Last November, Facebook announced in a blog post a "significant decrease in distribution" of marketing and promotional posts from large brands.
Earlier in the year, research firm Ogilvy reported that these large brands' Facebook posts reached just 2 percent of their fans (a number that was falling by .5 percent per month). And earlier this year a Forrester study showed that on average, only .07 percent of top brands' Facebook fans interact with each of their posts.
Forrester analyst Nate Elliot writes in this blog post that these statistics mean Facebook -- and by association, other social media outlets brands use for marketing and promotional purposes -- have effectively killed social media's potential for organic reach.
That's terrible news if you're a marketing professional, but what are the implications for recruiters, hiring managers and HR professionals who regularly use social media to search for, engage with and hire talent? The fact is that social media still holds tremendous value for these hiring professionals. They'll just have to work a bit harder.
I'm Not Dead Yet
"While social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook may have gotten more crowded in recent years, it's far too soon to say that these sites have reached their saturation point. Recruiters across all industries still rely on social media to locate, vet and engage job seekers on a daily basis. Last year alone, 73 percent of recruiters successfully hired a candidate via social media," says Kimberley Kasper, CMO of job search site Jobvite.
"One key to leveraging the value and reach of social media is to evolve as the technology does," says Kasper. At its core, social recruiting is about going where your audience is, and especially with the millennial generation of job seekers, that can mean many different social media platforms.
"Even if some networks might become less popular with the younger workforce, new channels like Instagram or Snapchat are popping up to provide new avenues of engagement for recruiters. As social media evolves, so will social recruiting," Kasper says.
That also means spreading out your recruiting efforts using all the technology available, like mobile and even email. According to Forrester's Elliot, "Your emails get delivered more than 90 percent of the time, while your Facebook posts get delivered 2 percent of the time -- and no one's looking over your shoulder telling you what you can and can't say in your emails. If you have to choose between adding a subscriber to your email list or gaining a new Facebook fan, go for email every time."
Mobile, too, is nearly ubiquitous today, especially among younger job seekers, says Jobvite's Kasper. However, despite 43 percent of job seekers using mobile in their job search, 59 percent of recruiters currently invest nothing in mobile-optimized career sites.
"Job seekers are undoubtedly leveraging mobile to search for potential opportunities and if recruiters are smart, they'll tap into that. Recruiters can't be afraid to take advantage of the tech trends evolving in the industry. Often times, these trends offer untapped ways to connect with job seekers, and that's what recruiting is all about," Kasper says.
I Don't Like Spam
Of course, use caution when using email and social media. Nobody likes spam, and flooding potential candidates' social media feeds or inboxes with job postings can be a surefire way to kill the success of your social media outreach, says Emily Gordon, strategic director at Seven Step RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing).
"Every job seeker expects that your company will have a social media account, but it can be used against you if you're not using it well. That means your social media posts and activity must be relevant to the jobs available and the job seekers you're targeting. Instead of just blasting job postings every hour, you must work on placing a call to action and engaging candidates through creating a community," Gordon says.
That call to action should involve promoting your business as a great place to work, and touting the benefits and perks available for candidates who are hired, says Gordon. Make sure your business is one candidates seek out in their search by developing a community within social media, she says.
"For the most part, your average job seeker goes to a search engine and types in 'developer job Boston' and then looks at general listings for all different companies. What you want them to do is search specifically within your company for positions because they feel they're already part of that community -- the one you've built through social media outreach," Gordon says.
Doing so will go a long way toward attracting higher-quality talent that's already knowledgeable about your firm and knows they'll be a good fit, skills-wise and culturally.
Another way to create an engaged community is to leverage current employees and enlist their help reaching out to their own networks of friends, family and former colleagues, according to Jobvite's Kasper.
"Personal connections will continue to influence recruiting; 60 percent of recruiters report that their best candidates come from referrals. With employees getting the word out on open positions, companies can circumvent Facebook's imposed limits on brand engagement and still be effective with their social recruiting efforts," says Kasper.
So, while social media may have reached a saturation point for large brands' product marketing efforts, there's still plenty of opportunity for recruiters, hiring managers and HR pros, says Seven Step RPO's Gordon. Making sure your posts and your outreach are memorable, engaging and targeted can make your social media recruitments efforts wildly successful.