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We have an interesting dichotomy in the world of talent—companies are crying out about talent gaps everywhere, without using their full range of resources to actually look for talent. One such resource is social media. And while not all of the hundreds of millions of social users are suitable for your roles, with a little clever searching you can find the right candidates and start to engage with them.

Social media is often seen as an opportunity to reach customers, but it can also be an incredible recruiting tool. You can build a reputation and awareness with your target audience for the day when your recruiters are ready to call them, or they are ready to apply for one of your roles.

Here are some helpful tips for building a sophisticated talent pipeline with social media marketing:

Identify the Right Platform for Your Recruits

First, identify which social platforms are popular with your target audience. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn might be the first social platforms to come to mind, but they're not the only ones you should explore.

To find potential candidates, use relevant keywords, such as job title, skills and interests. Google x-ray searches are one way to search across networks. The following command allows you to specifically search one domain, for example:

Site: linkedIn.com inurl:pub <"insert job title">

Site: twitter.com <"insert job title"> OR <"insert job title synonym">

Site: plus.google.com inurl:about “lives in <insert location>" <"insert job title">

Facebook is a little different due to its type of search, so try this easy Facebook search tool (http://www.intel-sw.com/blog/facebook-search/)

Curate Relevant and Engaging Content

After identifying the key social media platforms with your target recruit audience, focus on engaging them with great content.

There are many types of content you can create, curate and share. Whether you're sharing a blog, a presentation, images or videos, make sure your content fulfills these three criteria:

  • Interesting: Your content must provide specific knowledge and information by answering questions and adding value.
  • Relevant: Your content must resonate with your audience. Irrelevant content will be an instant turn-off.
  • Timely: You must deliver content when your audience are ready and able to read it. Before and after work and weekends work well.

A good test for your content is to run it past your existing employees of the same skillset, asking them one question: Would they click on it?

Build Your Talent Pipeline

The next question is to consider where you want to track your talent pipeline—on one of the social networks or within your CRM or recruitment system? Personally, I recommend both with the objective of capturing email addresses from your target audience and bringing them into your own system sooner rather than later. This contact list can then be used for personalized email marketing and social media marketing campaigns.

To measure your success and improve your social marketing performance, you need to first set some objectives, such as audience growth and engagement. Using tools like Buffer and Hootsuite, you can easily track your metrics around your objectives.

Then, you can use insights from your social media metrics to drive the content of your email marketing. For example, if you send regular emails to different segments of your talent pool, use the most popular content from social media that week. This increases your potential engagement over email, as it has already proved successful with your social audience.

You can also use segmented email marketing to drive very targeted social media advertising. By adding your email list to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can build a campaign with messages targeted at specific people. Then, you can then add to this by using "look-a-like" campaigns that target only people with similar profiles to the ones you have uploaded.

Reach Out to Recruits

Now, you have identified your audience and started to develop targeted campaigns on social media, sharing great content that is interesting, relevant and timely. Every week or two (depending on how you segment your campaigns), your potential candidates should receive an engaging email from you. When they visit social sites like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, they will encounter a consistent brand voice and flow of content.

While it may be three months or more before you need to reach out directly to these people for specific roles, imagine how much easier social recruiting will be now that you have taken the time to develop your brand awareness through great social media content.

Photo: Creative Commons