Likeable Media is a dynamic social media agency that’s fast, smart and likeable. We are independently owned by Dave and Carrie Kerpen, who started the company under quite unique circumstances. The beginning of our business was also the beginning of our family, which has had an enormous impact on our culture and how we operate.
We are a small but impactful team that creates amazing content for huge brands. Our people are our product, and our team of 50+ employees has rated us as one of the best places to work in NYC for four years in a row for the Crain's List. Our culture can be characterized as passionate, inclusive, and collaborative.
WHY WE DID IT
We are great at what we do, but we run a lean and mean team and don’t have the benefit of large budgets, an abundance of time, or an absolute focus on recruiting. With only one fully dedicated resource to recruiting and human resources, we’ve had to come up with creative ways of standing out in the noisy and ultra-competitive advertising industry. Our annual budget for recruiting floats between $5-10k, which typically goes to Jazz (our ATS), LinkedIn Recruiter and the occasional paid listing. On average, we hire between 15 and 20 full-time roles per year, as well as a handful of freelancers and interns. We have searched to fill a variety of roles from operations to media buying, but most of our hires are in account management and creative, with a focus on social media. This talent is very much in demand, so given our limited resources and budget, we have to be nimble and leverage our creativity to identify and attract these talent pools.
WHAT WE DID
When solving a problem, sometimes you have to consider your ideal outcomes and work backwards to help understand how the raw materials you have can get you there. We have amazing clients, a great culture and an awesome set of values. Our entire organization is innately creative, so when setting a recruiting strategy, we put our heads together and reflected on what we needed to accomplish.
We determined that we needed to build a repeatable and efficient process to allow us to stand out amongst the competition. We needed to establish long-standing campaigns to bring sustainable results using free options. We needed regular touch-points to continue to drive interest in Likeable, even if a candidate wasn’t the right fit at the moment. And most importantly, we needed to leverage social media as a conversation and listening tool, rather than a broadcast tool.
HOW WE DID IT
At Likeable Media, we are creative, selective, and efficient in everything we do. Our agency needs people who understand social media, can use it personally, and who can internalize how it works for large brands. Being one of the first agency movers in social media space, we need to walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk when it comes to social recruiting.
When we started our initiative, the first network we tackled was Twitter. We hosted a weekly chat using the hashtag #LikeableChat. During the chats, we covered all things social media — from marketing to current events. The first chat we hosted in 2011 drew in 90 participants and over 700 responses. It was a great outlet for us to reach our target audience and introduced a lot of people to our brand. We also ran two #LikeableJob chats that led to several hundred engagements and led to roughly 70 new applications.
The next network we tackled was Foursquare in 2012. When we were seeking college students and recent college graduates, we placed tips around campuses that shared job listings and prompted them to apply. The network was also a great way to target competitor companies. Instead of putting in the exact location, we figured out potential places this talent pool may congregate, like lunch spots or coffee shops. It led to quite a few applications, which ended in approximately three internship hires for the summer of 2012 and about seven in the years after.
In 2013, Snapchat became the next frontier. It was an emerging network and despite its not-so-wholesome perception at the time, we saw the potential to be a great place to recruit and engage with candidates who loved social media — especially those who had their finger on the pulse of emerging platforms.! Truthfully, we were not sure what the result would be, but we included the personal handle of Brian Murray (BTMurr) in the application response email with the message “Even better... SNAPCHAT me why you belong here (I MAY screenshot): BTMurr.” Since launching that message, thousands of snaps have flooded his inbox, and they are much more interesting than a standard email and easier to respond to. Snapping has allowed candidates to show off their skills and their personalities, eliminated the need for stuffy cover letters. Job seekers have been able to tell a story through (we’ve been taken on scavenger hunts and met our fair share of dogs), show they understand the platform and receive a personalized response.
To date, we have engaged with more than ten new hires on Snapchat prior to hiring them and the platform has become our quickest application-to-hiring conversion channel so far. Our most recent Snap hire took place after listing a Videographer role on a Friday, Brian receiving a series of video snaps from a qualified candidate on Saturday, which led to an in-person interview on Monday, and a job offer by Wednesday.
By being the first company to recruit, engage with and convert candidates with Snapchat, we have received quite a bit of press, mostly positive from notable social news sites like Mashable, but also some not so positive press from people in the recruiting space. But with a six-day post to hire rate, we aren’t letting any haters get us down!
Our team also wanted to ensure that our actual application process was memorable and differentiated us from our competition. Since almost every role at Likeable Media requires an element of creativity — from our copywriters to our account managers — we established a set of questions in the initial application that do several things:
- Demonstrate you "get" our culture. If you can’t be creative, google things you don’t know, or be a little quirky, you aren’t going to fit in at our company. Example: Create an acrostic poem with your name.
- Test general knowledge of social media. If you can’t fake an answer about a brand you love in social as a consumer, then you can’t carry a conversation with our clients. Example: What brand do you love on Instagram or Snapchat. Why?
- Ask specific questions that require a bit of thinking or research. We want to know the detailed thought process and writing abilities of our applicants because resumes don’t always show that. Example: Where would you suggest we order lunch from? The details: We have 15 people, including clients, that will be meeting today and we have a budget of $15 per person. Delivery is required at 12:30pm and our office is located at 240 W37th Street in Manhattan. Don't leave us in the dark... explain your process. P.S. We are not actually hungry, nor do we need lunch today!
Another great asset for the hiring process (as well as a huge driver of traffic to our website) is the Likeable blog. We launched the blog in 2008 — originally called the KBuzzDaily before we changed our company name to Likeable Media — with the intention of sharing best-in-class content that targets potential customers. However, highlighting the brains behind Likeable (all of our employees are required to blog periodically) has also given potential applicants insight into the minds and personalities of the people we employ. They can see who they’ll be working with and determine if it’s a match, long before they sign the offer letter.
Despite a lean recruiting budget, we do periodically leverage paid media on Facebook to drive applications for specific roles. We first tested this channel in 2008, when we placed college-specific ads driving traffic to a Facebook group (since Facebook pages weren’t a thing yet). We included simple copy like “Are you a marketing student? Are you a student at Syracuse? Do you live in Queens? You can be an intern at Likeable,” and received applications that lead to the hiring of approximately five interns that summer. One of those interns is our longest tenured employee, who now sits as our Business Development Manager. Recently, we’ve leveraging paid media on Facebook to target the employees at other NYC based agencies for the specific role of a Paid Social Manager. We’ve been able to target based on experience level, place of employment, and job title through Facebook’s average manager and robust demographics. In recent campaigns, we’ve spent as little as $100 to drive upwards of 30 qualified applicants.
The outlets we’ve invested in have paid off for our recruiting strategy, but when considering new channels we always look at every emerging network and ask ourselves, “will our audience be there?” If yes, we stop to think about how they are using the network, and then create a strategy for our team to use it.
Social for the sake of social doesn’t necessarily add value. Understanding which platforms have your ideal candidates and how they behave on that platform is key to driving conversation and conversion.
#LikeableChat is still driving candidates in 2016, even though we stopped running them two years ago (just last week we interviewed a candidate who mentioned they'd been following #LikeableChat for the past five years). The original purpose of the chat was to drive a conversation with brand marketers, but it also had the added benefit of getting people to talk to us who might fit our employee profile.
Approximately 25% of our employees were not hired in their first pass through the hiring process. The needs of our business change frequently, and many times we find qualified candidates, but don’t have any open roles for them. Social media has been a way to stay in touch and engage with this talent pool, keeping Likeable Media stay top of mind as their employer of choice. Many of our recent hires were long-term engagements that we kept in contact with through conversations on social media.
Over one-third of our applicants that reach the phone screen step in our process state that the additional questions in our application drew them in. Certainly, this approach has turned off quite a few candidates who either didn’t apply or leave it blank, but it has helped us weed out prospects that may not align with our culture and values.
Our social channels are also handled very differently than many of our competitors. Through sharing articles of interest to potential clients and candidates, we insert ourselves as curators in the space. Our blog is regularly cited as being different and insightful by candidates. This differentiation allows us to punch above our weight and have an impact beyond our resource constraints.
WHAT WE MISSED
Social media isn’t easy. It takes effort and is rarely a quick fix for anything. It requires a lot of one-on-one conversations, and we weren’t always staffed or able to engage with everyone who reached out to us. The problem of scale is real. When you are using social as more than a broadcast channel, holding conversations and responding requires a lot of trust from leadership, as well as a deep understanding of the platforms by those responding.
Social media never turns off and the expectation is that people will receive a response immediately. Candidates may send messages on weekends and into the night, and may get annoyed when they don’t get a response right away.
Additionally, merging a personal account with a professional persona raises questions around ownership of contacts and ultimately changes how someone can use the platforms now that they are representing the company.
Certain roles have also proven to be far too difficult to recruit using social. Not all operations people are using the platforms we are on to find their next role. While social has worked for many of our roles, traditional job boards and other “old school” tactics still need to be incorporated into our holistic strategy.
Trying new sites on the always expanding social media landscape will drain time. Some efforts will lead to nothing because an app dies. Anytime you are investing in a platform, there is a possibility of being wiped out by changes to that platform, which can be frustrating with little recourse available. For instance, organic reach on Facebook has plummeted over the years, causing us to look at other networks to reach talent.
Most audiences live on social in one way or another, in niche networks as well as the larger traditional networks. Figure out where your ideal audience lives, and then spark a conversation.
Most marketers will tell you that social media is the long game. It doesn’t drive instant success and your job listing will most likely not go viral. But by asking for the sources that our candidates found through us in interviews and talking to current employees who are on our team, we’ve established that social works for both a discovery tool and as a place for candidates to learn more about us. Authenticity and showing the people behind the brand will lead to success.
Candidate experience and interaction is paramount when using social media. If someone has a great experience that is unique and personal, they will share that, even if they don’t get the job.
Talking at people and broadcasting won’t work. You need to actually practice a give and take mentality and have conversations with your audience. If every post and interaction is motivated by your needs, people will quickly become bored and you will just fall under the “noise” category.
Facebook ads are a tremendous tool to combat the dip in organic traffic, and their targeting goes way beyond the capabilities of other platforms. You can target candidates through employers, interests, job titles and education levels in amazing ways. The platform is also very consumer-centric with fewer limits on creativity. Likeable Media and our clients have seen amazing results from Facebook's new Canvas ads and carousel ads.
Talking and broadcasting can often be the default because they are much easier tasks. But if you really want to grab someone’s attention, liking their tweet or sharing their message can be the best way to get them to give you a second glance. Building that credibility over time will lead to results. Follow people in the industry and engage. You will stand out by going a little bit further.
LinkedIn Recruiter , Jazz (Formerly The Resumator), Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Ads, Instagram, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Blog