Facebook or Print ads?

Ivan Andrija Stojanovic, Head of Online, CPL Osijek CroatiaWill you advertise on Facebook or in the traditional proven media like newspapers or radio?

I was talking to some postgraduate business and IT students (Overeducated and under experienced for Jobs of tomorrow) and asked them who has the Facebook account. I wanted to show how deep the Facebook penetration actually is. I got more hands up than that I could count. So I reversed the question – and asked who doesn’t have or didn’t use his Facebook account in the last week. I have 3 hands up. In the group of 80 people.

I asked them if they bought papers (any papers) in the last 7 days. Two bought local classified advertising paper looking for flats to rent. One bought photo magazine and one other bout a gardening magazine. Same 80 people.

All are postgraduate students, and all are looking at the job market. All are exactly those you will want to target with your jobs advertisements. So where will you advertise?

To look into it even further – the question is how will you actually advertise there. Facebook and LinkedIN will gladly take your money. Since those are ‘Cash Hungry’ businesses. Twitter and most other social networks do not provide a facility where you can just bluntly dump your advertising budget. It is a known fact that the proper ‘usage’ of a social networking site will give you far better results that advertising on the same site. Painfully small is a list of jobs filled from the advertisements on Facebook or LinkedIN. The way one sources the candies from the Social Networking sites is by constant branding, inbound marketing, networking – all the opposites from classical advertising.

Facebook seems like the best place to invest 90% of your recruitment marketing budget from todays perspective. Tomorrow? Ahh… it will probably change again… Just remember, it will never be the same as it once was, and the wheel will never start turning back. Where you will invest next year, is most likely into something that does not even exist today.

Irish Jobs feeling the heat from Facebook

The social media is leaving scars on the traditional advertising models. How your brand is represented on Facebook is far more important than the article in Irish Times. Why? Simply because of it far greater reach. Far more people read Facebook than Irish Times. Far, far more, and the gap is getting bigger each day.

In recruitment the social media is finding it’s place, and Irish Jobs Sites feel it on their skin. A dozen of small job boards simply vanished during the last year. The big national ones are in the panic mode. Here is the sample from Irish Jobs, how they are reacting to the recruiters and candidates embracing he social media sites, and just leaving their IrishJobs.ie web site. They publish a survey that shows people spend tons of time on Facebook, and less on LinkedIn and Twitter. But they take a protectionist view to try to save their (extincting) industry. So they say that the social media sites, with Facebok leading the game actually costs Irish industry – since people hang out on Facebook as opposed to work. Here is their story:

Findings from IrishJobs.ie’s social networking at work survey

Ninety per cent of all respondents said they used Facebook in general, while 39pc visit YouTube and 15pc use Twitter.
The survey found that workers were against the idea of banning these sites at work. Some 77pc were in favour of some sort of access to them during working hours.
More than half of the respondents felt they are just as productive as ever and 7pc feel that social networking sites make them more productive.
The 7pc claim that short breaks to check these sites help them concentrate better when they returned to work.
Five per cent of respondents claimed they were less productive, as they were constantly distracted.
It was also revealed that large companies were more inclined to have a social networking usage policy during work hours, with 58pc of those within these companies confirming it.
Usage among employees in these companies was lower, with 43pc logging onto social networking during work hours.
Some 27pc of SME employees said their workplace has a social networking policy and as a result, 55pc of employees admitted to using these services at work.

What this press release is supposed to achieve is a knee jerk reaction from the directors and business owners – to shut down access to Facebok (please correct me if I am wrong here)! It is the same surfers that Irish Jobs have lost over the last years, that went to Facebook. Facebook is more fun than boring jobs sites. And Irish Jobs and the likes are losing visitors, losing advertisers, and the revenue. Their business model is actually quite ‘Last Century’ really. And with no future. And it is a hard fact to swallow! Hence the scare tactics here by the Irish Jobs marketing gurus.

Personal Branding and Digital Footprint

Creating your personal and or company brand is a delicate act on the social networking sites. You really need to be genuine, positive, honest, and stand behind anything you say. And that is something in the contradiction with the main task – being Active. What do you say on a web 2.0 sites – if you have nothing to say that day? You know you need to be active and communicate with others. The long term success of that contribution you make to the social networking – depends on the Quality of your contribution. If you have nothing to say – say nothing.

Quality of your online content
It took me a lot of time to learn that. After some time (and numerous mistakes!) I have realised that it is sometimes worth far more to post once a week on a blog than once a day! The quality of the content is actually far more worth than the quantity. If it takes a week to write a good article, do not rush it. Do not force yourself to publish when you do not have something of a value for your audience.

Digital Footprint
All you say (write) on the Web 2.0 sites will stay there, and will work for or against you in the future. It will always be easy to put your name or your company name in Google and check what you are all about. Your name associated with something you are not proud while publishing it – will most likely hurt you at some stage in the future. Carefully choose what photos you publish, and how you represent yourself on the web. Your digital footprint is there to stay!

Release your Marketing Message
The social networking sites like LinkedIN, Twitter and Facebook and blogs let you publish your ideas, thoughts and opinions. Define who you are and what you are. Then define who your target market and the audience are. List the topics you know about and they want to hear about. Bring your original marketing message in the mix. Do not push it on your audience. Leave it there for them to take it.

Let Go of your Marketing Message
This is what worries most of us. Corporations are shivering with just the idea of it! What do you mean by letting go of our (so far always tightly controlled) marketing message?

In the Social Web, the users will take your messages and give their spin on it. Here you are getting crowd generated picture of your brand. Your only made the initial input and slightly steering and maintaining it later on. Your audience – the crowd will decide if they like your message, and will contribute to it.

Candidate Digital Personal Branding
Your CV is great tool to open the doors. But it gives you what you want to say about yourself. This is why recruiters ask for references. To check up and make sure all you wrote is true, and that there isn’t something important missing.

In the Digital world of the Blogs and Social Networks – it is all about the public opinions being formed around yourself. It is about the number of people you are connected, about the ‘qualities’ of this connections. It is about the quality of your contribution to the public communication. It is about the response from the crowd on your social communication contribution. Does the crowd like you? Do they value your professional opinions?

How do you measure your Digital Branding success?
When the people you do not know, not your co workers, not friends or family, simple people who find you online – publicly show respect to your work and you – you must be doing a lot of good! It doesn’t happen overnight! You will need to invest a lot in creating a digital brand. Regardless if that is yourself or your company brand. It takes time.

The Social Web is changing. Remember MySpace? Remember Bebo? Both are gone. Have you started with Google Wave, or did you decided that you will be left behind? Social media tools are changing. You need to change your skills to be able to follow the change. Your message although always the same in its essence will have to be adapted for every new web publishing and collaboration tool that comes around.

Conclusion and a Real Life Personal Branding Example
Related to the recent article about the Internet traffic on Job Sites, I asked the LinkedIN Users for their input via the LinkedIN discussion: Irish jobs sites traffic comparison chart. Here is just a short few sentences I got as a reply:

Thanks Ivan and admire your humble approach. I suspect this combined with your vast knowledge and being a genuine nice person is how you have gained my respect and trust of so many others also. You have not become one of the market leaders for no reason…

…Hope to catch up with you again at the Christmas drinks.

Would like to hear how other niche and generalist job boards are doing, if you’d like to share….

MD of one of the Irish Jobs Site

When you start getting positive comments like this from the ‘crowd’ – people you are not associated to in any way, they start forming a Digital Image of your brand. Competitors recognition as in this case is of the utmost importance – that was the reason I have chosen this comment in front of all the others. It is a bit like the eBay and the recommendations it introduced smartly in ecommerce. People trust brands that are positively spoken about online.

What will you do today to create a Digital Image of yourself that you desire?

Connecting with Customers

Me in the press again. This time in the InBusiness magazine by Chambers Ireland. Here are a few snippets:

“PEOPLE WILL BE COMFORTABLE BUYING FROM A COMPANY THAT HAS THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE RECOMMENDING THEM.” – Ivan Stojanovic

Conventional advertising and marketing strategies are typically one-way communications with the product or service provider addressing customers. However, social media and social networking sites offer businesses the opportunity to engage with their customers or clients. Blogs, forums and profile pages can reach a large potential market, are free, and will allow a company to conduct market research and respond to the needs of their customers. It’s important to remember that your aim is to encourage customers to visit your website where they can get more information andenquire about making a purchase. “Facebook itself will not sell your products or services directly,” says Ivan Stojanovic. “However, if used correctly, it will bring visitors who should then be encouraged to leave comments about your offering. Your company blog will also drive relevant interested visitors to your company page where they can purchase your products or services.”

Ivan Stojanovic InBusiness

Building visibility and brand awareness on social networking sites is relatively easy. Building credibility, on the other hand, takes time and effort. However, once that is achieved, third-party recommendations can be a major boost for your business. Stojanovic agrees: “People will be comfortable buying from a company that has thousands of people recommending them, and not a single unhappy customer. eBay pioneered the introduction of social media on their existing merchant site. When you buy something, you can rate a supplier. This brought trust into online shopping and made eBay the largest online shopping site.”

Marketing to the masses InBusiness Autumn 09 2009 / 31

Social Networks – a threat to the Recruitment Agencies?

Social Networks are here! Recruitment and sourcing in particular is changing. Job Boards that the recruitment agencies have been relying for as their main source of candidates are getting smaller role to play today. The future for the job boards is not extremely bright either. Their dominance is being replaced by the social networks. There are more and better candidates using social networks than job boards. Recruiters had to follow the trend – moving their business of the job boards – to the social networks.

Job boards will not really die tomorrow. Job boards will still have their place in the online recruitment world. Most of them in a bit different shape or form. They will serve as repository for active jobs, and feed their data to the web sites with the high ant targeted traffic (do you recognise the description of a social network here?).

A lot of the recruiters are not extremely happy with the way that social networking sites are changing the recruitment. They feel the threatened. Why? They feel that they will be bypassed since employers will be able to source and recruit directly on the social networking web sites. Those recruiters go that far that they themselves do not use the social networks, trying to stop the wheel of change.

The change is here. And more of it is coming. Embrace it. Don’t fight it. Resistance is futile.

Online recruitment as well as any online business are changing. Changing constantly and rapidly (Microsoft: At the Speed of Light). Adoption spread and growth of the Internet fuel the acceleration of the change of Internet itself. Market penetration phase is shortening, and the market reach is growing.

Social networks are NOT the end of the recruitment agencies.

Internet brought the quick and cheap advertising to the recruiters 15 years ago in a form of job boards. Employers used them as well as recruitment agents. Both successfully. Both competed for the same candidate. Social networks are no different. Both direct employers and recruitment consultants will use them. If used right, social networks will be (are today!) extremely beneficial in the recruitment process. Does this mean the end of the tunnel for the recruitment agencies? Absolutely not! Recruitment agents have their place in the recruitment process, and will always have it as long as they add value. The tools they use will always the be the tools that are on the disposal of the employers as well. Social networks today, and whatever comes along tomorrow.

Social Networks Vs Online Job Boards…

Here are just two facts first:
1. Revenues of online job boards are falling
2. Social networks are (still!) gaining popularity

Why are job boards in trouble all of the sudden after being profitable for more than 10 years?

The troubled world economy that hit the recession in the second half of the 2008 and continued well into most of the 2009 (is it over yet???!!!) resulted in the first dip of the volume of the internet traffic. First ever actually. It is the first time since the Internet exists that the volume of the activity on the internet was smaller compared with the same month a year ago. All the iPhones and all kind of internet enabled devices did not help here. There have been far less people working (and surfing in their breaks), and far less people had time to surf during their work.

The combination of the large reduction of the job advertisements (that generate the revenue for the job boards, and also the drop in web site traffic in general – the figures of a job boards in 2009 do not look so rosy!

Social networks are a long term threat to the job boards.

The number of people spending time, and the sheer amount of time people spend on the social networking sites does not really leave much time to search the job boards. Compared to the job boards, the social networking sites are actually extremely boring. There is 0 interaction on the site really. As a job hunter you apply for a job or jobs you like, and what you get back in 99% of the cases is an automated response in the email. The confirmation of the job application. Impersonal and sterile. The social networks on the other side let you publish the content for other users (or anyone on internet) to read and see. Social networks let you say what you think (that your spouse doesn’t!). Social networks encourage you to comment pretty much anything!

You can meet new people. You can catch up with old school mates. You can check the last summer holiday photos of your cousins. You can upload your fancy wedding photos, with all the family in strange dresses in the background! You can grade photos and comment them. You can upload video from your car racing weekend. Your greatest fishing catch.

Social network is like a pub. People are talking. Social network is like a ‘Corso’, the main street boardwalk where you hang out with your friends and their friends. You can also do some business with all this people there if you feel like it. But do not really have to, since you can check how your mates commented the game yesterday. And tell them how YOU think your home club should have played.

After you got used to the way of communication that the social networks or let you by broadcasting YOUR message to the masses, the idea of browsing boring listings of the jobs on the job sites simply isn’t that appealing any more.

Social Recruitment is born simply because people are far more active on the social networks than on job boards. If Twitter wouldn’t have that many visitors and users it would be impossible to hire staff there. But the sheer volume of users on Twitter makes it a platform where you really can hire staff with the most crazy restriction anyone have ever imposed on the recruitment process – communication limited to 140 characters (spaces included!!!). Facebook is probably the platform with the largest number of useless, and distracting applications but the fact that the number of active users is larger than most of the countries in the world – makes it a perfect sourcing application for a large number or positions. LinkedIN is specialising for the recruitment itself – the social network of professionals. Even their Jobs section isn’t visited as much as all the others since it is simply boring. Visitors expect more from the social networks then the boring jobs listings. They want to contribute. They want to read other peoples contribution. They way to confirm their decisions by getting the independent views from other people with similar conclusions.