Facebook recently confirmed that Brand Pages would be able to have privately converse with fans, which sent social-media savvy recruiters into an excited flurry at this opportunity to reach out to potential candidates simply by them having liked their page. There has been some miscommunication and confusion around this matter, and unfortunately we've been reliably informed that this rather magical communication path is a dead end, at least in the context that many recruiters perceive it to work.
The new private messaging capability of Facebook brand-pages to fans is this: a person either sends a private message to your Brand Page (they don't need to be a fan to do this, depending on the settings that you choose on your Page) and then you as a Brand Page administrator can respond to that message or else you can choose to respond privately to a fan who has posted on your page (sharing or commenting are accepted as fan-initiated contacts). In a sense, it's quite similar to a Twitter DM - it's permission-based. The Fan or Facebook User HAS to initiate the contact, a Fan Page CANNOT just choose to message any of its fans or anyone on Facebook. Furthermore, correct as of today December 20th, this messaging capability is still in Beta and mostly only available in Asia while it's fully tested and streamlined.
For those of you who may have used or are still use the free "Messaging" facility that is available for Members to message each other, even if they are not "Friends", this only works if you have a common connection. Yes, it will always send a Message to the person you are targeting but:
While Facebook's motto seems to be "Ask for forgiveness, not permission", they seem to have taken their Data-Protection Commission slap on the wrist seriously, and opening up direct communication channels between Brand Pages and fans to send them unsolicited messages certainly is not what's going on here. Facebook, for the members' sakes, took the right approach and left it in the hands purely of the member to initiate conversation (much to the annoyance of us recruiters who would really like to be able to message the 800m + members for free!).
We at Social Talent are huge believers in Facebook as an employer branding tool, but 2012 is not going to be the year that Facebook replaces LinkedIn for sourcing candidates. The network is too closed off and private to trump all the other social places that are much easier to search and Facebook have little interest in adapting a "pay to search" model like LinkedIn.
If you wish to leverage Facebook as a recruiting tool, we recommend that you either create a Brand Page for the purposes of employer branding, showcasing your company's USP, your culture, fellow employees and your job vacancies or develop a Page or Group around a Community Interest. The most successful Facebook recruitment strategies come from companies who do the former - where the company highlights themselves and their vacancies and active job seekers apply to open jobs as advertised on the page. There are some great apps to integrate within your Facebook Brand Page that will enable you to advertise jobs and accept CV's.
Unfortunately, the data and communication channels available on Facebook member profiles are just not strong enough to support a gung-ho Facebook recruitment sourcing strategy. If you want to source candidates from social networks, your time is best spent on other social or professional networks that are easier to source from like LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Blogs. If your candidates are definitely not there or dont spend their time in these networks, then maybe, maybe Facebook is the right sourcing channel for you.
However, using Facebook to just plain talk to people....now, that's a different story!!