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Sue Olivier, regional talent development director for Ogilvy & Mather Asia Pacific, speaks with Akankasha Dewan about how the company has strengthened its recruitment and employer branding campaigns through the effective usage of social media.
Social media networks were a novelty five years ago, but today their importance is no longer debated.
Businesses worldwide have realised the power of social media and accepted that its usage has to be part of their organisational strategy.
“The functionality of social media tools in this space has made for early and wide adoption to the extent that it is hard to imagine a world without social media as a recruiting, tracking, rewarding, creating and connecting tool,” says Sue Olivier, regional talent development director for Ogilvy & Mather (Asia Pacific).
“It allows an organisation to have a relationship with potential or past employees and many companies do a good job of maximising its potential.”
Interestingly, social media has carved a significant niche for itself when it comes to recruitment. Various studies, such as Jobvite’s 2012 annual survey, stated that 92% of recruiters worldwide had embraced social networking as part of their overall strategy.
Ogilvy’s approach to social media recruitment
One of the reasons why social media aids significantly in recruiting is it helps to narrow down the vast sea of candidates available based on specific requirements.
“What social media tools help you do is to filter information,” Olivier says.
When you search for a particular type of candidate for a particular role, a tool like LinkedIn gives you access to many potential candidates, but it also filters out a lot of inappropriate people.
“When you search for a particular type of candidate for a particular role, a tool like LinkedIn gives you access to many potential candidates, but it also filters out a lot of inappropriate people based on your requirements.
“The more specific you can get, the more focused the result.”
This is especially useful for companies who recruit candidates based not only on their hard skills, but also soft skills such as personality and whether they are a cultural fit.
“Ogilvy has a well-defined working culture as a company. Our founder David Ogilvy was very specific in much of the work he published on the type of people he wanted to be part of the organisation,” she says.
Ogilvy has eight defined habits which the company’s hiring managers look for when hiring, growing and rewarding people. These include traits such as having courage and being playful.
“Our approach is that if you don’t hire for these qualities, it is unlikely they will develop them later.
“Because it is such a distinct culture, it is important we hire for a natural cultural fit in the agency. In addition, our industry tends to be informal and personality based.”
Now, it is quicker for recruiters to assess the quality of candidates that one recruitment tool delivers versus another, rather than just quantity of responses.
She adds that when recruiting, the company is likely to check out all possible avenues of social presence – be it a Twitter account, blogs, LinkedIn profile, etc.
But how can companies measure the effectiveness of such recruitment tools? And how can they know if such tools are, indeed, working for them?
Olivier explains that in the past, companies would generally measure the effectiveness of hiring by how quickly hiring managers could close the role.
“Now, it is quicker for recruiters to assess the quality of candidates that one recruitment tool delivers versus another, rather than just quantity of responses.
“You have more data more readily available to get an accurate return of investment. Experimenting with different recruitment strategies in social media tends to be more cost-effective than traditional media channels.”
The role of social media in Ogilvy’s employer branding strategy
Besides using social media for recruitment, the advertising company leverages on the vast reach of its many tools to build its employer branding proposition.
“Every owned asset that you have – whether it is your website, your job board or your LinkedIn profile – helps in building or diminishing your employer value proposition.”
Experimenting with different recruitment strategies in social media tends to be more cost-effective than traditional media channels.
The company utilises social media platforms quite extensively. Many of its offices have their own social media accounts and most of Ogilvy’s disciplines have their own owned communities.
The content in such pages is also shared among personal communities of employees.
Olivier explains Ogilvy has a high rate of returnees. Employees leave and come back – sometimes in a different discipline or a different office or geography.
To help them stay informed of its latest happenings, the company has alumni pages on LinkedIn for different communities – global as well as regional.
“The alumni page enables them to stay connected to the company’s wins, the stories, the office and people moves, the values of the brand, and such.”
For Ogilvy, this page has also proven to be an effective medium to advertise vacancies, especially because the page’s followers are mainly ex-employees who are already familiar with the culture of the agency and would make a good fit for the company.
Additionally, they are also more likely to recommend candidates who would be a good fit.
“Our own social media profile includes the great thought leadership page, Ogilvy D.O. It plays a crucial role in creating awareness for the Ogilvy brand, our approach, the type of thinking and the work that we do. It is not a recruitment tool per se, but it aids in building the employer value proposition of the brand.”
Ogilvy’s social media policies
With social media having such a vast reach of audiences, Olivier stresses the messages any company delivers through these tools must be structured in the right manner. She adds social media content management should be part of an overall organisation media policy.
When crafting such content, leaders need to consider elements such as the seniority of the spokesperson represented and the tone of voice adopted. In addition, they need to deliberate on the nature of what content to include and what to avoid and how to handle negative press.
“For social media you require another layer of ‘common sense’ guidance, which reminds your staff of the immediacy and potential reach of social media – whether at work or at home,” she says.
“We have a Social@ unit in our organisation which specialises in providing social media services to our clients. Their approach and insights are most useful for us.”
Olivier emphasises that handling social (and all other) media should involve the companies’ corporate communications teams, with a corporate communications policy in place. This should include social media guidelines for employees.
For social media you require another layer of ‘common sense’ guidance, which reminds your staff of the immediacy and potential reach of social media – whether at work or at home.
She adds the company follows both WPP and Ogilvy policies, which provide guidelines on responsible social media practice. All newcomers are exposed to these policies within the first 100 days as part of the induction process.
“The agency business typically allows everyone unlimited access to social media at work and it is instrumental to the service we deliver.”
In conclusion, Olivier says companies in general are on the right track to maximise the potential of these social media tools. This is fuelling the popularity of social media and increasing the role it has to play in being part of a company’s business strategy.
“There is an increased focus on talent management in all organisations – we all know that the people with the best people win.
“As a result of the heightened awareness, overall there seems to be a greater willingness by organisations to invest in talent and talent-related tools, whether for recruiting, tracking, connecting, developing or rewarding. And as the interest grows, the business opportunity for these tools also grows.”