When discussing social media recruitment, the questions I am asked most frequently are “what is in it for me?” and “what do I stand to gain from sourcing talent using social media platforms, as opposed to traditional recruitment methods?”

There are a multitude of answers. Firstly, social recruitment saves money. Job boards and agencies drain recruitment budgets fast, whereas building referral programmes that drive applications for vacancies on social media have much lower costs associated with it. Recruiting through social media also helps you build and sustain a strong employer brand, as the amplification created through these channels provides a clear snapshot of what your business stands for, outlines its culture and enhances its ability to attract and retain star performers.

Social recruitment does not just help you find talent, it helps you find digitally savvy talent faster. Increasing numbers of candidates who are interested in your company and possess the skills you are looking for already use social media for networking and job searching.

Many of the candidates you need to develop and grow your business are ‘millennials’—a group for whom communicating through social media platforms is second nature. They are digital natives, having grown up with the entire internet at their fingertips. To engage with these potential employees you must connect with them on the platforms they frequent and direct interested individuals through your ‘talent pipeline’ into the application and hiring process.

However, in order to get the best out of using social media for recruitment, it is essential to have a plan in place. Below are my top tips for developing an effective social media recruitment strategy:

Get connected

When planning your recruitment strategy, deciding on which social media platforms to use is easier said than done. Whilst each platform has its own merits, Jobvite’s research speaks pretty clearly in favour of the major platforms: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

67 per cent of active job seekers are using Facebook in their job search, so it is worth setting up a company career page, separate from your corporate page, with a focus on showcasing company culture and activities. You want to make it easy for interested candidates to spot job opportunities and connect to your online application straight from Facebook. It is also important to set up dedicated career pages on Twitter and LinkedIn, as this will allow potential employees to find your career-related news quickly and easily.

Follow and be followed

You want candidates to connect with you on social media, but you also need to connect with others. Once you have set up accounts on the Big Three networks, you can import email contacts extremely easily. Generally speaking, the more you follow or connect with people, the more people will follow or connect with you in return.

When you are looking for people to connect with, be sure to get your existing employees to follow you. Employee referrals are gold to recruiters and, when you connect with your colleagues, you gain the power of their connections in return!

Enagage with your audience

There is little point in accumulating followers on social media if you do not have anything to say. It is important you know what, where and when to post. The easiest way to organise this is to set up an editorial calendar and share with your connections a few months in advance.

Posts should be targeted to generate interest and engage your followers. These will likely include items like links to company blog posts, industry news, or anything that promotes the values and message of your company.

It is important to strike a balance between engaging with your followers and saturating the attention span of your connections, so think carefully about the frequency of your posts. Automated tools such as Hootsuite and SproutSocial allow you to schedule posts for specific times, as well as providing metrics on people’s engagement with your posts.

Readying relationships

The problem many companies have with social recruitment is figuring out the disconnect between advertising alongside directing engaged and interested followers into your recruitment ‘funnel’. Candidate relationship management tools can bridge this gap. These platforms make it easy to communicate with your talent pool and feed candidates into your application process.

You also want to ensure a smooth transition between social network interactions on mobile devices and your application process. Look for tools that can help you create compelling mobile career sites that feed into your recruitment system.

The world is a workforce

Finally, and most importantly, it is essential to connect with your employees on social media.

Your workforce is the most effective team of brand advocates you have, and the beauty of social media is the ability to exponentially connect with the networks of all your contacts. If you are limited to engaging with your own network, you are likely to reach a few thousand contacts at the most. However, involving your employees in the process broadens your reach to include all their second and third degree connections, and your audience can increase to millions.

Your employees are people who you have already vetted and whose friends are more likely to be of a similar personality, work ethic, and skill level, so it’s not surprising that employee referrals are the top source of new hires! Be sure to encourage your company’s employees to consistently like and share what you post, and integrate incentives for doing so, in order to make this a win-win situation.

It’s essential that you make the referral process as quick and easy as possible, as people are far less likely to help you with your recruitment endeavor if the process is complicated and time consuming for them.

The success of a social media recruitment strategy hinges on its ability to make the process simple. Now is a good time to investigate the tools and technology that will facilitate your social recruitment strategy. Look for tools that help you measure the success of your referral program and tie prospects and applicants back to their social network sources. Alongside this, do not forget the employees who brought them to you.

With these five steps and the help of the right technology, you can become a winning social media recruiter, attracting the best and brightest talent for your business—so why not start today?

Matt Singer, VP of International at Jobvite