Is social media now a powerful HR tool?

Social media is transforming HR and recruitment

Fifty-eight percent of organisations in South Africa are using social media for recruitment, according to a 2013 SA HR Recruitment Trend Survey. This isn’t surprising given the increasing popularity of social media amongst South Africans, with at least 13 million using Facebook and 7.4 million on Twitter. While HR departments across the nation may be a little behind other countries like the US, when it comes to utilising social HR, they are increasingly embracing the latest technology available.

Social media in South Africa is evolving

Facebook and Instagram are the most popular social media apps in South Africa at the moment. In fact, Instagram has more than doubled its number of users in South Africa. Instagram may have once just been for people to post photos for friends and followers, but companies are now turning their attention to the image networking site. Around 42% of top brands are already using it for their marketing.

Understanding South African’s online activity

To enable organisations to effectively use social media for recruitment, HR Professionals need to understand the target market and how it uses social media. For example, nearly half of South African’s are regularly online and around 24% are active social media users across Web and mobile. Furthermore, the average South African spends just under five hours a day online.

When used correctly, social media can become a powerful tool to help companies achieve their HR and marketing goals

Why embrace social HR?

Social media allows key HR activities like recruitment, to be carried out on a much larger scale than before. It helps organisations to engage with a huge audience quickly, build brand awareness and target the best potential candidates, without a substantial extra cost. If companies want the top talented candidates to find them, then social media is essential.

It also gives recruiters a unique insight into a candidate’s behaviour, associates and background from their social media activity, whether the candidate realises or not. 

Showcase your brand

It’s never been more important for organisations to build a strong and robust employer brand. Social media can be used to strengthen and promote the organisation’s values and help to develop its reputation as a quality employer. Using platforms to share relevant and engaging content from existing employees and showcasing the work of the business, offers a real time insight into the company to a huge audience, while promoting a positive company culture to attract potential candidates.  

Reaching the right people

Social media has completely changed the way companies find and attract potential employees. There is no other way for an organisation to be able to precisely pin-point its perfect candidates in such a focused way that also gets results. This is particularly true with attracting passive applicants. These people may already follow the company or brand on social media networks.

A consumer base is also a potential pool of talent, which is why it’s vital that the business builds strong relationships with its consumers. Furthermore, it’s also imperative that whatever the outcome of the recruitment process, the experience is positive for the candidate to protect the organisation and brand’s reputation and continue a good relationship with the individuals.

Social media recruitment isn’t a one size fits all

Today, recruitment is fast and more targeted than ever before. It’s about building relationships and creating targeted, engaged communities, listening to people and nurturing an emotional attachment with new talent around your employer brand. But HR professionals in South Africa can’t just copy the latest US trends. They will have to come up with their own strategy, based on local needs. The days of using one way, mass targeting is long gone. And it’s not just about hitting as many social media platforms as possible either. After all, the number of social media sites is vast and growing all the time, but not all of them will be relevant.

Create brand ambassadors from within the organisation

Regardless of how many people you employ, you already have an existing network that can help you to spread the word. Employees should already be brand ambassadors for their organisations. Get them talking about the organisation on their social media, encourage them to share links to the company’s success stories and tweet job openings to their followers. But this is where you must also have a solid social media strategy. After all, it’s not helpful to the organisation if staff are criticising their employer online.

HR social recruiting strategy

Recruitment today is focused on creative strategy and niche targeting to reach the attention of the best talent out there. Once you’ve established a strategy, then it can be implemented across the organisation’s social media platforms. But for it to be effective, content needs to be up-to-date, relevant and interesting. Social media has transformed the way we communicate and now it is transforming the HR function too.

Jenny Holt is a US-based freelance writer and mother of two. She loves nothing more than getting away from it and taking her pet Labrador Bruce for long walks, something she can do a lot more now she’s left the corporate world behind.

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