Of all the countries in western Europe, Germany has been the slowest to warm up to social media. Whether that’s a holdover from the Cold War era and people’s lingering concerns over governmental prying, or whether it’s due to the coming generation’s distrust for the privacy policies many social media companies have in place remains to be seen.
That said, the upcoming Millennial generation is making its presence felt in the growing adoption of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and others in mainstream German culture. There are some things to know about German culture before striking out into the recruitment marketing sphere in this growing economy, however.
Things to know about RM in Germany
The German people tend to keep their work lives and private lives very, very separate. That doesn’t mean you can’t do RM in this market, what it means is that you need to be more intentional than ever with your strategy and pay special attention to your brand voice and how you present the work-life split portion of your company’s EVP. Second, while 80+% of Germans are online, less than half that number are using social media. So while the statistics presented below look fantastic at first glance, remember that the overall number of eyeballs that will see your recruiting efforts on these channels remains relatively low when compared to other markets in Europe.
Lastly, as of the most recent statistics (Q2-3, 2018) self-reported by a selection of German internet users from ages 16-64, the most popular social media platforms also happen to be some of the best for RM activities. This is handy for our purposes today, a list of the 5 top recruitment marketing channels in Germany, with a special section on professional networking sites.
Yep, Youtube comes in strong with a full 76% of respondents saying they were active on the site's social features (comments, live chat during broadcasts, etc). Best practices for RM here mostly mirror those elsewhere on the continent: produce high-quality content that showcases your employer brand and employee value proposition.
Individual job listings, company overviews, a day-in-the-life, and special events are all great sources of video content for this channel. Then, don’t forget to check the comments so you can answer questions, talk up your company, discuss openings, and mostly just present a human voice for the company in interactions with your followers. Professional production will go a long way as well, as it demonstrates the esteem you hold your subject (the company) and shows viewers that you will extend that esteem to them and their talents should they decide to apply.
Despite a lower adoption rate (63%) than our next entry, we bumped Facebook up a slot due to its robust media options and incredibly comprehensive ads platform. The user base here mirrors elsewhere in Europe in terms of the age cohort, education level, and so on with one main difference: the overall adoption is simply lower across all demographics. Ongoing efforts by the German government to hold companies accountable for data breaches, privacy policies they view as harmful to their citizens, and strong proponents of the recent GDRP legislation all come together to make a population that is simply warier of social media in general.
As with Youtube, RM tactics can mirror what you’re doing in other markets and the key takeaways remain the same. Interact with your followers, reciprocate likes and follows, answer questions and ask some of your own, and be sure to tell followers how much you like their posts and appreciate them following you. Take advantage of the media flexibility to post your video content from YouTube on Facebook as well, then follow that up with an infographic based on the same information. Don’t forget to use the targeting features in Ads Manager to get the word out about your individual job openings as well, you can specify your target audience down to the specific region they live in and what their hobbies outside of work are (remember that work life/personal life split Germans like?).
With an adoption rate rivaling YouTube at 75%, Whatsapp is the messaging app of choice among young Germans. The end-to-end encryption and lack of advertising seem to be the biggest draws to this platform, neither of which should discourage you from making use of Whatsapp in your campaigns. With so many people using the app, Whatsapp is a great tool to use in the final stages of the hiring process. Once a candidate is through the funnel and is working their way through the interview cycle, use it to keep applicants informed of the next steps and be sure they know they can reach you with questions.
A recent Hubspot study found that open rates for Whatsapp messages far surpass that of email, so when you need to be sure your candidates are seeing the information you’re sending them, using Whatsapp is the way to go.
Something to keep in mind—Facebook does own Whatsapp and is in the process of merging it with the next two platforms on our list. This does not mean you should forgo this channel for the others, as they do still have divergent user bases, it simply means to keep an eye on the technology news sites to stay updated.
#4: Facebook Messenger
Coming in next in terms of overall adoption is Facebook Messenger with 37% market penetration. In many ways, this channel is similar to Whatsapp with one glaring difference—ads. Messenger uses Facebook's ads manager, so you can target job openings to users in the same way, and with the same attention to detail, as you can on the main site.
With that one exception, the best RM use case for Messenger is late-stage communication with your candidates who are already mid-funnel. By choosing to communicate via the candidate's preferred method, you demonstrate the level of attention you pay to your employees and the stock you put in keeping them happy. There’s no better way to prove EVP than that!
Coming in with 33% adoption, Instagram rounds out our top 5 recruitment marketing platforms. The singularity of purpose of this channel makes it quite useful despite the seemingly meager user base. Post images from your latest company-wide gathering, caption them with quotes from employees and add some branded hashtags that direct followers to your other RM posts, and you’ll see a great ROI in people contacting you directly when the time comes that they’re ready to move positions.
Some other ideas for posts here include giving a group of current employees access to the account for the day and letting them post smartphone snapshots as they go about their day. Remind them to use the branded hashtags, of course, then encourage them to talk about their teams, recent project successes, and so on. This puts a more human face on the openings you’re advertising (being owned by Facebook means that ads here share that ads manager) and shows potential candidates what it would really be like to work with you.
A quick word about the professional networking sites LinkedIn and Xing and why we choose not to include them on our list. Both platforms have a sizable base of users in Germany, however, there is some question as to what the future will bring. Xing is local, being a German company, and it has a very strong focus on local businesses conducting local job searches. On the other hand, LinkedIn is the 800 lb. gorilla in the room and is making more inroads every day. If you’re already using one or the other, our recommendation is to continue using it similarly as you expand your reach into Germany, keeping a close eye on the metrics for signs you’re on the right path or that maybe you need to pivot.