Social Media Marketing in Action: How the Experts in Social Recruiting Recruited Me

By Emily Ceskavich

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I first heard about Social-Hire.com while working as a recruiter for an agency (RPO) here in Orlando.

At the time, the RPO’s social media marketing was like a baton that kept being passed from one recruiter to the next as a "spare time" initiative. It was a never ending relay in which everyone ran different directions.

Every now and then, we would see waves of “like us on Facebook” posts or sporadic bursts of newly created profiles on social networks followed by months of silence. All done with good intention, but building an effective strategy and driving traffic to those profiles seemed to be where everyone hit the ceiling. 

This effort resulted in a grand total of 35 likes on Facebook and some followers on LinkedIn.

 

 

One day, leadership called a company meeting to discuss the marketing initiatives they had in the works: a new website, new marketing collaterals, a new sales presentation, a new tagline… the whole cha-bang.

However, when the subject of social media marketing came up, that clearly articulated plan immediately devolved into an exchange of looks.

The New Business Development team was keen to start using social media to brand the business and attract clients. We recruiters liked the idea of having a new way of connecting with candidates in the niche positions we were recruiting for. There was just one problem: no one knew how to do it or had the time to learn.

Social media marketing was an idea that sounded great in theory, but capitalizing on the opportunity was a different story.

 

 

Although my experience with social media at the time was limited to using Facebook to stay in touch with friends from back home and sharing the usual shenanigans that 20-somethings are up to (mostly cat videos and memes to counterbalance the seriousness of studying. Well, my side-tracked attempts at studying), I had some thoughts about what we should do.

Out of interest, I’d been reading up on social media marketing and content marketing, so I wrote out an email to the VP of Operations and CEO after the meeting with a few ideas.

Later that day, I became the next runner in this social media relay.

Little did I know that years later, the business whose blog served as my study guide for successfully building that agency’s Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter presence would become my employer. What’s interesting is that it all happened because of how they used social media themselves.

 

Building a strong brand

As enthusiastic and thoughtful as I was, nothing I did seemed to work.

Despite creating thoughtful blog content, writing engaging copy to introduce the articles I shared, and inviting others to join the communities, the profiles still looked like would-be ghost towns if it weren't for the handful of prideful residents keeping them alive.

Internally, the new push was well received. Colleagues stopped by my desk to tell me what they thought about the latest blog. I’d see their names pop up in Facebook notifications when “Trivia Tuesday” came around. Some would share posts with their friends and families.

As encouraging as that feedback felt, it wasn’t the goal I was tasked with. 

My mission was to engage potential clients and candidates outside of the business. This is when I knew I needed to find someone who’s done this before to help me.

Still having reqs to recruit for, and prospects to research for the NBD team, I couldn’t afford to spend loads of time trying out a bunch of ideas based on just the theory of what I thought would work. I needed to learn about approaches and strategies that had already worked for others in my situation: marketing a recruitment business to candidates and clients. Ideas that had some hard data backing them.

Turning to Google for guidance, I typed in “best Twitter accounts to follow for recruiters” and Social-Hire popped up in the search results on one of those influencer lists. The first thoughts that came to my mind were, “Social-Hire. Hmm, that’s a good name” and then “This is fantastic! They have, like, 100 articles on social recruiting.”

If Social-Hire’s audience persona had a face, mine would have been there.

 

Lesson learned: align your content strategy with your candidates’ goals.

If a candidate had 5 seconds to choose between following you or a competitor—a business in the same industry offering similar services to the same audience—why would they choose you?

This answer needs to be clearly communicated in how your profiles are written (e.g. the bio, description) and how they’re managed (e.g. the content you’re sharing, the people you’re engaging with, the voice and terminology you’re writing in).

In Social-Hire’s case, it was the social media and recruitment mix that struck me the most. That specialist expertise was backed up with their own profiles and the content they were publishing which I could see at first glance.

To carry out a successful social media strategy, your profiles need to offer as much value to your audience as you do as a business when those leads become candidates or clients.

Before candidates care about what you do, you need to care about what they do. (click to tweet)

 

 

Breaking the cycle

As happenstance as this new position came about, my work on building expertise in this area was very intentional.

I reached out to every marketing professional I knew. From early on in life, I was fortunate to have a mentor that encouraged me to develop my networking and relationship building skills which was a big advantage for recruiting and marketing. He always told me that success goes to people who are well networked and able to maximize their abilities. 

These marketing pros would critique my work and share insights from their experience with clients. Making good use of my teaching degree, I created practice exercises for myself to strengthen my skills. One of these exercises was to create different candidate personas for positions we had open and then rewriting job descriptions into job ads.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to publish these because we had strict agreements with our clients to use only the job descriptions they sent us, but I was determined to learn and practice as much as I could so that I'd be maximizing my own abilities. Social-Hire's blog and community was a big part of that journey. 

Because of these efforts, I had finally begun to break the cycle. 

People began responding to the content, our profiles started getting noticed in the local and professional communities we recruited in, the size of the audience and our reach grew. Despite not having a budget to work with, I learned how to spend my time wisely so that everything I did, and every interaction I had online, brought the business forward.

By the end of the first year, the company’s presence on Facebook grew from 35 likes to an engaged community of over 2,000. Candidates for the reqs that gave us the biggest headaches began finding me on LinkedIn through the content I shared. (I’d see them in the “Who’s Recently Viewed your Profile” section of my profile and then follow up with an InMail to kickstart the conversation.) The following on Twitter rose to about 800.   

 

Lesson learned: Use the skills you already have to develop the ones you don't have yet.

Everyone has their talents.

Some people are great networkers. Some thrive on analytics and the technical side of marketing to put their business in front of the right eyes. You may find out that you’re a talented copywriter and the content you create ends up being the most compelling part of your social media strategy.

If your business can afford to outsource its social media entirely, you may choose to partner with an agency to free up your time to focus on other priorities in the business.

In my case, I leaned heavily on my ability to learn, analyze, and write. 

Without a budget to spend on advertising or tools that would have made it easier to put the profiles in front of the right eyes, I turned to networking in targeted communities and building relationships with people online to bring attention to the profiles.

 

Having recruited these candidates before and being involved in the executives’ client acquisition strat meetings, by the time I started with social media, I already had a crystal clear view of our prospects in both markets.

I knew the offline communities they were involved in, the kinds of things that piqued their interest once they were on the phone, what their motivations were for moving forward with the client or company, and even interest patterns outside of the professional world.

Above everything, I focused on finding good resources, then absorbing as much information and insight as I could so I could constantly practice and refine what I was doing.

  . 

Being at the right place, at the right time

Although the team’s based in Europe and I live in the US, I saw Social-Hire’s content pop up on my Twitter feed every day. Social media wasn’t my only challenge as a recruiter, though, so it was helpful that the blog covered other recruitment and career topics.

 

As I started sharing articles that I liked and replying to tweets I had an opinion on, I’d often meet someone new. Many of my favorite bloggers are people I met through their writing.

Since both the readership and authorship were targeted in the recruitment industry, the content and social proof immediately felt credible. It felt like I was joining a discussion with other recruiters who were sharing something they’ve learned from experience rather than just reiterating something they’ve read.

 

Lesson learned: frequency and timing matters.

At Social-Hire, on Twitter, we advise clients to post 6-8 times every day at different times so that you’re covering the early morning through to just before your audience goes to sleep. On Facebook, Google Plus, and LinkedIn, it's ideal to post 2-3 times a day, whether those are all original posts or alternating between posting and sharing content from other pages.

 

Making a lasting impression

After taking a break from the recruitment world to complete my last internship toward my Bachelor’s in Education (the school hours and office hours didn’t mix), I was rudely awakened to find out that there wasn’t a portal to my dream career at the other side of the stage.

 

 

Encouraged by Social-Hire's blog, I started contributing to recruitment blogs in order to raise my professional profile and get my name out there in the recruitment world. 

Before doing this, I spent time learning about the kind of content that tends to get shared the most by researching the science of social sharing, looking at the most shared blogs that Social-Hire published, taking down notes on things that stood out in viral marketing campaigns I personally liked, and overall just looking at content with a critical eye.

My first post was for a careers website in the UK called Learnist.org which received modest attention at the time, but ended up becoming one of LinkedIn “10 Articles Recruiters Shared the Most This Week” when I reposted it on my LinkedIn profile later on. The LinkedIn Pulse effect can be pretty powerful.

Later that year, the career advice powerhouse Careerealism (who was taking guest bloggers at the time) published one of my blogs that ended up going viral, too.

Since this content marketing strategy was bringing me some great interactions with recruiters and potential employers, writing for Social-Hire’s blog seemed like a no-brainer. So, I applied.

The next day, I saw a response from Tony Restell, Social-Hire.com’s founder.

 

Lesson learned: social media has a compound effect.

One of the biggest upsides to using social media for recruitment is that you can put yourself at the front of mind for your candidates and/or clients with the content you're sharing more frequently than you'd ever be able to do with phone calls or emails. 

If someone shares a tweet or post with their network, then as a brand, you’re getting the power of their endorsement along with that engagement. By building an engaged social community on your profiles, you can reach 20x, even 40x the size of your followings.

If you create and curate valuable content that your candidates come across via multiple people in their networks, then your brand is going to leave an impression that they’ll remember when they’re ready to take action themselves.

 

Spotting recruitment opportunities from social media

Tony welcomed me aboard as a guest contributor, but had something else he wanted to talk about.

Being a UK-based company, but having clients in the US, he told me that he can see them recruiting for someone in the US soon who has experience in the recruitment industry.

Looking at my background in social media and recruitment, he wanted to see if I would be interested in discussing a full-time marketing role with the startup. No hard sell, just a ”Hey I saw you’re looking and think there could be a fit. Let me know if you’re interested in discussing further.”

 

Lesson learned: always keep your eyes open.

Don’t let leads just collect and add to your follower count.

To avoid leaving your audience feeling the “Is anyone home?” effect when they interact with you online, make it a point to see who they are and regularly engage them.

When someone interacts with your business, look at their profile and think about where they fit in with your overall strategy: 

  • Are they a potential candidate?
  • Are they involved with an association or community that could serve as a referral source?
  • How will their engagement with your profiles affect your brand in the social circles they’re connected to online?

It’s essential to look for ways you can move your leads deeper into your sales or recruiting funnel. For Social-Hire, opening the blog to guest contributors is what got the ball rolling.

If Tony hadn’t thought about my profile with his “recruiter” hat on when he saw my application came through, then I may have not converted from contributor to candidate. As much as I liked the brand, I hadn’t thought about Social-Hire as an employer until the opportunity was presented.

 

The "try before you buy" approach

At the time, my vision for the kind of role I wanted next was narrow. Aside from my brother and aunt—two people who went completely against the grain with their careers—no one in my family worked for a startup. The picture I had in mind of that environment was purely shaped by the stereotypes so I felt compelled to cling to the corporate world.

Instead of joining Social-Hire full-time, I began working as a content writer for the business part-time to get better acquainted with the clients and type of work Social-Hire did.

About a month after graduation, the RPO I recruited for, before my internship started, reached out about a new position they created in the business: a Sourcing Specialist. This role involved technical sourcing, but also covered all marketing and advertising aspects of recruitment. I'd engage candidates as well, so this role at the agency ended up convincing me more and more that I wanted to move closer toward the marketing and advertising side of recruitment.

Still wanting to be involved with Social-Hire, I stayed on as a writer and created content on the weekends.

The idea of working for a place that I had grown to have such gratitude and admiration for, got me thinking about the ways I’d grow from working directly with Tony and the team. After about 6 months of getting to know the clients and seeing how Tony and the team operates, I was ready to take the plunge. It ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve made in my career so far.

Lesson learned: never assume that you know the candidate's situation entirely. Leave room for change.

One of the most effective uses of social media for recruitment is candidate pipelining or creating a talent pool for future positions. Social media’s an interactive communication channel that allows you to build connections and rapport with a large number of the candidates that you want to attract, so that once they are ready to make a move, then you’re no longer just another recruiter hounding them for attention.

Social recruiting gives recruiters the opportunity to evolve from stranger to advisor. (click to tweet)

The thing is, none of us will ever know all aspects of candidates' or clients' lives. We don't know everything, or everyone, that's influencing their decisions. We don't know if they'll have an experience that changes their view of the opportunity.

When using social media to recruit, it's essential that you focus on building relationships rather than just filling the job at hand. There's more power in social media than one-off transactions.

 

Present day

What was once a popular blog with a plan to grow into a business, is now this incredible information hub for all recruiters, business owners, and startups to learn how to use social media effectively for achieving their goals—whatever they may be.

Since becoming part of the Social-Hire team, I’ve learned so much more than I did before and continue to grow every day because Social-Hire.com’s constantly evolving.

We’re always looking at our audience and thinking about ways we can help them get to where they want to go. From the day I started, that’s been the backbone of the business. 

We host webinars on different recruitment and marketing topics. Our blog now shares original insights from over 250 guest bloggers. We even have a training program now that people can sign up for to learn the approaches and strategies we use ourselves without breaking the bank.

If you’ve been having your own struggles with social media, give our "Unfair Advantage" training program a try. We’d love to help you break through any social media marketing barriers that may be holding your business back.  

 

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Thanks for reading! For more social media marketing insights, news, and thoughts, I can be found on Twitter @EmilyCeskavich and LinkedIn.

 

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