Close

Sign up to get the latest news and stories on the future of work.

Subscribe Search

Search form

Over the last few years, social media (in conjunction with the rise of smartphone use) has provided the recruitment sector with the ability to engage with candidates like never before. Not only has social media enabled recruiters to identify, source and hire from a wider range of social networks, it has also given them 24/7 access to potential candidates.

But this ubiquity of opportunity doesn't come without its challenges.

Have you ever looked at a social media profile, new post or direct message and felt immediate confusion, or even disgust? From inappropriate photos to limited information to a scattered tone, it's much easier to craft a bad online presence than a compelling, genuine and positive one—especially for businesses. People expect social media to mirror real life, and it takes effort to live up to this expectation.

But this bad taste can be avoided with a stronger and more thoughtful social media strategy. Here are six of the most common mistakes I see companies and recruiters making on social media, and advice on how to avoid them.

The Dos and Don'ts of Social Media

Don't: Create a company profile in the guise of a personal LinkedIn profile.

Let's say Ranger Recruitment* sets up a LinkedIn page, but puts their company name as the first and last name, with their logo as the profile picture. Some companies assume that creating an individual page instead of a company page will help them create more connections—but let's think through that logic.

First of all, this is a legal issue: It's actually against LinkedIn's rules to represent a brand as an individual. (But, of course, it happens.) Second of all, candidates can see right through this attempt, and it's impersonal. Yes, people love great brands, but when it comes to convincing someone to work for your company, it's the people behind your brand and the individual connections they make that truly matter.

Do: Create personal profiles.

Focus on helping your employees create fantastic LinkedIn and social profiles (especially the leadership and recruiting team), ensuring every section is maxed out with relevant and engaging content. Then set up a separate company page for people to follow (not "friend").

Don't: Choose inanimate objects, animals or celebrities as your social media profile picture.

This week I was putting together a presentation on best recruiting practices and found an unusually high amount of profile pictures that weren't "profile pictures" at all: Instead, I found cartoon characters, cars, dogs, cats, logos, celebrities—you name it. If you are going to use social media for recruiting, then you need to take your personal brand seriously. Your page can represent your interests, but your picture should represent you.

Do: Get a current headshot photograph taken of you that looks like you.

If you normally wear glasses, put them on in the photo. You want to be authentic and, especially as a recruiter, make it easy for people to recognize you. You should also choose a photo where it's easy to see your face: LinkedIn suggests that your face should fill 85 percent of the space in the profile photo.

Don't: Treat every social network the same.

Have you seen the things people have been posting on LinkedIn recently? Selfies, quizzes, competitions for likes, etc. In the same vein, posting too much work content on your Facebook profile can arouse some negativity from your network.

Do: Think about the audience on each network.

Try to make sure any content you share is relevant to the specific social platform's audience before posting. LinkedIn is a professional network, whereas Facebook has historically been reserved for family and friends. While there are no hard and fast rules, your networks are usually quick enough to give you feedback on what they like and don't like!

Don't: Send someone a message immediately after connecting with them on social media.

If you connect with someone on LinkedIn, and then immediately message them trying to sell or promote your services, they're likely going to be a bit turned off. People obviously connect for a reason, but trying to get something out of a new connection right away can feel both insincere and alarming.

Do: Respect the people you are connecting with.

Reach out to people on the platform itself first, and then agree to go offline—it is a much better way of engaging someone. If you're trying to reach a candidate, an immediate auto-direct message may turn the person off from your company before you even get a chance to speak to them.

The most important thing to remember is that social media is an extension of your brand—both your company's brand and your personal brand—no matter the platform you choose. Try your hardest to represent the brand honestly and positively. And if you're struggling with a decision on social media, just think about you want to be treated—with respect, kindness and transparency.

*Fictional company.

Photo: Creative Commons