We’re way past the tipping point on social media

As Future Shop turns to social media to recruit 4,000 holiday staffers, the excuses for sitting on the sidelines are running out

By Todd Humber (todd.humber@thomsonreuters.com)

Think social media is a passing fad? You might get along well with those folks who thought the world was flat.

Because there’s no denying social media is mainstream and is here to stay. Further evidence of the fascination with Web 2.0 came on the weekend at the box office, as The Social Network — the move chronicling the story of Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook — dominated the box office, raking in US$23 million in North America. (And many critics are buzzing about it being a candidate for the best film of the year.)

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, delivers a keynote address at the company's annual conference in San Francisco. (Photo: Kimberly White/Reuters)

Just look at the statistics around social networking: Facebook has more than 500 million active users. That’s a stunning figure. And they’re an engaged audience. More than 50 per cent of them log on to Facebook on any given day, and people spend more than 700 billion minutes per month on the website.

LinkedIn, which is more popular among the corporate crowd, has more than 80 million members.

Start digging through the web stats provided by Alexa, which tracks the 500 most popular websites in the world, and it doesn’t take long to see the impact of social media.

The number one website, not surprisingly, is Google. But Facebook is nipping at its heels in the number two spot. YouTube grabs the third spot. Then social media lets a few other search engines into the game, but reappears at number eight (blogger.com) and number nine (Twitter). Four of the top 10 websites in the world are social media related.

There’s a message coming through here loud and clear for employers. Just a couple of years ago, it might have been defensible not to have a social media strategy. But the tipping point is in the rearview mirror now.

Employers need to get on board the social media bandwagon. This is particularly the case for human resources. If we believe the numbers on demographics, almost every sector of the Canadian economy is going to experience worker shortages over the next decade.

It’s cliché, but young people preparing to enter the workforce are unbelievably plugged in to social media. Employers are picking up on this. One prime example is Future Shop. On Oct. 4, the electronics retailer announced it was hiring more than 4,000 seasonal associates for the holidays.

Not a surprise. Retailers typically bulk up on staff for the busy shopping season. But read the first line of the press release it put out announcing the recruitment drive.

“Future Shop is using a modern form of recruitment to hire more than 4,000 tech savvy seasonal associates by turning to social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.”

Chris Taylor, the company’s vice-president of HR, said going beyond traditional job postings made a lot of sense.

“We recognize that most of our customers and associates are social media savvy, so what better way to recruit them through channels they frequently use,” he said.

In Future Shop’s case, the decision was a no-brainer, given the nature of its products and the skills its employees’ need.

But it should be a no brainer for every organization, regardless of the sector it’s in or the products and services it offers. You can post current job openings, build the employer brand by blogging about employee events and “tweet” about everything the organization is doing to be a responsible corporate citizen.

The cost is minimal (accounts are free to setup, and require a minimal amount of employee time to keep updated) and the benefits are countless. The return on investment, for the number crunchers out there, would be off the charts. So jump in, and we’ll see you online.

For more information on how to use social media for recruiting and other HR purposes, visit www.hrreporter.com and enter “social media” as a search term.

Todd Humber is the managing editor of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resources management. For more information, visit www.hrreporter.com.


2 Responses to “We’re way past the tipping point on social media”

  1. 1 autom October 4, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks for the post, Todd. it would be interesting to see just how quickly Canadian organizations catch up by year end (i.e., an infographic on the stats). one would think the majority of multinational companies in the B2C sector would have adopted, not just for recruitment purposes but also for brand promotion/management, client engagement/relations etc. and the B2B sector is quickly catching on with hyper targeted approaches to using social media

    i would however be cautious around the notion of just how “easy and free” it is to layer on a social media component to one’s overall marketing/communications. It’s true the majority of the tools and channels are free and it doesn’t necessarily take an army of employees to maintain social media campaigns. But those who are charged with doing the hands-on work must be involved and participate regularly and consistently.. beyond the proverbial “it’s all about the online conversation” but also monitoring the evolution of social media and web technology overall to be able to anticipate trends, manage expectations and determine exactly where and what to measure in terms of ROI — which continues to be a highly debated aspect of social media’s application to business

    Thanks again for the post! autom

  1. 1 Tweets that mention We’re way past the tipping point on social media « -- Topsy.com Trackback on October 4, 2010 at 2:07 pm

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