Once you understand what social media are, your view of social recruiting should start becoming more clear. Beyond functionality, though, here are three reasons why using social media for recruiting makes sense:
Everyone (and their mom) is using social media. Long gone are the days when social media were just for the young. In the past year older generations were the fastest growing age groups of new social media users (1). Now that social media's pervasiveness is a foregone conclusion, we must live with the reality that they are changing how we find content and communicate. More specifically, social media are quickly superseding other channels as the best ways to reach the eyes and minds of passive job seekers, who make up roughly 74% of the workforce. This includes (74% of) the people you are connected to on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Social media increase your productivity at nurturing relationships. There's plenty of conflicting research on either side of the fence of whether social media decrease or increase work productivity. But most focus on using social media for leisure at work, not for work itself. Ultimately, social media are used to keep in touch and keep track of people -- or, more generally, to nurture (different types of) relationships. And, in a world where relationships are the currency of business, social media can be a boon, if used well. Most will agree that those who succeed in recruiting and hiring are adept at forming, developing and keeping track of myriad relationships. Social media can help with this -- a lot.
Social media help you learn and share learnings about your industry, peers and prospects. At the enterprise level, companies are increasingly implementing what research is supporting: social media make great learning tools. You can use them to track (in real-time) the online thoughts and reading list of industry thought leaders, your peers and your prospects. And, it works both ways. One of the beautiful aspects of social media is that you can use them to tell people what you're thinking without telling them what you're thinking. Sharing your thoughts via social media is a great, non-aggressive way of establishing and marketing yourself as a thought leader.