Create an online community to be the hub of your social recruiting strategy

As I indicated in my popular post - The Social Recruiting Battlegrounds in 2010 - building your own online community will be a crucial part of successful social recruitment strategies in 2010 and beyond. Now whether you choose to do this via, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, a blog or via a specialist community platform, that will depend on your particular company and industry.
But how how do go about starting to build your very own online community?

First, remember what the essentials of social media and social recruiting are (for me anyway):
Listening | Engaging | Activity | Consistency | Time | Results

Now, here are my thoughts on how you go about starting to build your own online community:

1. Decide on your platform(s) that you are going to use for the community you are trying to create.
Now this may be as simple as creating a LinkedIn Group, if your community are mainly professional individuals (who still think Twitter and Facebook is to discuss what you eat for lunch every day!). This is very effective and remains focused, but will take some time to develop. Reaching a critical mass may take longer than other platforms. Twitter and Facebook are certainly faster ways of developing your own community but by their nature will likely be less focused than say a specific community platform like a Ning network (or other paid for community platforms). Starting a focused blog in your sector or industry is, for me, an absolute must. You can use this as a hub for all your social media / social recruiting activity, and can build a focused community this way.

2.Content. Content is key and you should look at creating interesting, relevant (and possibly thought provoking) content prior to seeking to grow your community. Then you have content to allow potential community members to make a decision whether they want to join your community. So for LinkedIn Group or your blog it would be a number of articles, or for Twitter and Facebook it would be a stream of tweets or interesting content you have posted. Make sure you rebroadcast your content through multiple channels to maximise your social media exposure.

3.Go tracking!. The people you need to find are out there in the masses of social media land - and YOU need to track them down. Without them you simply won't have a community. So use the many search tools out there (a separate post coming soon) to identify suitable people to join your particular community.

4.Get yourself some 'team leaders. Identify a group of individuals (they may already be friends/colleagues of yours) who know what you are trying to do, to act as champions within the community. They will have the sector/industry knowledge and will add content, initiate discussion, promote it and assist the community in developing it's own identity and presence.

5.Engagement. This for me is No.1! Remember you are competing with every other part of the social media world for the attention of your community members. Don't for one minute assume that just because they join your community that is it - it is only the start! Typically the social media user experience is to graze and taste not to sit down to a full three course meal. So you have to engage with them and just don't stop doing it. Remember what I started by reminding you at the beginning? Well this is the nub of building and developing a successful community....and it takes time and commitment....and lots of it!

6.Collaboration. This is also key to future success of your community. Create discussion, a project, an idea, a sub-group and get engaged and informed people to go with the ideas. Allow them to help enhance the community with these 'extras'. It won't detract from your mainstream community, it will simply add to its value. Be brave and actively allow it to happen.

7. Don't give up! As I have highlighted this all takes time, so don't give up - remember you started the community for a reason? Just keep reminding yourself of that if membership of your community is slow to start with. Just keep focusing on quality content and engagement with both existing and prospective members. Quality always rises to the top - even more so in the social media world - it is just that sometime people don't know quite how good it tastes, and it takes time to tantalise their taste buds!
Remember people join communities for a number of reasons - they buy into the values of what you're doing, they want to be part of a peer group or recognised sector or industry group of people, and they join to get something out of it for themselves (well we are all human after all!) - whether that be new contacts, relationships, business opportunities or maybe just industry knowledge.

If you are able to create and build your own online community, you will be expanding your ability to broadcast your reputation (brand, personal or both) therefore deriving a valuable source of candidates and (hopefully) clients for the future, whether that be by direct contact within the community or via referrals and recommendations.

Originally posted on my blog, Sirona Says.

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