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Every company has their own definition for Social Recruiting, be they call it Social Hiring, Social Media Recruitment, or any other variation of the terms.  If you go to Wikipedia, it will tell you that social recruiting has two main camps to define it: internet sourcing and social distribution.

But, anyone who’s been in the recruitment industry for the past few years will tell you the definition is here, there, and everywhere in between.  And, with every definition comes each person’s on bias on whether it’s effective or not and whether a company should be doing it.  (Whether you like it or not, the answer is you should be doing some form of it.)

The truth is, these days it’s not enough just to be on social media.  As a company, no matter the size, you’re going to have to step up and start embracing the way technology is affecting every aspect of business.  And, guess what?  It’s gone social.

To further that, you also need to reflect that every aspect of your business affects recruitment.  It’s a vicious cycle, yet it can also be an attractive cycle if you can embrace it in a way that works for your organization.  Your goal is to connect with talent and your talent is now the global community who is your consumers, your consumer’s neighbor or friend, or your consumer’s Twitter or Facebook follower.

Sure, you can continue to hobble along and make excuses about how you’ve tried all the social networks and that social media hasn’t been affective for your companies, but you know what that sounds like?  Excuses.

And, of course, you can keep doing things the same way you have before, and still have some level of effectiveness, but as time continues to go by, you’re only crippling your company’s ability to stay competitive in a market that’s going to continue to change more and more rapidly than it did before.  (Have you heard of Moore’s Law or Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Change? Believe it or not, technology and social dynamics are changing at a rapid rate—it’s time to keep up and get ahead of the curve!)

If social recruiting or social media isn’t working for you, then you have to make it work for you.  The beauty of social media is that you don’t always have to play by the rules; you can make some of them up as you go along.  The systems that have now restructured the ways we communicate were built to break the traditional rules we had before and continue to evolve before our very eyes.

There is no one right way to be ‘social’ in the technological world, and the best practices for one company might be a flop for yours because it’s all about context.  And, to get social, you have to be social.  Social is not signing up for a twitter account or creating a company profile page on Facebook or LinkedIn. Social is about being a part of the community and engaging in and creating the broader conversations.

Jeanne Marie Laskas, author of Hidden America, recently spoke at Chicago Ideas Week on the topic of work and said, “There is not them, just us…” and that you have to “treat each person as an individual [to] make us better.”

It’s time to embrace the social aspect of recruiting and make it about ‘us’—all of us.  Stop making it about the tiny pieces, and put ‘social’ back into social recruiting, and you will see your returns magnified.

One of the biggest reasons most companies fail at using social media effectively for recruiting is fear.  And, that fear keeps them from taking the time to understand it as it relates to their organization and from implementing is in ways to enhance the work they’re already doing.

If your biggest fears are law suits and inappropriate behavior, then the best thing you can do for your company is to set guidelines in stone so employees know the parameters they have to work within to make using social media in all aspects of your business successful and allow them to challenge the rules in a safe environment if it means creating greater returns.

Let’s take a look at the word social as defined by Dictionary.com:

social definition from dictionary.com

There’s nothing there in any of those definitions that’s particularly scary.  In fact, it kind of gives you the warm and fuzzies.  I am especially attracted to definition 4.  People are social beings.

Ask yourself, what is a company?  A company is, at its base, people.  People do the work, they make the products or services, people do business with other people, and people are who you are trying to connect with to hire into your company.

Why do we forget that we’re in the business of Human Capital, of people, when it comes to infusing social media into our recruitment strategies?   Metrics, analysis, and numbers are fun, even impressive and sometimes daunting, and they can provide great insights, but they don’t provide action.

At the end of the day, you’re engaging with people, which implies action, and your social media strategy should be embracing the ‘social’ aspect and remember that the ‘media’ part is the tool you utilize to make the ‘social’ aspect effective.

This could mean empowering others in your organization to help out, creating a committee, changing the conversations you are creating, focusing on one platform that your company can be effective communicating on, or even taking online conversations offline.

Jay Baer, co-author of The Now Revolution, expressed during Social Media Week Chicago, “If you don’t love social media, you probably suck at it.” And, “Social media is the most transformative of any of the technological shifts [to date]…and it [social media] empowers employees the way we’ve never had to in the past.”

To get the most out of your social recruitment strategy, it takes honesty and commitment, and a willingness to put your company out there in ways you may not have ever realized.  If you hate it, find others in your company who are willing to aid in adopting social media to aid your recruitment function.  You never know, engaging an employee to help who isn’t involved in HR or recruiting could be a part of your key to success.

And know that there are no magic numbers to measure the effectiveness of your social media.  It’s kind of like going to a party.  You can be a wall flower and stand in the room and see who’s there, but you’re never going to have fun and make connections until you let loose a little, let your guard down, and immerse yourself in the action.  And, then you have great stories to tell to attract people to the next party.

So break the rules, forget the boundaries, and remember that you’re dealing with people and put the ‘social’ back in your Social Recruiting Strategy.

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