Reach or engagement- Whats more important for employer brands?

While companies have focused on outreach as the most important social hiring metric, the buck doesn’t simply stop at going viral.

Jasper Visser is a digital strategy consultant; he helps organizations maximize their digital presence. What many do not know about Jasper is that he is also an excellent cook and loves house parties. Jasper would love to throw a party at his place some day; and even though Jasper is anything but a social recluse, one thing stops him. Jasper just does not know how to convince his friends that a Friday evening at his place will be worth more than the regular bar-hopping-club-dancing-drunken-revelry with strangers. He makes new friends every weekend; some even visit him once a while. While most of them find him a nice guy and his line of work gives him credibility, they are not sure about spending a whole evening at his place. What if it turns out to be a drag?

Jasper’s dilemma is typical of what most Indian organizations are facing in the social media space. Up until now, most Indian organizations have been looking at social media as a channel to “spread their net.” The assumption being, once an individual has visited the organization’s social media page, it will automatically trigger a top-of-the-mind-recall thereafter. That, unfortunately, is not the case! A 2012 Forrester Research global survey among top performing sales organizations to assess the typical behavior of online buyers reveals that less than 1% of transactions of new and repeat customers can be tracked back to social media.

Not surprisingly, social media experts have now started debating about what constitutes a more important metric for an organization’s social employer brand― reach or engagement. In a recent study conducted by Facebook, Tata Docomo stands at #1 among Indian organizations in terms of reach or “page likes.” In fact, 1 out of every 6 Indian on Facebook has liked the Tata Docomo page. While Sony features way down among Indian corporations in terms of reach, Facebook Analytics reveal that the Sony page is #1 when measured on terms of “engagement.” The engagement metric is calculated based on multiple engagement factors, including how many people actually view page updates, post content, or share activity. Experts argue that the only real metric of an employer brand on social media is engagement as it has the potential to trigger desired behaviors.

A 2012 social media survey in more than 500 organizations reveals that companies in India spend very little amount of time on social media branding with more  organizations spending less than 2 hours per week. Among the organizations that use social media for hiring, 53% use it for sourcing passive candidates. Social media experts reveal that the importance of passive candidate sourcing is only going to go up across the coming months. The two key social hiring metrics “time to hire” and “quality of hire” will depend on how well an organization is able to impress the passive candidate pool toward the organizational employer brand. Organizations have, therefore, started realizing that while the fixed costs and entry barriers on social media is low, the ROI of social media branding has to look beyond traditional metrics, such as outreach and “virality.”

Here are some tips on how to increase the engagement with your employer brand on social media:

  1. Understand the boundaries― Presence is social media gives an organization access to a large number of candidates and information sources. An organization needs to be careful about how and when to use the information to their advantage. There has to be a targeted strategy for outreach for the brand to make an impact on the intended audience.
  2. Investigate what impacts the audience― The employer branding message on social media needs to successfully communicate what a passive candidate wants to know in a short span of time. It is also important to conduct some web analytics to determine when and how the employer brand should show up on web searches, social media platforms, and portals.
  3. Have the right mix― There is no one-size-fits all strategy for social media branding. Employers who are only looking to maximize their social media reach should start questioning the fundamental assumptions of their branding strategy.
  4. Test, measure, and adapt― It is alright to go wrong the first few times. Success in social media branding, however, will depend on how an organization is able to measure their failures and quickly adjust there engagement strategy.

2013 will likely see more frenzied activity in social media hiring, and organizations will be scampering to increase their employer brand presence. Success of employer branding will depend not just on whether more people know about the organization, but really on whether the passive talent pool is able to understand the brand message, therefore resulting in greater number of conversions.

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