I’m going to be delivering training next week to a team of corporate recruiters on effective ways to use twitter for sourcing talent. Whenever I run this workshop, it always reminds me how some of the most effective features in twitter are underused, in particular twitter lists and twitter searches.
I think the engagement aspects of the channel have been well covered., though I will talk a little more about this at the end of the post.  It stuns me when I hear of industry spokesman saying recruiters shouldn’t tweet, and shows a distinct lack of touch with reality. Twitter is the introduction channel. You need no invitation to follow anyone and engage with anyone. People are happy to talk to strangers about most things, and there is no real hierarchy of rank.

I know that if I invited recruiters to a networking event which was going to be attended by candidates and clients in their target market, you would be queuing up to attend. I think they would also be wise enough to know that once they got their, the conversation would be about a lot more than shop talk. They wouldn’t just walk up to everyone in the room and introduce themselves by saying “I’m a recruiter, do you want a job?”. There would be plenty of small talk about all number of things in order to start a relationship. Its part of networking. The people who talk only shop get shunned quite quickly, and new connections get tested out with questions or requests for advice from time to time. It’s a part of good networking, and why the concept of the elevator pitch is actually a bit of a joke as an introduction, though it helps to practice answering the question of what you do, without sounding like an a**e. It’s an inevitable question your going to get fairly early in a conversation. When I’m asked, My answer is that “I host unconferences and implement social recruiting plans.” That creates questions if they are wanted, without over pitching. The way you conduct yourself on twitter should not be any different, and small talk will form most of your conversation with any target contacts. This is a good thing, and part of the getting to know you process. In this post i want to share some tactics for organising your twitter followers and following, some applications that help organise you and how to make the channel work for you.
Another myth I want to challenge at the start of this post is that automated job feeds don’t work. Actually they do when they are operated correctly. I think anyone who recruits in any capacity should have one, and here’s why:

Among the social recruiting projects I’m involved in or have access to data, these accounts represent 20% of hires, and a higher volume of click-throughs. People are still actively looking for jobs in the way they always did, and that means searching via google, as well as other search engines, as well as searching in twitter. I’m not sure what the long term impact on this of the twitter feed coming out of Google search results, but right now it is still working, and there’s lots of searches going on within twitter itself. The key to making these posts effective is including location, using #’s for job type, job and location. It’s also important to list that the feed is a job feed, and not to expect engagement, (listing another account for connecting with recruiters for engagement.) Set the feed to post at different times during the day. You can use one of the excellent applications to do this like TwitJobSearch or TweetMyJobs, or alternatively do it yourself by setting an RSS feed to the twitter account or using an automated posting tool. The best I’ve seen at the moment for this is Buffer. Other tips that work are including the link in the middle of the tweet (5 times more likely to be opened), and where there is space asking for a retweet, it still works for increasing reach.

Although I haven’t done it myself, the results I’m seeing back for promoted tweets for jobs against targeted streams or topics are proving very effective, at a lower PPC cost than any of the other channels. I will be trying this myself soon, and will give you feedback.

What you need to do is not judge job feed accounts by follower numbers, you’re not going to get many, the posts just aren’t that interesting. In case you pick up a few though, add tweets every 30 posts or so directing them to a recruiter account for engagement, this stream is built for search, and will return candidates. I have heard of a number of corporates who are now very active with engagement focussed accounts, who started with an automated job stream, and the wins they got from this convinced the business to get more active. Some times its small wins at a time.

Another twitter feature that is grossly underused is twitter lists. I have always used Formulists to build dynamic lists.but unfortunately Formulist called it a day in Jan, so the service is no longer available. I have recently moved to Twitilist that is another good tool for building larger lists. it’s not as dynamic as formulists but it does a good job for simply building lists manually. 

I keep lists for my linkedin connections (this is even more useful now that LinkedIn have elected to take away the twitter app). as well as new followers and follows so that I can keep an eye on their activity for an engagement opportunity.

 For recruiter accounts I also build lists based on disciplines, job titles and employers from competitors. Although it takes a bit of time, you can build competitor lists from LinkedIn company pages by checking employer profiles for the Twitter address. I’m sure one of the super sourcers will have a quicker way of automating this, perhaps Martin Lee can help out with that.

Whatever your view of Klout as a measure of influence, the lists features are often overlooked. These lists are useful for keeping an eye on people who you engage with regularly, or are considered to influence. You might not agree 100% with the list, but I find them useful to follow the conversations they are having to join in where you think it is appropriate. You can export from Klout in to twitter lists, and the other way around. It’s another option for dynamic list building.

The benefit of segmenting twitter lists in to target areas is that you can organise your contacts in a way that is useful to you, and set columns on tweetdeck or hootsuite for closer monitoring and engagement.

Another area of twitter you should be monitoring closer with dedicated columns is competitor job feeds and accounts. You can omit jobs from the feed in the column set up to keep it clean. It’s worth profiling anyone engaging with the account, that way you can elect to make your own approaches. You can also follow competitor lists, or industry lists like trade magazines or events with one click.

One other way to identify potential contacts for following is by setting up twitter searches around geek words. Geek words are words or phrases which one user would tweet to another that would indicate that they work in a particular profession or job role. This allows you to profile the people you find. The clues might be in the bio or you may need to look at another channel, probably LinkedIn to confirm what they do, follow them and list them. As well as geekwords, another good search to follow is 4square check ins against competitor locations. Again you can set these searches up as automated columns in tweetdeck or similar. Check who is checking in so you can follow them and add them to twitter lists.

 Followerwonk is another great tool for building followers in a targeted way. One of the features I really like is being able to search bios to identify people to follow. It’s also great for delving in to competitors followers and lists,as well as comparing  your follow list with your competitors. You can break down their account by most influential followers, most active, by bio or tweetcloud. you also get access to some pretty neat data that helps you understand the strengths and weaknesses in your following.

Another application worth a look at is Twollow which allows you to identify twitter accounts to follow by key-word, as well as some other useful twitter management tools. The upgrade paid for version gives access to extra features including multiple keyword searches. Its worth trialing with the free version and upgrading when or if it proves of value.

I’ve always built twitter accounts organically, but I am aware of others who have used automation to accelerate the process.  The best of the automated twitter tools I’ve looked at and seen in action is tweetadder 3.0. This works by searching bios for keywords, tweets for content, hashtags etc. you can find and follow the followers of other accounts. You can follow lists easily by individual follower, search in multiple languages or by location. You can manage and organise multiple accounts, set to unfollow others who don’t follow you back (if you choose), or send an auto-tweet to identified users by tweet content, inviting them to follow or click on a link. It is very effective for building twitter followings quickly and on scale, and at a price of $55 for one account up to $188 for unlimited accounts, all for a lifetime licence, it’s not going to break the bank. It also has a clever way of switching between servers to avoid twitter jail. My personal choice is always to grind it out building organically, but there is a real benefit to building at speed using tweetadder, and it requires a lot less administration.

Another way to attract a following in your target market is to build a blog sharing account. By concentrating on sharing blogs in your market, you will get followed by people with an interest in the topics being shared. If you recruit auditors, and share audit content, then it is likely that you will be attracting auditors because of the nature of the posts. Because you are sharing blogs, you are also likely to get blogger appreciation, and that can go a long way. To set up a blog sharing feed set up a dedicated account with a clear bio. Search for the blogs you want to include. Although there is no obligation to do this, it’s worth contacting the writers for permission. Once you have this, sign up for the RSS feed from the blog and connect this direct to the twitter account with a share message e:g: latest from (name), post title. Every post that gets published goes to the feed. Monitor the feed for followers, profile them and invite them to your engagement account.

Using any combination of these tactics or tools, you’re going to build a targeted following fairly quickly in your market place. This is going to be worthless without any engagement. As a guideline, focus your time on @ messages first. This starts the conversation, and acknowledges those reaching out to you. My own division of time is roughly 70% on @ messages, 20% checking the main stream and commenting, and 10% on creating new content for the stream. This model serves me well. The important thing is making sure you are engaging and responding to those who want to respond to you. Not answering tweets is a bit like not answering people calling you. Don’t have an engagement account, if you have no time to engage. Organising your followings through lists and columns in tweetdeck help you to know what to engage about.

The last part of recruiting through twitter is analytics. You need to understand what is working for you, and the dynamics of your followings, including things like time to tweet. There are a few analytics tools available to use that mostly have a free version to play around with before you invest in a paid for version. My choice of tool is SocialBro which has some really useful and easy to use reports. You can also get bespoke reports in any area you want to investigate, as well as some useful features for search and list building, mapping, best times to tweet, spam control and plenty more. I love this app, and recommend you take a look.

Twitter is a great channel for recruiting when you adopt a proactive approach, both for building relationships, getting new introductions, branding and as a channel for just in time search. It’s also a great place to promote jobs, make friends, hang out and connect. I’d also say I’ve learnt more from Twitter than any other form of learning, it’s the place for self-development. I recommend the whole package to any recruiter.

This is a breakdown of some of the content that I include in the twitter workshop, which is hands on and interactive. Message me if you want to know more or follow the blog for the next set of dates that are coming out soon. I will also be covering some of this in my #trulondon track: “All of a twitter.” I hope you can join the conversation.