4 Thoughts About Social Media

Social Media Trends

The first four months of 2011 have shown that social media is far from a fad. More and more ordinary people are joining networks, sharing pictures, uploading video, and opening their personal lives to friends and colleagues.

Facebook now has well over 700 million members. LinkedIn is about to go public, making it the first of the social media firms to do so. Empire Avenue is streaking forward, educating us on how to make social networking valuable, while Twitter continues to grow as a tool for sharing and crowdsourcing information.

The benefits of joining any network are quickly apparent: connecting easily to friends, staying in touch with distant family and friends, finding employment or a mate, sharing information, learning, and being entertained are all positive outcomes.

These outweigh the potential risks about lack of privacy. People are increasingly sophisticated about what they share and why they share it.

Very few are sharing things that might affect their careers or personal lives; the greater danger may be that some users are learning how to game the system and manipulate their social image. Hopefully, the power of the crowd — their own friends and associates — will limit this.

Video Job Posting?

According to ComScore, YouTube is the second-most-used search engine in the world after Google. The trend is for people to focus on exploring and learning by watching a video rather than by reading a description.

It seems obvious to me that recruiters should be making short videos about the jobs they are seeking candidates to fill. By getting hiring managers to make a 1-3 minute video describing a particular position, its requirements, and perhaps by interviewing someone who already does that function, a recruiter could have a powerful attraction tool. It is a medium especially suitable for mobile applications which are all the rage right now.

Employees could send short videos to friends as part of a referral program, and if the job descriptions are done well enough, there could be a viral effect as people watch the video and forward it on to friends.

I am not talking about the realistic job previews I see often on corporate career sites. I am talking about the actual job description being a video with a verbal indication on how to apply.

I am actually surprised that I haven’t seen this being done yet given that it is very easy to make videos and that YouYube provides special channels for distributing them. If you are already doing this for current, open positions, I’d love to get a link.

Down With Communities

It seems like every organization is using social media to attract and engage interesting and qualified people in their opportunities. While they call this “community” building, I am not sure that is the best term. A standard definition of community is, “A group of people living together in one place.” It also implies that they are made up of a spectrum of people.

But corporations are striving to build groups made up of only people who have the same general interests and abilities. This is a special interest group, not a community.

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Maybe that would be clearer to everyone if we got out of the community hype and began to build very specific SIGS. People understand that better, and realize that they can belong to many SIGS at the same time. It is rather difficult to be part of several communities. One firm calls them “hives,” and I like that term a lot as well — both corporations and candidates are after the honey.

Job seekers can now scan a vast array of possibilities and explore potential jobs they would never have been aware of prior to social media. The same goes for recruiters who can now touch thousands of people who were invisible before.

Serious Games and Learning

Empire Avenue is a fascinating product that has the potential to raise the social media game to a new level of interaction and understanding.

Basically it is what is called a serious game — one that is fun but is also educational — and results in a useful outcome. Each person who joins becomes a “stock” that can be bought and sold using play money. Whether anyone buys your stock depends on your perceived value. That value is based on two factors: how many people have bought shares in you and on your level of participation in various social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.

The more you participate, and the more others retweeet, comment on your posts, or engage in conversation with you, the higher your stock price goes. Each stock pays dividends, and so when you purchase someone’s stock determine how it will improve your own wealth. It is always wise to choose people who have a significant social profile.

Empire Avenue then is both a social media aggregator as well as a way to score and track your ability to use social media effectively. By experimenting with various ways of tweeting and communicating, by building larger and more useful networks of people who respond and engage in conversation, the faster and higher your stock prove will rise.

I look at this as a useful recruiting tool, an educational product, and a fun experience. And, if you are so inclined you can purchase shares in me by joining Empire Avenue (free) and going to my profile. I am still pretty inexpensive!

Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for ERE.net, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at kwheeler@futureoftalent.org.


23 Comments on “4 Thoughts About Social Media

  1. I totally agree with the comment about “community” being a misnomer. SIGS is much more appropriate as it implies a variety of individual interests and levels of participation, or simply listening & learning.

    Video is still under-used, but we’re starting to see more companies incorporate use of video into marketing and branding that continues to spill into recruiting.

    One thing I like about social media is that it further levels the playing field & gives people a very powerful, immediate way to communicate directly with other individuals and groups. The internet itself gave access to the same power to a small company as it does a larger organization – social media puts that power in the hands of individuals. No wonder some employers are struggling with social media policies — or that some governments are terrified of the implications.

    As social media continues to evolve — and it’s happening at breathtaking speed — it will be interesting to see where it goes. I daresay that it will change the recruiting landscape in expected ways.

  2. Hi Kevin.

    A great post and nice to see an article approaching the topic of SMR from a different perspective to my recent post – http://www.trecknowledgy.com/?p=144

    Not sure about the video posting of job descriptions but I could see it being more beneficial to Video CVs (something else I discussed / debated on my blog a few weeks ago). One thing is for sure. Video, whatever it is needs to be heavily embedded into a companies career site. It’s proven to be the most engaging, interactive medium and the easiest way to convey complicated messages to your audience.

    You’re absolutely right. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc aren’t “communities” or “networks” (as we tend to call them in the UK) – They are platforms. Recruiters need to be mindful of this. Recruitment always has been and always will be about engaging with candidates – these social media platforms just make doing this engaging piece easier.

  3. Thank you, Kevin.
    One of the chief effects of cheap, high-quality realtime video would be to further reduce the need for a physically present (onsite) recruiter. I’ve said for years that the internet has eliminated the need for onsite low-touch, low-value add recruiting activities, leaving high tough high-value add activities. to be handled by skilled professionals. What does “high-touch” mean in a time of cheap, high quality realtime video? I suspect that there is some (maybe a lot) of” stickiness” that would prevent true globalization of recruiting (imagine Ivy League, Oxbridge, or IIT-trained executive recruiters with posh Anglo-Indian accents who look like Bollywood stars cleaning up on 5% placement fees.), but I can’t think of what they’d be except the good old business resistance to change, particularly as it affects the perception of power (“How can I look like a big guy if I don’t have anybody around me to boss around?I…It’s not how we do it here… Darn it, we want our people to be onsite!…)

    Keith “Never Underestimate the Power of the GAFI (Greed, Arrogance, Fear, and Ignorance/Incompetence) Principles” Halperin

  4. Great article as always Kevin!

    At Frog Recruitment in NZ, we have been producing video position descriptions for our clients since the end of 2007. We have found this to be a very effective way to give candidates a window into the organisation we are recruiting for, to hear from people who work there exactly who and what they are looking for in a new employee plus give more information about what the advertised role is all about. Plus we have also found it to be a powerful employer branding tool.

    Below are some examples of previous videos we have made for our clients:

    Category Manager @ Croxley

    Branch Manager @ Youthtown

    Personal Assistant @ ETITO

    Sales Consultant @ NZCF

    We are also surprised that more companies and recruiters aren’t utilising this powerful advertising medium. Clients are often surprised at how cost effective our video position descriptions are, despite being professionally produced, whilst still maintaining authenticity, which is the key!

  5. Whilst it doesn’t really matter, I’m not so sure that ‘Communities’ is such a bad description.

    The Cambridge Dictionary defines community as ‘the people living in one particular area or people who are considered as a unit because of their common interests, social group or nationality’.

    I guess Community started to be embedded in this meaning by Etienne Wenger’s influential (and great) book ‘Communities of Practice’ published in 1998. Ben (above, in comments) is right though that Facebook etc. aren’t communities, they are platforms.

    For me, books like Wenger’s are so influential as they focus on the needs of individuals to participate in communities (or SIGs). Understanding these drivers enables you to understand how and where to use social tools.

    I wrote more about this need-based use of social technologies in recruitment in March in an article called ‘Social Recruiting – the hot new thing, as it always has been.’ – http://www.organizationview.com/335

  6. Kevin,
    Almost every community (SIG is more apt, I agree) I join is dominated by people serving their interests – seeking business. On one hand, that’s ok or at least to be expected: like going to an HR conference, you know there will be vendors, headhunters, in quantity. But I get very little out of most (not all) online SIGs.

    I am not convinced the crowd will self-regulate on privacy. You are surely aware of social engineering and the ability of, well, anyone to get quite privileged information. Relevance is key here: are people in recruiting-related activities gathering information, intentionally or otherwise, that is relevant for getting the right people in the right jobs?

    Social networks, including SIGs, are very cool for reaching each other including finding strangers. Beyond that, social networks contribute little to what needs to be known, needs to be assessed, to match people and jobs so that high performance results. But it’s good to have such a powerful starting point as social networks.

  7. It’s no brainer to see that social media is here to stay for good. Given vast variety of the existing channels to choose and stick with, it’s time for such a hot space to enter into a new category. There is a need for a portal to provide a quick and intelligent decision for both the consumer and the enterprise about their online connections.

    A Platform to Help us to Distinguish Our Quality vs. Quantity Friends, Fans, Followers, and Companies

    Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Flickr and others have been doing a decent job of providing additional marketing exposure and even in some cases, additional revenue. However, as more and more social networking sites pop up, how do you manage your brand across all these channels? Maybe more importantly, which one of these sites should you select as the one that will help you best reach your target audience? The proliferation of the social media avenues is becoming overwhelming.

    This glut of information reminds me of the early 90’s when WWW was adopted broadly by the general public. Every company rushed to have a presence, to the point it became literally impossible to find the right information on the Web. That’s when a better generation of search engines – at first the Yahoo! and then Google – entered the market and helped us find the most relevant information by just typing simple keywords in their search box. If you had asked before Google launched, if there was a need for another search engine – most would have said no, we already have those….

    Then came Web 1.0 & 2.0 – Youtube, Flickr, myspace, Facebook, Twitter and countless others have turned everyday people into content producers, influencers and experts. We basically tripled down on the information overload How do you know which channels to select for deploying your social media strategy? How do you know which one is the right channel to let your fans and followers to find you, your products, and services? Most importantly, who is Joe Smith that is recommending that person, that company, that product?

    I hope my awesomize.me can accomplish such a mission. The site is not another social networking platform. Yet the portal to all your existing social media channels. The platform helps you, your fans, your potential clients to make an intelligent decision as to which company to connect to or follow via which social media channels and why? It’s free!

    CEO & Founder

  8. Danya and Shawna,

    Thanks for the links and information. Nice to see how progressive Frog and JSTN are (have been) in this area. Still a ways to go for general adoption, but things are moving forward. It will be fascinating to see how video evolves as it becomes easier to produce, faster to post, and ubiquitous. The popularity of YouTube as well as all the video entertainment services seems to indicate that it will be the dominant medium for almost everything replacing pure voice and print to a large degeree.

  9. Great article… “Video Job Posting”… We have been doing this for over a year, and the results are staggering (“I am actually surprised that I haven’t seen this being done yet given that it is very easy to make videos”) … If you (your organization) have a good heart (intentions) and your content is relevant, people with find you, and the Google algorithms are getting really smart these days (keeping the “douche bags” from hitting “first page” with SEO tricks/”black hat” tactics)

    Inbound Recruiting is the future… (folks are “too smart”) When your organization “gets it” and starts adding value (relevant/service based content) vs. trying to trick applicants into your “recruiting funnel” you will continue to lose the war for talent..

    Best to ALL, Brian-

  10. Kevin,
    Excellent, thought-provoking, no-nonsense post.

    I disagree with terminating with extreme prejudice use of the word, “community.” Websters on-line dictionary includes in its definition of “community”:

    “g : a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society <the academic community." http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/community

    While your moniker, "Special interest group," is certainly applicable; I think the phrase has acquired a bad reputation because of its association with government lobbying groups.

    As Ben Franklin said, "“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”

    All kidding aside…great post. I would be honored to join your SIG.

  11. Hi Kevin – love that you highlight Empire Avenue…making a “game” of social web activity is so forward thinking…

    For Communities, the biggest problem with most existing Talent Communities is that they are not useful at all. If you understand the Dunbar number concept, about 75-100 participants in a group is the ideal for positive interaction and engagement, and over 150 people it all breaks down. Little wonder that the millions of people that comprise some of the Talent Communities out there are really nothing more than a database of names…I would think that SIGS is the right idea – but my Boomer perspective can only think of cigarettes when I hear that…There was a terrific book published a few years back, “Tribal Leadership” (highly recommend it) that really outlines the best performing tribes out here. Anyone interested in building a talent group should read it. I put forth Talent Tribes as a possible Community replacement! I would also recommend The Gabriel Institute for a full understanding of the “roles” that are played in groups that if represented make for a successful engagement for participants…

    JSTN has come a ways since launch and always thought they have the right idea…why is it that it is so easy to put up a video yet we still have millions of job ads with terms like “incumbent” and “requirement” among others as part of the written description – boggles the mind in this Social Web World – doesn’t it?

  12. ISTM that while a recruiter is making frequent attempts to hear back from a Director to get her signature to kick up to the VP to get approval to investigate making video postings, my $11/hr virtual phone/internet sourcer will have identified and provided me with the contact information for numerous candidates, who I get interviewed and hired.

    I believe it’s more important to get quicker, more efficient processes for hiring people than it is to try new ways of finding them. See “The Agile Recruiting Manifesto” below.) I also believe that very few corporate recruiting organizations have the luxury time, money, staff) of being able to develop extensive relationships with potential candidates significantly before they are needed.
    To paraphrase:
    “Guys ( or candidates -kh) like you aren’t relationships. You’re exercise.”

    -Staying Alive, 1983


    Manifesto for Agile Recruiting
    (This was “sampled” from the Agile SW Development Manifesto. -kh)

    We are uncovering better ways of hiring people by doing it and helping others do it.
    Through this work we have come to value:
    • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
    • Quick, quality hires over comprehensive documentation
    • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
    • Responding to change over following a plan
    That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

    Principles behind the Agile Recruiting Manifesto
    We follow these principles:
    • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of quality hires.
    • Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
    • Deliver quality hires frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
    • Internal customers and recruiters must work together daily throughout the project.
    • Build projects around motivated individuals.
    • Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
    • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a recruiting team is face-to-face conversation.
    • A quality hire which is on-time and within budget is the primary measure of progress.
    • Agile processes promote sustainable employee development.
    • The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
    • Continuous attention to professional excellence and first-class service enhances agility.
    • Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work NOT done–is essential.
    • The best requirements, processes, and hires emerge from self-organizing teams.
    • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

    I challenge staffing organizations to adopt, implement, and maintain these policies and principles. Don’t know how? I’ll be happy to show you.


    Keith Halperin

  13. Some may say that its too much trouble and takes too much time to get approval for video postings and Talent Tribe creation…and the job could be done while the approval process wanes…

    well I can only say that its time to start thinking strategically and give up the tactical approach…once a Tribe is established – cost is lowered, wasted time goes away and the people hired are now “known” to the HM before interviewing…thats got to aid hiring quality!

    Video Job Posts attract people that you never see previously and are shared among Web Socializers way more readily than dry “incumbent” laced texts…

    It may take a small bit of effort to get organized – but don’t the benefits far outweigh the effort?

  14. @K.C.:
    I’d LOVE to be able to think and act strategically in my work environment (and have done so on occasion), but that’s not what they’re paying us to do here- I’ve got a “Porsche” but they just want a “Buick”.

    It is a very rare to have Staffing management actually ask the people doing the staffing how we might make it better or implement meaniningful process change.

    Not Cheers,


  15. Well you have done it now! Talent Communities are now Talent SIGS? Wikipedia will have to be updated with respect to talent communities (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talent_community); and by the way, the article is all about your perspective. Fame is fleeting (or at least editable).

    And I guess I will have to change my twitter handle to @TalentSig and my blog to TalentSig.net.

    But seriously, I do agree that a community can have a singular interest or affinity, but I do not believe that causes them not to be a community. I do not see that a common interest and community as inconsistent.

    In my experience, the communities that I started operated independent of me and demonstrated behaviors that we find in community (self-policing, engagement, etc) in the broader sense of the word.

    Actually, I think we are still trying to get our heads around what a “community” is in our virtual world. Perhaps it is as I wrote a couple of years ago, these communities can be thought of as “virtual third places (https://staging.ere.net/2009/07/14/sourcing-insight-virtual-third-places/).”

    Another aspect to this discussion is that a community can exist on multiple social platforms simultaneously; a “community of communities” if you will. And each of those communities may have different norms and rules of engagement, but still have a common interest. The point that I am making is that community is more that sharing an interest; it is about values, behaviors and relationships.

    Kevin, thanks for causing us to think. I am sticking with Talent Communities as the other handles are gone.

  16. Marvin – if you have the coherent roles embedded in the members of a community or group the interaction and collaborative efforts to achieve community goals – ie – get a dream job, get better networked, find a mentor, whatever – are way more successful. Of course, it is vital to keep the number of participants in the community under 100-150 so engagement remains enriching and compelling.

    You have nailed the concept in your description of multiple social platforms hosting a “community of communities” each with differing interests – yet held together by a common bond – a company, brand, concept, issue, etc. Based on your MS experience with TC’s, I really like that you see it this way!

  17. Marv,

    As always, thoughtful and humorous. Thanks for your perspective. I know the word community can take on many meanings, and I am beginning to feel like (and even maybe look like) Humpty Dumpty who said in Alice in Wonderland “Words mean exactly what I want them to mean; no more and no less.” I guess I am a bit of a “purist” with words and the bandying about of the term “community” still rankles me. I wonder if candidates and recruiters, who are almost anonymous to one another, who rarely interact and just consume each others’ messages, who do not and never will “know” each other really qualify as members of a community.

    On the other hand, recruiters are pretty much agreed that they are communities and that may just add another permutation to the meaning in the dictionary.

    I just hope that the article causes some thinking and perhaps a pause to reflect on what really makes a community powerful.

    Thanks as always for a thoughtful response.

  18. Hi Kevin

    I see Danya Williams from NZ’s Frog Recruitment mentioned their video job listings. A few NZ employers have also dabbled in the job posting space. Some are great, whilst others are not and are are appalling in terms of quality and tone. The best ones give a sense of the work environment and culture, and are authentic. I don’t believe that only managers should present the vacancy – it could be the current incumbent, an internal stakeholder, or one or two team members – or a mix. But in saying that it is always nice to see the person you could be reporting to. Why not give a flip cam to a team and say go for it – showcase the vacancy – we could be surprised with their creativity. I’m amazed why video postings are not mainstream globally.

    Can I add using live-streaming video / Q&A shows to the list? Deloitte NZ pioneered this approach on Facebook in a grad recruitment context at the start of 2010. Other leading employers in NZ and Australia (eg Lion Nathan National Foods Australia, Ernst and Young Australia and New Zealand, Deloitte Australia, and National Australia Bank) have launched similar approaches this year. More info: http://www.recruitmentasiapacific.com/profiles/blogs/nz-and-australia-leading-the

    Re Communities – I believe we should be asking what do we expect to see, in behavioral terms, in a well-functioning community (or whatever we choose to label it). I think we’re trying to put a label on this without being clear what a good community, talent community, hive, tribe etc should look like. Is it just a collection of people with a similar interest, shared affinity, in a similar location, same profession, etc or is it a place where community members have a common purpose which they’re all passionate about, participate actively in, and engage with each other and help each other out without coercion from a community manager? And once we achieve this, does it translate to something which will be effective in a recruitment context? What would happen if we decided on mass to change the name Company to Community – would we do things differently in the way we use technology, manage and recruit people, and structure our businesses?

    Re Empire Avenue – though I believe HR and the recruitment industry needs to look more closely at the innovations and uptake of social gaming, I’m not quite as enthused as you Kevin about EA. I’m a member, but my problem is more with the whole definition of influence and reputation and how it is determined and measured. Maybe it’s all a bit ego-centric for me and doesn’t really tap into my own personal motivational drivers. Interesting how you used the word ‘fun’ in there Kevin – I wouldn’t say I call it “fun” per se.

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