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Rules of Engagement in a digital world

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Rules of Engagement in a digital world

  1. 1. Rules of engagement in a digital world A BlueSky PR Think Tank Report
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION In the summer of 2015, BlueSky PR brought together a group of marketing professionals from the recruitment and talent management sectors to discuss both the challenges -and the opportunities - provided by the myriad of different channels through which we can now all engage. How are firms using these different channels? How are they tracking success - and what measurement tools are they using? The findings presented here are the results of a think tank which brought together a number of senior managers and directors responsible for marketing to discuss the rules of engagement in today’s digital landscape. The Delegates:  Ash Bakrania, Head of Global Marketing - Arrows Group  Ilana Como, Brand & Marketing Manager, Alexander Mann Solutions  Justin Firth, Marketing Manager - Just IT  Lisa Jones, Director, Barclay Jones  Max Richardson, Digital Marketing Manager - Rethink Recruitment  Charlotte Smith, Marketing Manager - Venquis  Stephen Smith, Associate Director, MarComms - Clinical Professionals  Glenn Southam, Marketing Manager- Staffgroup  Helena Sullivan, Marketing Director - The SR Group The Facilitator:  Tracey Barrett – Managing Director – BlueSky PR The key themes:  How are firms using social media channels?  How is success tracked and measured?  What social media policies do recruitment firms have in place?
  3. 3. The Challenge: Strategy and goal setting “We need to be asking ourselves, what's our goal Because when you’re competing for eyeballs, you have milliseconds - your message needs to be really clear." While all firms recognised the importance of building up engaged audiences, some were further down the line than others when it came to strategic goals and measurement. "We spend a lot of time generating content and posting, but in terms of measuring what the ROI is, we are not quite there yet”, said one delegate. Others tried to look strategically at the best use of each channel in order to segment audiences. "We use Facebook for our own employer branding and EVP, Twitter for interacting with communities and associations - so things like engaging with relevant conference and exhibition hashtags - and LinkedIn is our business development tool for engaging with clients and candidates,” said another delegate. "We have looked at Pinterest and Instagram, but we are not sure what they would add at the moment, it's about looking at what resource you have in the business and deciding the best use of that resource." What became clear during the discussion is that whatever strategy is employed, it takes a real investment of time before you begin to see any return. “You have to build up a following, by creating content and testing it, before you can even see if it is going to work." Segmenting messages to the right audience is clearly key, as is setting objectives and goals. “We need to be asking ourselves, what's our goal? Is it candidate attraction? Client acquisition? Is it brand awareness? Because when you’re competing for eyeballs, you have milliseconds - your message needs to be really clear." Establishing the facts However, it seems that often, there is a step being missed out. "We work in an industry that is very into what is happening here and now and so consequently there are often a lot of assumptions made. We have a wealth of contacts and data at our fingertips and so before we even embark on developing a social media strategy, we should be asking questions of our candidates and clients to find out which platforms they use and what they use them for -
  4. 4. and crucially at what times of day they are using them. That would be a sensible first step before jumping in with both feet". While historically, before the era of social media, consultants knew that the best time to have conversations with candidates was after work, it seems that today’s consultants are not capitalising on the disruption that social media on mobile has brought. “Why aren’t we scheduling lots of content that would make their journey to and from work more productive? How many people do you see looking at their phone on the train – that’s when they are going to be at their most engaged so we should be grabbing the opportunity.” There was a sense that the recruitment sector often jumps on the bandwagon with strategies based on trying not to lose market share – rather than thinking about how to gain it. “Corporate in house recruiters are on the offensive – investing in technology that will help them save money on the recruitment process whereas the agency market normally won’t invest until they think their market share is being eroded.” Clearly then, there needs to be a realignment between what the recruitment firm has to say – and when and how potential talent wants to hear it ! The content mind-set “The content is written by someone in the marketing team so that it is on brand - but the information has been downloaded from the guys on the ground. You can get a lot of information from a 20 minute coffee with someone.” There was absolute consensus around the table that the only real differentiator from the rest of the noise out there is high quality content. But curating that authentic content is another matter altogether and it appears that bridging the gap between sales and marketing is really important. The challenge however, is not only that recruitment firms are full of sales people who don’t think like marketers, but also that a lot of agencies are led by entrepreneurs who don't think like marketers either. "They will hire a marketer because
  5. 5. they realise they need one, but they don’t really understand it and so it’s hard to get their 100% buy in. What they really should be doing is saying to their sales people: ‘You know what, part of your KPIs are going to be around the business intelligence that the marketing department needs to do its job properly’. That’s the bit that is missing at the moment." One of the firms represented had tried to implement this very recently: “Team leaders have to provide me with a certain amount of content or ideas for content every quarter - and this activity is built into their performance ratings. It is led from the top - and without that KPI in place, the expectation is that they will just do it out of the goodness of their hearts -- and that is never going to happen." Another delegate explained how at their firm, the marketing department interviews consultants: “The content is written by someone in the marketing team so that it is on brand - but the information has been downloaded from the guys on the ground. You can get a lot of information from a 20 minute coffee with someone - because with the best will in the world - they are not going to sit down and write a blog when they have calls to make and fees to get on the board! Also, when it’s published it really massages their ego!" Others cited the use of video blogging – after all this is a people business, while another firm asked for bulletpoints from consultants on a particular subject which was then turned into a blog: “The content is theirs – but the words in terms of what we want it to communicate is ours!” Clearly then the content mind-set has to work both ways with marketers having the ability to tease the information they need out of recruiters – rather than just expecting them to do it. And that’s about asking lots of questions – not just of recruiters – but of clients and candidates as well. “Team leaders have to provide me with a certain amount of content or ideas for content every quarter - and this activity is built into their performance ratings. It is led from the top - and without that
  6. 6. KPI in place, the expectation is that they will just do it out of the goodness of their hearts -- and that is never going to happen." Measuring the ROI "The ROI piece is multi layered - recruiters will want to see something they can use right now - if they are getting more views on their LinkedIn profile - that’s something that they can convert into something more useable". So what are the tangible benefits of all this social media activity and how is it measured? Getting buy in from the consultants to like and share the content sparked a lot of debate with many admitting that it was hard to get buy in. “We literally just send a link to everyone asking them to like and share – all they have to do is click – you have to make it easy for them!” One delegate explained how he shared the LinkedIn data that was generated from likes and shares which showed engagement, better leads and email response rates going up. "This encouraged them to do more of it - it also built into the competitive nature of consultants - they were vying to see how many likes and shares they could get for content!" However what became clear from the discussion was that the ROI piece will be different depending on what level you are at. A leader will want to see a tweet turn into a placement while more realistically, for consultants, it could be something as simple as an increase in the number of personal profile views. "The ROI piece is multi layered - recruiters will want to see something they can use right now - if they are getting more views on their LinkedIn profile - that’s something that they can convert into something more useable". Most delegates (because they were marketers) agreed that if someone has been looking at their LinkedIn profile -- and they were relevant - then the first thing that they would do would be to reach out and engage. However, it seems that many consultants won’t do that
  7. 7. unless it meets an immediate need - and it was felt that this needed to change if the sector was going to really start building tangible talent pools. “A leader will want to see a tweet turn into a placement while more realistically, for consultants, it could be something as simple as an increase in the number of personal profile views.” The right type of engagement “It’s like our eyes have met over a crowded room and now you're launching yourself at me with your flies undone! However, reaching out has to be done in the right way and just because someone has looked at your profile does not automatically mean that they are interested in a role or a candidate. One delegate put it very well: “It’s like our eyes have met over a crowded room and now you're launching yourself at me with your flies undone! We need to give consultants the right content - and the ability to use it the right way to engage in an appropriate manner - just in the way you would engage at a physical networking event.” Clearly then, engaging online is not about selling, but the art of networking for many consultants seems to be dying out. "Many recruiters do not often leave their desk – if they went to a networking event they wouldn’t rock up to someone and say hey, you look like a great candidate, they would talk and ask questions – so why can’t they engage like that online? Some felt that consultants didn’t really understand the difference between push and pull marketing. “They need to move from a 24 hour strategy to a 12 month strategy and understand that if they engage properly through a good content strategy than all they have to do in 12 months’ time is post a job!” Many felt that this was partly the job of the marketing function as having built up an audience it falls to marketing to keep that audience engaged. “We need to be giving consultants content to share and help them to engage by providing them with useful
  8. 8. updates – we can’t just put people on a database – we need to keep talking to them – it’s just as important as attraction strategies – in fact it’s more important.” Consultants as marketers But is this apparent short termism from consultants indicative of a more fundamental issue – that of a firm’s hiring strategy? “We as marketers understand that building a brand is a long term process – that it’s an incremental culmination of a lot of different touch points. As marketers we are often just one – or at best, a few, voices in a sales driven organisation so it’s really about what type of people we are bringing into the business. Often we are bringing them in as sales people and we don’t even think to question their marketing mind- set – the two should go hand in hand.” So should marketing departments be pushing for this mind-set to be very much part of the employer brand – and will leaders respond by hiring consultants who can execute sales – but who think like marketers? And do those people exist? “Until we can prove that the marketing effort can generate fees then influencing the employer brand in that way is going to be an uphill battle.” Tracking Success “Someone might well be following us on Twitter – and that has been their first touch point and then they see an ad on a job board so the source for that fee goes to the job board! It’s always the last touch point that gets recorded rather than the first.” There was broad agreement that tracking the success of engagement strategies can be difficult because of the myriad of different sources and channels – and because everything is so accessible. “Someone might well be following us on Twitter – and that has been their first touch point and then they see an ad on a job board so the source for that fee goes to the job board! It’s always the last touch point that gets recorded rather than the first.” But should we be asking far more questions of our placed candidates so that we can go some way to measuring how they first engaged – and also to be able to demonstrate the success of the work marketers are doing to try and attract attention to the brand? Simply asking them to tick a box if they had been following on Twitter or liked the Facebook page would be
  9. 9. indicative of the fact that the placement wasn’t just down to a job board. Asking the consultant to list the source may not always – if ever - be the best option! So when and how should we be asking those questions. “As marketers we don’t do enough to get the information to make us look better – we are so busy trying to support the people in our own business that we forget our own personal goals – building up our own brand to demonstrate the value we are adding to the business and being able to say I have delivered x amount of candidates into your talent pool so why are you still going to LinkedIn – i.e. the place your clients all have access to - before your own CRM?” Clearly where marketing should take hold of the process is post placement questioning. Asking where that candidate may have seen the brand before so that marketers can actually begin to collect some meaningful data on engagement strategies. “We forget how happy candidates are when we have placed them into a job – and perhaps we don’t have to interview every single one – perhaps we interview 20 out of every 100 – a bit like a focus group – that way we can really start to demonstrate value by having some real metrics.” Social Media Policy – Trust or Control? “Don’t post something that would make your mother cringe – and use your common sense – that’s our policy!” However, while social media has clearly presented numerous opportunities to engage with a much wider audience, those opportunities have also presented threats. So how do firms exercise control over what is being posted on company social media channels – and should they? And more importantly – how do they protect their data? “We ask all new recruits to give us a list of their connections on LinkedIn when they start – this goes onto their HR file and if they leave they have to delete all other connections, said one delegate.” Some said that they had a guideline of not tagging their company in their own personal social media engagement and some had a policy of consultants not having their own work Twitter accounts so that marketing could control the brand message. Others had no guideline at all other than what they called a ‘common sense approach’ of not bringing the company into disrepute – although obviously that can cover a multitude of different scenarios and also has the danger of being somewhat subjective. “It’s about how
  10. 10. we act as human beings – yes the scope of the fall out is wider – but really it’s no different to talking to someone down the pub.” But should we actually be protecting people from themselves? One delegate suggested that there should be some form of robust training in place when people join so that firms are providing their recruiters with a safe environment in which to trade and educating them on the risks rather than assuming they know everything. “So let’s show them how to really lock their Facebook privacy down, and educate them on the risks of doing stupid things rather than giving them a policy which stops them doing anything. In other words, let me show you how we don’t do it – and then once you know how it all works – we’ll give you some really cool training to show you how you can make money out of it.” So perhaps what we need is an approach of education and trust rather than control and protection. After all, consultants often get accused of not engaging and then when they do they are told to stop! “Don’t post something that would make your mother cringe – and use your common sense – that’s our policy!” “It’s about how we act as human beings – yes the scope of the fall out is wider – but really it’s no different to talking to someone down the pub.” Conclusions In such an entrepreneurial and sales led sector it seems that marketing departments may still have some way to go in terms of demonstrating their real value throughout an organisation. Being able to track success with real data may help but the impetus really has to come from the top. Clearly then, there is also an education piece in terms of getting consultants’ – and sometimes even CEOs’ - buy in for long term engagement strategies, but what was clear from the discussion was that recruitment firms need to stop competing in
  11. 11. the same pools as their in house competitors, and instead work with marketing to help develop their own niche pools of talent.

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