Social Media Recruitment & The End of Brochure-speak

Talent acquisition, social media employer branding

Social Media Recruitment is more authentic, effective and nurturing

73% of 18-34 year old found their last job through a social network. Yet Social Media Recruitment is still considered gimmicky by many businesses, because of the odd click-bait on SM feeds. (We wrote a blog on some of the most creative social recruiting campaigns including Amazon on Tinder and Goldman Sachs the cool dudes).

Social Media Recruitment Infographic

But wait it gets worse.

Most recruitment professionals fail to see the benefits of using social media for recruitment. Or what it is at all. Instead using it as a place to sell their overplayed brochure speak and not a conduit to share tips, insights and an authentic culture. Offering value to audiences through content, nurturing leads and not hard selling, etc.

What if you could authentically speak to your potential clients and stakeholders?

Social Media recruitment has proven time and again to be fantastically effective done right.

So you might wonder what is the main issue still preventing so many companies from executing high performing, authentic social recruiting campaigns?

In my experience the #1 failure factor in social media implementation is the realisation client-side, that social media is more than a gimmick. That speaking authentically or simply humorously, not in brochure-speak anyway, is harder than expected.

And rather than realising its potential for employer branding they write overly-sanitised content of little interest to anyone outside their staff. They “push” their communication by dumping vacancies on the company page. They do not “pull” new audiences through valuable, genuine and occasionally humorous content.

You must let go of the brochure-speak. You must step out of the polished and sterile “Potemkin Village” brochure-speak communication. An employee branding strategy few in HR relish…

HR is not a function where risk is rewarded. And social media seems risky to most

HR recruiters are often particularly loath at using Social Media Recruitment creatively for employer branding building and talent attraction. It’s easy to see why.

HR is a misunderstood function, often underrated by other departments. A function where risk-taking is not rewarded. One that needs demonstrate solid guardianship over ex-tre-me-ly important processes (hiring contracts, training needs, remuneration, HSE in the workplace, etc.)

As an ex recruiter, I have worked both sides, and I have witnessed high levels of distrust between agents and HR recs. Or between HR at large and other corporate functions.

Simply put: Yes HR staff do a lot of meetings but they need to. Yes, HR can be slow to move compared to business needs but they need to make sure all t’s are crossed. And yes also, you will enjoy your office not on fire / your pay on time, etc.

Employer Value Proposition & Social Media in Recruitment

Talent acquisition and employer branding overlap almost entirely with marketing and branding. So the idea of putting out content is daunting to HR. Even when someone from upstairs comes down and says: “Yay everyone, now you all work in HR Marketing”!

In many ways it can “only go wrong” for whoever in HR tries to adopt modern employer branding tools. And authentic at that. The fear is that they may write something that will grate the nerves of someone upstairs and lose total control over the content piece as it “goes viral”. On that note: It most likely won’t because of content shock, AND you can always delete posts.

The irony here is that smart recruitment is actually one of the four core business goals that Social Media Recruitment excels at. It’s not some kind of trendy “add-on”. When you think about it, it’s the perfect conduit for recruitment branding in its ability to convey an employer culture, and attract passive candidates who will be a better potential fit. Here’s the full list of four:

  •   Lead Generation (probably the most common)
  •   eCommerce and online selling (If you sell something that can be sold easily online)
  •  Brand building (hugely important, across all industries, harder to measure though)
  •  Talent attraction and retention / Social recruiting

Social Media Recruitment for Corporate Branding: Effective AND ethical

And… The bigger irony here obviously is that social media marketing is actually more ethical and authentic than traditional marketing. If social media marketing can occasionally mean click-bait, let’s not forget that traditional marketing stands for in comparison:

  • Cold calling:  Who doesn’t like a good cold-call on a Sunday?
  • TV Ads:    Here again, hard to argue: Who doesn’t love the 8 batches of TV Ads horrifically splicing up their viewing experience?
  • Direct Mail:  Destroying a small forest for every campaign, bothering 99.9% of your target audience who, you know, will only end up walking over it every morning and bin the whole pile.
  •  Radio Jingles:  Nothing like a good jarring ear-intrusion to switch me off entirely from radio.
  •  PR & Lobbies: The original truth twisters and spinners. And no, they were not millennials.
  • Influencer Marketing may occasionally go off the track, but if you ask me, it still has plenty to go to catch up.

As far as candidate attraction methods go social media marketing stands far and above all others when it comes to talent attraction strategies.

Social Media Recruiting is a positive transformational force

The biggest surprise most clients had that implemented social media marketing was witnessing how authentic it could be. How to attract the best employees through social media is a transformational process of its own.

Far from a series of gimmicky posts, they realise that they simply need to let the visitor in to their backstage. That no one can hide behind the brochure any more. That thinking about how to provide valuable content to their audiences will get you closer to them. That moderating comments and feeds will bring your core online audiences’ voice closer, booming inside your company.

In the end, recruitment is one of the most quintessentially, fundamentally human functions of business life. Cultural and personal affinities make or break teams of individuals who otherwise have similar qualifications.

It’s frankly high time to reclaim that dimension of recruitment that has been too long burrowed under faceless recruitment tools. A large recruitment ad spend, a nice ATS (Applicant Tracking System), pretty Press Releases written agency-side. Schmick brochures with beautiful pictures (taken from agency stock). And smeared entirely with words such as “We at XYZ tech… quest for excellence… superior and premiere…”

Of social media strategy, tools and culture

In closing we’ll simply add that social media recruiting in our experience (as well as social media marketing) requires three main ingredients:

  • The right strategy:    Audit your skills gaps and train if need be. Take stock of your social media assets (metrics, tone, values, audiences, etc.) so that you can optimise what needs be to get more authority online and can track followership and engagement growth in the future. Craft a content policy. Document your core online audiences, those ones that you must engage with in priority. Document also what they care about, interest and “pain points”.


  •   The right tools:    Let’s be very clear,  there is an undue belief that Social Recruiting and Social Media Marketing success are all about the right app. Tools and apps are a success factor, but if they do not rest on a sound strategy, they will fail. So this caveat made, yes tools also play a large part to 80/20 your content production, promotion, reposting and repurposing, to suggest topics, to track mileage, to track engagement. SEO optimise your content. Identifying your top followers. Converting more traffic into leads or registrations, etc. There are hundreds. Knowing which ones allow you the most mileage / reward / conversion, and which ones are the best value for money, is crucial.


  •   The right culture:  This is essential. You need to create a culture inside HR where calculated risk is encouraged and failure is tolerated. One of the worst things you could do is trying to implement social media approach, without… really implementing it. You must be authentic and occasionally bold to stand out these days, considering content shock. It takes more and more to cut through the noise barrier. An inauthentic, overly safe post will not burst through that barrier, whatever money you put behind it.

Employee amplification and social marketing campaigns.

Finally, a word about your most precious asset: Your people. It is not just about attracting the new ones through the employment merry-go-round. Social media at large is a great source of insights for a company, about their clients, prospective clients, employees and prospective employees.

This relates to recruitment branding and HR branding strategies as sound social media activity will allow any company to know more about the people they employ and they need to hire, and how to satisfy them.

And in turn you will find that your employees will react by personally endorsing your posts and content. Let alone if your content actually says something. Or they enjoy working at your company. Employee advocacy / employee amplification of your social media and content marketing are one of the best, most effective, cheapest ways to punch above your weight online.

Proper planning and patience with people

Also, that social media marketing and social recruiting work extremely well (cheaper cost per hire, higher average candidate quality, etc.) but are not free. They will cost you in time and in budget. It will still be a positive RoI compared to traditional marketing (it produces 54% more leads than traditional marketing). But if you tell someone to “do that blog thing” without proper training, “after the real work is done” without earmarking time or budget… It will likely not go anywhere. It will just create strife and stress.

Finally, you will need to be patient. Once again it is not a series of gimmicks. Implementing social media recruitment is going to be absolutely vital for most companies in the years to come. But it is made of many learning curves (how to generate topics, how to document audiences, how to promote content, how to weave social media with SEO, etc.) Your first blogs or videos will likely flop. It’s ok. Stick to it. Plan and persevere.

The results are completely worth the effort.

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