By Jessica Miller-Merrell
Like any business, having a plan almost always leads to better and more successful results. It’s the reason retailers set financial goals for the year and financial institutions ask bankers to sign a certain number of customers up for loans. In the recruiting world, it’s the reason we agonize over our campus career fair calendar and religiously analyze our recruiting dashboards. We know that creating a plan will keep us from shooting in the dark and hoping we get close to our target.
Social media is no exception, but it’s often treated as such. Some think that it’s not necessarily a planned portion of the overall recruiting strategy because it often appears to be spontaneous and in the moment. The truth is, successful social media recruiting is planned and spontaneous, reactive and proactive, and above all else, strategic. In order to fully embrace social recruiting, you need a plan. One that goes beyond superficial social factors like re-tweets, likes, fans and followers, and focuses on the role it plays within your recruiting strategy framework.
Define your goals
Goals are important to have because they define where we want to be and provide hope that if we develop an effective strategy, we can get there. Going back to my college days, I can hear my marketing professor saying over and over again “Goals should be realistic and measurable.” Those words are simple but true. As you establish your goals, think about how your social networking goals help your recruiting team achieve its goals and of course, how these goals fit into the organization’s overall goals. Goals should speak to the social goal and the goal you hope to achieve as a result of that. For instance, if your goal is to have 1,000 new Facebook likes, how many more candidates do you hope that will connect you with?
Measurements and what they mean
Setting goals is important, but measuring and understanding results are what makes those goals worthwhile. In the same way that we desire to better understand which websites are the best candidate sources and how our job board or advertising spend is impacting our number of qualified candidates, we have to analyze social results as well. We have to know why we are measuring Twitter RTs, Instagram hearts and Facebook likes, or they’re no more valuable than the tiny icons themselves. When you measure results, look for a cause and effect.
Don’t forget the strategy in your strategy
Goals are very important because they show where we want to be, but people tend to confuse strategy with goals, and social is especially susceptible to that because analytics provide us with a snapshot while the true purpose of these networks is harder to understand. A successful social strategy involves more than just how large you’d like your social networks to be, how much you’ll spend in Facebook ads to achieve that and how many new candidates that could potentially translate to. Your strategy should be just that – a strategy – or a road map to guide your postings and interactions. It should outline multiple tactics across all your platforms and include at least an overview of budget, timeline and responsible parties.
It takes time to build and grow a following. Companies must not only develop a strategy from the get go but also clearly define what success looks like, as well as ways to measure those results. The truth is that social media, like any recruiting channel, is an investment.
Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She's the Chief Blogger and Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmillermerell.