Monthly Archives: April 2011

Just when you thought you were cool, augmented reality bites HR

You’ve already created a careers page that’s separate from your main site. You’re posting news and photos on your Facebook careers page and talking to applicants on your Twitter careers profile. You’ve set up your company’s Careers tab on LinkedIn and put videos of your office life on YouTube. What’s next?

Get ready to add AR to your HR. AR stands for augmented reality, an exciting new technology that will change many of our interactions with the world, including job searching. What is it? Applications that use augmented reality overlay links, images, and information onto whatever you’re viewing on your mobile device’s screen. In a way, it’s no different than the scoreboard superimposed over the live broadcast of a baseball game. But in other ways, it’s a whole lot more.

Review sites such as Yelp! forsee using augmented reality to get information on whatever restaurants are around you. You’ll be able to simply point your smartphone at a restaurant’s storefront and see information displayed over the image, such as reviews, menu prices, or even the restaurant’s history. Point your phone at a crowded bar and you may be able to find people who are currently tweeting, or logged into Facebook – or looking to date.

The possibilities for recruiting are obvious. With the right app, a job-seeker could point their phone at a building or office and immediately see what positions are available. Links would appear that lead to videos of employee testimonials. The job-seeker would be able to have an application form sent to them by email, or even to schedule an interview – after all, they’re already holding their phone! Both the ease and the “wow factor” of such an innovative process will make sure that your company stands out in the crowded employment marketplace.

In fact, CareerBuilder is already pursuing this technology, as is CompanySpot in the Netherlands. The Dutch employment firm, which provides information on salaries and benefits to job-seekers, declares on its website, “What exactly is happening behind the large glass door of the headquarters across the street? Point your mobile at the building and you’ll know.”

Augmented reality applications for talent recruiting aren’t quite here yet, but they’re coming. Just as companies that scoffed at marketing on Facebook and Twitter eventually realized their mistake, recruiters who dismiss AR may soon find themselves scrambling to keep up. I’m excited about the possibilities that augmented reality offers and I’ll track its progress, both here and at my LinkedIn group Your Digital Brand.

So enjoy “regular” reality while you can – it’s about to get augmented!

Do Facebook Pages Work?

A recent report from Forrester Research has concluded that Facebook is not a major force in e-commerce. After surveying over 20 technology retailers and marketers, Forrester found that having a Facebook Page provided “little benefit” to the companies involved.

According to the Wall Street Journal coverage of the report, a Facebook presence “was less effective at customer acquisition and retention than email and paid search.” The report compared email marketing’s 11% click-through rate and 4% conversion rate to Facebook Pages’ 1% click-through rate and 2% conversion rate. Many technology and marketing sites have taken this to mean that Facebook Pages don’t work.

Not so fast. The naysayers are forgetting some important details. Let’s make sure you don’t fall into the same trap.

First, Forrester’s premise is questionable. Facebook Pages are geared towards brand awareness, not conversion, so comparing their conversion rate to email marketing’s is unfair. This difference is highlighted by Forrester’s lead researcher, Sucharita Mulpuru, who stated that “You go to Facebook to find other people, not to find a product.” But Facebook Pages provide “other people,” through an online community of like-minded consumers. And a smart company offers a “person” in the form of a friendly marketing professional who responds to questions, comments, and complaints.

Which brings us to the next reason why the report underestimates Facebook Pages: interaction. A Facebook Page isn’t a retail site, though companies such as Best Buy and JCPenney are experimenting with selling products directly on their Pages. Most companies, large and small, use Facebook Pages to communicate with their customers and allow customers to connect with each other. Die-hard fans love talking directly to their favorite brands, while those with questions or complaints can receive quick resolutions. This acquisition and retention of consumers eventually leads to sales that Forrester didn’t track.

Another problem with Forrester’s report is that it was probably conducted too early. Many companies don’t have Pages yet (just as, fifteen years ago, many didn’t have websites), so the survey pool is much smaller. More importantly, a lot of brands don’t understand how to use Facebook Pages. They post copy verbatim from their press releases; they broadcast promotions but don’t reply to comments; or they post far too frequently, filling up their Fans’ newsfeeds and quickly getting “Unliked.”

Marketing scientist Dan Zarrella recently found that companies that posted more than once a day received fewer “Likes,” while those that posted every other day received the most “Likes.” This discovery is still filtering down to companies that are still figuring out how to maximize their Facebook Pages. Until they do, and until more companies join Facebook, Forrester’s report shouldn’t be taken as gospel.

Don’t let the low conversion rate fool you; Facebook Pages do, in fact, work. They create brand awareness and loyalty, they give a voice to a company, and they inform Fans of special offers and new products. The key is knowing how to use them and what to expect from them. The added value and interactivity they generate is something that email marketing, paid search, or print ads – and maybe even Twitter – can’t duplicate.

Exit Laughing: How To Reject Candidates But Keep Customers

Let’s face it: nobody likes rejection letters. HR managers don’t like writing them and job-seekers don’t like receiving them. But is it possible to turn a rejection into a positive experience? I think it is. The right kind of letter can compliment an applicant, reinforce your brand – and convince them to apply again.

Always Be Branding
How can you write rejection letters that will keep them coming back? With “ABB” – Always Be Branding. Remember, you’re representing your brand even when you’re rejecting job applicants. If they were already a customer, you want to retain them; if they weren’t, you want to turn them into one.

Tell Them Nothing
Many companies write a terse note explaining that a more qualified candidate was chosen, they’ll keep the applicant’s resume on file (a lie, isn’t it?), and thanks for applying. This prevents the applicant from finding a specific complaint against the company, such as the hiring manager not liking them. A polite but vague letter conveys that there was no single factor that disqualified the applicant and that they lost to someone who was truly superior. This can be frustrating for the applicant, but it avoids lawsuits.

Tell Them Everything
Some companies take the opportunity to do some coaching, by highlighting areas that the applicant can work on. After all, many people prefer a clear reason for the failure over a mystery. You could go the other direction and actually praise the candidate, referring to their work in a particular position or their success with a specific project. This shows that you did, in fact, “like” the applicant, which eliminates another of their concerns. This strategy can backfire, however, as applicants may disagree with your reasoning; rejection lawsuits are rare, but they do happen. Keep this in mind when considering how honest to be.

Tell Them Something
The middle way is the smartest. After all, the goal of a rejection letter is to give the applicant a positive experience, much as you would with a customer or employee. To personalize and brand your company, you should tell the applicant something more than the standard three-sentence “no, thanks.” Say that you hope they apply in the future, which implies that they have potential. You can admit that the applicant simply wasn’t the right fit, which exonerates their qualifications. Say you hope they keep enjoying your product or service. In fact, you might even include a coupon or discount code in the letter; getting rejected by a food manufacturer or restaurant chain would mean getting a free meal!

Job-seekers know that how a company treats its applicants is a reflection of how they treat their employees. But with a rejection letter that handles the unpleasantness with wit, grace, and style, you can make applicants love you even as you reject them…and guarantee they exit laughing.