out of the U.S. Enhanced jobs are priced at $49 for one job, $225 for 5 jobs, $390 for ten jobs and the option to request for multiple jobs and an automated job feed.

The main screen has four tabs that are easy to navigate. Search people by name, company or job. Each person displays a photo for recognition, a professional headline taken from the profile and icons for companies in their professional network. Search companies by name, people or jobs. When you click on a company you get to see your inside connections by icon for easy recognition, jobs posted by the company on BranchOut and other matching jobs. Search jobs by company and people. Theres also a keyword search that enables users to search by keywords, company, location, industries, experience and tenure. Like all of the platform it is very easy to navigate, and users can save the job for later review or click-through to a single page spec, which has an additional Facebook share option. The users inside connections are featured at the top of the job with the option to request an intro through your connections with a custom message field, encouraging referral and building on the benefits of networking. You can apply direct with your profile which is quick and simple (unless the hiring manager has chosen to push you through an ATS or external site), save the job, share on your own wall or on twitter, and see other jobs. The single page view, connections, apply and other features makes it really jobseeker friendly.The last tab allows for growing your network with the features listed earlier in the post.

Profiles are quick to build and edit, including sections for professional headline, picture, (your Facebook picture is the default setting or you can upload any image), a free text summary not restricted by characters with the option to upload and add your resume, tabs showing your connections, updates, projects that you can add at any time as an update, and endorsements. Endorsements are easy to give, receive and request.You can see my profile at branchout.com/Bill.Boorman

Lastly there’s a message icon that shows any open messages with a pull down menu that shows connections, message requests and notifications. Having gone back and had a good look round, I’ve got to say I’m impressed with the ease of navigation and the user features. I can see why jobseekers and employers like it.Another feature worth noting is the integration with job board CareerBuilder in the U.S, and most recently TotalJobs in the UK and Stepstone in Europe. The job board integration brings extra social features to the boards and enables advertisers to get extra coverage and reach through BranchOut. Monster offers the same benefits through Beknown, with the added feature I really like of being able to endorse and search skills, which is perhaps the main differentiator in functions between the two platforms, though BranchOut would appear to be winning the war for monthly active users. According to a recent Techcrunch article, BranchOut has experienced significant growth during 2012, with AppData recording 1Mn at the end of 2011, rising to 2.7Mn by the end of Jan, and a massive 5.5Mn by the end of Feb.

Marini identifies three factors as being behind this growth. 

Image Source: TechCrunch

1:A dedicated growth team

Marini hired a  team who work on pro-actively building the numbers by focussing on analytics,new design,registration flow,A/B testing and viral techniques. A great example of this is the simple, one click fifty friend invites.

2: The launch of the mobile app.

This added the ability to invite friends to connect by mobile increased the number of daily active users by 100% from 260,000 to 560,000 in just 3 days, according to app growth tracking service AppData.

3: Getting to critical mass first.

BranchOut describe this as the tipping point where the volume of new users multiply exponentially. , The new users in turn invite their connections leads to viral growth, hence the almost unprecedented hike in monthly user numbers.When potential users start getting multiple invites from trusted connections it validates the platform, and persuades people that they need to go and have a look at what is going on. Branchout is now is signing up 3 users per second, and was the 4th fastest growing app on Facebook this week ahead of Spotify and Pinterest. You have to say that’s impressive, and a long way from the early wall posting days, in a relatively short space of time.

I would also put this down to the simplicity of navigation and the look of the site, as well as the mobile factor. The Facebook market is big enough to support both BeKnown and BranchOut, give both platforms a place. I’m not sure Indeed will have the backing to compete with these two giants, and BraveNewTalent offers a completely different option with the development of the talented network, built around skills communities. The winners here being Facebook, who are now able to boast credible career options to give people even more reason to stay in the channel, and the job seekers.

BranchOut are now looking at ways to fully monetize the platform. As with any platform of this type, the first goal is always to get the user numbers. Now they are achieving that, increased advertising revenues can be expected, and last year they launched a premium recruiter connect product with enhanced features and search capability. I will be reviewing this in a later post. I will be watching with interest how the platform stands up with the significant growth of users. This will be the real test, as no one could have predicted the speed at which these milestones have been achieved. Judging by whats happened since the 2010 launch, Marini probably already has this figured out. Good luck to them, and hats off for a job well done!

Bill

LINKS

BranchOut

AppData

TechCrunch

Finding Contact Details For Anyone (some cool tools)

I want to feature a webinar today from my friend Shane McCusker of Intelligence Software, the South African Recruiters Group and the driving force behind #TruSA. Shane runs regular free webinars on internet sourcing that offer real value.
His recent webinar on finding contact details is brilliant because unlike many of the webinars about, Shane does not assume a level of knowledge and takes things from a base level. He shares lots of simple to implement techniques and tools, which are mostly free to use. From LinkedIn to Skype, there’s plenty of things that any recruiter can apply. Take a look and share it with your recruiting teams.

Hope you enjoyed Shane’s style. I think it is a webinar worth sharing.

The link to my next webinar with RecruitingWebinars on Twitter Sourcing is out now. You can sign up HERE.

Bill

LINKS

Shane McCusker

The Future Of Recruiting

I’m a big fan of Peter Cosgrove. He is one of the senior managers at Ireland’s leading recruiters, C.P.L. Peter is a thinking mans/women’s/persons recruiter. He “gets” social, is an advocate but also a realist. I like his thinking on where recruiting is going in the medium term. Peters track at #truDublin last year was one of my highlights of a busy 2011. Managing 100′s of recruiters across a range of sectors also means that he knows what is actually going on, and the challenges they face in their day-to-day jobs.

Peter is a recommended connection. This is his slideshare from a recent presentation on the future of recruiting. Nothing complicated or high faluting. More prompting thinking than giving exact solutions. We should all consider the future in our planning, because it affects the big decisions we make today. People who built websites without mobile compatibility because it was an optional extra 12 months ago are now regretting that decision. They considered how candidates were applying for jobs 12 then, rather than what they might be doing now, and it leaves them with a big hole today that needs filling. Mobile compatability should be the standard build, not an optional build.

 The future is important, it just gets lost in the busy hubub of today, and the jobs we need to fill now. Think again!

Thanks Peter for sharing your thoughts. What do you all think is going to be important 2 years from today?

Bill

LINKS

Peter Cosgrove

Barclays Future Leaders Hub: Reducing Volume/Increasing Quality #trulondon #truStockholm

When your working with a high-profile brand with a public presence, the problem is not getting people to apply for jobs. At #trulondon, Peter Gold spoke of Tesco’s receiving over 1Mn applications via their career site. I’ve seen the same thing with my clients Oracle and the BBC, it’s a different type of problem. The last thing these businesses need is more response, and the higher the volume of applications, the harder it is to provide a good candidate experience. Commonly the solution is to put recruiters behind a wall and cut off accessibility. It’s not that recruiters don’t want to give individual people the attention and response they deserve, there simply isn’t time in the over worked recruiters day. What these recruiters want is not more candidates, but better candidates who are a closer match to their requirements who they can invest time talking to, and developing relationships with. Quality over quantity.

Speaking with recruiting teams, it’s easy to bemoan the lack of engagement and relationship skills. It’s recruiters who are on the front line, and it’s recruiters who have the pressure to make their hires in a double-quick time, and to even more demanding standards from hiring managers. To find the proverbial needle in a haystack. This is against a background of a call for greater candidate care. It’s the recruiter who carry the can for empty seats, and from their point of view, there’s simply never enough hours in the day for the demands of social recruiting. They have to concentrate on hires now, rather than possible hires future.

It’s been blogged and spoken about quite often that the modern recruiter needs to think like a marketer. Most of the emphasis ha perhaps the has been on talent attraction rather than recruiting, and the better you get at talent attraction the more people reply. I have made myself a bit unpopular in the past with the digital media mafia, by stating that actually, perhaps the real need is to get the marketeers to think more like recruiters. I think Bernard Hodes have done this with the Barclays Future leaders programme.

I’ve spoken in the past with Quezzia Soares, who manages the recruitment marketing for Accenture. One of the things they have had to do is to be brutally honest about what their minimum requirements are for Graduates right at the start. This means telling anyone on their welcome pages that if you don’t have 400 UCAS points, there is no point in applying. The companies I work with have high standards of entry. Without getting in to the morals of this argument, it is the standard. I’m a believer in transparency. If you have no chance of getting a job, I don’t want to do anything to encourage you to apply. It’s just not fair to create false hope. I also think that there is nothing wrong with the message “It’s hard to get a job here. You have to be special to get in. We have high standards. Are you special?”

Recent job seeker research indicates that there’s a bit of apathy out there. People are just fed up of investing time in job applications where they are not going to get beyond the ATS. The jobs they apply for, and despite unemployment applications per person are right down, are those they feel they have a good chance of getting. This means rethinking how many jobs are presented. We’ve spent so much time presenting jobs to sell them, working on marketing copy and branding, that the requirement is buried so deep in the copy it gets lost. Better to put your requirements front and center, it might even raise the flow of qualified applications, while turning off those who don’t fit the bill.

About 6 months ago I was speaking with Andy Hyatt, Digital Director of  Bernard Hodes, and he told me about the work he was doing with colleague Steven Lo’Presti for the graduate recruitment at bankers Barclay’s. The plan was to launch a social media hub within their future leaders career site, to encourage on-going engagement between the graduate intake of recent years, and potential new hires. I’ve been watching the site closely since it’s launch since the middle of last year. It’s less of a career site, and more of a communication center, there’s also an i-phone app with many of the features converted for mobile, and a full mobile site with browser sniffer on entry. All the features a modern career site needs,

When you land on the site from the outside world, you land at The Hub.The Barclay’s Graduate program is titled: “Future Leaders” and the by=line that sums up the site is: “See More.Be More.”  It’s in an easy on the eye corporate blue, and very easy to navigate. The tabs at the top link to the The Graduate Programme, Undergraduate Programme, School Leaver Programme, School Leaver Programme, Events and Applying To Barclay’s. The applying tab explains the process in detail, with a very clear, “What we look for” section. The text at the start reads:

“There are no two ways about it. We have immensely high expectations of everyone who makes it onto the FLDP; and we’re looking for people who can bear the weight of those expectations. In other words, you’ll need ambition and vision every bit as big as ours from the outset.

It perhaps goes without saying that your academic record will be of the highest order (a 2:1 or above and 300 UCAS points to be precise), but becoming one of our future leaders is as much about your employability. Besides a strong academic record and work experience, you’ll need to demonstrate your involvement in extra-curricular activities.”

For me, this is clear and transparent, and like Accenture is saying if you don’t have the UCAS points there is no need to apply. It’s hard to get a job here.but if you get one, it’s going to be great. Think about what it is saying if you get an interview, it’s saying, OK, we think you could be special.

The individual career type tabs each feature a programme overview, and individual department tabs. Behind the departments are a few features I really like is being able to see individual profiles of the recent intake, and the opportunity to shadow them by connecting on LinkedIn or following on twitter, and there’s similar people to connect with behind every department, as well as blogs to follow. Simple but effective peer-to-peer employer branding.

Behind the events tab there’s a “play more” feature, with a game and leader-board, with an opportunity to win tickets to the ATP Grand Slam, based on taking part in an actual game when Barclay’s visit target universities as part of the milkround. I really like activities that link the virtual world with in person recruiting. I’m a big believer that social is physical as well as virtual. Another great initiative like this is labeled “Smile More.” This features some really cool pictures from the campus events, shot in black and white. When the pictures are taken, the students get invited to check back in to the site to view them, reconnecting them with the hiring hub.

Video’s feature throughout the site, with the opportunity to see the people, get video tips on the assessment process and a whole lot more. Visitors can also sign up for the video channel, that features 44 different videos, in multiple places on the site including the landing page and hub, as well as the Facebook page and Twitter feed. Theres also news feeds and twitter feeds in the hub and on the landing page.

Theres a register or log in section which takes you to a micro-site for the division you choose, and an apply button that links you in to the ATS, which is where the social bit ends. Theres no means of exporting detail from LinkedIn or other social profiles. Given that the hub is very social, I’d expect the application to be a bit easier. All details need to be entered, and it takes 16 clicks to get to apply. The jobs behind the application are easy to navigate, without lengthy job specs to wade through. All the information needed to choose which job is available in lots of different formats  according to the visitors choice, so there’s no need for the long-winded spec.

The easy registration means that Barclay’s can capture data and operate a talent network, connecting over relevent content. Whilst I’d prefer this to be via a social registration, it’s a small detail. Everything else on the site is brilliant.

So what has this meant in terms of numbers?

 

> Overall, the campaign has performed well, attracting just over 355,000 visitors to the site since it was re-launched in September 2011– an increase of 51% over last year, who viewed over 1.6 million pages – an increase of 75%. And this without an increase in advertising budget.

>Social media has played a big part in this success: at the time of writing the Twitter channel has picked up just over 470 followers – 477 to be precise, and the Facebook page has been liked by 510 users. The YouTube channel used to serve video content has generated over 17,100 views while the QR codes were scanned over 680 times. And these numbers are rising steadily week on week.

>The visitors that interact with The Hub,  have also proven to be more engaged with the site – proving that social content can attract and retain visitors over paid advertising: they are more likely to stay after viewing the first page (15.9% bounce rate vs. 25.8%), stay for longer on the site (9’ vs. 3’51”), and view, on average, twice as many pages per visit (10.05 vs. 5.01).

> Visits to the site have increased by 51%, applications have decreased by 40% over last year. At first this might seem worrying if not for the fact that the conversion rate between assessment and hire increased by 55%. Ultimate proof that targeted and relevant content can deliver better quality candidates who are also more likely to get hired.

I started this post talking about the need for big brand corporates have to reduce the volume of applications, whilst increasing the quality. What Barclay’s and Bernard Hodes have proved through this case study is that while it might take a bit of work, and you need to enlist the brand advocates from the business to do the engagement and connect with interested people from the target audience. The games run on university visits, leader board and photo features gives the students met on campus a reason to connect with the site and register. The social networking clearly drove traffic to the site without any additional spend.

Clarity of the standard required cuts out the many applications that this type of campaign would normally attract don’t apply. Sharing values, job content, peer-to-peer communication and clear job detail leads to people deselecting themselves from the process, avoiding wasted recruiter time.

Hyatt also commented that the feedback from the recruiters was that those who got through selection were totally committed and much more informed about the opportunity, which explains the significant improvement in the conversion rate. Supporting the candidate with information on resources on the selection and assessment process, greatly improves the candidate experience, and removes the risk of good candidates missing out by making errors in the process. For recruiters, only seeing committed and qualified candidates has to make their job better. It’s not just the candidate experience we need to be thinking about, it’s also the recruiter experience that gets improved by an engaged process.

I want to thank Andy Hyatt and Steven LoPresti of Bernard Hodes for bringing this story to #trulondon, and giving me access to the data for this post. It’s a great story. It is my intention to include at least 6 case studys at each #tru event moving forward, and will be inviting Andy Hyatt out to #truStockholm next month.

Bill

LINKS

Barclays Hub

Barclays FB

Barclays Twitter

Barclays YouTube

Meet Our People Blog

Andy Hyatt

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LinkedIn 2012: King for the recruiter?

Coming from me, this blog post might come as a bit of a surprise. I’m well-known for having had great success in Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and other channels. I’m always looking for other places for my clients to recruit. Fishing in ponds where no one else is gives you the pick of the fish, but no matter what recruiting plan we put together, there is always space in there for LinkedIn. It is top of every recruiters list, even if it is not the most social of places. LinkedIn doesn’t need to be social, for where it’s going in my opinion. If there was only the option to choose one channel, recruiters would choose LinkedIn every time. It’s more than just habit, and here’s why:

Last week Oracle acquired Taleo to integrate in to their range of enterprise HR and recruiting products. This is a move to position Oracles HR suite ahead of competitors like Workday, and the recently acquired Success Factors and Jobs2Web by S.A.P.  It’s been a busy time in the market. In June Taleo announced a close integration with LinkedIn which added new features that took LinkedIn’s biggest asset, the volume of professional profiles, to job seekers and to recruiters. The acquisition of Taleo brings LinkedIn in to the heart of Oracle, and it will be very interesting to see how this evolves on a global scale. The more technology moves to the cloud and goes mobile, the greater the need for an easily accessible, up to date professional profile.

My feeling is that 2012 is going to be the year of collaborative technologies. Technologies that work in harmony to put all the data in one place, and provides analytics to understand what the data is saying. This is LinkedIn’s biggest asset, and they control their position aggressively. 2 days ago, a tweet  from LinkedIn software developer Yevgeniy Brickman came across my time line, announcing 150Mn Users.

Thats 150 million global users of LinkedIn, and however out of date some of those profiles may be, it is the biggest source of professional data in one place. If you want to build any type of recruiting product, from social referrals to job sharing, you need access to the LinkedIn A.P.I. Products like BeKnown from Monster, and BranchOut learnt this the hard way. If you compete with LinkedIn for the professional network space, then they close off access. Any recruiting product needs to collaborate with LinkedIn, and that positions the business in the ascendancy.

A few weeks ago I blogged how LinkedIn wasn’t social, and why the channel didn’t need to be. It generated a lot of traffic and mostly agreement. The more I think about it, the more I see LinkedIn in a different position to where we see it now, and the what the channel represents.

1: Open Sign In/Apply

One click sign in to an ATS, or pretty much any social site is becoming standard. People want to give as little data as possible, and take as little time as possible. It is what LinkedIn was built for, a single source for professional data. I don’t need to provide my data, I just need to link to it. The more intelligent technology does not export data, but the location of the data, and searches in this way. Profiles are tagged, but the information is kept in real-time. With a traditional database, the data is stored requiring server space and security. What is the need to keep the data as long as you have a location and permission to access? Every time a profile gets updated in the old tech, the data gets more out of date, this way it stays current forever. The sign in is the permission, the access and the location. Theres also no need to scrape data and risk breaching LinkedIn’s terms of use.

2: Sourcing:

Using the channel as the reference source, and InMail for messaging is still the most succesful use of LinkedIn by recruiters. The research I conducted with hiring companies who quote LinkedIn as their principal source of hire showed that 45% of hires came from direct sourcing, and nearly all of them had a Recruiter Account. This won’t change any time soon. Most recruiters don’t get engagement. They either don’t have the time or need to talk to people outside of when they have a requirement, and LinkedIn gives them a channel they can learn quite easily. All of the job board research and data is showing that hiring companies are spending more and more time in the C.V. data-bases, in many cases seeing this as being more valuable than job posting. Taking this in context, LinkedIn is the ultimate C.V. database, so it stands to reason that the channel is featuring at the start of any source, either using LinkedIn’s own search engine, or via Google or another search engine. The reference source is still LinkedIn. While Facebook might have many more users and profiles, there’s less professional data, and it’s harder to search. Facebook requires a different approach, based on fan pages, engagement and targeting by interest. It’s more of a community platform, where as LinkedIn is the direct sourcing/finding channel.

3: PPC

I think this is a grossly under used area of LinkedIn. From the companies surveyed, 19% hired through PPC advertising. The data on the profiles makes targeting the right people easy by location, skills, employers, job titles, any of the profile fields or key-words used. Much like the principle and pricing behind Facebook advertising, it pays to place multiple ads aimed at smaller audiences. This reduces cost, and means you can target and images specific to the target group. A sniper approach brings real results. I’ve also been surprised by the success of the “picture yourself here” ad’s that use your LinkedIn picture and data to produce an ad featuring your face.

The only downside of this is that users have less and less reason to visit the channel. Updates, groups etc are mostly accessed from outside the channel, typically via e-mail. Users can even e-mail back without the need to log in, and this presents a challenge to the effectiveness of advertising, though targeted messaging from within the channel could provide the solution. Although time spent in the channel is reduced year on year, use of the features are increasing, and social sharing features highly. Could be an opportunity to locate on LinkedIn and message via another channel or source.

4:Mobile

Mobile is the major consideration in social recruiting. 55% of social content is posted via mobile. People spend their down time on trains, in ques etc browsing their mobile, and this includes jobs. Access to the major job boards via mobile is currently running at 18% of all access and rising each month. The biggest frustration and barrier at the moment is the inability to apply for jobs by mobile. Mostly this means e-mailing or bookmarking the job and hopefully picking it up later when they are back at a PC.

Peter Gold of HireStrategies ran a track at #trulondon on applying by mobile. The conclusion of  the assembled masses was that actually, people don’t want to apply by mobile but they do want to register their interest and come up on the radar of recruiters. Connect with LinkedIn gives the perfect opportunity to do this. Results are showing that when you ask people to connect rather than apply, the results go up considerably. The commitment is much less. Once a recruiter gets access to the LinkedIn profile, they can make an informed decision as to how they want to proceed, and it’s one click on the mobile for the potential candidate, and one click back (or call), by the recruiter. This is why I favour LinkedIn connect over LinkedIn apply, (it’s less commitment on either side). A connect button and mobile will make a major difference to future recruiting campaigns.

5: Reference Anywhere.

LinkedIn is the reference site for looking at professional profiles governing work history, skills etc, and for seeing how you are connected within an organization. When I’m teaching sourcing in twitter or any other channel, it’s a case of locate the name using a reverse phone lookup service, check the LinkedIn profile. With the channel recognised as the source for professional information at a glance, I don’t think it will be too long before we will be able to see profiles and connection information outside of the channel. it could be that we can see the profile and connections on a Facebook profile or from a tweet. this would require some collaboration between the channels, but I don’t think it is too far away.

6: Predictive Internet Behaviours.

LinkedIn has the most structured data on professional backgrounds. It’s also the place that gets most updated when things change. I’ve blogged in the past about how the radar function in Bullhorn Reach monitors changes to LinkedIn profiles to identify who is moving in to job seeker mode. It is frighteningly accurate. Consider how profiles and changes in user data can be used to predict the future, and make informed decisions now. You could identify a course of study based on the profiles of people in roles you want to take up in the future. You could identify employers where employees could be most likely to be open to your approaches. You can identify traits in organisations, and job seekers can identify the companies most likely to hire them. These are just a few thoughts on how data mining within the channel can assist decision-making and influence planning for anyone. The challenge for LinkedIn is to develop the tools to do this, and they have a very active lab doing this, as well as a history of acquiring third-party applications. They have the data, recruiters will pay for access and the tools to understand it. I’m expecting predictive tools to feature heavily in LinkedIn’s offerings during the coming year. If you can combine LinkedIn’s professional data, and Facebook’s social and personal data, imagine the possibilities.

7: Talent Networks.

I’m a fan of the talent network approach. I think that many companies can sustain this approach over a talent community. A talent network is dependent on simple sign up and being able to segment professional data to ensure relevance of . LinkedIn sign up makes this simple, and combined with CV upload and parsing, very relevent for messaging. It’s why I like products like Tribepad and Find.Ly. Talent networks are fast becoming a reality for smart hiring organisations, and will grow in importance during 2012, and access to the LinkedIn A.P.I. is essential to making this approach work.

8: Social Referrals

More and more organisations are recognising the importance of harnessing the social connections of their employees for referrals. Applications like Work4Labs, TalentBin and Bullhorn Reach make this easy and effective, but are dependent on gaining access to employees LinkedIn networks, as well as the other social channels. The average LinkedIn network consists of an average of 220 connections, and my research with client organisations show a relevance of about 70%. The potential here is huge, either through one of these applications or LinkedIn’s own referral engine. As social referrals increase in importance within hiring strategy, so more organisations will actively encourage their employees to build their networks. It’s the one channel that is rarely barred by HR or other departments, and because of the obvious business benefits, not seen as a time suck.

Increasingly I’m also hearing of businesses adopting these technologies in areas outside of recruiting, in particular sales and marketing functions. As other departments switch in to the social referral methodology, user numbers will continue to grow significantly, as will network size. The twitter factor has resulted in the growth of personal networks and our openness to connecting. It would not surprise me to see the average network size having doubled to 440 by the year-end, as more businesses adopt referral networks throughout the organisation.

Given these applications, a detailed professional profile on LinkedIn is a necessity, and users will pay more attention to getting the detail on their profile right. They have a unique and dominant position in the market, and one that is well protected. Access to the LinkedIn API is increasingly critical for recruiting technology companies, and this is where I see the main revenue streams coming. There will be less and less access and interaction in the channel, but more use of the data. Expect to see companies paying for access and use, and a real change in how the channel works. LinkedIn is not a job board as some would allude, but it is the biggest and most accurate professional data source, and we are going to see this becoming more and more important during 2012.

Just my thoughts, what do you think?

Bill

Not another Pinterest for recruiting blog. Evolution of a social channel #trulondon

Last week was #truLondon, so I didn’t get much of a chance to blog. More on that later in the week. There was plenty of talk about Pinterest, and how this new channel could impact on recruiting. Max Hayward ran a track on it, has blogged and even pinned it.He is so excited about the new channel and the prospect for recruiting that he is having babies about it.

I don’t need to share more how this channel “could” or “should” be used for recruiting. There’s been enough blogs, webinars and tweets about it.The reality is that any channel, on-line or off-line social place can be used for recruiting. Where you can connect with people, you can hire people, and that’s pretty much down to LinkedIn.We can find people anywhere, and reference LinkedIn to see what they are, and what their background is. The more channels, the more places to connect and come up on the radar. Pinterest is no different to this, with some simple but effective means of sharing infographics as job descriptions. It’s also a good way to attract new people from a niche sector by setting up a dedicated board in a niche.
It’s also looks a great channel for sourcing specialist people, in much the same way as YouTube is most effective for sourcing specialists. The benefits of using YouTube to broadcast job or employer brand content is obvious, but the wise sourcers spend more time searching for people. If you want to reach Java programmers, then the place to look is at specialist videos on Java that contains geek content. The people who like the video or post comments, or follow the channel are probably Java specialists. It’s another community of type.Apply the same principle to Pinterest. Followers of specialist content are probably going to work in the discipline. The people following, posting, liking or sharing are probably in that discipline. You want to find a Java programmer, go find Java images, video and infographics.

I can see the possibility, especially when you start pinning video, I’m just waiting to see what the users determine is going to be the reality.
This is what is at the heart of how social channels evolve. The designers build and imagine a channel operating in one way, then the users take a look, break the rules and decide to do something completely different with it. Anywhere there are collections of people, there are recruiters looking for low hanging fruit. Looking for another way to connect. Another channel or social place that might give access to new people.Google+ did a great job of launching, crowd-sourcing the users and changing the features and functions quickly to fit what the users wanted to use, rather than what they wanted to provide.

Another great example of this is photo-sharing channel Flikkr.Flikkr was built as a game playing platform, much like Farmville  or Cityville. The founders wanted to create a community element around the games, so that the players could share content, pictures, news etc. What resulted was that the picture sharing element exploded, while the other features including the games never really took off. The users determined that they wanted Flikkr to be a photo sharing channel, and that’s what it became.

Each month at Facebook headquarters, the staff at Facebook meet for a hack day. They meet to design and build new user functions, and the only rule is that they can’t work on anything that is related to their job. Employees are encouraged to think like users, and to work in small teams to build new changes. It is this creative thinking that has brought about most of the changes users have experienced and come to love, after first hating them. Richard Cho, head of resourcing at Facebook told me just before #truAus, that the success of features are measured by how much people complain about the change. Facebook changes all the time, as does Google+, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn, and the changes are driven by user behavior. Use something a lot, and it gets built on, don’t use it at all and it disappears. Users vote for features with clicks, and although there is loud protest every time there is a change to what is a free channel, the user base for all the channels keep growing at a rate that far outstrips expectation.

Much of the reason that Facebook has grown at the exponential rate it has is that Zukerburg and gang have constantly introduced new user features, dropping those that don’t get adopted, making changes by use and developing those that prove popular. Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn describes it best as as being in a state of permanent beta. The product or channel is never quite the finished article. Users always want more. It’s similar to my adage for social recruiting: “Theres no failure, only research.” If it doesn’t work, drop it, and drop it quickly. If it kind of works, get in to the data and crowd source for feedback, then make changes. If it works, build on it, and build on it quickly. I think that you also need to understand that the social attention span is as long as a goldfish memory, and that users fall in and out of love with products, thought leaders, channels and influencers just as quickly.

Today’s darling can just as easily be a turnip tomorrow, unless there is constant change in response to user behaviour and habits. You want an example of this? Search for blogs on Empire Avenue for recruiting, then see when the blogger was last active in that channel, that is if you can remember your password. At this stage, Pinterest could go the same way. The time to judge it is a year from now. If we are all still frantically pinning, then it could prove valuable.  That said, it is worth exploring every new channel from the start, because there is a big advantage to being an early adopter and figuring things out.

For recruiters and job seekers, the novelty factor of doing something different and grabbing attention this way can not be under estimated, but different doesn’t last very long, you need to offer more. For recruiters in Pinterest now, this could be by being first to invite people to a network, then building from there. If you were the first recruiter to post a job on LinkedIn, or make an approach by in-mail, I bet you were seen as a real innovator, do it now and you are almost a spammer. I’m very excited by the prospect for Paul Jacobs jobgram, that turns job specs in to infographics, and the potential they offer when combined with Pinterest and a pin me badge. I’m underwhelmed by the infographic C.V.’s I’ve seen so far. With the odd exception, I think that they have limited value beyond novelty, and that will be short-lived. Put an infographic in to an ATS and see what happens!

This week Mashable published another interesting infographic. It has been pinned lots of times, probably because the post compares the difference between Pinterest users in the U.S. and the U.K, and the topics they are Pinning about. This is an interesting look at how this channel, or platform, or whatever you want to call it, is evolving. I think this is quite interesting given that the women in the US were the early adopters, swapping recipes, shoe pictures etc, which formed the majority of the early day sharing.

It is well documented that Pinterest has grown to 13million users in just 10 months, and the average user is very different in what they are posting. In the US there are 12Mn users, where as there are only 200,000 in the UK, so it is still real niche, compared with the 30Million+ Facebook users. It is also very early days, but the difference in user demographic and use is remarkably different.

In the US, 83% of Pinterest users are female, compared with 44% in the UK. In the US 3% of users are in the higher income bracket, where as in the UK it is 29% of users that earn over $150,000 a year. 42% of UK users are in the 25 – 34 age band, whilst the biggest grouping in the US are 35 – 44 with only 28%.

The most interesting variation comes from topics pinned, which is vastly different.

In the US it’s:

> Crafts

> Gifts and Special Event Items

>Hobbies and Crafts

>Interior Designers

>Fashion Designers and Collections

>Blogging Resources and Services

In the UK, it’s a bit different:

> Venture Capital

>Blogging Resources and Services

>Crafts Design

>Web Stats and Analytics

>SEO and Marketing

>Content Management

>Public Relations

I think this illustrates how social channels evolve. They start as truely social places and then evolve in to something quite different as the people gather and get involved. Pinterest in the US grew quickly because it was leisure and hobby based social. I’m guessing that this was the way Facebook grew in the beginning. Students could connect with other students, share and just hang out. Everyone wanted to be a part, but it took a few years before businesses and brands got involved, and it took even longer for recruiters to decide that they might be able to hire via the channel, though the difference is that this is still largely geared around fan pages, opt in applications and job postings in to the stream, by way of social shares (although this is least effective), and referral networks.

What I’m seeing from the Mashable infographic is that as the channel has reached these shores it has become largely a business channel, around venture capital and the digital arena. What I’m considering is that without the non-business social audience, as built in the states, will this become just an advertising channel? Recruiters here have been quick to jump in and try to work out how this might work for them. There’s 200,000 users in the U.K, and I’m guessing that recruiters will form one of the largest groups of users. What my concern is at the moment is that if Pinterest does not build a base of social (leisure) users, before it becomes a predominantly  business channel, will growth in the UK mirror growth in the U.S? Users dictate the evolution and functionality of any social channel, and if all the users in the UK are business users looking to sell or recruit, what will the channel become? Pinterest needs people before it becomes an effective sourcing channel, and recruiters will have a part to play in not dominating the content.

Bill