Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Deep Twitter

Back in the mid-80s, when I was in college, I was a house music DJ.  Mainly, I deejayed for our college radio station, but occasionally, I would dj a party or at club or meet up with other house DJs for a battle.  (For the record, I was not a particularly skilled, but I was a girl, which was a novelty and made things interesting).  To a house music DJ, nothing is more sacred than a crate full of deep cuts, rare recordings that could be creatively integrated with beats to produce an entirely new sound.  

Well, I am experiencing a bit of deja vu this week.  I am in Mountain View, at the Computer History Museum, attending the 140 Twitter Conference.  Two days of all Twitter.  Deep twitter.  I's a downward spiral into geeky awesomeness from here.

I say deja vu, because the conversations at the 140 Twitter Conference are so passionate, so specific, so specialized, they remind me of late nights arguing the merits of Chicago house vs. East Coast house.  

A particular comment struck me as sooooo relevant to recruiting.  Anamitra Banerji, Product Manager at Twitter, gave a fascinating talk on the Possibilities of Twitter.  I really tuned in when he talked about smaller, local companies or organizations using Twitter to communicate with small, very intimate groups of followers.  Sharks, this is exactly how you should be using Twitter.

Recruiters, like many Twitter users, become obsessed with building huge networks of followers.  A more effective strategy, it seems, would be to find and follow your 100 most critical talent targets on Twitter.  Folks you would love to hire if you a) had an open position or b) could get them interested in your open position.  True passive candidates.  The trick is to get these 100 folks to follow you back, and develop authentic, 2-way relationships with them.

The Transformation from "Followers" to "Community"
Having any number of followers does not guarantee that you will generate valuable exchanges with potential candidates.  Creating a community -- something that users look forward to, something they participate in, where there is an exchange of ideas -- takes time and work.

Some thoughts on how to build a community of top talent targets within Twitter:
  • Tweet often - at least couple of times a day.  Let your followers know that you're there, accessible.
  • Be transparent - tell your community exactly why you're following them; tell them that they are part of an exclusive few
  • Be even more transparent - describe the twists and turns associated with being a recruiter.  Candidates, even passive candidates, want to know what happens backstage.  Describe the offer negotiation process, the candidate sourcing process, anything that might be helpful in a future job search.  If your company culture allows, share your personal opinions (keeping in mind that you are a representative of the company)
  • Tweet and retweet links, blogs and articles about your industry or functional discipline.  Work hard to find unique content to tweet.  Don't recycle the same old stuff.  Add your thoughts and perspectives
  • Ask (and answer) questions - if you have done your homework, you have developed a small network of experts. Leverage their knowledge to help you recruit.  Encourage your community to leverage your HR knowledge.  Start a debate. Challenge conventions.  Get things fired up!
  • Be generous - congratulate your network on their achievements, retweet their blog posts, tweet about their work. Twitter, like any other social networking tool, works best when you GIVE at least as much as you GET.  
  • That said, ask for what you want.  Tell your network when you have open positions.  Ask them to refer their friends or retweet to their networks. 
  • Finally, measure your progress.  Use some of the awesome Twitter applications to find out if your network responds to your content.   
For more updates from the 140 Twitter conference, search #140tc in Twitter.


  1. This is a great post on Twitter best practices & usage. I have to agree! I'd love to share these thoughts and your link during #talentnet tonight ps - great to meet you in person at Kennedyinfo Carmen Best! Susan @pinkolivefamily and @susankangnam (for #talentnet & recruiting community)