The Best of SourceCon 2011, #4 — Five Fatal Social Recruiting Mistakes

Editor’s note: Shaly Steckerl’s article was the 4th most popular article on SourceCon in 2011. It originally ran in September.

Our Recruitment Genome Project demonstrated that 85% of surveyed staffing leaders utilize Social Recruiting avenues yet 70% of them lack any form of strategy. With all the choices available and potential legal, audit, or regulatory entanglements many recruitment leaders are confused or even paralyzed by fear. Hiring organizations know the recruitment world has made a dramatic shift, and recruiters know they need to meet prospects where they already are, but without a clear strategy many end up jumping blindly into social recruiting and make easily avoidable mistakes.

If you think the best way to recruit with social media is feeding your jobs RSS feed through Twitter but then get distracted with new entries into the social networking space such as Google+, we wrote this series just for you and hope this helps you avoid an epic #fail by falling victim to some of the most common mistakes.

A Broadcast is NOT A Conversation

Many business owners start posting status updates because they think that is all they need to do to grow their company online. But the way they do it cuts off any chance of having a two-way conversation. In today’s messaging marketplace, consumers want to be heard. If you are just talking to customers but not letting them to talk back and engage with you, then you are wasting considerable time and effort online.

When you go online and post in a status update area, do not just talk at or to people; speak with them. Tag people in a post and ask them a question. Tagging simple means that you write directly to a person on their Facebook wall or on their Twitter feed. On Facebook you put the “@” sign in front of their profile name; for Twitter this sign would go in front of their username.

Also, take a few minutes to stop by the “neighborhood” of each social site that you frequent and say hello, find out what your neighbors are up to, and post a quick reply. By actively engaging in these spheres, you keep your business top of mind.

Not Knowing When to Contribute and When to Recruit

Many online businesses have conducted conversations with their connections for quite some time now, without translating this dialogue into any sales. Some companies fail to ask for business online — or they ask too soon. You need to build some rapport first; people will buy from you only as much as they trust you. Set up a rule to convert conversation into clients or customers.

I follow the 3/3 rule, whereby I talk to someone no more than three times, for not more than three minutes on each occasion, freely offering tips, exploring another company’s branding or directly helping them, before I ask that person for some business. When I do the asking, I send the prospective customer a closing script or a post to indicate how I can help further.

Vulnerable to B.S.O.S. (Bright Shiny Object Syndrome)

With all the flashy new websites and with social networking capabilities changing by the minute, no wonder you are swept up in checking out a new site or a fresh feature when you go online. Instead of spending countless hours exploring new dazzlers, devote only a set amount of time each day or week to review the new happenings online. Otherwise you will be sucked into a vortex of shiny objects and before you know it your week is over and you have not converted any online relationships into profits. Flag interesting sites or novel capabilities in a folder or on your calendar to revisit later for research and development.

Haphazard Messaging

A consumer can become overwhelmed by dealing with all the wrong messages that have been crowding the Internet lately. Company owners are projecting the wrong image through what they say online. In some cases, their posts have absolutely nothing to do with their company, brand, or personality.

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Too many entrepreneurs do what I call panic posting — just posting for the sake of posting and sharing ideas that do not highlight their overall brand image. If you have a serious company, don’t post jokes and funny videos; instead post statistics and updates about your company’s team members. If your business has a relaxed image, inject humor into your posts; a funny YouTube video can go a long way.

Selling the Steak Instead of the Sizzle

Writing how much your product or services cost in a status update or post is not only a time waste, it is plain wrong. Would you walk up to someone before you have even introduced yourself and say that your latest product is now available at a certain price for a limited time? If so, you would probably end up not only talking to yourself (the person would walk away), but also you likely would lose the entire room of people as customers just from their overhearing your sales introduction.

Instead, try sharing the pros and cons about your industry or product category and ask people to provide feedback and participate. This is a great way to bridge the distance between you and your prospects and get them involved with your company’s brand. Ultimately, new-found fans will promote you without being asked because they feel included; the fact that you asked and listened goes a long way.

Whether yours is a one-person business or it has 150 employees, take time every month or quarter to examine your social media practices. You could save thousands of dollars and hours — and have more to show for it.

That’s it for our first installment, and a broad overview of general #fails around Social Recruitment. Stay tuned for the next piece focusing exclusively on the largest, most misunderstood and frequently ignored channel in the Social Recruiting ecosystem — Facebook!


This week we are counting down some of the most popular articles from SourceCon in 2011. We hope you enjoy revisiting these articles as we look ahead to 2012!

Shally is a globally recognized leader in Sourcing, Recruitment Research and Recruitment Marketing. He is a professional Speaker (NSA Professional member) often requested to speak about sourcing strategy and recruitment marketing. He is the founder of JobMachine, Inc. now EVP of Arbita, Inc. the premier provider of Sourcing Consulting Services and Research Training. Shally has built and/or advised sourcing organizations at over 200 companies like Microsoft, Google, Coca-Cola, Cisco and Motorola. He is Instrumental in modeling centralized recruitment organizations and has a reputation as an authority in Internet search, pioneer in recruitment research. Shally is frequently a contributor to top industry forums and often headline at leading conferences.

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