I believe the jury is still out on the "is social media a good thing or a bad thing for corporate recruiting" question.  Everywhere I turn, I see recruiting departments dipping toes, jumping in or even diving into social media.


But after reading an article on Mashable recently I think there may be an unintended consequence of this rather awkward entry.

Enter my new favorite word: Badvocate

The author of the article,  Maria Ogneva, defines "Badvoates" as the folks who spread negative comments about you with their networks.

Here's a similar definition I found but with some "emphasis":


Keep me honest here as I lay out my logic for tying this word to the world of corporate recruiting.  Here's the recipe that's causing my concern:

  1. Take one web 1.0 process (on line job advertising, on line applying and the black hole of recruiting) that has historically created ill feelings among for users of the process. (recruiters are overwhelmed with unqualified applications and job seekers are underwhelmed by  the experience they have with employment brands)
  2. Add social media (which in this example is like throwing gasoline on a lit BBQ) and it's ability to distribute the process in (1) above to far reaching corners of the webisphere.
  3. RESULT: dramatic increases in the potential to create "Badvoates" of our employer brand.

So there's the recipe for disaster from a "Badvoacte" point of view.  Instead of things getting better, things can really go south for an employer brand.  I'm seeing this in the research I do daily on job seeker experience with employer brands and social media.  The promise of social media is far from being recognized by most companies because they didn't change the ingredient #1 in the recipe above before they jumped into the pool!

So how can we save the employer brand from this recipe for disaster?  To begin with, we have to be able to "listen" to the voices of both Advocates (people who are fans and vocal about your employment brand) and Badvocates (the opposite). Not an easy thing to do when the "Market" looks like this:



There are many ways to "listen" to the way people speak about your brand in the marketplace.  Some are as easy as setting up Google alerts and some are as complex as "listening" software programs.  I'll try to give you more specifics in a future post.  Just know that "listening" and "responding" are two KEY ingredients in my edited recipe for social media success:

  1. Get your 1.0 process dialed in.  Make the candidate the "customer" and simply commit to provide the best experience possible for ALL applicants (not just the ones you "like" to use a Facebook analogy) using your ATS (YES it CAN do this) and your process (YES you CAN do this for high volume hiring)
  2. Set up your "listening" strategy.  Be prepared with a handbook of how to handle Badvocates (there will always be detractors) AS WELL AS Advocates!  Here's one of the secret ingredients to success; find the advocates and amplify THEIR voice in the market.  Remember, as a company, what you say about your brand is met with skepticism and lack of believability.  What my FRIEND says about your brand is what matters to ME!
  3. Architect your individual social media strategies (Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc.) with ENGAGEMENT as the purpose - NOT broadcasting.  Remember, if you put it out there and people act on it and have a terrible experience, they will tell 15 friends who will tell 15 friends etc. (remember the FABERGE commercials? Faberge \"tell friends\" commercial)
  4. By ENGAGING (creating content AND consuming content) in social media, you'll be able to HEAR (through your listening strategy) the noise (both positive and negative) and adjust your strategies and techniques to skew the conversation.

I hope this has caused you to re-evaluate OR actually EVALUATE any jumping into social media for recruiting.  Read the article from Mashable!

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