Mobile First – What Recruiting can learn from the Facebook IPO

So like you I’m getting bored with hearing about all the fuss round Facebook’s IPO and extremely bored of some of the very ill-informed chatter claiming that a bodged IPO means the end of social networking as we know it and proof that is was a fad all along. This is not what this blog post is about

What this blog post is about is a theme that is starting to emerge from all the controversy, the huge issues with Facebook’s mobile platforms

Take a look at this graph from ComScore which details the percentage growth of mobile for the key social networking platforms in the biggest five European markets

As you can see mobile accounts for nearly half of Facebook’s European traffic and is by far its fastest growing platform. One of the key themes that has come out of the IPO controversy is Facebook’s difficulty in monetizing mobile. With it representing such a large part of its exist user base and future growth this is obviously a very big problem.

However, as any mobile Facebook users know, the problem goes much deeper than this. Facebook’s mobile apps are terrible. They are unreliable, slow and lacking in much of the functionality that the desk top users love. Contrary to popular belief though this isn’t necessary down to incompetence on Facebook’s part and it is also unfortunately not something that can be quickly fixed by rolling out new versions.

Although it is only 8 years old, Facebook was built and developed in the pre-smart phone era. The key issues that make mobile so difficult for them are the complexity of the site combined with an acute skill shortage at the cutting edge of mobile technology.

Sites like FourSquare and Instagram were created much later and built from a “mobile first” perspective. Being smaller start-ups it has also been perhaps easier for them to attract the best mobile talent as there is much more of a sense of input and ownership for employees than there is at bigger companies like Facebook

Without the benefit of a time machine Facebook can’t ever be a mobile first platform and all this certainly adds a lot of context to their recent Instagram acquisition.

So what is the lesson here for corporate recruiting? Well it is a fairly simple one – make your digital talent acquisition strategy “Mobile First”

Accessing the Internet via mobile devices will overtake desktop use at some point in the next two years. This is well within the lifespan of any corporate recruitment sites currently be developed.  Why would you then build a site that will alienate the majority of its users?  Thinking mobile first isn’t easy but I would argue that it is now essential.

Recruitment tends to lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to adopting new technologies so this actually gives us the benefit of the time machine that Facebook doesn’t have. Now is a great opportunity to use this to our advantage by looking, learning and adapting accordingly

9 responses to “Mobile First – What Recruiting can learn from the Facebook IPO

  1. Many of the problems FB will have with delivering mobile products are to do with the weight of data built up over 8 years, that sits behind you iPhone screen. As you rightly say, Twitter was the first of the big three to build for mobile, as it was designed to be an extremely light application accessed by texting. Retooling Facebook (and Linkedin) for mobile, is like rewiring an old hospital. for electricity, when it was designed for gaslight, whilst millions of people are still using the building. It’s just no longer possible for Zuckerberg to have a development idea in the morning, and on the site in the afternoon.

    The business of the IPO and the financial strategy of FB are not likely to be of any concern to daily users, but will be a handle to grab for those social media naysayers predicting the next MySpace.

  2. Thanks for the comment Stephen, completely agree with you on both counts

  3. I completely agree with the idea that companies should build a recruiting strategy around “Mobile First”. Like many job boards we see rapid growth in mobile visitors, partly because of our niche (hourly and entry level jobs) and 18 – 30 year old year old demographic. This upward curve will continue as The challenge with building upon your digital strategic recruiting strategy involves antiquated ATS systems and lengthy application processes impeding the mobile job seeker experience. Until companies simplify the application process, mobile first will continue to be a pipe dream. Social sign on may be one way around this issue although companies often expect a lot more job seeker data than the social networks provide.

  4. mobile_dave

    Matt
    Great article! You have captured the two killer points in one go!

    First – Social media is now mobile! Which means social media marketing needs to be mobile web optimised! (not native apps but mSites)

    Second – Design mobile first! This feels unusual but it is catching on, it makes a lot of sense! It forces the design process to deliver less – it forces the true priorities out of the chaos. If design a killer mobile site that performs against your business objectives you have solved the puzzle! You can easily expand the design to desktop in confidence that you will have sucess. The other way round does not breed such organic sucess.

  5. Nice one, Matt! You gave me some great insights. Now I see why I can’t add Facebook images to Pinterest. This really surprised me. I agree we’re heading to mobile. Since my wife got an iPad, she barely touches her PC. Best regards, P. 🙂

  6. Thanks Matt. On the button indeed! Mobile first and from the ground up is the only sensible option and in many cases PC browser sites might even become the afterthought if at all. So Google and Facebook are already Web2.0 geriatrics.. and like most others will now have to find a way for the mobile experience but first as last and a clean sheet is better.

    I was also thinking about the early analogy with Microsoft when they made software to fit hardware. Then soon the reverse happened, where hardware manufacturers started to design PC’s to fit Microsoft software. Also those days a lot of talk on future proofing!

    We’re already seeing better mobile devices, operating systems and firmware but there is another level that manufacturers still need to meet and not forgetting on the operator side, bandwidth.

    I am in a recruitment bubble – so I think everything is made just for recruitment and is clearly the case for mobile and social and video too!

    Well, recruiters currently lagging behind certainly have an opportunity but short window to leap ahead in that time machine back to the future with a clean sheet and build a mobile first strategy, building from the ground up based on ease of use and a candidate centric experience and as always, learn from others not least – Facebook.

  7. jamieleonard

    Matt, insightful as ever. I thought it was worth noting that FB have just launched their 3rd single function app this weekend in FB Camera. It would seem you’re bang on the money a d FB realise they had to mug functionality to create one app, and are instead going to the route of creating simple single function apps. It’s also interesting to note that FB Camera has some of the same functionality of Instagram.

  8. Really interesting, insightful post. Echos a lot I heard at the Google Atmosphere on Tour event a few weeks ago in London and at this presentation: http://www.gfktechtalk.com/2012/03/20/techtalk-live-russell-buckley-disruptive-innovation/

  9. Thanks for posting that video Caroline, it’s absolutely fantastic!

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