A WOW Recruiting Opportunity — Micro-Videos on Twitter and Instagram

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 11.57.03 AMBy now everyone knows that the future of recruiting will require the effective use of both the mobile phone and social media. However, you may not be aware that new features on social media giants Twitter and more recently on Instagram now provide the opportunity to effectively sell recruits with short micro-videos that are sent to their mobile phones.

Videos are superior to words because they can more effectively reveal the passion and excitement that occurs at a firm. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, imagine how powerful a moving picture can be. Although videos in recruiting are certainly not new, they have suffered from three significant weaknesses.

First, they have often been expensive and time-consuming to create if they were shot by professionals. Second, the content has not always been particularly authentic. Third, their length caused many who received them to postpone viewing them.

There are numerous ways for employees to share videos. Some micro-videos will be attached to your employees’ tweets, while others will be made using the Instagram app and placed in their Instagram profile and feed. Independently created micro-videos can be added to your Facebook profile or attached to text, email, or other social media messages that your employees send to friends and potential referrals. If you create a company micro-video library, the videos can also be used by recruiters.

How Micro-videos Can Be Superior

Micro-videos which last less than a minute have many advantages, which include:

  • Increased authenticity — because micro-videos are unedited and they are created by your employees, they cover the employee perspective, which makes them more credible, believable, and authentic to those viewing them.
  • Feel the passion — the pictures and the sounds of videos have proven to be effective in revealing the passion and the excitement that your employees feel about their job and their firm.
  • The length increases the likelihood that it will be viewed — the minimum length of the video (Twitter Vine allows six seconds and Video on Instagram allows 15 seconds) forces your employees to be concise. The micro length almost assures that many more prospects will be willing to watch them and also that the video will be viewed without delay. Skeptics may think that a video that only lasts seconds couldn’t possibly have much of an impact, but there is plenty of evidence to show that micro-videos can be compelling, especially among newer generations that have learned to love the brevity of texting and Twitter. The short length also forces employees to be creative in their messaging.
  • The mobile platform is accessed 24/7 — because recruiting prospects carry their mobile phone with them constantly, micro-videos are more likely to be immediately viewed and immediately responded to. Obviously, it will also be smart to allow individuals to apply for open jobs using only their mobile phone.
  • Wide social media coverage — because both Twitter and Instagram (other social media sites also allow videos) are incredibly popular, recruiting messages, pictures, and videos are all likely to reach and be forwarded to a broad and technology savvy audience.
  • Minimal costs — because micro-videos are normally created by your own employees using their mobile phone camera and easily available video editing software, there are no production costs.
  • Constantly being refreshed — because these micro-videos are so easy to create, if the program is fully supported by management, you will have a continuous flow of new and timely videos.
  • Diverse perspectives will be covered — because many different employees can create micro-videos, the volume increases the likelihood that the content will reflect many different positive aspects of the firm. Corporate created videos tend to reflect a headquarters perspective, but employee videos are more likely to include regional features and diverse perspectives. And because many are likely to be created by field employees, the videos may cover positive features of the firm that “corporate” might not even be aware of.
  • A video contest can create a large amount of content — Deloitte, Hyatt, and Marriott have each successfully used video contests to create a significant volume of employee videos. A contest is a good way to build up your initial volume of videos, but with the right management support, the initial library will be continually supplemented.
  • Create a video library as part of the referral program — rather than making videos an independent program, associate it with your current employee referral program. The referral program is an excellent mechanism for making micro-videos available to all employees. Companies can create a micro-video library that contains all of your employee-created videos. Employees can then, if they want, have the option of selecting existing relevant videos for use during their attempt to create referrals. Obviously corporate recruiters can also use videos from the inventory. Employees can also be asked to rate the videos, so that everyone knows which ones are the most powerful.
  • Use videos internally also — the most compelling micro-videos can also be used internally by individual managers, during onboarding, and to improve your internal employment brand.
  • No corporate screening — traditional full-length videos are almost always screened by lawyers, HR, or PR, often making them bland. Obviously, allowing your employees to make videos without approvals or pre-screening carries some risks, but firms that have allowed it for tweets and blogs have actually had very few issues. You simply have to trust the judgment of your employees. However, be aware that even if a negative item occasionally gets covered in a video, that “tolerance” by corporate may actually help to improve the credibility of your micro-videos and reinforce the authenticity of your corporate employer brand.

Coaching Your Employees

Obviously you want to provide your employees with a high degree of freedom in making their micro-videos. However, that does not prohibit you from offering them guidance and coaching on the content that will likely be the most effective in recruiting micro-videos. Those safe content areas include:

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  • A mini-profile of an individual employee or their coworker
  • A “why-I-work-here” testimonial video covering a critical recruiting factor
  • A snapshot view of an employee’s day
  • A video of one exciting aspect of an employee’s job
  • A humorous video demonstrating that your firm is a fun place
  • A video highlighting a unique company perk or benefit
  • A video highlighting an exciting technology, tool, or piece of equipment
  • A snapshot video of an exciting company event
  • A video demonstrating the company culture and employer brand
  • A quick facility tour
  • A video displaying diversity or a global reach
  • A video showing that a particular executive is “real” and approachable
  • A video highlighting the exciting aspects of the region where your facility is located

Final Thoughts

Micro-videos on Twitter and Instagram provide a great inexpensive opportunity to continually spread authentic recruiting messages by taking advantage of the time and the creativity of your own employees. I have found that employees enjoy making the videos and contributing to the recruitment effort.

The primary roadblock unfortunately may come from recruiting leaders, who are afraid to give up their current “total control” over the process of creating recruiting videos. Smart recruiting leaders will simply have to trust their employees to create compelling but positive micro-videos.

Initial action steps for setting up a micro-video program starts with benchmarking what others have done. Next you will need to put together an initial marketing campaign to encourage employees to make videos along with good and bad micro-video examples for them to view. Next, hold an employee video contest to initially fill your micro-video library. Metrics for measuring effectiveness are also required, so new hires should also be asked during onboarding whether the micro-videos had a significant impact on their decision to apply and accept.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on staging.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.



17 Comments on “A WOW Recruiting Opportunity — Micro-Videos on Twitter and Instagram

  1. Great suggestions, John. I’m a huge fan of well produced employer videos as I believe that just like a picture is worth 1,000 words (as you stated), a video is worth 1,000 pictures.

    One of my roadblocks when trying to convince our employer clients to embed (include) video in their job postings on CollegeRecruiter.com is that it is worth their time even when we’re only asking for a minute or two as they just need to copy and paste the YouTube URL for the video that they want to embed. I believe that they’re choosing not to include video because they’re not convinced that it is worth even the minute or two. Given that the cost is essentially zero, that means that many must feel that the benefit is also zero.

    You’re a fan of data. Do you have data on the effectiveness of adding video to postings, landing pages, etc.? It would be great to tell employers reading this article and elsewhere that the average job posting, landing page, etc. generates X times as many highly qualified applicants if it includes video.

  2. They don’t do it because they don’t know “how” to do it; suffer from camera (or mike) fright or in general don’t have the confidence to do it themselves.

    We’ve been sending film school graduates out to companies for some time now to produce “shorts” – 2-3 minute job ads by (enthusiastic) company reps.

    They’re wildly effective and the service is gaining popularity as we speak!

    Cost is $250 each and there’s a minimum charge per visit (plus travel if necessary.)

    Does your company have a movie star within its ranks?
    I bet it does!

  3. Some great ideas here John. More and more companies are looking for ways to show authenticity and transparency. You really hit the nail on the head here with the options that micro-video makes available.

  4. As always a good checklist and place for inspiration from Dr. Sullivan.

    However (and please please if I am wrong convince me of otherwise) one thing is video, another is micro video. I simply think 15 secs is too short a time to give much of an impression, why I cannot see that format work , but if anyone with evidence of this please show it.

    That much can be achieved by allowing and letting people loose can be seen in this video from all the way back to 2 0 0 0 7 (looong before video mainstream) It was at the time t h e most viewed video having anything to do with PWC (surpassing any corporately made videos), and just goes to show how a bunch of innovative (and perhaps not so dry and boring as one could imagine) auditors came up with an idea and result that for many years have stood out as a classic in the (non ) corporate video world at least in the UK:


  5. Thanks Dr. Sullivan.
    Let’s say I’m a typical job seeker. Why would I want to be bombarded by loads of mobile micro-infomercials? I don’t want ads- I want an interview and a job.

    If I’m NOT the typical jobseeker and I’m part of the “Fab 5%” do you really think your company’s cute little employee-created micro-video is going to put you head and shoulders above all the other companies trying to get me?

    Also, while production costs may be small, who’s going to do the production coordination, editing, distribution, etc.? How much time will that take and where will that money come from? Wouldn’t more tried and true methods such as ER (which you also advocate) be a better use of limited recruiting resources?

    Finally, as Steven R. discusses, before someone advocates a course of action, shouldn’t they have clear proof that it works, its limitations, and possible unintended consequences? As Raghav showed us (https://staging.ere.net/2013/07/02/back-to-the-blog-insights-on-social-media-from-marketers/), many of the claims of social network recruiting have turned out to be exaggerated, so ITSM that before someone wants me or my company to spend a lot of time and money on something, they should have a great deal of objective proof first.



  6. I totally concur with what Dr. John Sullivan has to say. We’re seeing authentic videos becoming more accepted by employers every day. We also hear from candidates who say that the videos set the right expectation, and give them a better perspective on if they should apply.

    As for the numbers, it’s a proven fact that video on a page will increase engagement. While featuring a longer video, here’s a case study (including metrics) on how video raised the Employer Brand and attracted a key Engineering hire to Lending Club: http://ongig.com/employer-branding-attracts-key-hire-to-lending-club

  7. @ Jason: “As for the numbers, it’s a proven fact that video on a page will increase engagement”
    Them’s fightin’ words!
    If you say something is a “proven fact”, you need to define what the terms mean, the conditions under which they apply, and most importantly THE SOURCE OF YOUR PROOF, and an ad isn’t proof.

    There is no relation between how firmly or confidently someone says something and how correct or accurate they are, and if they aren’t prepared to qualify their statements as opinions or to come up with evidence that backs it up, then you should probably discount what they have to say, and that goes for what I have to say, too. Maybe it’s my Jewish background, scientific training, or Mid-western in-laws, but *I’m not one to believe someone based on their reputation or the smoothness of their presentation.


    Keith “Show Me the Proof” Halperin

    *Maybe that’s what people mean when they call me “cynical”?

  8. I hear ya Keith, and I’m big on the numbers as well. I’ve got loads of data showing that video on a page equates to higher engagement. The case study mentioned is not simply an ad.

    The numbers in the case study show that viewers for that particular job description spent 341 total hours viewing the page containing the video. I’m hard pressed to find any other job descriptions on the web getting that type of engagement.

    That’s an enormous amplifier for a recruiting team, and the viewers got to hear directly from the people they would work with. The candidate hired even commented at how key the video was in his selecting the opportunity…and he has a skillset in high demand.

    I’m not saying video is the answer to everything in recruiting. I’m saying it’s a very helpful tool in amplifying the hiring message.

    If you want more data, here’s another slide deck we recently put together. While not all specific to video, it walks through the levers that drive online candidate engagement: http://www.slideshare.net/Ongig/ongig-datapoints-june2013final

  9. The target audience is an obvious variable here because step one is attracting the potential candidates to actually view short videos. Step two is trying to get them to view your videos. Technology is great, but pales in comparison to traditional recruiting. Go where the candidates are and meet them. Engage in a real conversation over coffee or a beer… while the competition sends a quick video. I’m not sold yet… but time will tell!

  10. Thanks Jason. Perhaps I’m too old-fashioned or too goal- oriented, but as a recruiter I don’t care about “eyeballs on sites”- I care about “butts in chairs”. If video (or anything else) can be shown to clearly and significantly improve the number/quality of hires and/or reduce the time/expense involved with a good cost(real and opportunity)/benefit ratio, then I’m all for it. I think these should be the tests for any proposed new recruiting tools/technique- do the benefits in improved recruiting clearly outweigh the costs and if so, are they feasible for most recruiters to do? Many of the things frequently advocated here seem to lack a thorough, objective fact-based ROI analysis, and appear to work in an idealized corporate environment with unlimited resources and rational, compliant stakeholders. We might dream about driving Lambos or Teslas, but most of us actually drive Accords and Fusions. (I know this particular column isn’t for the “typical recruiter,” but really: how many “Lambo-driving” corporate recruiters are there?)

    @ David: Well said. Trying all these things to get potential candidates to come to you seems a very weak, passive, and slow way to recruit. I recommend determining who YOU want and go after THEM, not have them come to you.


    Keith “Not a *Luddite” Halperin


  11. I think video is a great opportunity for a company to stand out from everyone else and get extra attention to their job openings.

    Historically, “recruiting videos” or “look behind the scenes” videos are too long and boring. Having a time limit forces a company to be relevant—plus viewers are much less critical about quality.

    From a job seeker’s point of view, I love it when companies show a bit of personality and don’t hide behind generic email address as the only point of contact. And now you can embed Instagram videos right into your careers page, so it’s easy to distribute the content without overloading someone’s feed.

  12. @ Nathaniel:”I think video is a great opportunity for a company to stand out from everyone else and get extra attention to their job openings.”
    If large numbers of companies use video to stand out from other companies they won’t stand out from other companies!
    If you want to “stand out”: DON’T do what everybody else is doing, do what everybody else ISN’T doing.

    “From a job seeker’s point of view, I love it when companies show a bit of personality….”
    I love it when companies make it quick and easy to apply, and treat me like someone who matters (or at least like “someone” and not “no one”). You can keep the “bells and whistles”.


  13. @Keith, and that is exactly why that those that do make that extra effort, that take time out figuring out how and when and where we can differentiate, those that apply a sense of humour (take a look at Procter & Gamble website videos about interviewing) and those that are memorable (Heineken intern interview/selection) are also those that stand the best chances of grabbing attention. Yes the is a huge amount of ‘noise’ and it will get louder and louder why the pressure will only increase in being able to either make a difference or to come up with solutions that carry a simple yet a story that make a huge impact.
    Winning the minds and the hearts of people is probably one of the very biggest challenges facing companies that compete for talent it’s what I call ‘survival of the (holistically) fittest’.

  14. Thanks, Jacob. I’ve heard that if you wish to help get your point across, it’s better to speak softly (so they have to try to hear what you have to say) than it is to shout.


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