Implications of Twitter’s Biz Model for Social Recruiting

Since being founded in 2006, Twitter has constantly been on the hunt for a successful business model. The Wall Street Journal reports that they have finally settled on an advertising-based model. With their large and growing user base, this makes a lot of sense. However, the question is, what implications do these new changes have for companies using this platform in support of their Social Recruiting efforts?

Less Social Recruiting
On Twitter, most users are going to socially communicate about personal and professional topics of interest. This communication takes many forms: sharing content via links, asking & answering questions, and self-promotion. In many ways, the type of social engagement is similar to the status updates and aggregation via News Feed on Facebook. The major difference is that Facebook has gathered much more relevant information about each user. This allows Facebook to serve up targeted ads in the sidebar based not necessarily on what the user is doing or searching for at the moment (although I’m sure that’s coming), but rather what the user has already aligned himself/herself with. This can be as specific as geography, age, educational institution, relationship status, gender, employer, favorite movie, or favorite artist. You get the picture.

Twitter new business model is banking on users searching for desired information and being served relevant advertising-based tweets. In many ways, this is similar to Google’s existing business model. However, many users are seeking not necessarily destination information (Google) but discovered information (Twitter) by learning about specific subjects by socially engaging with other members. This dynamic suggests that Twitter would have more success inserting advertising-based tweets into the stream of popular users (The WSJ article briefly touches on this).

Popularity can be defined in many different ways and it is not necessarily about the number of followers because we all know that can be gamed or purchased. I’m sure Twitter has a robust analytics platform that allows them to zero in on which users are most responsible for their initial, ongoing, and continued success. Popular users likely have many followers that not only click on their tweets, but also engage in dialogue, and share their tweets with other followers. Given this influential base, sponsored tweets in the stream of these users could be very successful for advertisers. The key determination will be does a different user experience result in reduced user engagement & less social interation. If so, does that make it harder for prospective candidate and employers to gather mutually beneficial information for the purposes of recruiting?

Competitive Dynamics Emerge
As recruiters begin to get a better feel for how to be successful with their campaigns, the opportunity is available for competitors to talk directly to your prospective candidates. If your company has successfully built a large targeted following of candidates interested generically in your industry and specifically in your company, this gives your competitors an opportunity to purchase advertising in your stream. The more popular your community is, the more likely this is to occur. Let’s say your company is seeking to hire some amazing talent for an open position. Your company posts the position on your stream with the hashtag #jobs. A smart competitor could essentially hijack your talent community by purchasing a competitive advertising-based tweet in your company stream. Due to the integration of Twitter streams across a variety of affiliated sites like: LinkedIn, Facebook, company blog and career site, their tweet could definitely have an impact on the success of their recruiting efforts at the expense of yours.

While it is tough to say what the ultimate ramifications of these new changes will be on the ability for companies to successfully use this platform for Social Recruiting. There is no doubt that things are changing. In what other ways do you expect the new Twitter business model to have on Social Recruiting?

-Omowale Casselle (@mysensay)

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About the Author: Omowale Casselle is the co-founder and CEO of mySenSay, a social recruiting community that connects college students and corporations.

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Views: 88

Comment by Slouch on April 13, 2010 at 10:31am
I read about this on Techcrunch last night and managed to get in the 8th or 9th comment. This is what I said:

"Then they will have an option to charge the user to interface with twitter with no ads. Like so many things, it reminds me of Sylvester McMonkey McBean.

I’d pay to use it without ads."

I should have said I'd pay to use the ad off machine
Comment by Omowale Casselle on April 13, 2010 at 11:00am
That makes sense. I wonder how many others would be willing to do the same. If they are doing a cost per impression model, is the math better to monetize the user base via advertisers or will a hybrid model emerge in which some users can opt for an ad off subscription model?

From an individual user perspective this might work, but how much would an employer have to pay to ensure that the talent community they built isn't hijacked by a competitor?
Comment by Chris Brablc on April 13, 2010 at 11:41am
This is a really interesting move by Twitter. From a user standpoint, I could see this being really irritating.

I also agree with Slouch that I may pay to not see ads. I think Twitter may have better opportunities in offering a freemium model to users. Such as the base service that is ad-supported and free, the next level that is non-ad supported with a small fee and maybe another level for corporations that want a closed system in house that is more expensive. It may be a cool idea for Twitter to sell a site sponsorship each week to a new company and brand the twitter website with their colors and do a few other cool promotions for them which is very similar to what ERE started doing (granted with the proliferation of Twitter tools how many people actually visit the site that much anymore?)

Good Point, on competitors hijacking the community you built. I guess we won't know the implications until this is fully launched.
Comment by Omowale Casselle on April 13, 2010 at 12:03pm
Chris,

Tiered subscription model would be interesting. It would still paint employers into a corner. Do they purchase a closed system for themselves while simultaneously advertising to the ad-supported model? Users might wonder about the inconsistency.

I'm anxious to see how it all plays out, especially because I've found Twitter to be such a useful tool. A lot of the statements seems to suggest the founders don't seem to necessarily be behind the switch. But, I'm guessing the investors want to start recouping some of their investment and this seems like an adequate balance to achieve that goal.

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