It’s a question we’ve asked on this blog before: what is the best venue for promoting your employer brand and spreading your EVP? And while there is, of course, no one-size fits all answer, recruiters and hiring managers do often find themselves tasked with choosing the employer branding venue that will yield the best results in terms of ROI, employer brand gravity generated, and successful talent pipeline growth. How do recruiters make these determinations in a smart, considered way?
As a hypothetical, let’s say that you’re deciding between Facebook and Instagram as your primary platform for a particular recruitment advertising campaign. What factors should go into your decision? For starters, you need to think about where your target personas actually spend their time online—i.e. where is your messaging most likely to reach a receptive and engaged audience? Next, you’ll need to consider which platform's style and aesthetic best mesh with your existing employer brand messaging. There’s also ad-targeting options to consider, to say nothing of how your efforts will fit into your recruitment pipeline more broadly.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
Facebook continues to be a global social media juggernaut of unprecedented size and scope. It counts two billion of the world’s seven billion humans as monthly active users, and it hasn’t stopped growing yet! The platform offers users the ability to share text posts, links, images, and videos—to say nothing of sharing private messages, organizing groups and events, buying and selling goods, and much more. There’s really not much that you can’t do on Facebook if you have the inclination. This can be a mixed bag for recruiters. On the one hand, the platform is receptive to virtually any type of content you can produce—on the other hand, it’s incredibly crowded not just with content, but with corporate brands in particular. This means that when it comes to organic reach, your efforts will always be limited by Facebook’s infamous sorting algorithm, and when you’re placing ads you run the risk of a fairly high cost-per-click as a result of this level of competition.
That said, the ad infrastructure on Facebook is one of the most robust on the market. You can sponsor posts or run sidebar ads of various sorts, all with extremely granular targeting options—meaning that if you have a well-defined set of target personas (especially if they’re located in a particular geographic area or have a particular set of common interests) you can be virtually guaranteed of reaching the right people. The question, then, becomes: what kind of content do your target personas on Facebook want to receive? Because most Facebook users prefer to see content from friends and family, as opposed to brands, it’s crucial to put yourself in a situation where you’re able to add real value with your recruitment campaign.
This can take many different forms. For instance, you might make a point of giving your potential future candidates tips and insight into your application process. If they’re already somewhere in the middle of the funnel, they’ll appreciate anything you can do to make life easier when they actually apply.
Now, as it happens, Instagram (which is owned by Facebook), has an equally robust ad targeting infrastructure. In fact, it has the same ad targeting infrastructure—though the ads themselves are fairly different. The only thing that differentiates an Instagram ad from a normal post is that it contains a call-to-action button that leads to whatever landing page you deem appropriate for your particular recruitment campaign. This can be a big advantage if you succeed in creating an attractive and inviting visual distillation of your employer brand. In this way, Instagram can be an effective tool for candidates much closer to the top of the recruitment funnel. While a passive job seeker on Facebook isn’t all that likely to take any action based on a first-touch encounter with your employer brand, an Instagram user might like your first-touch content enough to click through to a landing page, and maybe even sign up for an email newsletter from your company.
The reason for this difference probably has something to do with the broader differences between Facebook and Instagram. Instagram has a smaller audience (though still gigantic at nearly a billion users) with a more niche set of interests. They skew younger as a group, and their primary interest is in visual content. If your brand lends itself well to being represented visually, then there is a lot of potential value to be gained from spreading your employer brand on Instagram. Again, you’ll have to consider the needs of your target candidates when they’re using Instagram. If you can provide them with something creative, picturesque, or inspirational, then you can convert impressions into high-quality applications.
The Big Decision
Okay, so we’ve given an overview of the two platforms—now which one should you choose? Obviously, the answer will depend on your brand and your recruitment goals. Are you a growing startup with an innovative product hoping to build employer brand gravity for the long haul? Then Instagram might be a good place to get younger users familiar with and interested in your employer brand as you entice them into the top of the applicant funnel. If, conversely, you’re a more established business trying to fill positions immediately, Facebook’s broader reach and wider ad targeting options might be better suited to your needs. In this case, you wouldn’t be showing off your artistry or creative skills—you’d be proposing an immediate exchange of value: your insider recruitment information (or even sundry elements of your EVP) in exchange for their application.
At the end of the day, every business has to pick the right channels for their unique employer brand and long-term recruitment goals. The trick is to make sure that you know what you’re getting into on each channel. Do you homework, research thoroughly, and make sure that your target candidates are spending time where you’re spending your ad dollars. This way, you ensure that your resources are going where they’ll have the biggest impact and the best ROI.