This article originally appeared in the Fordyce Letter on August 11, 2015

Social media has created new and exciting ways for companies to interact with job seekers, but sometimes progress brings pain. With so many conduits for candidates to access information about your company — social media, search engines, personal networks and all forms of user-generated content — managing an effective digital ecosystem is causing some organisations grief.

Optimising social platforms for recruiting requires more than just posting jobs, sharing content on Twitter, or creating a Facebook page. It’s also about understanding candidate behaviour, creating timely, topical, and engaging content, and then making sure search engines can find it. Organisations that gain expertise in search strategy, understand candidate behaviour and deliver content that motivates candidates to action can find success and convert digital pain to digital gain.

As your company amps up its social recruiting efforts, powering through learning curves requires understanding the sources of your organisation’s pain and how to alleviate them.

Here are some tips for how to diagnose some of the common problems you may be experiencing — and how to fix them:

Organisational inertia

It’s no longer a question of ‘should we have a social presence?’ but ‘how can we get started and where should we be active?’

So, what’s the hold up? In some cases, it’s fear of the unknown or the perception that it takes too much time and effort to effectively execute a social recruiting strategy. In other cases, it’s fear of being first or making visible mistakes. But progress requires risk, and waiting will keep you from connecting with and engaging the right talent before your competition.

Candidates are using social platforms in their everyday lives and every minute of indecision is a missed opportunity to get your company and jobs in front of top talent. Don’t let fear of failure stop you from incorporating social recruiting into your strategy.

Unrealistic expectations

One source of pain stems from not understanding that social recruiting is an iterative process. Overnight successes are rare. Expecting an immediate return on your investment will limit your ability to be truly transformational in your approach to sourcing and recruiting candidates.

Unlike an advertisement or job posting that is ‘live’ for a limited time, social interactions are ongoing and not easily controlled. Keeping a candidate’s attention requires commitment to continuous content development and the resources to manage social channels. Embrace the notion that social recruiting success requires stamina and a long-term vision. You need to have a deep pool of interesting and relevant content, a willingness to allocate proper fiscal and human resources, and a commitment to stick with it for years. It’s a building process that requires prioritising requirements and refining the strategy over time. Ultimately, it’s about influence and employer brand delivery.

Lack of access to data

Understanding the most effective sources for candidates requires data. Many organisations either don’t have access to accurate data or have data coming in from too many disparate sources, making it difficult to know which platforms are producing the best candidates.

Make sure you have access to accurate data and can make decisions based on factual information. Knowing where candidates come from, the platforms where they are most active and how much the organisation is spending per hire should not only influence the recruiting strategy, but ensure budget is allocated to those platforms that drive competitive advantage. Don’t do what you have always done because it is comfortable. Do what the data tells you will drive success.

Wrong or inexperienced resources

Developing and managing your social presence requires resources that have the bandwidth, expertise, and creative skills to not just create content, but keep social interactions fresh and engaging. These managers also need the ability to interpret data and create content that resonates with job seekers.

No content creation or distribution strategy 

Success in social media is about creating content and conversations that candidates find interesting and want to engage in -– not just broadcasting messages you want them to hear. Free monitoring tools such as SocialMention, Google Alerts, and HootSuite can provide insight into what candidates are saying about jobs, careers and your company. Don’t forget to check your Glassdoor reviews too!

Not knowing the terrain

While content creation is paramount, alleviating digital pain means placing it on the right platforms at the right times. To understand what presences you need to establish, get to know your target audience and understand search behaviour.

Are candidates more active on Twitter or LinkedIn? Are they conducting geographical searches or searching based on functional skills? Are they engaging on Instagram, Pinterest or both? It’s important to understand where candidates are active because some networks may perform better than others for your organisation.

Remember, too, that social media is fully mobile and should be a key part of your overall digital strategy. Think about how candidates navigate your careers site using their mobile devices. Can they watch videos to understand what a day on the job is like or to meet people who work for your company? Can they access a maps function to learn about where the jobs are located or amenities nearby? Is all of this content easily shareable on candidates’ own social channels? How are you matching content to jobs and jobs to content?

Taking all these factors into account, organisations can create social recruiting strategies that are unique — and uniquely effective — to their target candidates, industry and circumstances. In a world of countless channels and fierce competition for talent, it’s an approach that’s necessary — and need not be painful.

Senior Vice President, European New Business

Steve is a fizzing, over-caffeinated whirlwind. And that's no bad thing. Just spend just five minutes in his company and you'll catch a dose of his infectious enthusiasm for all things digital. 

Steve works closely with agency teams around the world to explore, develop and implement strategic initiatives, leveraging social media, new technology and innovative employer brand delivery channels. Needless to say, he is a prolific tweeter, where his feed is split between news from the world of employer branding, recruitment, digital tech and Bruce Springsteen.