Social media recruitment starts with employee advocates

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Shelley Hoppe
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We live in a world where transparency and trust are a currency, and where a positive company culture means everything to prospective jobseekers.

As such, trying to portray the image of a nice workplace environment when you don’t actually have one doesn’t only manifest itself in the quality of candidates you attract, it also doesn’t win you any brownie points in the digital sphere. Social media is in this respect your worst enemy for recruitment.

But, of course, you are a nice place to work and you do have nice people working for you. And social media in this respect can be your best friend. How? Through employee advocacy.

It’s the trend

Employee advocacy is the hot new social media trend for recruitment marketing. And it makes perfect sense. Indeed, it’s why employee review sites like Glassdoor have been so successful.

According to Inc., employee advocacy results in five times more web traffic and a quarter more leads than other lead generation strategies. Meanwhile, Glassdoor has stated that 79% of candidates are likely to use social media in their job search. And yet, according Weber Shandwick, just 33% of employers encourage their employees to use social media to share news and information about their work or employer.

Twice as nice

Employee advocacy works on the basis that social media jobseekers are far more likely – more than twice as likely, in fact – to trust, share and engage with recruitment and culture-based posts that come direct from employees, as opposed to a senior executive in a firm or the company Twitter account.

Social media jobseekers are far more likely to trust, share and engage with recruitment and culture-based posts that come direct from employees

And let’s not forget that by harnessing employees’ social media skills, you leverage their individual creative flair, getting you noticed above all those other job adverts for a similar position. You also leverage their reach into a whole new audience of friends and followers that will likely have similar interests. That’s a whole new pool of potential star candidates you can dip into.

Very hands-off

Also, employee-generated content has the potential to be relatively hands-off for the recruiter. If things are ticking over well, then there’ll be armies of employees occupying all four corners of social media, promoting how great it is to work for the company through a cacophony of colourful posts, pictures or videos. All HR needs to do is pick up the applications as they come flooding in.

Make it organic

There is a balance to be struck here. On the one hand, in upholding those feelings of trust and transparency, you want employees’ social updates to be authentic and organic. They should be voluntary, to avoid getting the bare minimum advocacy from employees who feel slightly pressured into the activity.

Meanwhile their friends can certainly spot when their message carries forced language. Their communications should come from the heart – unprompted – to have that positive effect on friends and followers.

But there has to be some level of planning and control. If employees don’t know the campaign is happening in the first place, then there’s a chance they won’t take any action at all.

Their communications should come from the heart – unprompted – to have that positive effect on friends and followers.

Also, given that your employees are representing the company, you will have to introduce some form of style guidelines at the start, to ensure everything is ‘on brand’, as it were.

Finally, you will need some way of measuring your success rate, seeing what sort of content works and what doesn’t. This might be based on the number of times your special hashtag is shared, or the number of job applications you receive on the back of employee posts; either way, the content need to collated and collected in one place in order to take that measurement.

Getting it started

So how can recruiters kick off an employee advocacy campaign? Well, first off create a plan - an advocacy mission which will ensure everyone on your team feels on board with the objectives of the campaign. One of your objectives might be expanding your talent pool with more like-minded people.

It’s worth nurturing those employees who are capable of wielding influence online. Identify your team of social ambassadors – the digital eagles and media movers and shakers; those who enjoy the online spotlight.

One way to do this is to set up an internal communications campaign that incorporates a competitive element to hit the ground running - ‘Social Advocate of The Month’ as measured by likes and shares, for example - and a theme, to guide them in their first steps. ‘A day in the life’ or ‘My proudest successes’ are good places to start. Advise that they can create something to show off your company in the form of written word, a photo diary or a smartphone video, whatever they’re most comfortable with.

An advocacy mission which will ensure everyone on your team feels on board with the objectives of the campaign

Get your ambassadors to submit their content by a certain deadline, to a specific email. Then you can either use a specialised employee advocacy tool, or collate and curate content in a place of your choosing, such as a microsite, where you have control over how it is presented and distributed.

Once you have your content, design a plan for how to distribute via social media. Prompt your ambassadors to get their colleagues to share their content; you can use the competitive element as a catalyst here. Use a special hashtag, something snappy that has the potential to take off and is unique enough that you can follow, or aim to jump on trending hashtags to enhance your reach.

And finally, keep measuring your success according to your business goals. Adapt and improve your strategy based on what kind of content gets results.

Ultimately the benefits of employee advocacy for recruitment lie in empowering your staff to create high impact social content that comes straight from the heart.

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