Social Media Is Everyone’s Job at Best Buy

Social media and social recruiting are “kind of everybody’s job” at Best Buy, Joshua Kahn told the Social Recruiting Summit in Minneapolis today.

Kahn joined three others from Best Buy on a panel at the conference, held at Best Buy’s headquarters, a complex complete with an ATM, Caribou Coffee, pool and chess, a gift shop, as well as a vending machine stocked with electronic accessories for gadget junkies in need of a quick fix. Joining Kahn from Best Buy was Brian Kohlbeck, who’s using the Best Buy Finance Blog to build an ongoing conversation in hopes that candidates come to Best Buy, rather than vice versa. And Robert Stephens, founder of the Geek Squad, who calls recruiting “the most authentic form of advertising” and notes that “social media is never going to become a department” at Best Buy. The fourth was John Bernier, leader of Best Buy’s Twitter customer service program Twelpforce, believes the online help service is a home for some of “the most empowered employees” in the company.

Kohlbeck says Best Buy tries to be open and tell it like it is via social media. Well, not too open, as its social media policy does include a reminder to employees that saying too much can cause them to lose out. On their jobs.

Indeed, like other companies, Stephens says the company tries to toe the line between transparency and spilling so many beans that the legal department gets flustered. Recently a Geek Squad training manual was put online, and some people freaked out about the leak. Stephens didn’t. He jokes that some customers claim the company never trains its employees, so this was proof that they do. And, it was an old manual.

Rather than trying to be like or unlike other big Twin Cities employers like General Mills or Target, Kohlbeck hopes the company just tells the good-bad-ugly about a Best Buy job, with the end result being a candidate who fits. Similarly, Kahn says Best Buy lets people complain about the company on Facebook if it wants, so long as they’re not getting racist or something. Sometimes, a community manager will try to get to the bottom of the problem, asking things like, “Can you tell me more about about the problem you are having?”

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Best Buy measures the impact of its social media efforts through counting how many people are interacting with the company; how many people are Facebook fans; whether people are saying positive or negative things about the company; and whether the Twelpforce and other initiatives have the “ability to move brand metrics,” as Bernier puts it, meaning whether the Twelpforce is improving people’s view of the company, which he says it has.

Speaking of numbers and metrics: Kahn notes that the ubiquitous retailer hired 67,000 people last year, so “we don’t have trouble attracting people.” But, he notes, “if you piss them off, they may go buy their TV elsewhere because they had a bad experience with us.” So the company’s working as much on improving the candidate experience as it is in finding people.

All this stuff isn’t rocket science, Kohlbeck says. Candidates want to know things like what it’s like to work there, who they’ll work with, and perhaps just how much snow there’ll be if you move North.

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