Who’s King Now? Content or Conversation?

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In the history of talent acquisition has it ever been as much about content as it is now? In fact, as recruiting has become more social over the years and talent acquisition pros have moved first toward forums, then blogs, then social networks and finally talent communities and networks, recruiting has dovetailed more strongly with marketing than traditional sourcing or HR practices.

However, while we’ve oft heard the phrase “content is king”, many recruiting trainers and professionals are realizing that while good content is still important, it may have been toppled from the top of the hill by conversation, something that many recruiters are more than familiar with.

In fact, social has changed the direction of content programming. To be sure content marketing is still a cornerstone of any branding and attraction campaign, but the pieces are getting shorter and the questions asked of the audience more complex. This conversation starting has the added bonus of doing what it’s always done in the headhunting world, qualifying candidates. If a professional can’t speak knowledgeably about their industry or position, then why move them forward?

The only difference is that now the conversations are happening online, with one another, in communities and over social networks. The case could be made that many of the products that have invaded the HR technology space over the last five to seven years have in some form or another, been leading to a conversational continuum, rather than the content engine which we’ve been led to believe is the future. Even content marketing advocates admit, content is just the beginning:

Remarkable content doesn’t just get customers and prospects talking; it also gets your internal clients buzzing. It gives colleagues something to share with one another, something to debate, or something to challenge. It opens doors, rings phones, and makes heads gopher over cubicle walls. It also provides you with an opportunity to recruit advocates and participants.

Take this grid, which lists the many ways in which content can be used for B2B marketing (again we see the parallels to recruiting here) many of them are simply conduits for creating a conversation (webinars, articles, blog posts, videos, games, etc). By this reasoning, we can safely say that content is no longer king in the talent acquisition and attraction game, conversation is. Blog Social-Hire says this:

Engaging rather than selling. Social media provides the means to start a conversation with candidates who could be of interest as hires, or who could be advocates who spread the word about your roles to others. Too many use social media as simply another advertising channel for pushing job adverts – and in the process only scratch the surface of the potential this new medium offers.

Put another way, engagement is the name of the game now and not just in the walled gardens of an internal corporation. Now engagement must happen even before the interview, indeed before the application. Companies are required to use their considerable marketing heft, cultural plusses and more to attract people who may or may not want to work there. Big mandate and one that the C-suite is just starting to see a return on.

While conversation and engagement have long been the talked about goal of HR practitioners for quite some time, it’s only recently that practices and investment have followed the line so clearly. Content? or Conversation?

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space. Hogan speaks and writes on all career and workforce related subjects. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and SMBs around the globe. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B Marketing Agency that serves clients in the U.K., Africa, China, Israel, Europe and North America. Primarily focused on the Human Resources and Global Workforce vendors, Red Branch Media handles clients of all shapes and sizes.
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