Personally, I sort of have a love-hate relationship with social media. On the hate side, I’m sick of all the social media hype. It’s not the end of all other forms of marketing, it doesn’t replace selling, and it can’t cure cancer. There is so much misleading social marketing advice out there that it’s hard for the average person to tell fact from fiction.

But I love it because it’s a powerful tool—in many different ways. And you can use social media very strategically for sales lead generation, recruiting and even direct selling. Let’s look at a few examples:

LinkedIn.

Is there anyone in staffing or recruiting who doesn’t live on LinkedIn? Okay, I’ve met a few, but most of the industry sees LinkedIn as being as essential as the phone, and one of the most important Social Media strategies for staffing agencies. There are few tools that can match LinkedIn for identifying sales prospects and candidates.

From a marketing perspective, LinkedIn can be used very effectively for company and employer branding, sales lead nurturing, and attracting new audiences to your website. Some of my favorite LinkedIn tools are:

  • Visual status updates – LinkedIn lets you share big, beautiful images as a status update. When you pair an eye-catching image with a powerful message, you can create a real attention grabber. And when people engage with your visual updates, they show up as “top updates” in the feeds of the people in your network. So as long as you have a big network, and great content, you’ll get lots of engagement from visual updates, and you can include links in the descriptions to drive people to your website.
  • Posts – LinkedIn is a terrific blogging platform. It’s easy to use, but more importantly, LinkedIn will promote your posts to your network and others who may be interested in your ideas. LinkedIn helps market your content for you!
  • Groups – While discussions within LinkedIn Groups tend to be dominated by people selling stuff (and recruiters), they can still be a great way to reach people you do not know. You can click on the “Members” tab in any group to see everyone else who belongs to the group, and then you can invite those people to connect with you.

    If you share useful and relevant content in a group, LinkedIn will promote that content to the other members (lots of people you probably don’t know) at no cost to you. They will do this through email, status updates and featured discussions in each group. Unfortunately, groups don’t let you share those big beautiful pictures like you can in updates, but when you start a discussion by using a link to a web page or blog post, LinkedIn will automatically grab the featured image from your page/post to help highlight your content.

  • Connections – I love using the “Stay In Touch” tool to share content with people I know in more of a 1:1 feeling format. While you don’t want to overdo one-to-one sharing, occasional sharing via connections is a great way to nurture relationships, demonstrate your expertise, and drive traffic to your website.
  • Connected App – I use this app to nurture relationships with people in my network. The app reminds me to congratulate people on new jobs and work anniversaries, say “Happy Birthday,” and connect with people I might (or should) know.

Twitter.

I find that most staffing people don’t get Twitter. And to be candid, I didn’t get it either—until recently. But there are a few really powerful ways you can use Twitter for branding and direct marketing. Here are a few ideas:

  • Direct messaging. Twitter lets you connect directly to key decision makers and influencers (often with no gatekeeper). If these people follow you back, you can then send direct messages. I’ve used direct messaging at conferences to schedule meetings with key decision makers who I couldn’t reach via phone or email. At the last Staffing World and Executive Forum conferences I attended, those direct messages turned into major sales.

  • Strategic following. Twitter lets you follow key decision makers, top influencers in your industry, and companies you want to land as clients. By following these people and organizations, you can gain a deeper understanding of critical sales issues, and more importantly, you can open doors to the direct messaging that can lead to real sales calls.

    When it comes to building your Twitter network, there are really cool tools like Tweepi that let you follow the people who follow other Twitter accounts. For example, you might use Tweepi to follow all the people who already follow your competitors. Or you might follow all the people associated with an industry trade association. Following the followers of other Twitter accounts can be a terrific way to build your brand with people who don’t know you or your firm.

  • Live tweeting. We’ve had great success live tweeting during our Lunch with Haley webinars. During these events, our social media team will tweet updates and send direct messages to attendees. Live tweeting builds engagement (and relationships) with the people who are watching our presentations, and it greatly aids in converting content consumers into active sales prospects.

These are just a few of my favorite uses of social media, and I haven’t even addressed some of the clever (and effective) strategies our clients are using on other platforms like YouTube, Pinterest and Reddit.

You may also have noticed that I skipped the king of social media, Facebook. While I love Facebook as a tool to keep up with friends and classmates, most staffing firms are getting little-to-no value from their Facebook marketing efforts. The reason is that Facebook has become more of a “pay to play” social network. Simply sharing content or jobs won’t have much of an impact.

If you want to make Facebook work, be prepared to invest in paid advertising. First, unless your company already has a very large Facebook network, you’ll need to invest in a “like” campaign to build your followers. Then, once you’ve built a sizable fan base, you’ll want to regularly promote the content so that your network will see it. Thanks to Facebook’s edge rank algorithm, it is very hard (almost impossible) to get unsponsored content in front of a very wide audience.

These are a just a few examples of leveraging social media in staffing. If you want more ideas, contact our social media team. They are doing some amazing things, and they’ll be happy to share some of the more advanced strategies we are using to help our clients drive traffic—and measurable ROI from their social marketing efforts.

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