Imagine for a moment you are in a recruiting situation and you are down to the last three candidates. As a very visible public brand, would it influence your decision if one of the three had 62,000+ Twitter followers and they actively engaged with them (not all of them obviously)?
Surely this could be a major advantage couldn’t it? The chance to gain more brand awareness and possible new customers – bringing in potential revenue to the business? You are not just hiring a new recruit but also a potential customer base – is that good recruiting?
Well if you think that is far fetched then think again. This is exactly what ITV have just done.They have just poached the popular chief political correspondent from the BBC – Laura Keunssberg. She is an active Twitterer with over 62,000 followers. ITV said that they they considered these followers as an ‘additional benefit’ when going through the recruitment process.
This now brings a whole new dynamic to the phrase social recruiting, doesn’t it?
But what about the legality?
While at the BBC her Twitter name was @BBCLauraK – clearly a representation of the BBC. When she left she changed the account name to @ITVLauraK.
The question is who ‘owned’ the account and the followers? Would she have built that following if she wasn’t working for the BBC?
This is Laura’s take on what she has done:
“I really enjoy Twitter and having such a smart and lively bunch of followers. But when I decided to leave I was clear that, although I wanted to keep my account and just change the name, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if that wasn’t possible, and I reserved a new account at @ITVLauraK just in case.
“But I was pleased that fairly swiftly we agreed that I could change the account if I was clear about what was happening and where I was going. And also I agreed to introduce the followers of my account to my successor.
“It was all very amicably done.”
So the BBC allowed Laura to change the account name and walk away with her followers to ITV.
For me this throws up more questions than answers:
- This is a problem that has plagued LinkedIn – who owns the data if you are representing a brand and using it for business under that brand name. This is still not really defined even after the Hays Vs Ions court case
- Was there a social media contract in place between the BBC and Keunssberg? If not why not?
- Should the BBC have made more of a stand on this (I think the point above answers this)
- Where does this leave employers who are actively encouraging their employees to tweet on their behalf?
- How watertight can you make a social media at work contract?
There are loads more questions that could be asked.But one thing is definite – this will become common place going forward.
Candidates that have large social media footprints WILL be in demand by companies looking to extend their reach and influence with customers/clients.
But this isn’t new in the recruitment world folks – I know many recruiting organisations that have recruited consultants based on the number of their LinkedIn connections. In fact it goes back before the internet, when people were recruited because of their ‘black book of contacts’.
My caveat here though is transparency. Social media is clear and transparent. Everyone can see Keunssberg’s followers and could quite easily start to engage with them – all 62,000 of they actually wanted to. And if they had interesting things to talk about on Twitter, many might follow them as well. Twitter isn’t an exclusive entity, it a medium where the users dictate the agenda and makes their own minds up – the hard part is learning how to engage with them and influence them effectively.
So, back to my first question – would you use a large social media footprint as a reason to distinguish between candidates in the interview process?
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