Emerging Best Practices in Social Media: Networks 2.0

While Talent Communities (see earlier post) are appropriate for targeting some populations, others are better addressed by a networking approach. When segmenting a workforce, it is clear that some groups are less likely to participate in a talent community.  Not every job category is interesting or unique. Surprise! These segments might represent a broader range of jobs, perhaps with overlapping responsibilities. They may be in customer service, account management, or operations. The list goes on. The point is, there are large groups in our workforce for whom a talent community is not an effective recruiting tool.

The good news is that the most popular social media are well suited to address such challenges. The big picture objective is to turn your organization into a recruiting machine using online networking tools – that is, trough internal referrals. Referral programs have been around forever, but this is not an old-school referral program where (a rolling) 25% of your employees are engaged at any given time and 75% are on the sidelines. Through social media, those numbers should reverse themselves. But better (SM) tools are only part of the game, process improvements are critical. Combined effectively, organizations accustomed to sourcing 30% of hires through a referral program, should be targeting a 50-60% range using social media.

How? First, remember that SM is not SEO. This is a design issue – forget about SEO while designing the networking strategy. The focus is on expanding the number and depth of relationships of your existing workforce, across all facets of the organization. This includes a reward plan that goes beyond “selling us your friends” and includes a relationship-orientation transcending the transactional recruiting process in place today. That is, when someone is introduced to your  recruiter by an employee, you can’t get away with telling them they don’t fit into any current openings and brushing them off. There has to be more.

This transactional recruiting paradigm creates a natural tension between branding and recruiting. Recruiting’s transaction focus equates to failure on the branding front and is driven by legal concerns. There should be some tension between the legal department and recruiting, but HR has generally failed to assert its needs. This is a topic for another day, but given the ubiquity of social media and the probability that all employees will engage in SM (with or without company approval) addressing the legalities in a new way is a given. You can either get ahead of it or let it happen to you.

The set of issues in a Network 2.0 scheme are broad, but can be overcome fairly easily. Our tendency is to focus on the technical side, but the work needed for effectiveness are in the non-technical side – the selection and follow-up processes. Technology is easy. In fact, your employees are already using it – albeit for their own purposes.


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