I come from a school of thought that seems more academic than liberal, so when I agreed to write this article, I knew my introduction would be a definition of the subject matter to gain a better understanding of its implications for candidate sourcing.
Definition – According to Wikipedia, Social Media is a set of interactive digital channels that facilitate creating and sharing information, ideas, interests, and other forms of expression through virtual communities and networks.
History – Internet Relay Chats (IRCs) was first used in 1988 and continued to be known well into the 1990s. The first recognisable social media site, Six Degrees, was created in 1997. It enabled users to upload a profile and make friends with other users. In 1999, the first blogging sites became popular, creating a social media sensation that’s still popular today. After the invention of blogging, social media began to explode in popularity. Sites like MySpace and LinkedIn gained prominence in the early 2000s, and sites like Photobucket and Flickr facilitated online photo sharing. YouTube came out in 2005, creating an entirely new way for people to communicate and share across great distances. By 2006, Facebook and Twitter became available to users throughout the world. These sites remain some of the most popular social networks on the Internet. Other sites like Tumblr, Spotify, Foursquare and Pinterest began popping up to fill specific social networking niches. Today, there is a tremendous variety of social networking sites. We can only speculate about the future of social networking in the next decade or even century, but it seems clear that it will exist in some form for as long as humans are alive. – (Small Business Trends).
Demographics – By tapping into various social connections, recruiters can reach a wider pool of potential employees. However, one critical factor that brings home the point of this article is demographics. It is essential to know where to find a suitable pool of candidates. The table below highlights the global demographics of the major platforms:
Culled from Sprout Social.
Looking closer to home (i.e. Nigeria) and according to a report by Statista, the top ten (10) social media sites used in generating connections, interactions and content are WhatsApp (91.9%); Facebook (86.4%); Instagram (77.9%); Facebook Messenger (71.2%); Twitter (57.4%); Telegram (50.3%); Snapchat (49.7%); TikTok (47.7%); LinkedIn (37.6%); and Pinterest (21.7%).
When the global stats are juxtaposed against the Nigerian numbers, it becomes clear that the most viable tools for finding talent in Nigeria are: the Meta ‘Trio’ (Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp), LinkedIn and YouTube.
● Facebook is arguably the largest and most active platform, thus, always presenting potential opportunities for sourcing candidates across industries and skillsets. The platform has tools that help with targeted advertising to get past all the ‘noise’ to reach those who match predetermined recruitment criteria. Its active population/age (largely male-centric) group falls within the range of new entrants into the workforce and those with some years of experience.
● Instagram is also male-dominated. However, the gap is much closer than the spread on Facebook. Thus, we can assume that the female gender has a growing influence on Instagram. Instagram is also reputed to be a more visual-based platform. As such, job opportunities have to be shared using visuals.
● WhatsApp deserves to be mentioned here because it is often the go-to platform (and usually the first to be used) to reach personal networks when seeking a job or employers/recruiters are trying to fill vacant positions. And companies that advertise vacancies on Facebook can always carry over those conversations to Whatsapp directly due to the same platform ownership. Access to the network capacity of WhatsApp (at 91.9% of usage in Nigeria) will be difficult as that is wholly dependent on the volume of individuals’ networks and how easy it is to reach out to people. Thus somewhat limiting potential reach given the platform’s usage generally.
● LinkedIn, with the growing popularity amongst millennials on this platform, it becomes a tool for sourcing the much-needed talent for employers and recruiters. Its lack of popularity compared to other social media platforms makes it an add-on platform to be used in conjunction with others to generate leads for finding talents across different industries. However, if finding talent in somewhat specialised fields with a relatively small pool of qualified/experienced persons, LinkedIn presents itself as a viable sourcing tool.
● YouTube could be seen as an employer-driven platform where employers attempt to create content that sells the kind of work environment potential employees could be coming to work. In the long term, it could significantly impact the way sourcing is done by encouraging job seekers to upload videos of themself showing what they can do and employers showcasing what they have to offer to attract talent.
Conclusion – Understanding the different platforms’ dynamics makes Social Media a veritable tool for recruitment, as long as a deliberate approach is taken. It is without a doubt that Social Media will continue to grow as a formidable tool for finding talent, though its usage will continue to change over time. The companies that will succeed in using Social Media as talent sourcing tools are the ones that continue to keep abreast of trends and adapt their strategies accordingly.
Written By: Olufeyisayo Sofolahan Soewu (CEO, SquaredLAB Innovations Limited)