As a person who sees a ton of recruiting videos (and I just got done judging ERE’s Recruiting Excellence Awards so you can bet I’ve had my fill of these things), they seem to follow a few general rules:
- Have a friendly narrator talk to you about working for the company;
- Try to make it fun and approachable with real employees’ and,
- Give people a glance at a day-in-the-life.
All good moves by any measure, but Twitter took it one step further: they did all of those things while humorously demonstrating how not to pull off a recruiting vid. To say the least, it was brilliant.
Parodying the “typical” recruiting video
I originally saw the video on Steve Boese’s HR Technology blog and he sums up the brilliance of the project perfectly:
And then there is the content of the video itself, in its attempt (mostly successful), to be ‘bad’, it reveals that Twitter and its employees are open to poke a little fun at themselves – even the CEO gets in on the game with a solid, deadpan performance in the piece. It clearly is real Twitter employees in the piece, not corporate talking heads, they are in their natural working environments, and while going over the top to be cheesy, if you listen to the copy you actually get a pretty simple, straightforward employer branding kind of message. Small teams, important projects, great work environment and so on. And a CEO not above helping send that message. A call to action with the web address of the career page and the recruiting Twitter account, (natch), also make the cut.
Obviously, not everyone is Twitter and not everyone can pull something like this off. But even with Twitter’s built in audience, most of their videos on their YouTube channel have a limited number of hits. Their largest video in terms of views before the recruiting video was one with a bit of 36k views. (Update: As was pointed out in the comments, Twitter’s YouTube Channel has 10 million hits. Still, half a million in four days is significant, just not as uncharacteristic –LH). As of this writing, the recruiting video has nearly a half a million views. There’s not another recruiting video out there that got this big, this fast.
The lesson? It’s unique
I’ve heard a lot from experts about using video in recruiting. Some of them take the old “Let’s take a FlipCam and shoot a bunch of video, edit it with iMovie, put some fun music to it and call it good!” Which is great, except for the fact that it looks like every other low budget recruiting video out there.
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The days of using a shaky handheld camera for seven minute long videos with poor lighting are (thankfully) coming to a close. Unless, of course, the goal is to get the record for the number of videos that get under 1,000 views on YouTube.
Then you have others who advocate for the opposite: spend some money, bring in a professional crew, and either get some paid people to do the video or get your most camera-ready employees scripted up to sound natural when they talk about what they are doing. That’s great, except the polish never feels completely real. While I still think it is better than the low budget route, I don’t know how often your standard, scripted video is really going to pay off.
Two lessons from this Twitter video
The real lesson here is that Twitter did two things that most companies don’t do.
- First, in spite of its intentionally low budget, under-produced look, it was very watchable. It was relatively short, the lighting and sound were consistent (when they wanted it to be) and it had a strong call to action.
- Second, the attitude and idea was fresh and new. It strikes the right balance of humor, information and the ability to share with someone (even if they aren’t looking for a job) without feeling forced.
While it might be hard to measure the impact a video makes in any recruiting or hiring process, there’s one thing we know: anyone would prefer to have these kinds of results with their recruiting videos rather than what is more typical. And if you’re a fan of using video, you should want more of what Twitter has just done here.