Social Media Recruiting and The Bottom Line

by The Red Recruiter on January 15, 2010

At the age of 9, I realized that if I purchased a large bag of gum (100 pieces) for $5.00, I could sell the entire bag at school at a rate of $.25 per piece OR $25.00 per bag.  Kids would find me and purchase the gum right before my classes – perhaps an hour of work a week.  I liked my little gum business until the principal shut me down.

Last week, I moderated an online Twitter conversation (made possible through the use of a hashtag) called Talent Net (#TNL for those of you on Twitter!) thanks to an invite from Craig Fisher.

The conversation was geared towards 2010 being the year to start tracking your social media ROI.  Specifically, to explore what measurements, tools, techniques and methods recruiters (both corporate and agency) are using to figure out whether their social media time and resources are garnishing any financial benefits.

It’s important to know that I did not intend to provide the answers to these larger questions… the intent was to simply moderate a conversation.

Within a few minutes of starting, it became obvious that the group was waiting for all of the answers and that no one had the complete picture.

To make matters more complex, it seemed as if there was a true lack of consensus around what we (as recruiters) should aim to achieve… engagement, applicants, hires, clients – What matters most?

Measuring Social Media Effectiveness

To measure the results of our activity, we must start with what we are attempting to accomplish.  For every department, firm or independent, this metric/goal may vary.

Here are some potential goals for recruiters:

  • Increase # of Applicants
  • Increase # of Hires
  • Improve Employment Brand
  • Improve Candidate Experience
  • Increase # of Clients
  • Identify Hard To Find Candidates

What else would you add?

For every desired goal, we must establish a measure that will fairly represent success or failure in accomplishing said goal.  We must also account for the time spent or monetary investment towards the goal.

Let’s look at a couple of examples:

Goal:  Increase # of Applicants

Method:  Twitter

Investment:  5 hours per week

Tracking Tool:  Referral Source Field in Application

Desired Result:  More than one qualified applicant per week

If the dedicated recruiter earns $30 per hour, you have a weekly investment of $150.  Therefore, any result with less than $150 in return would prove less than desirable.

However, if your average cost per applicant acquisition is greater than $150 per person and your recruiter manages to engage more than one person per week, you are making a smart investment – well, at least until the next great thing comes along!

Any opportunity cost should also be taken into account… if you want to get really specific – if you know it, add it to the equation.

Another example…

Goal:  Identify Hard To Find Candidates

Method:  Facebook

Investment:  $50 Weekly Facebook Social Ad Campaign & 2 Recruiter Hours a Week ($5,720 per year)

Tracking Tool:  Referral Source Field in Application

Desired Result:  Reduce Recruitment Outsourcing by 3 Hires a Year (i.e. $45,000 in fees)

If over the course of the year, you can accomplish identifying three targeted hires by only investing $2,600 on a recruiting focused Facebook Social Ad and $3,120 of the Recruiter’s time… you are doing well!

Of course, if the recruiter can accomplish this faster and cheaper using another method, that would also have to be considered – hopefully you’re tracking it.

The possibilities for measurement here are endless… again, it all depends on what you want to accomplish and what tools/resources you are going to dedicate to the project.

Benchmarks have to be established before any comprehensive understanding can be reached.

Resources On Measuring ROI In Social Media

My opinion on this topic is just one of many… so, I’ve decided to gather a few of the posts that I encountered.  Opinions range quite a bit!

The Maturation of Social Media ROI – Brian Solis

Social Media Recruiting Paying Off at Crowe Horwath – John Zappe

4 Ways to Measure ROI + Metrics of Social Media Recruiting… – by Jessica Lee

Trying to measure the ROI of social media is stupid – Stephanie Lloyd

Measuring Social Media Marketing – by Chris Brogan

Measuring the ROI of Social Networking as a Recruitment Tool – by Sean Hennessy

How to Measure Social Media ROI for Business – Aaron Uhrmacher

The goal of understanding and/or exploring this topic has everything to do with creating a relevant dialogue around the topic.

We, as a group, have plenty to learn – consider how fast Social Media changes… I doubt we even have the ability to stay up to speed with these changes without our collective and collaborative understanding.

It seems as though our key metrics in recruiting have remained fairly consistent, but our tools have and will continue to change quickly.  We have to adjust and adapt.

What do you think we should be measuring?

Do you think the measurements have changed or just the tools?

How do you measure success in recruiting with social media?

Photo Credit, AMagill

  • JLetourneau

    Michael, great post. I commented here at my blog:

    Look out for “The ROI Monster”! :)

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  • theredrecruiter

    Thanks Joshua! Good perspective on your post.

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  • Josh Grob

    Social media is a great tool for recruiters to have in their tool box to find and identify the best candidates. While a search through a candidate's Facebook photos can tell how a candidate conducts himself outside the office, how can you tell if he is posting negative or detrimental information? Recruiters do not have the time to look through all the information candidates post, especially with loosened Facebook privacy settings.

    What are the standards recruiters are using when evaluating someone's social media presence?

  • Craig Fisher

    Michael, very nice post (must insert that the TalentNet Live hashtag is now #TNL). I love the examples here and links to the other articles. This is practical application of something most companies still see as impractical. Can we say that it is not always the specific tool that matters as much as the overall plan and process since the brand building on one tool can greatly impact the effectiveness of recruiting with another? I think so. I'm working on ways to measure that too. Love this topic!

  • theredrecruiter


    That's a great question… to which, I do not have the answer. In many of my conversations with recruiters and HR pros, there have been large concerns around diving into someone's social media presence for fear of discrimination. With that said, I am aware of many recruiters who dive deeper… and I'm not sure where they find the time.

    As a tool for attracting talent, I see more general benefit in using social media channels to create a presence… especially from a corporate recruiting perspective. From an agency perspective, digging deeper into a candidate's presence may become a more important aspect of usage since the recruiter's reputation is put on the line with each candidate submission. This would require time and research… probably using Google as a starting point.

    Thanks for the comment Josh!


  • theredrecruiter


    Thanks for stopping by!

    I've changed the hashtag… sorry about that!

    I agree with you that an overall plan would be vital and you are right that one impacts the other… absolutely! With that said, I think that there is room for getting down to the specific successes from each tool as a way to define our efforts in the future.

    Thanks again for the invitation last week! I appreciate it. I look forward to more discussions around this topic as we all attempt to identify what works in our field.


  • Josh Grob

    Social media doesn't have to be solely about promote the company. Recruiting and staffing firms are beginning to use social media to create pools of candidates at their fingertips by attracting followers, friends or connections, citing industry news, creating discussions and posting the latest jobs.

    Besides building a great brand presence, social media does offer recruiters a tool to learn more about candidates beyond a resume, testing or an application. What You Post is developing a product for recruiters and jobseekers alike to judge the effectiveness of an individual's Facebook, Twitter and blogs. If you are interested in participating in the beta, please visit our site. Thank you for the great post and continuous information.

    -Josh Grob

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  • marshakeeffer

    Thanks, Michael. Not only an excellent post – it's a gift to our community. I appreciate the time and thought that went into this!

  • The Red Recruiter

    Thank you for the comment! My pleasure 😉

  • theredrecruiter

    You're right Josh. There are real benefits in building up a sphere of influence that is easy to access when the timing/need is real.

    What site shall I visit?

  • theredrecruiter

    Thank you for stopping by and for leaving a comment! I appreciate it!

  • theredrecruiter

    You're right Josh. There are real benefits in building up a sphere of influence that is easy to access when the timing/need is real.

    What site shall I visit?

  • theredrecruiter

    Thank you for stopping by and for leaving a comment! I appreciate it!

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  • Karla Porter

    Great post Michael and kudos for having it included in the Dice white paper Six Steps for Getting in the Social
    Recruiting Game.

  • theredrecruiter

    Thank you Karla! 😉

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