- What are the upsides of engaging via social media?
- How much time commitment is needed?
- How long will it be before we start to see results?
These are some of the most common questions I'm asked by contacts trying to decide whether to invest in their social media presence. The following data compiled by the University of San Francisco helps illustrate why these are not straightforward questions to answer. The results are intended for the broader business market, but I'll endeavour to present them in the context of their use for recruiting (a.k.a. "social recruiting")
This is one of the most important messages to internalise. 59% of marketers spend 6 hours or more per week engaged in social media activities - with many spending considerably longer. My own experiences suggest that if you want to have a meaningful presence across multiple social media platforms then 2 hours per day is the kind of time investment needed.
Anything less than that and you will either not be engaging with people (only broadcasting) and / or you'll not be maintaining a consistent presence. Both are key factors in achieving social success. If you can't make a time commitment of 2 hours per day, you're better off steering clear of social media or confining yourself to only one platform. Do it well or not at all!
This is the context in which you should view anyone claiming that social media is a "free source" of candidates. It's only free if your time is worthless and there's nothing productive you could be doing for the business instead.
This is the most interesting element of the data presented below. Most commentary around recruiters' investment in their social media presence has focused on the ("free") candidate hires that may result. But there are other benefits too:
What should hopefully be apparent is that the gains from many of the above take time to filter through. Do you see that return in the same month that you've invested the time in social media to get you there? No - it'll feed through long after your social media efforts started to be ramped up.
Even if we focus just on just candidate attraction, typically you need to give in order to get. You need to invest time in following people, engaging with them, sharing content and advice that will help candidates. Only once you've done these things for some time, befriended people and established yourself as a trusted contact, only then can you expect to see a meaningful candidate flow resulting from your social media investment.
If I were starting from scratch with a recruitment firm or an employer brand, I'd look to have a time window of 3-6 months with 2 hours invested per day to get to this point. Even once you've reached this point, you have to continue giving more often than you seek to gain from your social media relationships.
That's why so many companies have had disappointing results from social media. They've either not invested the time to build relationships before trying to sell; or having built a following, they've burnt those relationships by leaning on the channel too heavily with their sales pitches thereafter.
If you're a recruiter wanting to incorporate social recruiting into your hiring strategy, these are the pitfalls you need to avoid - and therefore the investment of time that you need to make.
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