Most Staffing Execs Are Horrible at Social Media. There, I Said It

168855344Yes, that headline is a gross generalization. And I use most” intentionally as there are a handful of staffing executives doing an exemplary job using social media to interact with clients, candidates, employees and brand advocates. It’s just difficult to find them.

To shed light on this marketing and brand-building opportunity that so many in our industry overlook, I spoke with three staffing industry executives who have successfully embraced social media. I asked them to explain why they, as longtime and highly successfully industry veterans, are certain that social media is well worth the effort. Here are their answers and insights into the value social media offers staffing businesses today.

Start and join key conversations. Andrea Pion, VP of national client programs at The DAVIS Companies, has plenty of innate curiosity when it comes to technology. It helped drive her to early social media adoption. “I am personally open to trying new technology and working to understand the driving need behind it. In terms of social media, I needed to see how hard or easy it was and learn all the ins and outs to understand what it could do for our business,” she says.

In the past few years of working on a number of platforms, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and even YouTube, Pion and her team have found social media to be a resourceful and strategic way to start important conversations with key audiences. Pion reports that her team has been able to interact with their candidates, customers and prospects much differently utilizing social media. “For example, a VP of Engineering we want to connect with may not be on active on Twitter. But, when we reference our social interactions with her or his company’s brand, it makes a good impression and kicks off a fresh conversation. It’s another way in the door,” explains Pion, who has seen many new business and recruiting doors opening for The DAVIS Companies since formalizing its social media strategy.

Forge greater connections with contractors and staff. Jenifer Lambert, VP of sales and marketing at TERRA Staffing Group, has found social media to be a highly effective tool for creating a greater sense of connection with two core staffing firm audiences as well: employees on assignment and internal employees. Lambert’s team has designated Facebook as their platform of choice to create community with their field associates. “One of the greatest challenges with a dispersed workforce that you don’t interact with daily is building community and reinforcing culture. Our Facebook presence is targeted toward accomplishing that goal. We share talent-side success stories, career tips, and photos of ‘life at TERRA’ to create a sense of connection across the company.”

PREMIUM CONTENT: Temporary Workers’ Job Board/Social Networking Usage

Gather customer and employee feedback. While many people talk about the value of engaging on social media, savvy business leaders have also discovered the value of sitting back and listening to what is being said. Melissa Phillips, director of marketing at EmployBridge Inc., has found that listening through social media channels has helped her team to improve how they serve clients and place candidates. “We also use social media as a customer service tool, not only to answer questions and assist employees but also to identify where we are getting referrals from our employees and where we are not. Being able to see how our employees discuss our jobs with friends and colleagues is helping us improve as a business,” she says.

Accelerate critical communications. Phillips has also been impressed at the way social media can facilitate stronger and faster communication with clients and staff.  It even helped during the snow storms in the south this winter, she says. “We were able to quickly and easily broadcast messages about closings and delays in various markets with particular customers. Our employees were actively using social media during these times and this allowed us to put our messages where they already were,” Phillips says.

Engage everyone in brand and business building. Pion also sees social media as an opportunity to engage everyone in the company in the process of building a strong, active and respected brand. “You need ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ to be credible in social media and building that up can be a challenge. We had a contest among our internal staff to see who could get us the most “likes” on Facebook. We ended up with several winners because they embraced advocating and sharing our involvement on social platforms,” Pion says.

Share real stories, real value. Social media is an information and idea delivery platform. You need content to fuel it and smart businesses are good at creating targeted content that their key audiences need and want. “Keeping content relevant and fresh is the continual battle,” TERRA Staffing Group’s Lambert explains. “Just posting job openings is boring and ineffective. Only sharing other people’s content is lazy and tired. We have found that the content that drives the best response and engagement to be the stories we curate about real people — our staff, our field associates and our clients.”

Measure and convert. Staffing is a metrics-driven industry in which ratios (interview-to-hire, time-to-fill, resumes submitted) offer important insight into placement performance. Social media also offers tracking capabilities that allow businesses a clearer view of the job market, job seeker behavior and client needs. “As a very metrics driven organization, we watched the numbers on social media. We could see that social media channels were becoming a key place where our employees and candidates were engaging. It was clear to us that we needed to be there too,” EmployBridge’s Phillips says.

One final and essential insight that each staffing executive underscored during our discussions was the importance of converting social media connections and conversations into legitimate recruiting and sales opportunities. “The whole point is to create conversion opportunities,” Lambert sums. “If the only interaction with your audience happens in that social media channel and they never come to your website where they can apply, submit a resume, fill out a contact form, etc., you’re just playing at social media. You are wasting your time. Make sure that your posts have calls to action that drive clients and candidates to your website — links to blog posts, links to job postings or links to other content on your website.”

And with these wise words from industry experts, my hopes for expanded social media engagement across the staffing sector are rising. Why would any business defer a chance at better communication capabilities, marketing insight, recruiting channels and brand building?

MORE: Social media takes center stage

Leah McKelvey

Leah McKelvey
Leah McKelvey is director, global enterprise operations, at Bullhorn. She can be reached at leah (dot) mckelvey (at) bullhorn (dot) com.

Leah McKelvey

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