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ROI in Social Recruiting...It's Complicated

Had the pleasure of taking in the ERE Social Recruiting Summit in Seattle this week, and one of the highlights for me was the presentation by Mike Vangel from TMP Worldwide on the ROI of Social Recruiting.

I'll omit the name of the Fortune 100 client that Mike touted stats for on the off-chance they don't want SRS the data shared outside the conference environment.

Here's the rundown of the social campaign that Mike outlined for us:

-Fortune 100 company

-Created social recruiting strategies from scratch in 2009 on Twitter and Facebook

Now, the Fortune 100 company in question has a big brand that people respect.  That's why the stats shared are so important and should make you think about social recruiting.

Here are the stats of where they ended up from an ROI perspective at the end of 2009 related to jobs traffic and the resulting candidate flow:


-1,500 clicks on jobs posted

-40 completed applications

-16 interviews

-7 hires

-Cost per hire: $1,071


-3,000 clicks on jobs posted

-50 completed applications

-23 interviews

-12 hires

-Cost per hire: $625

So what do you think?  First, let's acknowledge that we only know about 10% of the details necessary to judge whether the campaign was successful or not.

Now, let's judge.

It's a Fortune 100 with a big brand and thousands, if not tens of thousands of open jobs.  I'm disappointed in the overall volume of the candidate flow.  With that in mind, it seems like 19 hires is a very small number for what they have to offer.

BUT:  I'd take the cost per hire any day.  That's not bad, especially since it likely includes some ramp up costs on the development of the Twitter and Facebook strategy...

AND:  One thing that was shared by Mike is that the company in question really didn't have an open philosophy in terms of developing content to really drive traffic and interest in the social media properties.


-Disappointed in the candidate flow and quantity of resulting hires.

-The Fortune 100 needs to sexy up the content to drive more traffic and hires.

-We don't know the influence that the company's social media presence had on other sources of hire - of course, some of the people found opportunities through Twitter and Facebook and then classified themselves as something else later in the process.  One of the hard things about ROI in social media.

So what do you think about these numbers?  It's one of the rare examples of ROI related to direct hires from a social media campaign.  Is it good, bad or somewhere in between?





working girl

I'd be interested in comparing volume and cost with their other non-social media recruiting sources. But it looks about like any social media campaign: you can't argue with the cost but the results may not be that exciting.

Rob Levin

I wonder how much being a big brand Fortune 100 that people respect plays into the equation vs. a smaller company without the brand recognition. We are working on developing a campaign but due to the nature of our business we don't really have brand recognition (except in very small, limited circles). I see that as likely being our biggest challenge.

Reena Gupta

Social Recruiting is growing at a aggressive pace. This in turn has caused a huge demand in the online job sites and professional networking sites. We as an Applicant tracking system catering to staffing based needs make sure that all social networking and job portal sites are integrated in our system. This helps in quickening the recruitment process of a company. Please check out targetrecruit to know more.

Mark Hornung

Rob, you hit it on the head. You have to have an employer brand that motivates people to want to work for you. Both current employees and potential ones. See my blog post from yesterday on the topic: http://bit.ly/diDU1D Social media are important because they reach early adopters, who in turn influence the majority of the market. But without a strong employer brand you won't get very far.


Umm, tens of thousands of jobs makes me think retail. Is this a test? If it's retail, I would say those are pretty dismal CPH numbers.

I thought I knew who it was but you threw me off with the "respected" part. It still sounds like retail to me. Different animal entirely.

BUT this does highlight something that I frequently find disappointing in our industry and that is the rush to judge, especially when it comes to social media, without an understanding of context. It's never as simple as it may look.

Frank Roche

That AWFUL. I got 300 qualified applicants for a writing position in 24 hours with craigslist. Major league...NYT writers, New York. Producers from ABC, NBC and CBS. Cost: $25. Hired 3 people.

And so it goes...I get more clicks when I post pictures of what I ate for dinner than they got for a year's worth of jobs? Really?


Here's a fun list to review - all the Fortune 100 companies and their Twitter accts (if any).

So we've narrowed down the suspects to 75 ...



Mike Vangel

Hi Mark,

I am glad you enjoyed the presentation. I am sorry I didn't get to speak with you after the preso. Just to be clear, the goal of the presentation was to create a meaningful dialogue surrounding the establishment of an ROI for a company's Social Media employment branding efforts. It was not to claim that Social Media is the next "silver bullet" but to attempt to accurately set its place among the recruiters toolbox to build a talent community and to source.

The mere fact that others are quick to be able to form an opinion I guess means the exercise was a success. However, there are a few points that should be clarified:

1. The Facebook page launched in early October 2009 without any paid media to build community. Employees do not have access to the site while working so the growth did not come from them (at least not while at work). The 12 hires were within three months (by end of 2009) that we could definitely attribute (through
ATS embedded trackable links to apply) but because social media is so non-linear, there were probably many more hires that it drove.
I am not all that sure that these folks would also be on Craig's List, Monster, CareerBuilder, etc. It's an important point to consider when comparing sm to other more linear (and far easier to track) digital media and if passive candidate outreach is an important aspect to your sourcing/talent community building strategy. What we do know is that from October '09 through August 2010 there have been over 18,000 visits from the Facebook page to the job apply page with an average view time of just under 4 minutes. As of this morning there are 6,845 followers with 6,000 of them active per month.

2. The company's social media policy does not allow auto-following on Twitter nevertheless the Twitter page started in 2009 has 3,000 followers. I think this pokes a hole at the notion that you "have" to auto-follow to build community and perhaps by not auto-following the people who opt to follow you are more engaged.

3. We also touched upon the success of mobile which did not get addressed. Perhaps another time? It's very compelling data.

4. Influence and Engagement through social media are very important factors to consider, too. We touched upon this during the preso, too, and strategies for tracking.

5. I believe strongly you need to take a short term and a long term view to your social media talent community building and sourcing. We started from scratch in 2009 and drove results (albeit small) that we could definitively attribute to social media. Now that we have critical mass of almost 7,000 people in our Facebook community, 3,000 in our Twitter community and over 5,400 people visiting our mobile employment site every week, the data should be very compelling by year's end.

Maggie@ outplacement services

My takeaway is that the underlying principal in social media for individuals applies for businesses as well, even Fortune 100 ones: Social media is all about engagement.

Before anyone is going to follow you, you need to give them a reason to follow you by putting out compelling content and engaging in conversation. If Frank has spent time locating and cultivating relationships with Tweeps who care about what he's eating, then a Twit Pic of his dinner is going to get more clicks than a Fortune 100 company who has no targeted followers.

Another way to think of it is if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it really fall? If a Fortune 100 company Tweeted a job opening and no one followed them, will they get applicants?

Based on Mike's comment, it sounds like this company has since built Twitter and Facebook communities. I would like to see the results of its social media recruiting now that it has a community to recruit from.

Jim D'Amico

Based on the info I'm not overly impressed by the numbers, other than the CPH. However even that is too early to call a success until you run a comparative analysis on quality of hire.
I'd be interested to know how twitter and facebook we're selected? Was it based on their media darling status, or was it based on a solid technographic analysis of strategy against target audience?


Interesting info. I think the company’s social media reach (which Mike helpfully pointed out in his comment) needs to be considered; while the company may have thousands of open positions, that doesn’t matter – the number of people being reached on the social media platforms does.

As Mike said, the company has 3,000 Twitter followers and close to 7,000 Facebook followers. That’s a great accomplishment in a year – building a community doesn’t always happen overnight, especially with the sometimes complicated red tape present at larger companies. With those numbers, I think the number of views, applicants and subsequent hires is solid; and for not a lot of extra time spent recruiting on these sites (presumably), the return is large for the small time investment. Now, they have 19 hires they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

I think it’s important to remember that social media can be a powerful resource for recruitment, but it’s a complement to other methods in the recruiting mix. The company didn’t solely rely on social media for its results, but it still had success and continues to build a community and push its social media recruitment forward. I consider that success in itself, no?

HR Manager

I would definitely support social recruiting system as it saves the business' productive time and help in fetching quality candidates. After all recruitment is just a part of HR activity, we should not waste our whole and sole time behind it!

Eric Guess

Before you knock the fortune 100 company's hiring rate as a result of the social media strategy, consider the people utilizing these sites in the first place...and the reason they're on the media sites..? I'd say most everyone on these sites is more likely to be checking up on ashton kutcher's breakfast content or their ex boyfriends pics from the night before before they're checking into available jobs!
If the cost per hire is good, then keep it up because facebook, in particular, is becoming much more than a social media site for more and more demographics of people!

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