When I started this blog series I really struggled to find any decent UK Social Recruiting case studies worthy of inclusion. I was therefore delighted when yet another of my former colleagues, Mark Beavan, agreed to write a guest post about his recent campaign for The National Trust. I really liked working with Mark when he was doing his “apprenticeship’ and I really like this case study for a number of reasons. First of all because it’s public sector (take note commercial recruiters!), secondly because it was successful with a hard to fill vacancy being filled and finally because it is brilliantly simple. No complex platform integrations just transparency, conversation and above all proper active listening. Well done to Mark, ThirtyThree and The National Trust!
Mark Beavan has worked in digital recruitment for the past 11 years, having served his apprenticeship at TMP and then continuing his development in the digital team of ThirtyThree. Mark is currently the Head of Digital for the Bristol agency, a role that seen him design and implement large scale digital advertising campaigns for a wide range of clients, from SME clients, blue-chip companies and high volume recruiters, through to large public sector organisations. He has also managed the design, development and launch of some key, award-winning website development projects for LV=, Davis Langdon, Virgin Mobile, the Audit Commission, Claire’s and NFU Mutual.
“Is it sad that I should find the potential that social media offers recruiters quite so interesting? As a human being possibly. But as a digital recruitment adviser there is little doubt that social media offers the huge amount of attraction, engagement and branding opportunities. Opportunities that frankly weren’t available two years ago.
I too get frustrated that the practical applications of social media aren’t moving quite as fast as the theoretical applications – and I too am constantly searching for the case studies that we all feel reassured by. But they simply don’t seem to be there – be sure if they were the recruitment teams (and any associated agencies) would be shouting about them.
But examples of a strategic approach to social recruitment are increasing, with some excellent examples of content generation, platform building and online reputation management. But developing strategic recruitment plans is only part of the job of an advertising agency (or recruitment communications business) does and often clients are interested in how social media can help them on a tactical, job-by-job level.
It wasn’t until we entered the National Trust’s campaign to recruit their Head of Digital Media into this years RAD awards that we learned how few examples of tactical social recruiting there were out there. But fundamentally the strategy is the same:
• Find your audience (identify the key influencers)
• Listen (and if no-one’s talking, drive the conversation)
• Take on board the comments (and use it to produce useful and interesting content)
• Go back and engage with audience
But enough with the theory, this is what the National Trust actually did …
The goal of the campaign was of course to attract and engage the best possible digital media talent for The National Trust. It wasn’t easy as their first approach had resulted in a high drop-off rate of candidates invited to interview. The challenge was to find out why this had happened and put in place a strategy that would be more suited (and appealing) to the target audience.
So they went to their target market to find out why the initial approach hadn’t been successful. They asked the applicants and short-listed candidates, as well as members of appropriate LinkedIn groups and digital forums, for answers. The ‘crowd’ highlighted that the initial campaign didn’t reassure them of the Trust’s commitment to digital and also that the location of the role wasn’t particularly attractive. And it was quickly realised that to engage their target audience of digital experts they needed to build a significant presence online – particularly within the social media space.
To address the concerns about the Trust’s digital investment the ‘Director of Marketing’ and outgoing ‘Head of Digital Media’ were interviewed highlighting how important this investment was to the future of the organisation. To provide an insight into the working environment we made a short film highlighting the uniqueness of the Trust’s state-of-the-art office. These were then streamed using the National Trust’s Vimeo channel – the video sharing site of choice amongst the creative community.
Then to pull this content together and introduce a strong creative concept they launched a micro-site carrying a (popular) retro-digital design, www.hungryfordigitalchange.org.uk. The site was launched essentially only as a platform for delivering the video and written content that was produced. With the content in place we went back to the digital community and this time the Trust were able to address the major concerns by directing interested candidates to the micro-site and the videos.
The Trust also made a conscious decision not to advertise the vacancy heavily, but mainly to ‘push’ this opportunity out to the digital community using social media – LinkedIn groups, Facebook, digital forums and on Twitter via the Trust’s account, the outgoing Head of Digital Media’s own account and the ThirtyThree Digital team. The videos and the micro-site were shared using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter … then we then sat back and watched it propagate across the different social media platforms.
How effective the campaign was can be seen in the results. The two week campaign generated over 120 conversations or references in discussion forums, blogs or Tweets. This activity combined with a small job board and search engine presence saw over 1,800 visitors arrive at the micro-site to find out more, of these 77% came from the seeded conversations originated by the Trust and ThirtyThree, 20% from job board and search engine activity and 3% from other (unspecified) conversations. All this activity resulted in over 120 applications, 3 high-calibre candidates interviewed and 1 hire. A hire who saw the opportunity discussed in a LinkedIn forum.
What I like about this example – besides the fact that it filled the vacancy – was the way that the digital community reacted to this approach. The original Tweet from the Trust was re-Tweeted over and over again, the comments were incredibly complimentary and the feedback the Trust received was very positive. But that’s because the approach was right – the Trust listened to what the target audience had to say, they addressed their concerns by building content on platforms best suited to deliver their message and then communicated it out to the market using social media that we knew they would be using.”