Recently, I was at a conference of staffing agencies where part of the topic of discussion was Facebook marketing and improving Google rankings. Much of what I heard was good information, but I thought I might offer a little more insight into both that might help someone that isn’t familiar with the platforms to perhaps get a better idea. While these concepts are applicable to a variety of industries, I want to focus this post toward staffing and humans resources.
If you have any questions about anything I mention here, feel free to contact me with your questions.
First of all, there’s something we need to cover. What we’re talking about is web marketing and while it isn’t necessarily rocket science, there is a science and an art to it. Effective marketing isn’t random or haphazard and there are some really great tools that exist out there, but if you want to see results on any platform, you’re going to have to spend the time, brainpower and money on making it a reality.
Secondly, I take a fairly pragmatic approach to marketing. I’m a firm believer that we reach people where they are and not where we want them to be. By that I mean, that just because I like the idea doesn’t mean the people who I’m trying to reach will think so. So I want to connect with them with messages that meet their needs before mine. I don’t like being bombarded with useless marketing content and I don’t believe the people we’re trying to reach do either. So let’s figure out the core of why they’re connecting to us and help fulfill the expectations they have. In other words, let’s focus on quality.
First we’ll look at websites and then Facebook.
This will be a long post, so hang in there.
The quality of your website is going to central to your level of success. A good website isn’t magic and simply having it isn’t going to drive crowds of people to your site no more than having a new truck is going to haul a load of goods to a customer all by itself. The website, like a truck, is a tool and nothing more. It doesn’t function by itself unless someone is driving it. It may look pretty, but it’s not helping you sitting in the driveway.
What that means for staffing agencies is that they need to be using the site. And at the most basic level that means consistently publishing useful information. It’s this information that will ultimately determine the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. The first thing you have to do is stop thinking from the perspective of an HR manager or staffer. You have to put yourself in the position of the people using your website. I’ve been managing the Hughes Agency content for about 10 years and I can tell you that people will come to your site for two reasons:
1.) Can you help me find a job?
2.) Can you help me fill job openings?
And of those two, 95% of our traffic is from people looking for jobs. The other 5% comes from current employees looking for information and prospective clients. The interesting thing about the clients is that the main thing they want to know is whether or not you’re capable of filling job orders. Which means that really they’re looking for the same information as the job seeker. They want to know you’re working the job openings. After that it’s really up to your sales team and staffers.
So at The Hughes Agency this is where we’ve placed our focus: How do we use the website to help people get placed into jobs?
For us that required a few things:
- A website with a strong SEO (search engine optimization) platform to boost rankings
- A website that has a responsive design to fit mobile devices (over half our traffic is from mobile users)
- Regular content based around job openings
- An EASY job board and online application system
The first three are fairly easy. The job board and online application system may not be. In our case we spent the money and had a custom job board built to plug into our company software. This can be tricky for some of you because from what I’ve seen with the different software packages available for you guys, I haven’t found any of them with a good job board and easy application system. To be bluntly honest, many of the job boards they offer are clunky, and not mobile friendly. Which means you’re losing applicants because they get frustrated with the application process. On top of that, the software companies aren’t always that easy to work with in order to develop a custom job board.
I’m a big fan of WordPress for a CMS (Content Management System) to be the engine behind the sites I build. For starters, it’s really easy to add users to make updates and set permissions on what they can and can’t do. Secondly, it’s easy to teach people how to use. What you don’t want is a website that requires you to be completely dependent on your web company every time you want to make an update. A good CMS will make updating your website a quick and simple process. Beyond that, using a WordPress platform, we can create some really beautiful sites.
Secondly, WordPress has a lot of great internal tools to help boost SEO which is where I want to go next.
Search Engine Optimization:
I’m not going to spend a lot of time on SEO, because it gets deep and if you really want to read up on it I have another resource for you. MOZ does a much better job than I could in this e-book. So if you have a couple of hours to spare, (Don’t laugh) read up and you’ll start to understand why I said there’s a science behind all of this.
Here’s the super quick version… Building your SEO ranking is a labor of love and does NOT happen quickly (think months and years). First of all, we can assume most of you are in competitive markets and the national chains are already dominating the web traffic because they can afford to spend millions of dollars on doing just that. But, the fact that you’re local and dedicated can mean you can get up there. There are shortcuts if you’re willing to pay for them. Google Ad-Words campaigns will get you on page one, but depending on what words you choose (remember think like a job seeker) and how much you’re willing to spend will determine how long you’ll stay there.
What you posts matters. The words you choose to use matter. Understanding keywords and what people are searching for makes a huge difference.The number of websites that link to you and the traffic on those websites matter. How often you add new content matters. The amount that your content gets shared on social media matters. There’s also a ton of stuff that sits on the back end of the website posts and pages (title tags, meta descriptions, schema tags) that can really help the major web search engines find and index your content… and all of that matters.
All that said, if you’re not adding content and if you’re not sharing content you’re going to be disappointed. Unless people are already flooding to your site and linking to your content, you’re NOT going to make any progress upward.
On The Hughes Agency site we make featured job posts twice a week.
Each post contains a few elements that I’ll break down from this post.
- High quality graphics
I use a site called Dollar Photo Club to get royalty free stock images. Do NOT grab stuff off the web. There are web crawlers out there that search for copyrighted images on commercial sites and they will send you a bill for several hundred dollars and the number to their attorney if you get caught with one of theirs. After that, I take them into Photoshop for graphic design. It’s important for SEO to name these graphics when you save them, so if you have a receptionist job opening, the title of the image should read something like “receptionist job opening.” Google searches through images just like they do web pages and if you have an image that gets indexed based on the job opening, it will boost your SEO ranking in that area. My experience shows that graphics with something like “now hiring” catches more eyeballs than something generic. However, you have to be careful, Facebook won’t let you promote any post with an image that contains more than 20% text and they’re kinda fickle on how they get that number.
- Easy to understand job descriptions
The average user doesn’t understand HR lingo and unfortunately all the years of writing for newspaper ads has crept into our web vocabulary where space isn’t an issue. Write clearly and avoid abbreviations and jargon. For longer posts, use formatting like bullet points that make it flow well and easier on the eyes. This is also where keywords will come into play. Make sure you use keywords that directly relate to the job opening at the very beginning of the post. Notice on the screenshot above I used the keywords “customer service” “job openings” “Little Rock” and “Stuttgart” in the first line. These are the exact things that Google looks for. They cover what the post is about and where it is relevant.
- Call to Action
After you’ve spent the time developing a quality post, you need to make sure the person reading it knows what to do with it. Since we do all of our applications online, every single job post ends with a call to action button to “apply online” which is linked directly to the application. But, we also need to understand that this particular job openings may not suit the user’s needs and so we need to also give them another place to go for more information. In this case I direct them back to our full job board that gives a complete list of job openings, descriptions and application button. I also make sure to encourage them to come back in the future.
Finally, there’s the social aspect. All of our posts have social buttons at the bottom that allow users to share to all the major social media sites plus their e-mail. What we know from social media is that it’s the networks of people that are most often the most valuable and even though a particular user may not be the right fit, they may know someone who is.
Finally, there’s the stuff that sits on the back end of the posts that relate to SEO. These are big flares that serve a few functions. The first is that tags help the search engines index information and secondly they can make sure you’re boosting the viral nature of your post. The meta description and the featured image help ensure that when someone shares the information on social media the blurb and associated image are the blurb and the image you want associated.
Now take a deep breath and go get a cup of coffee because now I’m going to explain where all that comes together. If you’ve done everything on the website end, then posting to social sites becomes a relatively simple task. Each platform has its own perks, but we’ve had the most response from Facebook so I’ll focus on it for today. Very often the meta description I write for the post becomes the status for Facebook and the featured image will be the image for the post. Like Google, Facebook is a constantly moving target. All those years that we enjoyed it as a free marketing platform are over. Facebook will throttle the traffic of any post that is connected to a commercial page. So even though you spent years getting your “likes” up to a few thousand people, chances are, unless you boost the post, fewer than 100 will ever see it.
Because of which, I just simply approach it as an advertising platform now. The good news is that because of the audience targeting that comes with the ad manager, you’re able to reach a large number of people even if your own page likes aren’t that high. I wouldn’t recommend spending less than $200 each month. Boosting a post for $25 will put your post, on average, in the newsfeed of 4,000 people. As a general rule I follow a $5 per day per post as a minimum. Double your money and you get double the exposure, but I have noticed there seems to be some tipping point at $50 per week. Some posts do better than others. Generic, low skill openings like general labor tend to do better from an analytic standpoint than a high skilled or a professional job simply because there are a greater number of people qualified. So I try to mix it up each week.
When you know it’s working is not so much when the number of likes is going up, but rather when the number of shares and comments where people are simply tagging other people. Like the following example.
Also, notice the weblink is an abbreviated link from Bit.ly. Bit.ly is a free service that also offers a paid analytics platform if you’re curious who is clicking your links. Long links look unprofessional so I try to avoid them as often as I can.
As far as logistics of posting, it’s simple. When filling out your post, there is a boost post button at the bottom. It allows you to define how much you’re going to spend, how many days you want your post boosted and define the audience you want to reach. With certain products it’s often useful to define the interest category, but for jobs I’ve found it’s generally less helpful to use and more helpful to focus on a particular city plus X number of miles depending on how far you want to reach.
Finally, the thing I can’t stress enough is paying attention to what’s going on. Pay attention to what’s working and what isn’t. If it’s not working, change it. If people are asking questions on your page and nobody is getting back with them, you’ll generate a negative vibe. If people are dissatisfied with the service you’re providing, they’ll tell you about it. They’ll tell everybody about it. However, if they love the service they’re getting, they’ll tell everybody about that too.
I really hope this helps. Once again, if you have any questions feel free to connect with me and I’ll be happy to elaborate or help you in any way I can.