Content_Trumps_Social_Media_for_Staffing_CompaniesRecruitment planning — it’s time to prepare for the coming year

Now that 2015 has arrived, companies at the tops of their games aren’t just reflecting on strategies that succeeded or failed to deliver over the past year, they’re taking time to plan for the months ahead. It’s the perfect season to do so. The whirl and commotion of the holidays have settled down. Activity will be minimal as others have also taken a break to plot out their tactics. There’s room to breathe. Let’s capitalize on that.

For companies in the contingent labor space, the focus will continue to center on attracting and recruiting candidates with much-needed skill sets. Vacancies for in-demand positions persist across a lot of client organizations. Finding that exceptional talent requires a big commitment to launching targeted marketing efforts: today’s job seekers aren’t combing want ads or searching through traditional job boards such as Monster or CareerBuilder. And because these next-generation workers have placed a greater emphasis on an employer’s culture and vision, branding becomes a large part of those marketing campaigns. It’s a lot of work for any recruiter, hiring manager, or procurement officer. And the costs add up quickly.

So how can staffing professionals reach a wide audience without breaking the bank? It may be time to start prioritizing content over other sources, such as social media. That’s not to say other recruiting channels aren’t necessary or effective; they must be utilized. Yet by tapping into the same content-rich inbound marketing strategies that companies use to attract clients, we can promote a more compelling message to potential hires while saving money in the process.

Content will be king in 2015

Today’s talent exist in an unfathomably connected world through the expanding Internet, with real-time, on-demand access to vast repositories of information. Their online lives seamlessly integrate with their physical lives. Workers now access data through social networks, syndicated feeds, tablet newsstands, and personalized digital magazines such as Flipboard.

Content will continue to increase and permeate the digital world. In the next two years alone, analysts expect the amount of online content to double. Every company and every consumer seeking talent will become a media entity, enticing workers through content.

We tend to think of Gen Y and Gen Z as hyperactive multi-taskers with short attention spans. The reality, however, is that they pore over countless pieces of content online each day — not just headlines in Twitter. These content aggregators are certainly effective at capturing interest, and people will read long-form content if the subject appeals to them. This trend can only become more pronounced in the next digital age. Long-form videos, in-depth articles, podcasts, digital magazines and white-papers may quickly become the best ways to market interest in your company to future talent. Providing honest and detailed information will drive the talent to you and open the doors for socialization, interaction, and recruitment.

Social networks are getting greedy

Remember the spiel social networks pitched to us back in their salad days? Lower click rates than traditional media, yet so cheap to use that it would be well worth the effort. The social space has changed a lot since then. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others have evolved into pay-to-play services. Suddenly, low click rates seem more distressing now that rates aren’t so economical.

LinkedIn filters all the content displayed in its news feeds. Trying to gain thousands of followers is a time-intensive and potentially expensive undertaking, because if you’re not putting up the cash, there’s no guarantee that your posts are being seen by a fraction of these potential job seekers. LinkedIn, however, isn’t the only player in the space doing this. Other social media are following suit.

With Facebook, studies show, you’ll reach between one and three percent of your organic audience. And posts that are purely promotional will soon be downgraded again. To capture an admittedly slim margin of prospects, companies involved in recruiting will need to invest more of their budgets into Facebook.

And let’s not forget about Twitter. It doesn’t want to be left out in the cold, either. Its leaders are actively discussing content filtering, as well, which means your tweets might not appear to all of your followers. To ensure the level of visibility you expect, and think you’re getting, keep your corporate credit card handy.

It’s not just the anticipated costs that complicate social media initiatives, it’s the size. Social media are small; they impose word and character limitations on your postings. How can you effectively tell your story in 140 characters? Even with Facebook’s increase to 5,000 characters, that’s roughly 700 to 800 words, which add up faster than one might think.

Benefits of content over social media

Make your investment go further: Content does require a sort of upfront investment. If a professional copywriter within your organization spends eight to 10 hours composing a well-researched and persuasive blog post, the price tag can range between $800 and $1,500. If you’re hiring a freelancer, the average hourly rate is $30, according to WritersMarket rate data. On the surface, it would appear that you’re paying Cadillac rates for a feature post. However, articles of this nature have longevity — something lacking in the ephemeral world of social media, where posts are more akin to headlines and passing fancies.

A solid blog will endure. That story will continue to have use for a long time. And publishing the piece again, or creating new articles as derivative works, can reduce the initial cost to $100 over time, although its inherent value escalates in terms of responses.

A story, not a blurb: When you examine the bulk of social media posts, particularly on micro-blogging sites, you notice that no real story is being told — just headlines with links that may never be followed. There are strict limitations in character length, word length and formatting. Videos and images also have restrictions. You want to tell a story that will attract top candidates.

In today’s workforce, innovation and creativity are more than concepts buzzwords and sales coinage. Building a culture that encourages creativity and innovation is a mission-critical strategy for forward movement and sustainability. Creative mavericks are naturally imbued by an entrepreneurial spirit. Their interest in a job springs from a sense of mission, alignment of values, big picture visions and how they can make an impact. Titles, compensation packages and daily duties motivate them far less. They go the extra mile to be part of a company’s success and achieve the results outlined as part of the organization’s objectives. The more visionary the goals, the more creative mavericks strive to attain them.

It’s the story, not a headline or vague synopsis, that compels these innovators to consider working with your organization.

Content weathers the storms of change: Years ago, few people envisioned sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Plus, or even messaging services like Skype as bona fide recruitment channels. Today, we speak of them as necessities in the sourcing process. Technology changes at exponential rates. So do social networks. New channels appear, others evolve and many more simply die out. We can’t predict with any measure of certainty which social networks will come to dominate the landscape and which will fade away. However, that’s not a problem where content is concerned.

The content you create translates across all domains and platforms. You can pique candidates’ interest from countless devices: computers, tablets, smartphones, smartwear accessories and more. Your slideshows, podcasts, feature articles, and infographics can also be promoted on social networks in addition to the other sources you’re utilizing. Your content is universal, long-lasting and portable. If it exists, it can be published to any media, reaching any audience.

Create an inward flow that draws talent to your door

We’re rushing headlong into the age of the Millennials. A company’s name, job descriptions, and compensation packages are no longer the prominent selling points to in-demand talent. They want a captivating story, one that tells the tale of an employer’s commitment to its workers:

  • What is it like to work here?
  • What is the employee culture?
  • How are the benefits, perks and work-life balance?
  • How supportive is management?
  • What are the career paths and advancement opportunities?

Since 2006, according to HubSpot, inbound marketing has been the most effective method for online business efforts. Just think of the semantics behind the terms themselves. Outbound implies pushing, repelling, moving activity away from your organization. Inbound evokes a sense of gathering, attracting and embracing. It’s personal and welcoming.

We don’t eat at unfamiliar restaurants because of boilerplate ads placed in the local paper; we go because of the stories their patrons tell us in their online reviews, blogs, and websites.

Where outbound marketing methods require buying ads, email lists and hoping for leads, inbound marketing focuses on the creation of quality content that pulls candidates toward your organization — it explains to talent why they’ll want to be a part of your team. Elite staffing firms know how to align the content they publish with the interests of the candidates you’re seeking, creating an inward flow that naturally attracts prospects who can then be converted, hired, and delighted over time.