Facebook for Employers: Make Friends, Not Fans
By: Matt Charney, Monster Social Media Engagement Manager
Most direct sourcing and candidate development activities seem predicated around the adage: “Go where the talent is.” That’s why it’s not surprising that talent acquisition has been an early adopter of social networks. As noted search expert Glen Cathey recently wrote: “Recruiting has always been social -- interactions have primarily taken place in person and over the phone. Social media simply enables a third way to communicate: online.”
It’s a wonder, then, that Facebook remains somewhat underutilized in social recruiting. According to a recent industry survey, only 6% of recruiters active in social media found Facebook to be an effective recruiting tool.
Perhaps this is because Facebook makes it more difficult than many other platforms to source and engage with passive candidates and communities. In HR parlance, Facebook seems widely perceived as the “life” in “work-life balance,” a place to share with friends, not network with connections.
The Facebook Paradox
So far, employers have largely stayed on sidelines on Facebook, consigned to career-oriented “Fan Pages” that offer much in the way of extending employment brands and advertising new positions, but little in terms of the kind of meaningful interactions required to develop and engage top talent.
Of course, with 45% of employers performing social media background checks as part of the hiring process, many candidates don’t exactly want to be found, either. In fact, in recent source of hire data, the amount of hires attributable to Facebook seems dwarfed by candidates whose profile information revealed incriminating information that prevented an offer extension.
Until the benefits of visibility on Facebook outweigh the potential repercussions in the employment process, there’s little incentive for top talent to engage with employment professionals or brands.
In January 2010, users spent an average of 431 minutes on Facebook, or upwards of 14 minutes a day. With over 400 million users worldwide, it isn’t hard to see that there’s a potential goldmine of widely untapped, largely passive talent that makes Facebook too powerful a recruitment tool to ignore.
Yet effective best practices utilized on relationship building platforms such as blogs, Twitter and streaming video seem to fall flat on Facebook. To increase efficacy, employers need to stop making “fans,” and start making “friends” (and, ultimately, new hires).
Knowing the difference between fan and friend is essential.
Volume Versus Quality of Connection
While many businesses already have a fan site on Facebook, many approach these pages as a simple extension of an employment brand or career site. Maintaining a branded presence on Facebook generally suffices to attract “fans.” While many companies adjudicate quantity within the context of metrics analysis, attracting fans falls flat without dedicated content and a platform-specific engagement strategy.
According to Facebook’s own internal statistics, business related sites constitute just over half of the approximately 3 million fan pages within Facebook, generating an astounding 20 million fans per day; the site estimates pages have created 5.3 billion fans with users joining three fan pages a month.
The sheer volume of these statistics reinforces the notion that there’s little inherent meaning in having “fans” to the recruiting process, essentially undeveloped candidates unlikely to match just-in-time hiring requirements for open positions that constitute the majority of most career-related fan site postings.
Fans do, however, have significant value as active seekers; like all applicants, it’s incumbent on employers to qualify and develop those applicants into a slate of potential candidates worth additional due diligence. In Facebook parlance, these constitute “friends.”
Remember: “fishing where the fish are” only works if the “fish” are the loyal audience necessary to spread the word you want about your employment brand, corporate culture and job openings.