Arnim Wahls, CEO and co-founder of Firstbird, loves recruiting. As an experienced recruiter himself, he discovered firsthand the ups and downs of recruiting and the increasing frustrations and pressure from internal departments to hire the right talent. This led him to found Firstbird in 2013.
As a company, it is virtually impossible to avoid having a sophisticated social media presence – especially if you are looking for talent. However, turning potential candidates into followers is not exactly easy. So why not turn your employees into “influencers”?
We are online, but that alone is not enough. Social media channels such as Facebook, Youtube and Instagram continue to enjoy a steady growth in users, which in turn, attracts the advertising industry. Instead of television advertising or newspaper advertisements, advertising budgets are increasingly channeled into social networks. However, this means companies are confronted with a new challenge. The standard Instagram user rarely follows a refrigerator company for example, and on Facebook, it’s an art to obtain a “like” for a shampoo site. It’s taken several budgets to sink into the depths of the world’s social networks for agencies to finally realize: people follow people, not companies.
Influencers rule the world
Influencers have taken advantage of this dilemma. For the promotion of either entertainment or information, they’ve gathered a growing number of followers, to whom they can recommend specific products for a price. Influencers can be celebrities, and stars like Selena Gomez, Kim Kardashian or Cristiano Ronaldo usually get paid to post to over 100 million followers each. On the other hand, private individuals have also worked their way into the influencer realm. Youtube celebrity PewDiePie’s annual income is estimated at a whopping 15 million, and if beauty blogger Huda Kattan recommends a new pair of shoes in an Instagram post to her 20 million followers, you can be sure that costs the manufacturer a substantial annual salary.
The reason for influencers’ advertising success is obvious. People trust recommendations from friends, acquaintances or persons with whom they can identify or admire. An Amazon review, a booking recommendation on booking.com, or a star who has “discovered” a new shoe brand, usually have a far more lasting influence on my buying behavior than classic company advertising.
What applies to buying a new perfume also applies to choosing my next job. When making such an important decision, people rely even more so on the recommendations and opinions of their immediate environment. Therefore, shouldn’t we also rely on influencers to make ourselves heard in the ever-increasing battle for the right people? Especially for companies that do not yet have the advantage of a well-known brand, or have to struggle with more remote office locations, their own employees can be a key factor to making themselves heard on the job market.
That sounds like a classic employee referral program
Julius Caesar gave his mercenaries a 30 percent wage increase when they introduced a new soldier into the Roman legion. This concept is still practiced by many companies today: employees can earn a (sometimes impressive) reward if they refer friends or acquaintances to the company, provided they pass the probationary period. However, what may seem reasonable from the company’s perspective is often not very motivating for their employees. When such a program is introduced, a large number of employees are very active. Jobs are shared on social networks and friends are referred. In most cases, however, disappointment sets in after a short time. The path to hiring and passing the probationary period is long and winding, and only a fraction of the employees receive their reward in the first year. As a result, we witness a sharp decline in employee referral activity, which often comes to a complete standstill in the second year of a referral program.
From Employee Recruiting to Influencer Recruiting
Influencer recruiting is about developing employees and allowing them to become ambassadors on the job market in the long term. To do this, new concepts and incentive models must be created. One of the essentials is, of course, the satisfaction of the employees. If I, as a company, fail to ensure an acceptable culture, remuneration, and working atmosphere, my employees will not refer my company. But, even if this is all executed correctly, we would still need the right incentives to make sure that a lot of my employees become influencers.
As in many other areas, the key to success lies in appreciation. Digitization enables us to measure which employees act as multipliers for us. How many jobs do they share on social networks? How many clicks do they generate on my company’s jobs and how many good candidates do they bring to the interview table? Our experience shows that it is not – as with Ronaldo & Co – about large sums of money. Instead, even small gestures are sufficient. An Amazon voucher for the 20th job posted on LinkedIn or an additional holiday for the most active ambassador quarterly will already contribute to long-term employee motivation.
Influencers strengthen recruiting on many levels
When the majority of our employees become active influencers, this not only increases our reach on the job market exponentially but also improves our credibility and authenticity. Without having to worry about our career on Facebook, influencers generate a much higher presence on social networks. With each hire we get through an influencer, we make ourselves a little less dependent on external service providers and save time and money in recruiting.
Influencers also have a positive influence on companies internally. Employees who speak positively about the company within their networks (and who may even have brought a friend or acquaintance to the company) show growing loyalty. Also, employees and departments feel increasingly responsible for filling open jobs in their fields.
As a company, we will never succeed in turning all our employees into active influencers. Employees become influencers when are satisfied with the company and when they have some knowledge of the digital world. It is precisely these groups of employees who multiply themselves through the Influencer program and thus make your company fit for the challenges of the future.