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January 2009
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March 2009

Social Media As A Marketing Magnifier?

I started a conversation about using social media to magnify a traditional marketing campaign, it led to this post, which was good enough to reprint, if I do say so myself.

There are two kinds of social media - the tools and what the public does with the tools.  Maybe we should still be calling the tools Web 2.0, but you can get a lot of value reusing content and creative and broadcasting it through social media profiles.  Audio and video, pictures, links, stories, maps, events, and and, yes, even press releases can be repackaged and used as content.  This is where marketing is going - the creation of content instead of the running of campaigns.

Social media is most assuredly an add-on.  That's why most corporate positions are within Marketing, Corporate Communications, or Information Technology, and only a few are managed independently.  I would even go so far to argue that social media without content generated from other departments is solely a marketing and technology function subsidized as a traffic generator. That's certainly how it's being sold.

Some purists (mainly folks who have never taken a check for their work) want to say that social media is about conversation only, a silly definition that precludes any involvement by the corporation as an entity, and restricting social media use to individuals inside the company.  Let's count the number of bloggers, podcasters, and new media publications that started out with revolutionary promises, and quickly came to mimic "traditional media."

TechCrunch, PopSugar, Daily Candy, Huffington Post, Pajamas Media...

Traditional Media and social media feed off each other - I use traditional media to boost my client campaigns all the time - it's one of the major promises of a good campaign (excuse me, of good content).  At the same time, using social media to disseminate message and creative packs a double barrel.  It reuses content (good for budgets), and works as a trojan horse to create extra touchpoints within the corporation that make the corporation more responsive, hence fulfilling the promise of social media using more traditional, top-down, hierarchical models.

The only question now is are people doing it.  And do they know how.


Using Social Media To Find Work

Today in St Louis has a feature on using social media to find work this morning.  The link to view the segment is here.  This post is for job seekers from come from the segment.

Looking for work?  Hoping to use social media to find it?  Here are some resources you really ought to be tapping into in your job search.

Ultimate Job Hunting Secrets. This is the best book I've read for jobseekers, ever. Most books are written for only top people.  They are written with the assumption that you are a highly driven, highly successful, name brand employee with the ability to negotiate high salaries and with the resources to wait out job offers. That's not many of us.  This book lays out the basics for those who aren't used to looking for work.  

Jibber Jabber: JibberJabber.com, and his book, I'm on LinkedIn, Now What.  Jason Alba was a jobseeker a few years ago, and launched a site to help him find work.  He's since turned it into a program that is extremely helpful in managing your search. 

BeYourOwnHeadhunter.com - run by Paul DeBettignies, the MNHeadhunter, who is turning a lot of his focus to helping candidates.

Are you an executive, with your own unique jobhunting challenges?  Head on over to NetShare.com, where executives learn to pitch themselves, network with other executives, and get advice from top coaches.

There's also this post of mine that was published at Marketing Profs on how to raise your profile so headhunters will find you.  And an old favorite, 8 ways to get noticed online.  It all boils down to a single piece of advice.  Figure out what you're interested in.  Go online and find people discussing that topic.  Engage those people, and make sure that you have a profile somewhere online that tells people you are available.

Top Secret Recruiting Tip:  Don't say you're "looking for work."  Instead say you are "interviewing for new positions."

 

John Dvorak Insults SEO Consultants

If your read much in the technology space, you've probably read something from John Dvorak.  He's a well known columnist that writes for publications like PC magazine, and his latest effort takes aim at SEO, calling its proponents the modern day equivalent of "snake oil saleman."

Search engine optimization (SEO) has turned into a big business, and from what I can tell it's the modern version of snake oil. The unproven nonsense spewed by so-called "SEO experts" simply doesn't work. And worse, it's screwing up the elegance of the Web.


I'm going to take the high road, and not point out that PCMag uses those incredibly annoying tags over common words (screwing up the elegance of his column), but his main beef is he took his Wordpress blog and converted it from the short form, using numbers to denote entries, to the long form, which uses words in the title url.

Traffic fell on his site from 1.2 million to 900,000 pageviews that month, and it took him several months to recover.  He thus concludes that long url's are a scam.  He also tags his pages, and doesn't see a rise in traffic, and concludes tags are a scam.

I'm not an SEO expert.  I get pretty good results without the help of PC magazine sending traffic my way, but no one is paying me $200,000 a quarter to drive traffic.  I know people like that, and they're worth every penny. I also know people who charge $100, $1000, and everywhere in between, and they get some different results.  There are a lot of snake oil salesman in the business; some liars, some underinformed, and some 5 years behind the times, but there also earnest practitioners who can improve your website traffic results.  In the case of John Dvorak, this column turns out be complete and utter foolishness.  It's not nice to call out people, but Dvorak just misses the boat and makes a complete fool of himself.

John. You altered the architecture of your site.  Anytime you alter the architecture of your site in a wholesale manner, you're going to affect your site traffic.  You basically removed hundreds of pages (maybe thousands) that had been indexed, and replaced them with new pages.  What did you think was going to happen?  All major site changes have effects on your traffic.  It happens.  The question is the long term viability of your site, and url architecture with keywords in the title is more efficient than a series of numbers.  Are long url's some kind of panacea?  No!  But url architecture is an important component.  Your developer friend may have inside knowledge, but she gets it from Google, who is engaged in an ongoing information war to prevent SEO consultants from gaming their system.  Using that information as the basis of your column was journalistic malpractice, and let me tell you - 90% of developers have a blind spot when it comes to SEO.  They write compliant code that can be indexed, but don't understand how to write pages that have an impact on conversion and traffic.  And by the way, you're using Wordpress.  A free software.  You're not even building your own site!

Your trick wasn't going to magically solve your problem, but the long form url had its uses for some time, and unless Google has made major changes, it still has an effect.  Of course, Wordpress and Typepad represent large numbers of sites pumping out a lot of webpages.  If they all do it, the use of long url's loses it's relevancy, and has to be changed to something else.  Much like the use of metatags, the "power" of the longform url may have dropped - but to suggest that it is some kind of scam shows a lack of knowledge on the topic and a cringe-worthy column that should be followed with an apology.

You want to write a column?  How about a column talking about the number of business owners and website operators that live in a fantasy world where free SEO advice will make them millions and bring in free traffic?

As for tags?  Again, you're missing the point. Yes, tags can be misused, but there are uses.  Do a scan of links to your site and you'll find remote tagging creates a series of backlinks that matter to some search engines and not to others.  They also provide a quick scan visual clue as to what you're talking about.  If you're not getting results, maybe it's you're not tagging correctly, or expecting too much for too little?

SEO is about a strategy, not a gimmick.  Yes there are a lot of bad actors, but your column does nothing to help that.  You've just spread inaccurate fearmongering because you made a rookie mistake.  Yes, an apology is in order.


Everyone's On Facebook

I woke up this morning to a nice little story on ReadWriteWeb on the prevalence on Web 2.0 applications on company systems.  FaceTime Communications, a security provider, did a live traffic survey of applications on company servers, and found that everyone, yes, everyone, is involved in Web 2.0 in some way.

FaceTime Communications, the makers of hardware solutions for security, management, and compliance, have collected live traffic data from more than 80 mid to large commercially deployed networks worldwide - data representing the daily web-based activities of more than 100,000 corporate workers. At the same time, they surveyed I.T. managers on a number of topics, including how many Web 2.0 applications they believed were in use on their networks. They then compared the two sets of findings. The conclusion? On a day-to-day basis, it seems I.T. managers don't know what their employees are doing - or what web apps they're using.


Interesting enough, of the surveyed IT managers, only 60% thought some application was on their users computers.  There's a lot more information at the link (written by Sarah Perez).

What does this mean for recruiters?  It means that if you don't know how to message people on the platform they use, you're missing out on the ability to contact them at all.  We make the mistake of looking at LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace and others as just sourcing tools.  That's part of it, but the users you find on these networks don't necessarily respond to traditional email or even phone sourcing.  If you're not figuring out these tools as messaging platforms, you're not using them very well.

Of course this is all self-serving, as I sell products that teach you how to connect, market, and sell using Web 2.0 tools, but the reason I started doing so was no one was stepping up and showing how. We just talked about why, or made grand proclamations about how social networking was transforming recruiting.

Social networking is not transforming recruiting.  It's transforming the way we work.  It's touching every aspect of business and our social lives, and we have no choice but to catch up with the public. 


Twitter JobShouts As Referral Mechanism

The LATimes runs a story on Jobshouts, one of a number of initiatives put forth by enterprising Twitter users looking to help friends and followers find employment in a tough economy.  It's a great story for publicity, and it signals something that the Times runs with it, but after a DM from a follower, I felt the need to share some expertise on how to get people hired.

JobShouts sounds like a good idea.  It's possible that it could find some people work.  It's just as likely that it will just be a waste of time, cluttering up the Twitter stream.  Don't get me wrong.  It's heart is in the right place, but it's a longshot to think that pushing some content out to your followers will lead to a hire.  Employment is more complex than that, and we do ourselves a disservice doing so little and thinking it will be helpful.   The LATimes, to their credit, addresses this point and points out that evidence of new hires isn't available, while the person who did get interviews tapped his own network to do so.

Twitter users in general seem not to be aware of the large network of recruiting, job, and human resources sites that have been spreading information on the economy and hiring since at least 2004. It's not their expertise, but if we haven't solved the problem of job dissemination, it's doubtful Twitter users will do so with 140 characters.

But enough of the negativity.  I actually applaud the spirit of http://twitter.com/jobshouts and http://www.twitter.com/jobangels.  Let's take that spirit and really apply it.

1) If you know someone out of work, and you think they would make a good employee, get their resume and walk it into a hiring manager.  Sending an email to human resources, or posting it on your site is a low touch, low impact approach.  If you really want to help someone, call them up, find out what they can do well, and then go in-person to a hiring manager and ask them if they would be interested in speaking about a candidate.

That's a high-risk strategy, but it works a lot better than sending an email.  You're putting your personal credibility on the line.  You're also cutting through the clutter of the day and if you're done your homework, saving the manager time.

Things to look out for:  In going directly to a manager, you're breaking a number of corporate rules, and possibly violating federal discrimination laws (or if the person is hired, the company is breaking those laws).  Twitter users are disproportionally white, and by virtue of their access to mobile devices and high speed links, aren't poor.  That's a discrimination issue.  I bring it up because it's important to recognize there are legal reasons why companies hire the way they do.  Some HR folks might even decide not to take the referral, simply because Twitter profiles have pictures.  It sounds ludicrous, but it's true.  Just be aware. 

2)  Help the Twitter user connect with your network.  Speak with the unemployed person, and find out what they can do.  Then make personal phone calls to people in your network that might be able to help out with #1.  Again, be aware that this kind of networking puts you at risk. What happens if the Twitter user turns down the job?  Asks for more salary?  Turns out to be unstable?  Online connections don't necessarily give you enough depth to judge a person.  Make sure you know them before you put your own network at risk.

3)  Don't take the referral money.  Publicly acknowledging that you are just helping out, and not taking a referral, is an important step.  You may still get one, but if you don't let people know that you aren't doing this for money, they may assume you just want the company bonus.

4) Reverse Search. If you know your company is hiring - head to recruiting or the hiring manager and ask them what they are looking for. Then do some searching on your own network to see if there's a fit.  Don't just blast the job, as you'll get a ton of resumes won't know how to filter them, but use searches, connect with people, and then ask. 


Each of these steps requires time and energy, but they are far more advantageous than simply pushing our jobs.   We have systems to do that.  Indeed and SimplyHired and Monster and Dice and CareerBuilder all push out jobs - if that worked on its own, no one would ever be unemployed longer than a few weeks.  Instead, invest some of your private capital.  Make it personal.  You'll do a lot more good, and you might learn something about the best ways to recruit, hire, and network.

Update: You can usually identify how successful someone will be by how they react to criticism.  JobAngels leaves an intelligent comment you can see below, while one of the founders of JobShouts gets snippy with me on Twitter while the other writes some rambling post insulting my childhood upbringing.  Good luck with all that JobShouts.  The next time you want some free press, don't complain if you get honest answers.  If you think this mild blogpost is an attack on everything you hold dear that can only be met with vitriol, you've lost perspective, and maybe, just maybe, aren't ready to run your own business.


The Distinction Between Messaging and Sourcing Tools

My Web 2.0 Tools training DVD discusses the use of Instant Messaging in recruiting. Dan over at Recruiting Blogs asked about the best ways to use these tools, and I figured I'd share my comments here.

When you're using IM, you have to do it in context with your audience. Is your audience using IM? Are they comfortable chatting with you?

It won't ever be a HUGE Win, but like all the tools, it depends on how you market it. One problem is a lot of people have different clients, so picking one doesn't work as well as picking a unified system like Meebo. Second, you have to catch people who already are on IM, so spending time in groups online matters, which is different than simply leaving a signup on IM.

People have resistance to trying something new - are you driving them to the IM? Are you writing about it on a blog? Do you have a landing page where you describe why IM works and what they can expect?

And once you get them, how do you speak to them? IM has its own language - do you know it?

Just some thoughts. IM works, but only in concert with an overall marketing strategy.


That last sentence is important because IM is a messaging tool. Messaging tools include IM, Twitter, Facebook, while sourcing tools would include MySpace, LinkedIn, and blogs. There's an important distinction between the two.

Messaging Tools: Candidates use messaging tools to talk to each other.  Much of the information useful for recruiting is shallow in these systems. It's difficult to tell if someone who is listed as a director of marketing of Twitter is the right fit, versus on LinkedIn, you can pull up the full background.  Messajing tools are often seen as these wonderful places to connect with candidates.  We assume that because users are talking to each other, they'll know how to talk to recruiters, and will be open to sharing job information. That's a poor assumption.  Users share information with each other, but get a little freaked out when we approach them as recruiters.  The right way to use these tools is to connect to someone first, then introduce the idea of a job search through pull marketing tactics.

So on Facebook, you don't source a name and then send a message asking them to friend you as a recruiter.  You find someone you want to recruit, and once they've acknowledged you, you send an invite to make them a friend.  Once you've established who you are, you can message them, though you still need to respect the channel and not broadcast jobs (broadcasting jobs is for opt-in email lists. rss feeds and job boards).

Sourcing Tools are large databases online of people that may or may not connect with you.  MySpace, LinkedIn, and blogs are great targets for information that you can utilize to fill your database with leads.  Based on their activity level, these sites are also good places to determine if someone is the right fit.  You can reach out to a candidate after reading their activity on these three sites (MySpace is a mix of sourcing and messaging, so be careful), and they tend to be more receptive, as long as you make it clear that you have read them.  Recruiters often don't bother to do this, which is why each of these sources has a bad reputation among candidates, but done correctly, it's a lot easier to build passive talent pools and referrers.

All web tools are not equal.  Each requires a commitment to learn both the language, but also the system.  And of course, you have to build a profile in each.  The reward, is a large group of networked contacts eager to help their friend. Their friend who recruits.