I must admit that, while I have been thinking for a while about the fact that something was broken with the way we approach social media strategies for recruitment (broad term, includes brand awareness, sourcing …), my thoughts did not come clear until very recently.
When you think about it, there is not much “social” in social. I mean corporations broadcast their voice like they have been doing for quite a while —only now, they do it on social networks. Does this make it social, I'm not sure. Is it a step toward social? Definitely.
Events & news on career websites were probably the most boring thing ever. Hardly updated, hardly interesting and for most of the applicants—with no feedback potential. How many sites have you come across whose latest news update was two years ago? (yes, same here).
Social networks did provide room for improvement, not only because your target audience was there already (which was a tremendous leap forward compared to trying to drive them to your own website) but also and above all—because it came with a commitment: whatever social network(s) companies choose to have a presence on, they need to feed over the long term with a decent frequency (I know, define "decent"). Not much has changed technically from "events & news", most of the content companies put on Facebook today, they could have posted yesterday on their own web properties, only Facebook comes with huge potential exposure and accordingly expectations which tend to raise the bar in terms of quality.
Now there's a social component (duh! of course Tom, social networks you said) in the fact that people can interact with the company, react, comment, ask questions: that's obviously yet another plus.
And yet, I don't think it's good enough. “Why? You will ask. Well, here are your options:
A/ company pages / feeds / accounts have a limited reach
B/ it's still the company talking
C/ corporations tend to stick to what's politically correct in what they say
D/ corporations tend to post about what is of broad interest, potentially missing surgically targeted content that might interest niche populations
D/ applicants have long said they want to talk to "the real people" (in their own words, understand "not HR")
E/ all of the above
Most often, it's an E.
All of us social networkers are curators of some kind; our topics are our family, our friends, our hobbies, our work. Our community potentially follows/connects with us on different networks for different reasons, we all know that.
The comments made by employees about the company they work for will shape the brand to their community. Not saying anything about your company probably means there's nothing to say about it (which is obviously not the case). We should make sure that employees have access to content they can select from to feed their own audience. True Social revolves around the idea that every single employee should be considered as a community manager (even if his/her community is tiny) -- way beyond referrals programs.
Companies should admit that the "work content" one will post to twitter will be very different from the work content another will post to LinkedIn and, more importantly, that the work content one will post to twitter will be very different from the content the company itself will post on the exact same network. You have to trust them; they know their audience, they will make the best possible delineation out of the content you will make available.
Or maybe THEY will make the content available? What if, on top of broadcasting, they also produced the content? They know what the company is about, they interact with vendors, clients, competitors, they read professional papers, they write professional papers … All you have to do as a company is make sure the content they write or recommend is consistent with what you want your brand to stand for.
True Social is about “many-to-many” and while it's already been a long journey from one-to-many, while I do admit few-to-many was probably a necessary stopover, we haven't reached our destination yet, far from it to be honest. That's probably why we're in business.