Woman pressing social button with one handThis might hurt: Facebook is more than 10 years old. Launched originally as thefacebook.com, it has been around since February 2004. Twitter is eight years old. LinkedIn is celebrating its 11th birthday this month. Brand “new” social darling WhatsApp will have turned five by the time you read this.

Clearly, social media isn’t new. Everyone is using it on every device in every place with every industry. It’s not tomorrow, it is very much now. There is nothing left to wait for. So let’s get serious about how social media supports your talent acquisition efforts.

Every channel will tell you that theirs is the most important, most impactful, most powerful network, so we’ll stay away from a discussion of channel selection. We’ll just assume that you (like almost everyone else) have a few preferred channels that you’ve set up and use. Like starting a band—knowing you have a guitar, a bass and some drums doesn’t mean you’ll sound like the Beatles, the Police or Green Day. How you use these instruments determines your sound. In the same way, how you use these channels determines your likelihood for success.

We have seen many companies in and out of the talent acquisition industry use social media with great success. And we’ve seen some less successful implementations. In the end, they boiled down to two basic ideas on how to use social media.

Post and Pray

Yes, the term is a holdover from the day of posting job ads everywhere without the tools to determine if they were driving applications. But let’s be fair: There’s a good chance you’re doing the same thing with your social channels.

Let’s take a quick quiz: If I took your last 10 posts to social media, could you tell me who you expected to read that post? Could you say what you wanted that person to learn or feel after reading the post? Was there a clear call to action from that post? If you included a link, did the place you linked to have a clear next step?

How did you do? Yes, social media is a place that practically begs you to post links to “interesting and amusing” things you find on the web, things that may or may not align with your employer value proposition. You may have posted things just to keep your company top of mind for your followers and fans. And, those are all valid strategies. But if none of the last 10 posts has a single targeted audience, with a clear intention and call to action, what you are doing is posting stuff for the sake of posting stuff. Maybe “post and pray” is being too kind. Perhaps “post and post some more” is more accurate.

Internal Quantcast metrics suggest that people who see an ad for your job on a non-social platform and then see another ad for your company on Facebook are 50 percent more likely to apply than people who just see one or the other. You may be using your social platform as a means to augment your other channel strategies. But those Facebook ads are targeted and have a clear call to action. None of those Facebook ads just have a picture of kittens with a call to action that just says, “Hey! Kittens are cute!” They may not be the thing that creates the click, but they still abide by the rules of good marketing.

Connect and Capture

The alternate strategy is only subtlety different from Post and Pray. But it’s a subtlety that’s crucial. Where Post and Pray takes a more willy-nilly approach to content selection, Connect and Capture has a bit more planning to it.

Connect and Capture presumes that you know who you want to attract; that you know what those people will be interested in hearing; that you have things you can say to those people that they will be interested in; and provides an easy way to convert that interest into an application. Without these items in place, Post and Pray is the only social media model available to you.

But if you have these items prepared and established, your social media efforts will adjust slightly. Sure, you’ll still throw in a few “interesting and engaging” links that are only sort of connected to your brand, but mostly your posts will be connected to a bigger idea, that of getting the right person interested in you.

This model is called Connect and Capture because it isn’t just about engaging. If all you wanted to do was engage people, you could just hire a comedian and someone to churn out captions over pictures of baby animals. Connect and Capture knows that all this activity is designed to get that prospect to follow the path from interest to engagement, then from engagement to learning and finally to deciding to give their contact information. While some people give up their contact information to get more animated gifs, those probably aren’t the people whose contact information you really want.

The best candidates don’t give up their information quickly or easily. They take their time. They get to know you before they apply to a job or become part of your talent pool. They know that as soon as they give up that information they are subject to all sorts of spam-like contacts, so they are judicious about who they connect with.

This demands that you plan out the entire process, knowing that what will interest your next rock star customer service representative will not be the same thing that draws in your next regional vice president. “Everyone” loves a cute puppy, but that’s not going to get your new and best financial analyst to apply.

Without this planning, there’s no reason in the world you won’t be spending time engaging my grandmother. She’s 86, lives in Florida and hasn’t worked in more than 20 years. But she’s on Facebook, so there no reason why you might not snare her in a Post and Pray strategy. Would anyone consider that time and effort well spent? Not even close.

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