Anyone who takes even a vague interest in social media will be aware of Pinterest, the online pinboard where you can “organise and share the things you love”.
Of course, anyone who uses a real pinboard will know that is perhaps the least likely place to organise anything, least of all anything you cherish. Pinboards usually contain a random selection of items you vaguely think you may need in the future but actually you can manage without. Spare passport photos, fast food junk mail, letters from school… eventually you either run out of pins, or you have to remove everything to find some tickets you bought over a year ago.
Blogger Laurie Ruettimann appears to agree that Pinterest is not for HR.
So while Pinterest might be platform du jour, it is Facebook – or specifically, BranchOut – that is the focus here.
Totaljobs organised a round-table event in London last week for representatives from some of the UK’s leading recruitment marketing agencies. The gathering was an opportunity for Totaljobs to provide further detail on its partnership, announced last month, with BranchOut, the professional network hosted on Facebook. And then we had a chat…
Andy Weight, product director at Totaljobs, began by giving some illuminating statistics on the rise of mobile. In the two years from January 2010 to 2012, mobile traffic on Totaljobs has risen from 100,000 users (3% of the total) to around 1.8m (17%). The growth in smartphones and in social media, perhaps unsurprisingly, seem to be going hand in hand.
Weight then talked about BranchOut, the professional networking platform that essentially sits within Facebook. It allows users to create professional profiles that include their work history and education (personal Facebook information like photo albums are not included in a BranchOut profile).
With BranchOut integration, candidates looking at a job posted on Totaljobs will be able to view any friends in their network who work, or have worked, for the organisation recruiting. They will be able to see “second-degree” connections as well – friends of friends. The idea being that before applying they can find out more or use a contact to get a leg up.
Totaljobs has followed Monster into the Facebook arena, the latter having launched its own “BeKnown” network in July 2011
BranchOut launched a year before that, in summer 2010, and according to its vice-president of sales Chris Merritt, who joined the round-table by video link, it is currently receiving a new registration every three or four seconds.
Independent statistics from AppData, which monitors the use of Facebook apps, appear to back this up. They show that BranchOut has 9.7 million monthly active users (MAUs) worldwide, compared with BeKnown’s 180,000. Furthermore, BranchOut is growing by 200,000 MAUs per day.
But surely BranchOut and Facebook pale into insignificance when compared to LinkedIn, the site most might presume to be the main professional networking site?
Not so. According to research last year by the social recuiting software provider Jobvite, 18.4m US jobseekers said that Facebook had helped them in their search for a role, compared with 10.2m for LinkedIn, and 8m for Twitter.
Many around the table agreed that LinkedIn was the more professional network, with some believing they would rely more heavily on their professional acquaintances than their circle of friends on Facebook.
The discussion touched upon the differences between blue collar and white collar workers, and how they may be attracted more towards Facebook and LinkedIn respectively. It was also suggested that LinkedIn caters poorly for certain groups, such as recent graduates, since it concentrates on networks built in the world of work. Unless you’re using it you might not know about it.
“Go out on the street and ask about LinkedIn and most people have not heard of it,” said one recruiter.
Another pointed out that his profile on Facebook does not include where he works, and many agreed that their profiles might similarly have less of a professional bias. Totaljobs’ Andy Weight, however, explained that this appears to age-related. Totaljobs found that the younger the age of the Facebook profile owner, the more likely it was to include their workplace.
Meanwhile, news today from Robert Half suggested that seven in ten HR directors believe that social media platforms are either ineffective or are unsure over their effectiveness.
Perhaps the more encouraging stat is that three in ten respondents thought social media was effective. Find out what that proportion would have been just one year ago and I think we can all agree the number is only going in one direction.
This is a demand-led market. The jobseekers are creating the demand and many recruiters are playing catch up. In 2011 Jobvite found that 22m Americans used social networks to find their most recent job opportunity. In 2010 that figure was 14m.
If I had a graph, I might pin it somewhere.