Sometimes businesses end up finding success in strange places. Serving needs that are far removed from the business opportunity the founders had originally identified. That's exactly what's happened at Social-Hire - and this is our story of how we became the most credible specialist social media marketing agency focused on serving i) small businesses and ii) companies focused on the recruitment / careers industry.
Something funny happened throughout 2013 and into 2014. Whilst building a start-up recruitment technology business we found ourselves regularly featured as having some of the most influential social media profiles in the recruitment industry. We started being sent articles by the likes of LinkedIn, ERE and HRmarketer in which analysis showed that we had some of the most followed and influential social media accounts of anyone in the recruiting industry. Our content was being shared more than 10,000 times a month on Twitter!
Becoming Best Known For Our Social Media Marketing Expertise
We were being featured in hoards of "must follow" style articles, both for recruiters and for candidates. These graphics from HRmarketer were typical, showing our brand being one of the most frequently mentioned in social posts... and our social shares as getting high levels of engagement.
We'd always sought to market Social-Hire through building a strong social media presence, so these accolades weren't a total shock. But it brought home to us that - perhaps more than anything else - the Social-Hire team had become best known as experts in building a social media presence in the careers and recruiting space.
It wasn't just our corporate social media profile attracting attention either. Our founder Tony Restell was similarly being featured as being one of the most followed and influential professionals in the recruitment industry, as were other accounts we managed.
That's what got us thinking that our core business should be helping other businesses achieve far greater results from their social media presence.
The more we spoke to businesspeople, the more we heard of the common problems businesses were facing:
- They didn't know how to achieve meaningful results on social media
- They wanted to hit the ground running on social media and couldn't afford months or even years of learning the hard way what works and what doesn't
- They didn't have the resources needed to achieve a strong social media presence and / or couldn't justify hiring an in-house social media specialist when the returns were unknown
Making Social Media Marketing Services Our Focal Point
It was from these discussions that our services were born, with recruitment marketing plans serving the needs of organisations wanting to reach candidates or recruiters via social media; and small business marketing plans serving the needs of small companies wanting to market themselves and generate leads on social media. Essentially any business wanting to enjoy the kind of success we've enjoyed on social media can now outsource these activities to our team!
Lessons From The Past and a Commitment To The Future
Those of you who've followed Social-Hire from the outset will know we were originally 100% focused on providing a free networking platform where candidates and recruiters could interact with one another at no cost. At a time of austerity, we envisaged that recruiters would flock to a site where they had access to candidates without the costs associated with other professional networking sites (see econsultancy for our vision of how the business would evolve back in 2012). The reality was that the networking platform wasn't technologically good enough to achieve mass market success.
As part of the marketing of this network, we welcomed on board a variety of guest contributors (you're welcome to become one incidentally). Hundreds upon hundreds of marvellous posts were shared with our fan base and 200-1,000 social shares of each new article quickly became the norm. This is still very much core to our business and the value that we provide to our readers and followers - and indeed our social network continues to be used by a core of happy users too. It's just our focus on where we derive our revenues that has changed.
So what are the lessons we've learnt and what commitments are we making to our loyal users for the future?
- Providing a service for free isn't enough to achieve success. It's a pre-requisite to have people try out your site, but not enough to build momentum if the experience of using the site doesn't wow them.
- People are motivated more by helping others than by money. Our early efforts to financially reward people for spreading the word about Social-Hire achieved only modest success. Later when we gave people awesome content that would really help them and their peers, they shared it willingly and became loyal followers and regular endorsers of the site and our services.
- Success on social media requires expertise, commitment of time and consistency of presence. Social media may be largely free to use, but learning what works and what doesn't work takes a significant investment of time. Once you've learnt what works, regular time investment is then needed to consistently add value to your followers, have your personality shine through and make the most of all the opportunities that arise to engage with your audience.
- Niche focus is key. Whilst there are a wide variety of services we could provide and things we could be known for, trying to do so dilutes the brand and makes it hard for others to convey what it is that we do. That's why we're now orienting the business solely around providing social media marketing services - and why we're only looking to work i) with small businesses or ii) with those who are targeting candidates or recruiters as their desired social media audience.
Commitments To Our Loyal Users
- We will not abandon those who helped us achieve success. The thing that annoys us more than anything else in the social media space quite possibly annoys you too! It's seeing businesses thrive thanks to the usage and endorsement of their early adopters - only to then take away from those people the free services and access that made them recommend the business in the first place. So whilst Social-Hire will be focused on earning revenues from the provision of social media marketing services, the great career content, social sharing and free networking platform that you associate with us will continue to be provided and heartily supported by the Social-Hire team.
- We will continue to Pay It Forward. If you've followed us for any length of time - on our corporate Social-Hire accounts, our individual accounts or in our Groups and Communities - you'll know that we believe in Paying It Forward. We've always looked to give more in the way of advice and free resources than we expect in return. Helping people get back to work or make that next leap in their careers or solve a social media challenge they are facing is a high point in our working week. So we will continue to help and provide assistance wherever we can, irrespective of whether you're ever likely to become a client of Social-Hire. Thank you for having believed in us and we will continue to repay that trust any way we can.
Thank you to everyone who has stuck by us on our entrepreneurial journey. Your support and encouragement has helped us uncover a real business opportunity, whilst bringing joy to our daily lives through the opportunity to continuously help others. :-)