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Attracting Talent through Social Media

Talent attraction strategies are quickly becoming more innovative as communities fight to attract great people all across North America.

A growing number of economic development organizations are creating workforce strategies based on identifying the gaps between the talent that is available and the talent that will be needed – and they are coming up short.

Finding Talent Online

The next step is harder.  How can communities find out who and where the talented people are, and engage them?  One part of the answer should be social media.

Social media naturally mixes with business.  The social media phenomenon is all about being part of a group of people defined by common interests, whose acceptance and approval is important to the individuals participating.

Creative and talented people thrive in such communities.  Social interactivity with people who can understand their ideas and relate to their ambitions is oxygen to them.  And there’s nothing like social media to reach specifically targeted audiences through interest groups.

The unique advantages of social media include:

  • It costs little or no money;
  • It enables two-way personal communication that can expand exponentially through shared messages;
  • It can activate so-called “passive” candidates, people not necessarily looking to relocate or pursue a new job, by awakening in them an interest in a new community.

Some economic development organizations have become proficient in the use of social media to reach target audiences identified as being of high importance to the success of their strategy.  One of these is Greater Louisville Inc. – The Metro Chamber of Commerce (GLI) in Kentucky.

The Greater Louisville International Professionals

In June 2009 GLI launched a talent attraction initiative called Greater Louisville International professionals (G.L.I.P.) to welcome, engage, and connect international professionals with the local community. This reflected the community’s realization that cultural diversity would be critical to its future. It created a strategy to differentiate itself to international professionals.

G.L.I.P. has been remarkably successful. It has an online membership of about 1,200 people from 96 countries. Louisville is now home to 80,000 international residents, up from 55,000 about seven years ago, and receives 1,600 direct placements from other countries each year. One-third of foreign-born Louisvillians have a four-year degree.

Go to any of the social media sites connected to and there is a palpable sense of enthusiastic involvement. At the Facebook site, for example you can see responses to announcements about the After Hours Networking Series of events at The Muhammad Ali Center. They sound like this: “If you have not been to any of the after-hours networking events — this is the time to go! There are so many interesting people to meet and talk to!”

The quality of experience that is promoted through G.L.I.P.’s social media sites is not limited to the usual services of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Its website is linked directly to the Kentucky Indiana Exchange, a combination social-media and job-search site with a goal to be an “idea capital of the world.”

At Picasa, G.L.I.P. has posted 67 photo albums as of mid-August, full of smiling people enjoying good times with their communities. And at Vimeo, Greater Louisville Inc. has posted no fewer than 152 videos, all targeted to demographic segments, industries or companies.

All the sites communicate the themes of inclusion, engagement and a sense of belonging. They also provide more than conversation – they give Louisville professionals and companies doing business internationally a forum for business, educational and social interactions, as well as personal and professional development programs.

The Importance of Creativity in the Social Media Plan

Greater Louisville Inc. provides a case study of how social media sites that combine energy and entertainment with genuine business benefits can be a differentiating factor for a community looking to attract and retain talent. There’s another lesson shown by Louisville, too, and that is the value of creativity when using social media.

Too often, economic development organizations miss the opportunity to use social media to deliver the message that their community rises above the crowd. The appearance on an EDO site of icons for any of the Big Four social media sites is routine. For “routine,” read no competitive advantage.

There are hundreds of social media sites, and more springing up constantly. By investing some time to understand them your community can discover new ways to engage talented people in unique communities of interest.

Here are a few examples:

Tumblr — A microblogging platform with the motto “Follow the World’s Creators,” this site lets users upload and manage content while getting real-time updates on their favourite blogs. EDOs could use this platform to create their own microblogs, or aggregate those from a local industry to attract worldwide attention.

Pinterest — This content-sharing service is a pinboard-styled platform that enables users to share image collections themed around events, interests or hobbies. For inspiration on how this site could display the attractiveness of your community to talented people, visit the Pure Michigan page.

Viddy — This is a video-sharing site where users can upload videos of 15 seconds or less. They can edit their videos with content, music and special effects and share them on other social media sites. As of May 2012, the app had 26 million users. EDOs can share video clips of local business groups and events, or simply promote their brand.

Instagram – “Photo sharing reinvented,” Instagram is a mobile app on which users can edit and filter images for a unique finished quality, and can also follow other accounts, like and comment on photos. Photography is a powerful tool to help bond a community together, and this free app can advertise a community to a great many people — as of April 2012, Instagram had 30 million accounts.

Social Media Talent Attraction Strategies

From this short list, it is evident that EDOs have a large number of options to choose from when using social media to support their talent attraction strategy.

Creativity is a differentiator. There are boundless opportunities in today’s market to rise above the routine.

What groups of people will your community depend on to prosper in the future? EDOs know, or should know, and can build talent attraction strategies to identify and appeal to those people. That’s the first step.

Social media is an effective tool for reaching the right people and moving them to your other community-building tools such as talent attraction websites, job boards and educational and networking events.

What do the people you want to attract like to talk about? By engaging them through communities of interest built with social media, you can raise the likelihood that the topic of their conversation will become your community.


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