Human Resources and Social Media Monitoring

28. July 2017, Katharina Veit - Monitoring, Marketing

Social media monitoring and employer reviews

Social media is a two-sided instrument of communications – and this is exactly the feature that makes it exciting for companies. It does not just enable direct communication with clients, but also presents a means for clients to make up their own minds about a company. How does a company work, how does it present itself, how does it act toward different stakeholders?

Some of these stakeholders are job applicants. For them it is elementary to know how a company is perceived as a manufacturer, supplier or service provider, but also how it is perceived as a potential employer. Social media make it easy for job applicants to research the company from an employee point of view:  Message boards to exchange experiences, Facebook or Twitter posts that shed some light on (past) employers, LinkedIn and XING, or employer review platforms like Kununu and and Glassdoor all make this possible.

A negative employer review on Glassdoor
A negative employer review on Glassdoor

Take employees’ online reactions seriously

While job ads, company websites and mass media convey a first impression on job applicants, review platforms, social media and message boards convey more of a personal recommendation. These personal statements about companies thus hold a similar position to job applicants as product reviews do in online shopping and should be taken just as seriously by HR departments – as smart job applicants will use these review platforms to form an opinion on their potential future employers.

Web & social media monitoring is essential at this part in the process; it helps finding these reviews and reacting to them accordingly. Show your future employees that you are aware of their presumptive new colleagues’ concerns and criticism and take them seriously. Surely, checking review platforms like Kununu can become part of your own daily monitoring, but it is wrong to assume that such platforms are the only online spaces that contain such appraisals of your company by current and former employees. If you do not regularly undertake a search for such websites, it is likely that you will never find these reviews – but your job applicants will. This way, you will not just potentially lose valuable employees, but also damage your company’s reputation as an employer and as a brand.

A CEO’s official statement on Glassdoor
A CEO’s official statement on Glassdoor

Social media monitoring and recruiting

Web & social media monitoring is not just a means to keep a watchful eye on the reputation of your company as reflected in media and react accordingly if necessary, but also to actively look for potential new employees. 72 per cent of company representatives in HR and management said in a 2016 study that actively looking for suitable candidates in social networks is increasingly becoming a significant strategy in human resource management (Bitkom).

Recruiting support through social media

On the one hand, social media provide support for classic recruiting processes – networks like XING and LinkedIn make it possible for companies to match professionals’ qualifications with their own offers. On the other hand, job hunt via retweet on Twitter has become popular especially in social media related jobs, and job hunters in any areas and positions profit from offers in Facebook groups. Especially HR departments in highly specialised industries desperately looking for qualified personnel can profit from web & social media monitoring. Keeping an eye on websites or keywords with regard to specific skill sets or degrees helps HR departments in finding sought-after candidates before those have even actively entered the job market.

The same premise also holds for recruiting from competitors. Social media play a crucial role here: if a potential candidate’s public social media profile suggests that he or she is dissatisfied with his or her current employer or is looking for a new opportunity in general, there is already a solid basis for successfully establishing contact. Message boards in which job hunters ask for opinions about a company can serve the same purpose.

Social media monitoring and privacy

At this point, social media monitoring in HR quickly turns into a balancing act between background researching potential job candidates – and letting oneself be influenced in hiring decisions by their private social media profiles.

An example: An applicant boasts pictures of the last university party in her social media profile – a classic example of pictures that recruiters or HR professionals should not be finding of applicants online. While it surely is not reprehensible in the least that applicants should maintain an active social life at parties in their leisure time, this has undoubtedly led to a very specific image of the applicant that might even have left a more lasting impression than her application documents. This, however, is nothing that needs to be discussed during a job interview.

Another example: A recent graduate applies for a job at a high street bank. His public social media profile shows him at a protest march against banks a few years back. In this example, when compared to the previous one, the question arises if this applicant’s (personal) world view can be brought into accordance with his professional ambitions.

Still – is it legitimate to ask an applicant about his or her public content in social media, true to the motto: “Man forges his own privacy”? Do applicants only have themselves to blame if they publicly post pictures, publicly comment on websites, surf the web under their real name?

Private things have to be kept private

Essentially, what is private has to stay private. Social media monitoring tools do not allow access to private, password-protected content, and this is how monitoring of job applicants should be handled as well. The legal foundation in the case of Germany regarding the question which content from websites, message boards and social media may be used and how to make sure that you are obtaining the information in a legal matter can be read up on in an article on social media monitoring, CRM, HR and law on T3N.

Morality alone should be reason enough not to let personal data such as ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, desire to marry or have children, illnesses or age influence the recruiting process; questions that you are not allowed to ask during job interviews should be taboo when researching applicants – no matter if you have found the information in a public or a private part of the internet. As a hiring manager or HR professional, you are not allowed to let yourself be influenced by these things.

Monitoring current and former employees

All of this does not apply to publicly accessible work-related information in press releases, newspapers, magazines, TV and radio, professional networks such as XING and LinkedIn or professionally used Twitter accounts and other social media. It is advisable for big companies to keep monitoring former senior employees in web and social media after they have left the company – especially depending on how and why the employment relationship ended. This holds especially true for cases in which news media or specialist magazines are likely to report about the person, conduct interviews with them or highlight their professional background. Even without calling them by name, the former employer might become a topic.

Are your employees active on social media under their own names? Monitoring their activities might be profitable as well. Are they happy with your company? Share it with your stakeholders, show them that your employees value your company. Are your employees dissatisfied? Talk to them, show them that you value your employees.

Positive review by an employee
Positive review by an employee

In conclusion

Employer branding is no alien concept any more when it comes to social media. Companies do not just control stakeholders’ perceptions via marketing and PR, but also through HR measures. This makes web & social media monitoring just as essential in HR processes as they are in your company’s corporate communication and marketing departments because in all those areas, monitoring helps you to protect your company’s reputation – and provided some crucial ethical and legal rules are heeded, you can ensure your employees’ satisfaction and assuredness even before they have entered your company.

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Your CURE Blogger-Team

Marco Feiten

Sophie Schäfer

Levi Veiga

Markus Kühn

Philip Haberstroh

Björn Zosel

Sebastian Peter

Katharina Veit

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