By Colin Jacobs, managing director of social media consultancy, Immediate Future https://immediatefuture.co.uk
You can forgive company HR departments for feeling more than a little punch drunk following the last two years. Now in nearly all business sectors, there are shortages of skills and experience, with some suffering acute deficit. So how do companies attract target recruits without having to commit major resources to the problem. The answer is actually quite simple, and relatively easy. Apply social media strategically. Some are already using it very successfully.
Social media is not unfamiliar to HR. It has been used for many years for posting job vacancies. However, this has been very much centred on a notice board approach using classified ad’ type posts. In the past there was nothing wrong with this, but now there’s not much right with it if you are trying to sell the company brand to a picky audience that knows it holds all the cards.
The principles of consumer social media marketing are now required use. To explain the value of the principles it is worth quickly running through the background context.
Money And Position Is Not The Answer
The traditional key factors of salary and job position are no longer the all encompassing factors that attract individuals to jobs. The same is true of added benefits such as hybrid working, free healthcare or gym memberships.
Research shows that the more robust the ESG programme, the more the best talent will be attracted. A survey by Randstad of a sample of 35,000 employees found nearly half of Millennials and Gen Zs want the companies they work for to share their moral principles. They also say they will not take a job unless the employer matches their social and environmental values. A separate report by Talent Solutions reveals that individuals want to be employed by organisations that reflect their values, and the majority want their job role to improve society.
In addition to wanting to see strong ESG credentials from those they work for, employees also want to feel a sense of belonging. This came to the fore during lockdown, and it has not gone away, particularly in the case of remote working. In addition, people want tangible leadership, and positive management philosophy.
The list of credentials individuals are increasingly demanding has grown quickly. And they want to feel it. A sense of belonging is not something that you can tell an employee is present. Nor is it possible to create a company philosophy by announcing it. These are things that don’t exist on paper, or on digital screens. They have to develop and become intrinsic to a company, and that only happens when communicated correctly.
There is an irony that many companies have the sought after ESG and leadership attributes, but don’t make them known well enough. Announcements on corporate websites and social media platforms may be present, or even feature in marketing, but if communication is not linked together in a noticeable way that establishes a consistent pattern, then inevitably the message is lost. Plus, messages have to be relevant, and must describe a narrative that will attract attention and followers.
The Importance Of Touch Points
The widely accepted mantra within marketing is that to generate a meaningful exchange between a company and individual requires between five and nine relevant points of contact. Achieving this might not actually result in a sale. It may lead to a subscription to a newsletter, acceptance of a voucher, or other active interaction. It is a significant turning point in communication in which the individual reaches a stage at which they have bought into brand proposition. They are properly engaged. This is an important lesson for HR managers.
The only practical channel of communication that can consistently reach recruitment audiences to bring them to a point where they are engaged is social media. It could have been designed for the purpose of shortening the message gap between company and individual, while being able to maintain the necessary high frequency of contact.
Know Who Your Audience Really Is
One of the key lessons from consumer marketing is the importance of not assuming you know who your audience is, and what makes them tick. As individuals we know how marketing departments mistakenly think they understand what we want. We can often feel like we are drowning in junk communication, yet the majority of marketers behind it think they use targeted techniques. They don’t, and the same applies to HR departments believing they understand future recruits when not using data analysis. Get it wrong and you become just another spammer.
It is important to understand the ‘Why’ of what individuals seek. This is not about demographics. It is about psychographics. It requires analysis of social data to establish precisely what content to use to attract target talent. It also defines what corporate identity should like in front of the audience. Understanding the ‘Why’ enables communication that consistently resonates.
Develop A Story That Attracts Recruits
The best way of attracting audiences is to tell a good story. It is the most effective format for generating initial touch points, and longer term memorable engagement. Social media is perfect for the purpose.
Creating narratives should include highs and lows, and avoid too much focus on announcements and intentions. Messages should be about journeys, discovery, developments and learning. They should be stories the audience can associate with, and this includes when things don’t go as expected. All good narratives have ups and downs, and audiences know that in terms of ESG, each company is treading its own new path. They don’t expect perfection, but they want progress. Tell them about it and they will follow the journey.
A fundamental mistake in trying to establish ESG credentials is greenwashing. People have developed a keen radar for virtue signalling and hollow claims. They are quick to identify it, and it causes instant alienation. It is important not to fall for the temptation of over enthusiasm when reporting progress.
There is no black art to the use of social media to bring recruitment prospects close to companies so that when they are needed, they are primed to be employees. It is increasingly being successfully used by HR departments to create targeted, open and relatable dialogue that generates followers that are job candidates for the future. Developing such audiences is a major asset at a time when competition for the best talent is so strong.