Sunday, May 2, 2010

Social media as a recruiting tool

I've written a couple of posts in the past to highlight the different ways that consulting companies are using social media for recruiting.  At the time, I was mainly interested in pointing out that most of the big firms are doing a poor job in my opinion, with the exception of Deloitte.  I think the reason for this is that the firms know they should have a presence on the different social networking sites for recruiting purposes, but they haven't put any time into figuring out the best way to leverage each one.  Instead, they try to apply a one-size-fits-all strategy, or worse yet, they just set up a placeholder to get it out of the way.  Unfortunately, I think that this haphazard strategy sabotages the opportunity to utilize social media successfully, and that probably just affirms the earlier decision to not devote much time to it.

Here is how I think some of the various sites could be put to good use.
  • Facebook (Multimedia and Events) - This is easily the most important place to have a strong presence.  Amongst my classmates, there is simply no other social networking site that compares, and given that the average time users spend in FB monthly is almost 3x higher than the runner up, I think it's safe to say that holds outside of Kellogg as well.  FB is an amazing tool for sharing stories, videos, and pictures.  It has several benefits: 1) people spend a lot of time on FB daily 2) the items show up conveniently in their stream (they don't have to go to other sites to find them; I'd wager that students don't visit company websites very often) with previews 3) the items can be shared very quickly with others.  Furthermore, FB has become one of the most popular ways, if not the most popular, to invite people to events.  It wasn't so long ago that Evites were the standard, but now it's FB invites.  If you use FB as an RSS feed (just posting links to your own stories) or as a placeholder, then I don't think you are maximizing its potential.  Here is how a few of the top consulting companies stack up in FB (not surprisingly, Deloitte is on top, measured solely by followers): 
Facebook
Company Followers Usage
Deloitte 6,136Multimedia, Stories, Events
BCG 5,440 RSS Feed
McKinsey 4,263Placeholder
Bain 1,218RSS Feed
Booz 15Placeholder

  • Twitter (RSS Feed and personal interactions) - When I first wrote about this, I argued that Twitter should be used "for connecting individuals and building relationships; something that I think could go a long way in giving applicants a better sense of the culture at the firm."  I still think that is true, but I also think it can be used effectively as an RSS feed because there are a lot of people on Twitter that visit the site primarily to consume/discover information.  There are still some big firms that haven't established an official (or central) account, but I don't think that is a major loss in terms of recruiting.  Twitter still pales in comparison to FB when it comes to active users.  It seems that Deloitte may have a slight edge on Twitter, though it is more impressive when you consider that they have a lot of accounts (the most as far as I can tell) and many have at least 500 followers. (references is the number of times that account was tweeted at or referred to, as determined by a quick search at search.twitter.com)
Twitter
Account Followers References (from others)
DeloitteHealth 4,8561
Mck_biztech 4,653 0
Deloitte 4,4284
DeloitteUS 2,2220
BainAlerts 1,8591
LifeAtDeloitte 1,7133
McKinseyAPD 6880
BCG 00
Booz 00

  • Foursquare/Gowalla (event tracking and stats) - I still don't see much of a big role for location-based services in recruiting, but this could change depending on adoption.  From what I've seen, my classmates are taking to Foursquare a lot faster than Twitter. I think it might be useful for tracking who attended specific events (though Foursquare is less useful because it doesn't restrict where you can check in based on GSP coordinates).  For example, you might send out follow up information to all of the people that checked in at a recruiting event or track the statistics of your events to try and determine the ones that are most/least popular.
  • LinkedIn (placeholder) - Unfortunately, LinkedIn just doesn't get enough daily interaction to warrant spending a lot of time on it as a recruiter.  People hop on to it sporadically for a few core reasons: 1) get a job and 2) add friends.  Outside of that, you probably won't find college students spending much time on LinkedIn.  I certainly think it is worthwhile to set up a quick placeholder but not much more than that.  UPDATE: I had a nice chat with a LinkedIn representative at a panel at Kellogg, and I realized that I was completely wrong here; something that was even evident by how I use LinkedIn regularly.  In particular, the fact that students don't spend a lot of time on the site isn't as important as what they get out of it when they do go to the site.  For example, the fact that I've been able to successfully reach out to alums at different companies via LinkedIn makes it immensely valuable for me, although I don't spend hours on it. So it is worthwhile to spend some time thinking of how to set it up to be most valuable, which is in a professional context.
Recruiters shouldn't expect to see immediate dividends from their efforts in social media.  Like most things, what a firm puts into it will ultimately determine what it gets out of it.  Furthermore, there are limitations on the impact it can have.  An amazing FB presence probably won't lead a student to select a new, small firm over a McKinsey, but it may just make the difference for those students that are straddling the fence between accepting or rejecting an offer.

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