Career Site Visitors Drawn to Rackspace’s Culture Channel

Rackspace is a company doing so much right in the social media space that it’s hard to know where to begin. Numbers are as good a place as any. So consider these:

  1. It has more than 21,000 followers on Twitter.
  2. Its Facebook page is “liked” by almost 2,700 people.
  3. Visitors to RackerTalent, the company’s 8-month old career site,  spend almost three times as many minutes learning about its culture than the average for the entire site, including actually searching for a job.

“Not only can we say it’s good, but damn, this is really great.” That’s Michael Long. He’s head of global talent branding for the web hosting and cloud computing company in San Antonio.

You may recall Long from my post in March. He’s the guy who got the company’s logo tattooed on his arm. Also known as The Red Recruiter, Long shepherded Rackspace’s new career site, first as a consultant, then inside as branding leader. The site launched shortly before the tat got inked.

Long and I spoke at length after the tattoo post, mostly about the new talent site and the plans Rackspace had for it. He had a handful of employees blogging, a few contributing photos, and more enthusiasm for the site and his new job than I could have expressed in words.

Now, here it is, almost nine months later, and RackerTalent has 25 regular — and irregular — contributors blogging about everything from 100 days of Racker-T-shirt-wearing to a straight-from-the-heart declaration of the company’s core values. The Culture channel is so engaging it’s no wonder that visitors spent more than eight minutes reading through it.

Michael Long“These are genuine people here,” says Long, who shared some of the new site’s analytics with me. “They are talking in personal terms about what it’s like to work here; what it means to be a Racker.”

“I think that a big part of it,” he says, explaining why visitors find the content so worth their time.

When Rackspace was planning its recruitment branding and social media strategy, it was less interested in big numbers than in attracting the kind of person who would fit the culture and blossom there. This is, after all, a company that has trademarked the term “Fanatical Support.”

Paul Norman, who was then director of recruiting, said the goal was to give potential candidates a feel for what it meant to be a Racker, and a taste of what working for the company is like. Not everyone is a fit. Nor does everyone feel comfortable with the Rackspace approach that encourages individuals to develop their talents, even when they lead in a different direction.

From the metrics Long has been gathering, RackerTalent is meeting that goal. Besides just the amount of time visitors are spending in the culture channel, those who go there, stay there. The “bounce rate” in October was an astonishing 9.2 percent. For the entire site it was 20.8 percent.

Now the bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave a site after visiting just one page. So it’s a good way to measure how engaging that page is. Google’s analytics evangelist, and author of two books on analytics, Avinash Kaushik had this to say about bounce rates: “My own personal observation is that it is really hard to get a bounce rate under 20%.”

At 9.2 percent, it means that 90 percent of the visitors to a RackerTalent culture page go on to read another.

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“This is a project that just won’t stop,” says Long. “These are great numbers. They show that people are looking at the kind of people who are Rackers.”

From reading through the reports (RackerTalent uses Google Analytics), Long says it’s clear what job seekers and potential candidates care about and what they find useful. That’s a good yardstick to measure the site’s progress. Don’t just look at the visitor counts, he cautions. By that measure, the culture channel ranks only third, behind the job listings.

That’s probably to be expected; after all, the economy is dismal and people are looking for work. Still, Long says he’s thinking how to improve the engagement there to attract more of those visitors to the culture area.

Long is also looking at Rackspace’s Facebook presence, already robust, with a surprising number of comments for a company that is not consumer-facing.

Some of the content on RackerTalent is turning up on Facebook, some of it posted by Rackspace employees, who also tweet about the blog postings and, of course, jobs.

“It’s an inside-out approach,” Long jokes, with employees pushing out content to the world. “The only way to have them help you is to give them awesome content to spread … When I think about social, it’s about rich content.”

Now with the career site established and some of the heaviest lifting completed, Long is looking at other metrics, to see what’s to be learned there. One he shared is the number of applies. From social media sources, Rackspace gets about 35 candidates for every job. From the job aggregators, the number rises to 100.

“It costs a lot to review all those applicants. If we could get fewer, but higher quality applicants,” he says, not finishing the sentence. “I think social media offers that.”

John Zappe is the editor of TLNT.com and a contributing editor of ERE.net. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.

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10 Comments on “Career Site Visitors Drawn to Rackspace’s Culture Channel

  1. John,

    This is a great article that highlights the power of successfully communicating company culture. Although, Rackspace is just getting started, their metrics seem to indicate that they are moving in the right direction. Did Michael give you any insight into whether better communicating culture upfront is helpful in filtering prospective candidates? I.e., do they find that those candidates who do ultimately apply are a better fit than before they launched the Culture Channel?

    Omowale Casselle

  2. Omowale,

    You bring up a great question. I’ll do my best to answer it.

    The assumption would be that if we do a better job sharing our culture up front, we would be attracting individuals to our organization that are a good fit for our culture – they know what they are getting in to.

    That said, we are not in a place (yet) where we can correlate this early messaging and attraction with long-term retention and fit. While this is not on our immediate road map, I could see the possibility for it becoming a metric of interest as we improve on source tracking and tie together the employee life cycle.

    Looking forward,
    Michael Long

  3. Michael,

    That sounds like a great long-term focus. To be able to get that level of insight into the employee life cycle would setup an amazing competitive advantage for your organization. I’m looking forward to continuing to see how your efforts develop.

    Omowale Casselle

  4. Congrats, Michael, on the success with RackerTalent.com! I recently published a blog post related to Rackspace’s recruitment site as an example of ways in which employers can improve their recruitment SEO. I found several issues with the site that actually hinder it from finding the job listings in the search results, like if you did a search for “software engineer texas”. You can read the post here: http://www.pearanalytics.com/blog/2010/why-recruitment-seo-is-important/

  5. Seems like Michael is fanatical about increasing the RAX metrics of quality of cultural fit (will get better odds of success when candidate is solid cultural fit)via social networking VS quantity of unwashed masses of zombies from the job boards…..we all know the wasted time , money and effort spent on sometimes absurdly unqualified applicants….
    ..Michael’s efforts should have solid cost reduction and efficiency implications for the Rackerecruiting team….

    This elusive cultural fit metric is the holy grail of the Recruiting Industry as it has evolved over past few years…..I hope Michael will keep us up to date on progress.

  6. Ryan – I’ll copy and paste the comment I left on your site as it’s awaiting moderation.
    —-
    Ryan,

    Thank you for the feedback on our career site!

    Our approach and strategy for the site was to first build the bones then recruit Rackers to be a part of it. Once these two pieces were in place, we started looking towards the methods that you describe above. For that effort, we have engaged Jobs2Web and plan to launch our new and improved “Careers” section in the very near future. The base philosophy is that we want to share an authentic employment brand with candidates who would consider our organization as a place to work. In order to do that, we felt it necessary to enlist Rackers from across the organization to be a part of the fun. In an effort to improve the overall candidate experience, we wanted to make this rich content available for job seekers as they go through the evaluation process. In my experience, job seekers who simply click and apply to jobs, without doing research and getting to know the company, have a much lower chance of getting hired.

    It’s all a work in progress at this point and we will surely go through some trial and error. That said, we’ve been having a blast highlighting life inside the Rack for our future talent.

    Thanks again for the feedback. Good stuff as always!

    Michael Long
    t: @TheRedRecruiter

  7. John,

    Great article highlighting the innovation happening from Michael and the Rackspace team! He’s done a great job building a strong and effective platform to highlight the authentic employment brand (evidenced by the great results mentioned in your article). Keep an eye on Michael and the Racker Recruiting Team–they’re going to continue to innovate and do great things with this strategy!

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