The 5 Biggest Mistakes Recruiting Businesses Are Making on Social Media

Social media should have you salivating! If you’re doing it right, then every day it should be bringing candidate leads and client prospects into your business. It’s one of those things that once you “get it”, you just want to experiment with it and learn more and more for the thrill of the results you see flowing from it. Unsurprisingly, it can become quite addictive once it’s become a major contributor to your team’s success.

Yet 95% of people who read this column are frustrated right now because social media just isn’t working for them. And everyone I’m sure would love to pick up some ideas to improve their social media results considerably. So addressing these frustrations and desires is what this post is going to be all about.

When we’re first talking to recruitment businesses (and indeed recruitment teams and recruitment tech companies), there are lots of common threads that explain why they’re not getting mouth-watering results from social media. Five of the biggest mistakes are what I’ll focus on here, although this list is by no means exhaustive.

In no particular order, here are 5 mistakes that are robbing you of ROI from your social media efforts:

  • Obsessing About LinkedIn
  • Under Investing in Social Media
  • Having The Wrong Focus
  • Failing To Experiment
  • Being Robotic

Let’s help you unravel what you’re doing wrong in each of these 5 areas.

number 1Obsessing About LinkedIn

Firstly let’s deal with the elephant in the room. In your business people are obsessed with LinkedIn aren’t they? I understand that it’s a great candidate sourcing tool and I’m not necessarily saying you should abandon it. But let’s be clear about two things:

  • LinkedIn is the worst social site for building a recruiting brand that gets seen and sparks conversations. The data is absolutely conclusive on this (see Pew Research chart below). If you want to reach people day in day out then you need to be active on the platforms where people spend their time. That’s places like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. LinkedIn, by contrast, is rarely used by the majority of its members. Focusing your efforts here is like putting billboards up in the middle of the desert and expecting them to be seen more than if you’d advertised in an airport. Come on people – enough with the LinkedIn obsession!
  • LinkedIn is also the most expensive social site for building a recruiting brand and generating results. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, companies on LinkedIn can do almost nothing to build their profile without a sizeable advertising budget. Want your recruiting business to engage in conversations across the site? You can’t do that. Want to invite people in your industry to connect with your page? You can’t do that. Want to be active in Groups to raise your profile? You guessed it, you can’t do that either. There are a few ideas you can implement in your business to build LinkedIn followers, but for a small business the impact of these will be minimal. Essentially all roads lead to you needing to spend significantly on LinkedIn if you want a sizeable presence there.

Social Media usage PEW Research

If that wasn’t bad enough, the cost of advertising your recruiting business on LinkedIn is also far far higher than on other social sites. Try setting up a targeted advertising campaign and you’re likely to find the minimum bid price is ~$6 per click. Holy cow! You can get 8-10 targeted clicks for that same spend on Twitter – and more still on Facebook. Wake up recruiters – LinkedIn doesn’t have nearly as many advertising impressions to sell and so the price is bid up. And businesses are all mesmerised by LinkedIn and want to advertise there, bidding the price up further still. Smart recruitment marketers look to spread their budgets across a wider spectrum of social media where more results can be generated for any given spend.

As a concluding remark to give some balance to what I’ve said here, it may still be worthwhile you having a strong presence on LinkedIn. If you can acquire candidates or clients at a cost per acquisition that is still profitable for your team, then by all means invest in your LinkedIn presence. But please don’t do it at the blind expense of building your presence elsewhere. That’s simply ignoring the data about where people spend their time and where you can generate significant interest for a far more modest spend.

number 2Under Investing in Social Media

There are three ways that recruitment businesses are chronically under investing in social media. Firstly, many agency owners are deluded about the time needed to get results on social media. One of your team being tasked to spend a few hours a week on social just doesn’t cut it. The single biggest reason for this is that results on social media have a tipping point. If you spend only half the time that’s needed to do everything you should be doing on social media, you’ll be lucky to get even 10% of the business results. So invest the necessary time to do this properly – or don’t invest in it at all!

This brings me onto the second under-investment, namely the necessary investment in skills. If you hire a skilled social media team member, you’ll need them dedicated for at least 50% of the week to getting you results on social media. Far too many recruiting businesses leave this to an intern or an admin person to manage – and someone like this who’s lacking the necessary expertise will need to work full-time on your social media to produce results. Even then they’ll probably not get anything like the same results as if you’d worked with a social media expert.

An intern may not get you as much traction on social media as an expert will says @tonyrestell Click To Tweet

So significant time and money is needed to get results from social media. And that brings me to the last type of under-investment we see, namely not having a budget allocated to advertising on social media and to subscribing for the various tools that will allow you to accelerate your effectiveness on social media. Both are essential if you really want social media to start contributing considerably to your recruiting business.

number 3Having The Wrong Focus

Wrong FocusRecruiting teams are invariably focused on the jobs they need to fill. Show me a recruiting business that’s failing on social media and I’ll show you a team whose social media profiles pump out a stream of vacancies and requests for candidate referrals.

This is all wrong! Attracting candidates or clients on social media requires that you pivot your social media presence to focus on what would make it appealing to them. Research your niche industry. Discover what type of content people are commenting on and resharing most. Learn what types of posts prompt engagement in your industry. And then ensure that 90%+ of your updates are focused on this type of content rather than jobs.

The payback will be that you build an enormous and engaged audience in your niche market – which with the right strategies you can then convert into applications and call requests that your competitors are completely missing out on. But you’ve got to have patience and you’ve got to have backbone. Not a week will go by without some of your recruiters clamouring for the company to be sharing more of the jobs you are working on on your social accounts (for insights as to why this is a flawed strategy, see here).

number 4Failing To Experiment

I’ve worked on hundreds of social media profiles for recruitment teams around the world. Broadly speaking I’ve learnt what produces the best response from candidates and from potential clients. But even with that degree of experience, I can’t tell you categorically what will work best in your particular niche and geography.

To determine the optimal strategy and approach for each recruiting business, you have to get out there in the market and experiment. Have you experimented with the wording on your profiles to see what produces the highest conversion rate of new followers? Are you tweaking the types of content you share to reflect which is producing the most interactions and interest? Have you A/B tested which types of approaches to candidates or clients produce the highest response rate?

Almost certainly the answer to these questions is no. But if you’re not doing these things, you’re not optimising your social media so that every hour or dollar invested produces the maximum payback for your business. You wouldn’t spend money on job boards so indiscriminately, so why not have the same rigour in perfecting your investment in social media?

number templateBeing Robotic

Last but not least is the overuse of automation and the underinvestment in being personable on social media. Both completely undermine the results you’re achieving on social media.

Let’s talk first about automation. Some automation is a good thing. By all means automatically collect lists of people who’ve reshared your content. Feel free to auto schedule a few key recurring updates that need to go out each month. Automatically store a log of everything you’ve shared on social media so you have a library of updates you can potentially reuse in the future. This type of automation is a good thing – and multiplies the amount you can achieve for any given time investment.

Automation

Unfortunately the recruitment industry is rife with people who don’t realise how spammy and robotic a lot of their social media updates come across as. ANYTHING that appears in someone’s timeline on social media where it’s plainly obvious that you didn’t craft the message yourself absolutely kills engagement with your audience:

  • Those messages thanking your most important RTers this last week, pulled together by a tool. The feel good factor of getting that recognition is completely killed by the knowledge that this was automated rather than a heartfelt thank you.
  • Those automated DMs thanking people for following and pushing them to connect with you on LinkedIn too. Obviously automated and impersonal. The bond you could have formed with a new connection is completely undermined.
  • Those messages you copy and paste and send to dozens of people in a row, they don’t come across as sincere – and look downright lazy if I can see in your timeline that you’ve sent the same message to a whole bunch of other people.
  • Don’t even get me started on the auto-posting of jobs from your job-posting software provider or ATS onto your social accounts! Absolutely horrible – and if you’re using them no wonder your social results underwhelm!

The list could go on, but you get my point. If people feel they have had a message from a real person who has taken time out of their day to personally craft a message to them, that can be the building block for a relationship to be formed – and from relationships real business results can flow. But if your first impression of someone is that they’ve insulted you by not even deeming you worthy of anything more than an automated message, that destroys the whole value in you ever having connected. No relationships being formed = no business results.

One final point on this topic of being too robotic. In our experience, the overwhelming majority of ROI from social media comes from having conversations with the people who’ve interacted with your profiles, your website’s content, your group updates and the like. So as a recruitment business, you need to orient all your activities around ensuring as many opportunities to engage as possible are stimulated by your social media presence. The good news is that recruiters are generally good at speaking to people so this should come naturally. The bad news is it takes time – and means weaning your recruiters of their instinct to do whatever can be done quickest.

You are in the business of building relationships, so act like you are in one says @tonyrestell Click To Tweet

Concluding Remarks / Next Steps

Hopefully you’ve picked up a lot of ideas about why your recruiting business has been getting a lower return from social media than you would like? Please do add your observations or questions in the comments section below. If you’d like to get more insights, you’re very welcome to join one of our next free webinars where we’ll be lifting the lid even further on how to get results. Or you can book in a call with one of our team to talk through the specifics of your business and the social media approach that’s likely to be most effective for you. Let’s make this next quarter the best you’ve ever had for getting results from social media!

This article first appeared on Social-Hire.com on November 9th, 2015.

3 Responses to “The 5 Biggest Mistakes Recruiting Businesses Are Making on Social Media”

  1. Hi Tony, great article… one of the better ones in fact. Not often do I stop skimming and start reading. I would be curious to hear your thoughts in a follow on article about the pro’s and con’s of a recruiters personal branding via social media. Many agencies simply don’t have the luxury of dedicating 50% of an employees time to social media so leave social media to the individual recruiter to fend for themselves which opens up a whole lot of questions. Thanks Tony. Brad.

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  2. Interesting question Brad. In our experience, it’s well worth individual recruiters also having an enhanced presence on social media. But it’s difficult to justify a recruiter spending their time on this rather than talking to candidates or clients on the phone. The best solution is often to have a central social media manager (or external agency) that does most of the leg work of finding and sharing content on behalf of the individual recruiters (and company), then just leaving the individual recruiters to handle the interactions that flow from this…

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  3. Hi Tony, As always a great article. I couldn’t agree more with you. Sadly the ‘Old Guard’ is fixated with LinkedIn, so a presence becomes mandatory. As a social media site, the content is sterile, consisting largely of regurgitated material often by dozens of companies or individuals. Plagiarism is rife. When original content is posted it tends to get hijacked or worse trolled. Some industries seem to be plagued with individuals creating noise, e.g. posting ‘interested’ or ‘plz see my profile’ to anything they see posted from an employer or recruiter. Sadly the majority of the LinkedIn followers seem to associate other social media sites with millennials or teenagers, and in doing so miss the opportunity to reach out to a more engaged, and often rewarding audience. Looking forward to a shift in perception, and hopefully many more well-written blog posts from yourself.

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