Facebook’s Directed Ads: A Game Changer For How We Recruit Talent

Facebook announced it’s testing a new product last week.

What’s the product? It’s a version of paid messages within Facebook. Think LinkedIn’s Inmail, but for Facebook and an additional 800 million users and potential candidates!

From the announcement:

Today we’re starting a small experiment to test the usefulness of economic signals to determine relevance. This test will give a small number of people the option to pay to have a message routed to the Inbox rather than the Other folder of a recipient that they are not connected with.

Several commentators and researchers have noted that imposing a financial cost on the sender may be the most effective way to discourage unwanted messages and facilitate delivery of messages that are relevant and useful.

This test is designed to address situations where neither social nor algorithmic signals are sufficient. For example, if you want to send a message to someone you heard speak at an event but are not friends with, or if you want to message someone about a job opportunity, you can use this feature to reach their Inbox. For the receiver, this test allows them to hear from people who have an important message to send them.”

A multi-billion dollar opportunity

Oh, please, if there is a Facebook God, please pick me for this test!

You see, I’m a believer. I fully believe Facebook is going to change the way we recruit talent in the future — the way we network to find referrals, etc. I’m also a believer that companies will pay billions of dollars to have this ability. I also, fully, believe that the majority of recruiting professionals out there will understand how to use this function appropriately. Plus, having a financial consequence will ensure this won’t become spam central.

Let me give you an example. I have a client right now looking for two (2) Human Factors engineers. They are hard to find because individuals in these roles are fully employed and get multiple contacts per week with offers.

We’ve had success finding good ones, but eventually even the best networks start to dry up. Facebook has an additional 500 plus, self identified HF engineers that I can find through a friend search – but I’m not connected to that. I can try to connect through a request, but they probably will say they don’t want to connect with me – and Facebook will slap my hands and warn they are going to kick me off the network.

If Facebook said to me – “Hey, Tim, for $1 per message, we’ll allow you to send a message to all 500 HF engineers ” – I would sign that check right now. Twice! And these 500 are just the public “self-identified” folks; Facebook has thousands more who have identified but not made it public. I’ll pay for those as well! So will most companies.

Think this isn’t going to happen, eventually? You’re wrong; this is a multi-billion dollar opportunity – every year.

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Why this won’t be seen as spam

You know what else? It won’t have any impact to your Facebook experience. While it sounds like a spam nightmare, it won’t be.

First, these are directed ads for specific people, not everyone. So, Charlie working the friers at McDonald’s can calm down — I’m not sending you any messages.

Second, these directed ads cost money, so companies aren’t going to be sending millions of these messages that they can’t afford. This isn’t a shotgun strategy, this is a sniper rifle strategy.

Facebook – call me. We need to talk!

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


5 Comments on “Facebook’s Directed Ads: A Game Changer For How We Recruit Talent

  1. Hi Tim – What makes you think that recipients of facebook ads will be any more likely to respond than recipients of LinkedIn Inmails? In general I have found that high demand talent gets lots of communication from recruiters — and mostly ignores it. Adam Kaplan, Founder / CEO, Big Tent Jobs, LLC

  2. Tim, there is a flaw with the argument you make – you say that the messages won’t be seen as spam but they will, because of the law of unintended consequences. So I agree with Adam.

    The problem is that when you lower the economic cost of communication more people communicate, so the signal to noise ratio deteriorates. In your example, now the 500 HF engineers are going to receive a lot more solicitations so the net value of each solicitation from the prospects perspective gets diminished.

    It’s akin to when the Internet made it easy for people to apply for jobs. Applicant flow skyrocketed but net average quality went off a cliff: Net result – resume spam

  3. Tim, I agree with you and disagree with Adam and Jason who both responded with problems that are the next step on that recruiting supply chain.

    The critical challenge you addressed is defining how to access the largest pool of reasonably qualified talent you can find at the lowest cost and literally get ‘up-to-bat’ by gaining some of their attention…even if for only a moment.

    Adam and Jason complain that your message will still produce crap results. Just like like any other approach. They may be right but they are not answering your main point.

    With respect to your quest, I would want to know from Facebook just what % of the billion profiles on the site have supplied sufficient info about themselves to even ascertain they might be HR Factors professionals. For example if Facebook has 250 million US profiles but only 30% have indicated a title, or degree or other piece of biodata like professional association etc. on which you can search and find those 500, then their ‘universe’ of 75 million (not 250 million) may not be as complete as some other database…and not yet the killer app you seek. But give it time. Why hype their value and have them charge you $2 because you believe you are getting it all?

    At the same time. any new and user friendly way to gain attention will always get over used until the right price and volume mix is found and even then it will be a problem. I love Jason’s net value analogy. True enough as an argument to why your secondary point about spam holds no water but that is why some folks do better than others when attempting to craft the right message to the right person at the right time. If they see it at all you will know whether you hit the home run or struck out and hopefully will learn form it…but, as you point out if you can’t get up to bat, you learn nothing.

  4. Actually here in Australia, it *would* be spam… $10,000 penalty for each and every message if successfully prosecuted.

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