Back to the Blog: Insights on Social Media From Marketers

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 7.05.21 PMPeople who work in marketing have been at the forefront of social media — flogging everything from Apples (not computers — the company has a very limited presence on social media) to zoos. But success, i.e., sales. have been elusive. Only a minority of marketers claim that their companies have increased sales through social media and then after as much as three years of effort! The recently released Social Media Marketing Industry Report documents many of the challenges and frustrations marketers have experienced and the lessons they have learned — useful for any recruiter working with social media.

Some key insights are:

  • The biggest benefit from social media is increased exposure.

  • Only about a third of marketers think their efforts on Facebook are effective.

  • Blogging and YouTube is where most increases in activity are planned.

  • Only about one in four believes they can measure their social media activity, i.e., figure out an ROI.

What these suggest for recruiters is that a social media strategy must have a long-term focus. You will (may) eventually make hires from your efforts to recruit from social networks, but the best you can hope for in the short run is increased awareness of your employment brand. The short run can be a couple of years and require as much as 6-10 hours of work every week. And it is difficult, if not impossible, to make the case that any investment of $X in social media will produce Y hires. There isn’t enough data and history to know.

You need a multi-pronged approach. Limiting your efforts to Facebook or LinkedIn is not enough. A presence on YouTube and active blogging is necessary to gain wide exposure. Blogging allows candidates to find more in-depth material on key areas of interest, associated with your employer and your jobs … more than any conversation on Facebook or company profile on Linkedin. Blogging is also a cheap way to raise search engine rankings but only if done well. A blog doesn’t have to be all original content but it must be well organized and well curated (think ERE). Blogs also have the added advantage of working well on mobile devices, which is where social media is increasingly accessed from.

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Keep it Simple

When using social media always remember which word comes first. Social means having a conversation and sharing thoughts on a subject of mutual interest. Trying to create a rich media experience doesn’t help and can even be a turnoff to your audience. Target’s recent experience with Cartwheel is exhibit A in this regard. Launched with much fanfare, Cartwheel offers Target customers the opportunity to get discounts on products and have those shared with their friends. Sounds great, but the page, while content rich, is too complicated and not easy to use on a smartphone. And who really wants to share all their purchases at Target with others. How’d you like to see a notification on your news feed “… just saved $3 on a box of ex-lax at Target! You can too”? This is an extreme case, but the point is that when it comes to social media even a marketing powerhouse like Target can get it wrong. Keep it simple.

What emerges is a rather muddled picture about social media. Even seasoned marketers are struggling to make sense of it. Recruiters can gain a lot from their work.

Raghav Singh, director of analytics at Korn Ferry Futurestep, has developed and launched multiple software products and held leadership positions at several major recruiting technology vendors. His career has included work as a consultant on enterprise HR systems and as a recruiting and HRIT leader at several Fortune 500 companies. Opinions expressed here are his own.


4 Comments on “Back to the Blog: Insights on Social Media From Marketers

  1. Great point about blogging being a useful tool when it comes to mobile internet users. More and more website traffic is coming from mobile and having a blog post that uses far less data than say a video, is an excellent way to attract mobile traffic.

  2. Thanks, Raghav. Hope you’re still recuperating…

    I wish to protest how your thoughtful, fact-based analysis may diminish the income of the well-healed SNR (“Social Network Recruiting”, or is it “Snake-Oil Recruiting”?) hucksters who for the past few years pitched it as “the Greatest Thing since the Last Thing We Tried to Sell You”. Not only does it appear that SNR does not effectively “quickly put quality butts in chairs,” it doesn’t even very effectively “SLOWLY put quality butts in chairs” and such results as do occur require a long-term, carefully-focused effort, and the bandwidth for such is usually sorely lacking in most organizations. If this were a samurai movie, the only course for those who advocated a massive commitment to SNR prior to the proof of its validity (which we’ve seen isn’t valid) would be to commit seppuku (aka, “hara-kiri”), but this is 2013 America, so just continue on wasting our time and your companies’ money…It’s fortunate that none of the Recruiting Leaders among our readers would be included in these people just mentioned.- our Recruiting Leaders are too rational and measured in their decision-making to hastily jump aboard the latest recruiting bandwagon…



  3. Interesting article Raghav
    Question: Is it not fair to say, given that so few have actually figured out how to truly measure ROI that ‘the jury is still out’ in this respect? What I mean is that isn’t is a tad too quick to dismiss the meaning and the impact of social media? When looking at what is pronounced the new ROI being the ROE Return Of Engagement and that this eventually (supposedly) will lead to hires and that you in article describe that SM does increase exposure then that surely must mean that result in the form of brand recognition (and engagement) is coming through. At the same time and looking around the Fortune 500 circle there is hardly the large brand name where talent is absolutely key that have not invested heavily in a range of SM activities. It is not for me to speak for others, but I have heard of numerous examples from some of these global companies that they a r e seeing their SM activities pay off and lead to hires. My point is and despite anyone throwing it into doubt is that these companies where margins and winning is essential do not get on board a range of initiatives unless there is substance behind and it one way or another ROI Most companies are fighting for space in the ‘get know and get profiled stakes’ trailing behind the likes of Google that hold number one spot in employer attractiveness globally, why the most important aspect is to tell the world who and what you are and hope that this recognition will yield engagement as and when a role get advertised and/or when someone makes an approach. Finally and what is really driving why the whole Social Media involvement has come about and kind of dictating and pushing anyone beyond the age of 35 years old is Generation Y, those that live their lives on social media and to whom if it is not on social media, then it does not exist.
    So in conclusion from me, I think there is much much more to this and to dismiss and throw Social Media importance and impact into doubt is to undervalue the huge significance (measurable and ROI or not) of what it is, what it does and what it can lead to.

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