As Twitter's popularity grows, firms are attempting to take advantage of its free social networking services to help cut recruitment costs during difficult economic times. But the value of Twitter as a platform for finding new employees remains unproven.
U.K. mobile network operator, O2, recently released the results of research on Twitter adoption among small U.K. businesses, and found that 62 percent of the 500 small businesses it questioned viewed cost-cutting as one of the greatest benefits of the service. Respondents cited marketing and recruitment functions as the most common way to reduce overhead through the social network; 16 percent claimed to have saved over £1000 as a result.
U.S. digital agency Organic even claims it has now shifted 75 percent of its recruitment efforts towards social networking platforms. The company finds Twitter to be especially appealing thanks to the tech-savvy audience it attracts and the free services it offers.
The trend is an example of how the small business community is "embracing new technologies in order to adapt and survive in the current economic climate." Suggested Simon Devonshire, O2's head of small business marketing.
In practice, however, it remains unclear whether firms are really enjoying tangible benefits using Twitter for recruitment purposes. Indeed, many job-related posts appear to be from recruitment firms looking to cast their nets wider in an increasingly difficult sector, rather than individual account holders posting about job openings at their own firms. For example, a number of recruitment-focused Twitter accounts simply re-post listings from sites or job boards elsewhere on the net, arguably adding little value for prospective job hunters.
Richard Hiscutt, Creative Partner and owner of digital agency, Fantastic Thinking, attempted to recruit through Twitter, but is unconvinced of its potential. "We had a few responses to a couple of urgent pleas a few months back, but nothing as good as offline contacts sadly," he said. "Twitter announcements brought a few people to us and we'll definitely use it again, but sadly it brought more recruitment agencies," he added.
What's more, the majority of firms currently attempting to recruit through the social network lie firmly within the technology and media sectors, and there's little evidence of companies outside of this sphere even attempting to use it for recruitment purposes beyond accounts run by recruiters.
Howard Lee, CEO of Workdigital, the outfit behind recently-launched TwitterJobSearch.com, believes that recruiting through Twitter does have its benefits, and points to firms such as Intel, who's IntelJobs account currently has over 600 followers. "The advantage of Twitter is that it taps into the passive jobseeker market," he suggests.
TwitterJobSearch, which is currently in beta, runs an algorithm through Twitter's API to determine which tweets are job-related, and filters them into verticals for users to browse more easily. At this stage, it's unclear whether users are likely to find value in such a service, or how the firm will generate revenue from it.
There's little doubt that Twitter itself will be evaluating similar possibilities as the company seeks ways to extract revenue from its rapidly expanding user base. If firms and jobseekers continue to find value in using the social network as a recruitment platform, a subscription fee for commercial users may not be out of the question.
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Jack Marshall was a staff writer and stats editor for ClickZ News from 2007 until August 2011.
March 19, 2014