So what is Social proof?
Well, it’s widely been studied in the field of social psychology, and is tied to the human condition that results in the Fundamental Attribution Error. Yes, I know what you’re thinking!
In laymen’s terms it simply means that given limited time and motivation, people will often evaluate people, products, companies, jobs (and most other things) based on how those around behave toward them. It’s caused by a ‘fear of missing out’. Ask yourself this. If you were walking past a coffee shop, and you saw that there was a queue stretching right down the street, naturally you’d begin to wonder what’s so special that it’s got all these people waiting to get a slice of the action? How intrigued would you be? Would you let yourself miss out? I guess in this case it largely depends whether you like coffee, but you get my point.
The way we all make buying decisions had changed drastically. We’re all far better equipped at seeing through traditional marketing hyperbole. Instead, the views and opinions of those around us play a much bigger role in influencing how we feel about a particular ‘thing’. Those people could be your friends, family, colleagues or peers. Perhaps those we’ve never met before. And here’s the tenuous link to TripAdvisor – it’s essentially the Glassdoor equivalent of recruitment, but for holidays. But the principals are what matter here. It’s a thriving community full of those who are looking, and those looking to be influenced.
Social Proof has been used for a long time in selling us all products and services – celebrity endorsement is a simple example of this, as is the current KIA ad which majors on the opinions of ‘people like you’ rather than what the company thinks you need to know (obviously the good things have been picked out here). But rarely is it a topic that’s talked about in the world of recruitment. And it’s an interesting one.
We all know that we we live in a more social, mobile and connected world (I think!), as we see many employers ramping up their activity on various social platforms. Some do it well, others not so well. Heineken have a great example of crowd-sourced recruitment, which I thoroughly recommend watching here. We’ve also created a twitter activated vending machine for Mars which toured UK campuses to help recruit graduates. You can see a video for that here.
Yet when the large majority or employers and recruiters talk about social recruitment the focus tends to be on the same things. Channels and self-promotion. Let’s push out yet more messages and job posts to people through different channels. That’s bound to get us some applications.
This is largely missing the point and replacing like for like. What you should be asking is what value could we add to the talent communities we want to be invited into? How are we going to tell them what they need to know, where they want it and how they want it? And, how are we going to get people talking about us, become advocates of us and encourage more of the right people to join?
If we go back to thinking about the way we make buying decisions the use of advocates to do your selling for you is the most powerful tool in your armoury. Yet it seems many organisations have an inherent fear of letting their staff actively talk abut their company and their work with their own communities. But why is that?
By having a point of difference and engaging with talent communities (internal and external) in an authentic and human way and by ensuring that you live up to the promises you make, social proof should be nothing more than ratification of your efforts. It’s impossible to keep everyone happy all of the time. But, by acknowledging that these conversations are taking place and more importantly, being present when they happen, will give you a much better hope of influencing them as opposed to sticking your fingers in your ears and pretending they didn’t happen.
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“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.”