Whilst social media and mobile are bringing lasting change, certain behaviours and interpretation have not changed at all during this period. So whilst change is happening on one level, it’s not happening on another. It’s a fascinating and slightly dangerous situation as we are using the same old behaviours and patterns to grapple with this new situation. This became clear to me, during last week’s Social Media in Recruitment conference, when listening to the speakers, whilst simultaneously debating and discussing the contents via the back channel and especially when comparing the rise of Google with the rise of Facebook.
Facebook = Google
At the beginning of this millennium, recruitment conferences were full of case studies of companies (mainly big household brands) using Google’s paid advertising (and in some cases even SEO) to make direct hires. It was the next big thing and would forever banish any recruitment fee and advertising cost and would finally give the corporate hirer all the control, all the direct access. All that needed to be done, was to build a career website, optimise it and spend some money on Google. And suddenly several recruitment ad agencies added career website services, digital marketing and, somewhat surprisingly only to a smaller extent, search engine marketing to their portfolio.
Let’s compare this to today. We have big household brands (like Nokia) that are doing a fantastic job using social media (mostly Facebook) in generating direct hires.(I’m leaving LinkedIn to one side here, as it is being used like a job board by many recruiters). And what do you know, there are now a few bright and nimble companies like NetNatives that are offering Facebook campaigns to direct hirers.
So in a way, Facebook has become Google. The question now is: Will the story unravel in the same way as it did then? It went as follows: Suddenly everybody had a career website, with more videos, more animation, more in-depth insights into the company culture. Suddenly everybody piled into Google and started competing not only with each other, but with all the other recruitment channels and candidate sources and for most companies it proved not very successful. So they abandoned it and instead started outsourcing services to companies whose core competency is candidate attraction.
Will it be the same with Facebook? What will happen once Facebook users become “blind” to ads? What will happen if everybody is using Facebook advertising? What will happen if everybody has a fanpage? Look at it from a candidate perspective – unless I know precisely the brand or the niche I want to work in, this is not for me.
Mobile apps = Career websites
The same argument holds true with mobile recruitment apps: Once every company has one, the return will diminish. It might work for the big household or high contact brands such as G4S but I would advise every other company to think twice before deploying a mobile app. Ultimately this app is serving as your career website and if you look at it from a candidate perspectives you’d be better off developing a decent msite. Apps play an important role, don’t get me wrong, but it’s at a later stage of the relationship with a brand, once the relationship is deeper and the candidate wants to return repeatedly. For example, First Direct has an app that customers can use to bank via their phone. Now that makes sense as it increases the individual’s convenience. Ask yourself: Do individuals want to come back to your app over and over again? Or do they just want a job? So make it easy on the job seeker, let them find all the relevant information via the msite, instead of having to download an app. They’ll thank you for it.
Additionally, I would encourage everybody not to think in terms of silos – don’t think mobile versus search versus social, it all falls under the digital umbrella, it’s a permanently re-enforcing cycle, so build a digital strategy that works best for your business.
Facebook = only one channel
Let’s come back to social media. I think it’s important to understand that Facebook, Twitter et al are only social media channels. But social media itself is so much bigger than each one of these channels. Social media or social business represents a massive shift towards the individual wanting, asking for and taking more control over their life and for more direct communication and access, which in turn will lead to a more convenient and fulfilled life delivered via recommendations and predictions. And you know what – a certain level of broadcasting into these channels is okay because sometimes the individual wants it, sometimes that’s the way of becoming aware of a service and most importantly, the individual is perfectly positioned to not follow it and never being bothered by it.
If you’ve studied a business or business related course and/or if you’ve read business books, you will have come across the different stages of development of companies: From ‘production-led’ to ‘sales-led’ to ‘market(ing)-led’. Whilst social media, for me, represents the purest form of marketing, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ll find a ‘social-media-led’ stage added to this development. That would also mean that most companies first need to reach a market-led stage before being able to use social media to the fullest and purest extent.
Google = the master
Google somehow has become old school as it seemingly plays no role in social media but that is a dangerous assumption to make. Facebook might have overtaken Google in sheer numbers, but the session with Katharine Robinson on sourcing, showed that Google possesses actually something much more powerful: Tools to extract and make sense of the data on the internet – in line with their mission statement: ‘to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’. There is no other company in that position. And the more data is created and the more openly it’s distributed, the more we move to a social-media-led world and the more powerful and successful Google will become – just in a more subtle manner. Don’t write them off just yet.
photo credit: Sara Headworth