You may or may not have heard of social media monitoring (SMM) however, you definitely would have experienced its effects. With the explosion of social media in the last few years, it’s not very surprising that recruitment (like most other industries) is in a frenzy to reap the benefits of social media.
What is SMM?
In a nutshell, the objective of SMM is to monitor the online and social media activities of individuals. This monitoring is intended to provide insight into what the target is looking for. Products and services can then be directly marketed to the individual without them having to go looking for it. Almost everyone that uses the internet has most likely experienced this in one way or another.
In essence, companies that gather and track your activities are not doing anything wrong. They are licensed data providers that only crawl through freely accessible sources such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other public spaces. Users with restricted privacy policies cannot be accessed.
How does SMM work?
The recruitment sector utilizes SMM tools to be in the know about their clients. In fact, this allows the recruiter to be even more proactive by approaching the client even before the client contacts them. For example, if you are an employee currently working at company X and you feel it’s time for a change, you may be actively searching for new positions. Whenever you access information on the internet such as job search sites or even researching potential employers it gets logged and accumulated. Recruiters can then access this information and be aware that you are considering leaving your current job.
How recruiters use this information is the key. They may just sit on it because they want you to approach them to confirm your seriousness. Or, they can actively start looking for vacant positions. They can then approach you with potential employers before you have even lifted a finger. This is fundamentally a pre-emptive strike from the recruiter.
Now let’s discuss the flipside of this scenario. You are still working at company X and are looking for a change. The same information that recruiters had access to, can also be purchased by your HR department. Now that HR is aware of your desire for a change, they also have a decision to make.
Depending on your performance they may not say anything and let the situation play out, or they may intervene and try to find out why you are not satisfied and attempt to rectify this. Most companies will opt for the latter, as they have already invested time and money to train and retain you thus far. It also provides HR with a unique perspective on how to address dissatisfaction, before it reaches a terminal stage.
With SMM being a relatively new trend, it also poses many ethical and moral quandaries; the primary ones relating to how and who should have access to the information. In addition, HR departments that utilize SMM also have a duty of care that the information won’t be used harmfully against an employee who is considering leaving. Also that the same information is not used to discriminate candidates based on criteria such as age, sex, race etc. At the moment there are no mandatory policies or guidelines in place regarding how SMM is used. However, that may change very soon.
The effectiveness of SMM cannot be overlooked from a recruitment standpoint and it seems likely that it will shortly become a driving force in the recruitment process. In a world where almost everything seems to be headed towards social media, it would be irresponsible to not use this tool. However, even though it may seem like it, recruiters need to be wary that SMM is not the end all tool for recruitment. Rather, it should be used in addition to existing tools and methods. The beauty of SMM is that it can also be employed by recruiters to open up positions to a more diverse, untapped crowd. There is no shortage in the amount of data being generated every day however, now it comes down to the quality of the data and how it will be utilised.