The Top 5 Mistakes Recruitment Teams Are Making on Social Media

If you're a recruiter eager to bring in more client leads or attract more candidates, then social media should have you really excited. If you get your strategy right, then social media should be bringing in a flow of candidate leads and/or client prospects every week. I'd go as far as to say it can grow quite addictive once it's become a major contributor to your team's success.

Yet, 95 percent of the recruiters reading this column are probably frustrated right now because social media just isn't producing this level of results for them. That's why addressing these frustrations and helping you to achieve greater success with social media is what this post is going to be all about.

Running a social media agency in the recruitment market, we hear from a lot of recruiters about the frustrations they're experiencing. When we're first talking to recruitment businesses (and recruitment teams and recruitment tech companies), there are lots of common threads that explain why they're not getting mouth-watering results from social media.

Based on these interactions, here are five common mistakes that are likely robbing you of ROI from your social media efforts:

Obsessing About LinkedIn

Underinvesting in Social Media

Having the Wrong Focus

Failing to Experiment

Being Robotic

Let's see if we can help you to understand the mistakes you may be making in each of these five areas:

1. Obsessing About LinkedIn

First, let's deal with the elephant in the room. In your business, people are obsessed with LinkedIn, aren't they? I understand that it's a great candidate-sourcing tool, and I'm not necessarily saying you should abandon it. But let's be clear about two things:

1. LinkedIn is the worst social site for building a recruiting brand that gets seen and sparks conversations. The data is absolutely conclusive on this. You only need to look at LinkedIn's latest reported results to discover that only a quarter of LinkedIn users actually visit the site each month. That's only 106 million people. The number of people using the site daily is far lower, and if you strip out all the recruiters and salespeople from that number, then the number of candidates in your market who are likely to see your posts on LinkedIn is decidedly low.

If you want to reach people day in day out, then you need to be active on the platforms where people spend their time. Those are places like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Focusing your efforts on LinkedIn is like putting billboards up in the middle of the desert and expecting them get more attention that if you'd advertised in an airport.

Come on, people – enough with the LinkedIn obsession!

2. LinkedIn is also the most expensive social site for building a recruiting brand and generating results. There are two reasons for this. First, companies on LinkedIn can do almost nothing to build their profiles without a sizable advertising budget. Want your recruiting business to engage in conversations across the site? You can't do that. Want to invite people in your industry to connect with your page? You can't do that. Want to be active in groups to raise your profile? You guessed it – you can't do that, either. Essentially all roads lead to you needing to spend significantly on LinkedIn if you want a sizable presence there.

If that weren't bad enough, the cost of advertising your recruiting business on LinkedIn is also way higher than it is on other social sites. Try setting up a targeted advertising campaign and you could easily find the minimum bid price is ~$6 per click. Holy cow! You can get 8-10 targeted clicks for that same spend on Twitter, and more still on Facebook.

Wake up, recruiters: LinkedIn doesn't have nearly as many advertising impressions to sell, and so the price is bid up astronomically. What's more, businesses are all mesmerized by LinkedIn and want to advertise there, bidding the price up further still. Smart recruitment marketers look to spread their budgets across a wider spectrum of social media platforms where more results can be generated for any given spend.

As a concluding remark to give some balance to what I've said here, it may still be worthwhile to have a strong presence on LinkedIn. If you can acquire candidates or clients at a cost per acquisition that is still profitable for your team, then by all means invest in your LinkedIn presence. But please don't do it at the blind expense of building your presence elsewhere. That's simply ignoring the data about where people spend their time and where you can generate significant interest for a far more modest spend.

2. Underinvesting in Social Media

There are three ways that recruitment businesses and teams are chronically underinvesting in social media.

First, many agency owners are deluded about the time needed to get results on social media. Asking one of your team members to spend a few hours a week on social just doesn't cut it. The single biggest reason for this is that results on social media have a tipping point. If you spend only half the time that's needed to do everything you should be doing on social media, you'll be lucky to get even 10 percent of the business results. So invest the necessary time to do this properly – or don't invest in it at all!

This brings me to the second way in which recruitment businesses are underinvesting in social, namely, the necessary investment in skills. If you hire a skilled social media team member, you'll need them to dedicated at least 50 percent of the week to getting results on social media. Far too many recruiting businesses leave this to an intern or an admin person to manage – and someone like this who is lacking the necessary expertise will need to work full-time on your social media to produce results. Even then, they'll probably not get anything like the same results you'd get if you worked with a social media expert.

Significant time and money are needed to get results from social media, and that brings me to the last type of underinvestment we see: not having a budget allocated to advertising on social media and to subscribing for the various tools that will allow you to accelerate your effectiveness on social media. Both are essential if you really want social media to start contributing considerably to your recruiting efforts.

3. Having the Wrong Focus

Recruiting teams are invariably focused on the jobs they need to fill. Show me a recruiting business that's failing on social media, and I'll show you a team whose social media profiles pump out a stream of vacancies and requests for candidate referrals.

This is all wrong! Attracting candidates or clients on social media requires that you pivot your social media presence to focus on what would make it appealing to those people. Research your niche industry. Discover what types of content people are commenting on and resharing most. Learn what types of posts prompt engagement in your industry.  Then ensure that 90+ percent of your updates are focused on this type of content rather than on job openings.

The return will be that you build an enormous and engaged audience in your niche market, which, with the right strategies, you can  convert into applications and call requests that your competitors are completely missing out on. But you've got to have patience, and you've got to have backbone. Not a week will go by without some of your recruiters clamoring for the company to share more of the jobs you are working on via your social accounts (for insights into why this is a flawed strategy, see here).

4. Failing to Experiment

I've worked on hundreds of social media profiles for recruitment teams around the world. Broadly speaking, I've learned what produces the best responses from candidates and potential clients. But even with that degree of experience, I can't tell you categorically what will work best in your particular niche and geography.

To determine the optimal strategy and approach for each recruiting team, you have to get out there in the market and experiment. Have you experimented with the wording on your profiles to see what produces the highest conversion rate of new followers? Are you tweaking the types of content you share to reflect which is producing the most interactions and interest? Have you A/B tested which types of approaches to candidates or clients produce the highest response rates?

Almost certainly, the answer to these questions is "No." But if you're not doing these things, you're not optimizing your social media so that every hour or dollar invested produces the maximum return for your team. You wouldn't spend money on job boards so indiscriminately, so why not put the same rigor into perfecting your investment in social media?

5. Being Robotic

Last but not least is the overuse of automation and the underinvestment in being personable on social media. Both completely undermine the results you're trying to achieve through social media.

Let's talk first about automation. Some automation is a good thing. By all means, automatically collect lists of people who've reshared your content. Feel free to auto-schedule a few key recurring updates that need to go out each month. Automatically store a log of everything you've shared on social media so you have a library of updates you can potentially reuse in the future. This type of automation is a good thing, and it multiplies the amount you can achieve for any given time investment.

Join the Conversation: What's Your Secret to Effective Social Recruiting?

Unfortunately, the recruitment industry is rife with people who don't realize how spammy and robotic a lot of their social media updates appear. Anything you post with a message that was obviously not crafted by yourself will absolutely kill engagement with your audience. Here are a few examples:

- Those messages thanking your most important retweeters this last week, pulled together by a tool. The feel-good factor of getting that recognition is completely killed by the knowledge that this was automated, rather than a heartfelt thank-you.

- Those automated DMs thanking people for following and pushing them to connect with you on LinkedIn, too. Obviously automated and impersonal. The bond you could have formed with a new connection is completely undermined.

- Those messages you copy and paste and send to dozens of people in a row, they don't come across as sincere – and look downright lazy if I can see in your timeline that you've sent the same message to a whole bunch of other people.

-  Don't even get me started on the auto-posting of jobs from your job-posting software provider or ATS onto your social accounts! Absolutely horrible – and if you're using this tactic, no wonder your social results are underwhelming!

The list could go on, but you get my point. If people feel they have received a message from a real person who has taken time out of their day to personally craft a message for them, that can be the building block for a relationship – and from relationships, real business results can flow.

But if your first impression of someone is that they've insulted you by not even deeming you worthy of anything more than an automated message, that destroys the whole value in you ever having connected. No relationships being formed = no business results.

One final point on this topic of being too robotic: In our experience, the overwhelming majority of ROI from social media comes from having conversations with the people who've interacted with your profiles, your website's content, your group updates, and the like. As a recruitment business or team, you need to orient all your activities around ensuring that your social media presence generates as many opportunities to engage as is possible.

The bad news is that this takes time – which means you have to wean your recruiters off their instinct to do whatever can be done quickest.

Tony Restell is the founder of social media agency You can find Tony on Twitter (@tonyrestell).