Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

No need to “take it offline”

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

This week Alan Whitford and Vic Okezie hosted their first Social Recruiting Conference in London. This was an exceptionally informative event, principally because at last companies were presenting metrics on the returns they were seeing from using social platforms for recruitment marketing.

The primary focus was on developing presence on public networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) because, as Sedef Buyukataman from Cisco said, “you fish where the fish are”. Companies are beginning to demonstrate some truly significant returns from investment in this space and public social media should obviously now be considered a key part of the recruitment marketing-mix.

The picture became slightly more patchy when the process shifted from broad attraction to engagement with potential candidates. When asked what happened at this stage the response was invariably “we take it offline”. So once the relationship needed to be personalised, confidential and high-touch it was conducted using email, phone and face-to-face meetings.

Colin Minto at G4S presented a different vision. He started with the point that companies should maintain relationships with potential candidates on their own property, in an environment managed by them and where they controlled the experience. Colin has also stated “The candidate experience you provide on your corporate career centre must live up to the experience you provide on your social channels”. To this end the G4S career site combines jobs and candidate data with an engaging community experience (Jon Ingham has written an excellent summary). This is genuinely innovative and exciting and the early results are encouraging.

Our vision is that social recruiting need not stop at the point where you have found someone on a public network. We believe that social technologies and concepts can be applied to the entire recruitment process, from marketing to hire, resulting in a holistic social recruiting process:

The Social Recruiting Process

The Social Recruiting Process

Social Attraction – Use public social media as part of the recruitment marketing-mix to reach and inform potential candidates

Social Engagement – Bring selected candidates into a network where you can develop and maintain relationships with them in a distinct, secure and engaging environment

Social Selection – Network your recruiters (and other employees, even trusted communities like alumni) so they can leverage personal networks to source, filter and refer talent

These are very exciting times and it is fantastic that the benefits of social recruiting are starting to be demonstrated. All we would add is that with the right tools you can continue to realise those benefits throughout the entire recruitment process and avoid the need to “take it offline”.

Should Enterprise Software be like Facebook?

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Mark Benioff, CEO of, caused a stir by asking the question “Why isn’t all enterprise software like Facebook?”. The context was the launch of Salesforce Chatter which is intended to be a collaboration platform built into the product/service. His overall conclusion is that enterprise software should be more like Facebook and whether one agrees or not the post has certainly raised the profile of the debate on the place of social tools within the enterprise.

Before one can discuss whether software “like Facebook” is appropriate for the enterprise we first need to understand what “like Facebook” means. Mr Benioff focuses on two key themes, ease of use and immediacy. With ease of use he makes the very valid point that most enterprise systems are dauntingly difficult to use, often requiring lengthy training, which reduces uptake and activity. This contrasts poorly with Facebook which, by necessity, has had to be usable by anyone without training.

There is surely no argument with a vision of making any software easy to use, especially where the goal is to have non-expert users actively participating and contributing. The Facebook model is certainly a good starting point here although adding in the flexibility,integrations and security that an enterprise requires means the model needs to be adapted significantly. Once you delve into the deeper functionality of Facebook (for example the infamous privacy controls) it is clear that even they are struggling with the balance between usability and flexibility. Ease-of-use, nevertheless, should be a goal in all systems design.

The second theme, immediacy, is very interesting and offers benefits but also risks to the enterprise. One of the key innovations introduced by Facebook was the News Feed – a continually updated stream of information about the thoughts and activities of other network members. From Facebook’s perspective this was the hook that got users logging back in. There was a great review of social networks as part of the BBC Virtual Revolution series and what was interesting is the way in which the networks, and in particular the news feeds, have changed (or perhaps matched) the ways in which people interract and consume information.

Given that Facebook is essentially built around the News Feed it is not surprising that most systems offering social networking capabilities to the enterprise also incorporate some form of  News Feed. Certainly this is a key part of Salesforce Chatter (and a feed exists in the Employer Connections platform). The vision is that this allows serendipitous and immediate discovery of key information (sales won, projects completed etc). The Salesforce vision extends to integrating information from other systems into the Feed, for example if someone updates a document.

On the positive side it can be argued that this way of delivering information better suits the way the human brain works, grazing for information and switching from task to task. It certainly benefits an advertising-driven business model, compelling users to frequently access the site to get their “fix” of information. In the enterprise context, however, there are disadvantages; either the distraction of people from their core activities or, for infrequent users, the risk of key information being missed altogether.

At Employer Connections our opinion is that an enterprise social network needs to use public social networking concepts whilst augmenting these to deliver enhanced business processes and performance across many different types of community. For example, tying social functionality into defined business processes provides compelling reasons to use the system without a “just-in-case” mindset. Prioritised activity summaries enable users to see at a glance the important issues they need to address without feeling the need to log in every half hour.

The public social networks demonstrate the potential value of communities and engagement and this value can be realised within the enterprise to exciting effect. The challenge is to deliver these benefits with a clear business-driven focus, in a nutshell to be efficient with social. Yes, enterprise software should be like Facebook but only where this delivers clear-sighted business value to the enterprise.

Privacy in Social Networks

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

All of a sudden the privacy (or lack of) in public social networks has come to the fore of the public consciousness. The trigger has been the latest moves by Facebook to leverage its social graph to support its real customers; the advertising clients. These changes should not be surprising. The valuations put on Facebook have all been driven by a perceived ability to monetise its user data. At the same time Mark Zuckerburg has been extremely consistent in his opinion on privacy i.e. there doesn’t need to be any. This approach has been hidden behind a byzantine set of privacy controls that give the impression of control whilst simultaneously making it too complicated to apply it.

Now the dam has broken and even Mr Zuckerburg is suffering. It remains to be seen whether this will slow the growth of Facebook. Probably not, but it may deter the use of public networks to support relationships and transactions that require high degrees of trust.

Bruce Schneier is always worth reading by anyone interested in security in all its guises. Recently he posted on privacy and control and the key point was that privacy does not equal secrecy. Instead privacy is about control, the ability for the user to decide where, when and with whom to share their data. This control needs to be granular, obvious and comprehensive. The conclusion of the essay is that the business model of the public networks will always drive them down the road of eroding privacy. What is perhaps surprising is how long it has taken for people to react.

Companies now have the opportunity to provide trusted social networks, driven by the internal value of their communities and offering genuinely comprehensive and easy to use controls. For users looking for a haven in troubled waters this will become an increasingly reassuring alternative which will benefit the employer brand.

Can you reach the talent you already know?

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

The problem

A talent supply problem, brought about by ageing workforce demographics and knowledge economy skill shortages, is probably the biggest constraint to today’s corporate development and growth.

The ability to reach and engage with the best people is the competitive advantage that employers need to create distinction.

Relationships and human cooperation have existed since Stone Age man discovered that hunting together was more successful than hunting alone. Communities evolved regionally, but have now extended globally as technology and Internet have emerged.

In this “small world”  with just “6 degrees of separation” between any one person and the rest of the human race, we are faced with complex choice. Search engines enable us to find almost anyone in today’s business world by “key word” searching of names and context.

However, the problem is not so much in reaching talent – but in reaching the right talent. This dilemma is constantly played out in the HR departments around the world in their quest to attract, hire, engage, retain and rehire the best people.

Public social networks, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, provide a tantalising opportunity to achieve some of these talent management objectives, as these communities are able to deploy effective referral technologies. These are highly popular sites, but their long-term future still seems unclear. Their ongoing challenge is in the monetisation of membership growth to satisfy advertising customers.

Our solution to the talent problem

We can help you build your own trusted social network to reach the right talent on your own terms.

It is about quality of relationships not quantity.

We believe that best practice employers will want to make sure that all their relationships and connections nearest to home are “tapped” into their own unique social networks. You already know these contacts, or you know people who may be able to reach them. These connections have some affinity based relationship to your organization and will generate the best quality returns, in terms of providing access to talent, in the shortest time possible.

Reaching the people you already know, or can gain access to, is the competitive advantage you need in business.

Our solutions focus on delivering distinction and benefits in recruitment, business development and social engagement. See our website for more details.


Let me know what you think about trusted social networks for business.

Thanks for your time

Peter Ward
Chief Executive Officer
Tel: +44 (0) 1727 811132