By Gary Noke & Steven Duque
There is little doubt that social media will be ubiquitous and vital (1). What is most curious, however, is how few have realized that the “social currency” is trust (2).
In the race to lead and leverage social media, trust is discussed but—to the detriment of both communicators and listeners—often sidelined. Why? The reason most prevalent in social media recruiting is that many often conflate the distinction between broadcast messaging and engagement. Audiences’ expectations in either situation are very different from the other (3), requiring different approaches to earning trust.
In broadcast messaging, consumers have come to expect aggrandizement, at the very least, and outright lies as commonplace. In a world of ever increasing consumer cynicism, one of the biggest contributing factors to garnering an audience’s trust in broadcast messaging is brand perception or value (4). As the notion of “personal branding” (5) continues to spread and individuals think of themselves as publishing channels, audiences will become as skeptical of such publicly-facing individuals as they are of organizations. The net result is that people who broadcast through social channels (read: recruiters), like organizations, must add value to their connections’ online experiences through thought leadership, knowledge-sharing and relevance, at the risk of losing their audience’s trust and interest (just ask Ashton Kutcher).
Like in-person conversations, engaging people through social media can seem difficult and complex (6). And, like in-person relationships, no one will trust you or care about what you think if you’re perceived as inauthentic and/or unresponsive. As with other types of communication, there is no one-size-fits all consensus on how one should comport themselves as a professional over social networks. Rather, one must first understand the person on the other end of the computer before grappling with the best ways to talk with her/him. And, as most sales and marketing individuals will agree, it’s understanding where people are coming from—who they are, what interests them and what keeps them up at night—that will shape a successful engagement strategy (assuming you want to achieve business goals, not just make friends).
The convergence of broadcasting & engagement in the ‘social’ world
The transparency and public nature of social media have blurred the line between broadcasting and engagement (hence, the conflation). The abilities to ‘Like’, comment and share every piece of content that’s posted has changed the way information is consumed and perceived. In the ‘social’ world, both companies and people must move beyond merely providing messaging toward “authentic” communication, in order to earn trust among their audiences. As in the brick-and-mortar world, what ‘authenticity’ means in practice depends on who you are. Otherwise, you may find yourself socially bankrupt, a broadcaster without an audience that cares.
- Every company, government and social organization is jumping on the ‘social’ bandwagon—or trying futilely to ban it. ‘Social’ mechanisms are being used to market product, recruit candidates, influence elections, start uprisings and even speed relief to disasters. Children around the globe are using it as their main source of information and entertainment. For more on why this is so important to recruiting, see this post.
- The term “currency” implies a marketplace, which involves trade or exchange among those who participate. In the case of social media, the exchange, most broadly, is content (e.g., communications, pictures, videos and/or, in the case of social recruiting, job opportunities).
- For an an infographic about our thoughts on audiences’ expectations of job ads across social media, see this post.
- This is why increasing “brand value” and being on Interbrand’s vaunted Top 100 Brands list is so enviable.
- For a deeper dive into personal branding for recruiters through social media, check out this post.
- For more thoughts on being a human normal human being who uses social media, read this post. For a deeper dive into how you, as a recruiter, can use social media to nurture relationships, see this post.
- For more about transparency among the “tell-all” generation on Facebook, see this post.
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