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Why your Twitter #job hash-tagging is getting you #nowhere

TwitterAre you diligently tweeting out your jobs, adding hashtags like #job #jobs and #jobfairy but getting nowhere? I received an email this week from a recruiter who is doing just that, but everytime she searches Twitter for those same hashtags and keywords, she can’t find her tweets, even if she searches seconds after she tweets. What’s happening to all of her job tweets?

Firstly, let’s take a step back and talk about the hash tags and why recruiters tweet out jobs in the first place. When you tweet, your followers will see that message in their “stream” in reverse chronological order, i.e. they will see the most recent tweets of people they follow hence if they happen to be checking twitter when you’re tweeting, they may see and click on your tweeted job posting.

Most recruiters struggle to build a following beyond a few hundred die-hard fans and hence find that the return on this investment is low. The real opportunity, however, lies in Twitter’s search tool which allows anyone in the world to search all public tweets and see shared comments and links of people they may not be following. If you search for job, you will likely find millions of tweets, some relevant, some maybe not so much.

twitter-hash-logoRecruiters and employers add a hashtag “#” in front of words like #job to emphasise them and say to other users “hey, this tweet is actually about a job!”. Unfortunately the job hashtag is regularly spammed by malicious (or annoying) Twitter accounts that are tweeting links that aren’t actually jobs hence other hashtags have popped up like #jobfairy that are less spammed and often more relevant for job seekers. So, a search for #job or #jobfairy should show your tweet at the top of the pile to anyone who is searching or following that hashtag right now, yes?

Well, unfortunately the answer is no, and here’s why.

Last year Twitter revamped its interface and started rolling out some changes in how tweets appear, including the search tool. Previously, all tweets that matched your keyword search would have appeared by default in reverse chronological order, i.e. most recent first, down to the milisecond for popular tags like #job. On the up-side, everyone had a chance at being top of the pile but on the down-side, unless you tweeted at precisely the time that your perfect candidate was searching for a job on Twitter, you would get lost at the bottom. Now Twitter defaults to “Top Tweets” when you search for a keyword or hashtag. You can still toggle to “All” tweets, which will show the classic most recent first view, but how many of us do this regularly, particulary Twitter novices?

So how do you get to the top of the Twitter Top Tweets pile for a particular keyword? Well, Twitter advise that “We’ve built an algorithm that finds the Tweets that have caught the attention of other users. Top Tweets will refresh automatically and are surfaced for popularly-retweeted subjects based on this algorithm. We do not hand-select Top Tweets”. Some further digging on Twitter’s announcements during the year reveals that this algorithm looks at volume of re-tweets, replies and favorites (an under-used function that can have an even higher influence than a re-tweet!) and also looks at deviations from the norm for a particular user, so for example if all of my tweets regularly get re-tweeted 10 times, Twitter will likely only highlight content that has been re-tweeted more than my normal average of 10.

On further, unplanned, investigation last week, I observed some other undocumented patterns. I was watching the Eurovision song contest last week (don’t laugh), a pretty ludicrous television event but one that is pretty addictive when you watch whilst sitting on the #Eurovision hash-tag live stream! I noticed that my tweets were surfacing near the top of the pile each time I refreshed, even though I was competing against several million other users who were all tweeting using the same hashtag at the same time as me (#Eurovision was the number one trending keyword globally on Twitter on the evening of Saturday 26th May 2012!). Also, people I followed were appearing near the top of all of my “Top Tweet” results each time I refreshed. This got me thinking.

Earlier that week I had been at CIETT 2012, an annual gathering of all the recruitment industry representative bodies from around the world, and at the main dinner there were several tweet walls that were displaying a selection of tweets using the #CIETT2012 hashtag. It was unfiltered but wasn’t displaying all tweets. My tweets would appear within 2 mins of me tweeting, but a friend from the American Staffing Association who was burnig his fingers away trying to get onto the screen was having no luck. It appeared that accounts with a higher level of “influence” (horrible word, feel free to suggest a better one!) were appearing immediately but those with low follower numbers and low average engagement were not appearing at all. I suspect that Twitter uses a similar algorithm that looks at some level of influence or activity on Twitter and gives these users a better chance at appearing immediately in “Top Tweet” searches. After all, its hard to get lots of re-tweets and favourites in a couple of seconds, yet some such results do appear in the “Top Tweets” filters. What does this all mean for the lowly recruiter trying to get attention for his or her jobs?

Firstly, keep using the hashtags, it definitely extends your reach but you’re going to need to do more then that ,which requires a long term strategy for your Twitter account. If you can build an engaged following, get re-tweets, favourites and have real conversations and do it all fairly regularly, then your same effort of tweeting jobs will have a much greater effect than that of your competitors. This requires committing to Twitter as a communication channel, not just a broadcasting channel and would seem to require that you do it on the same account that you are tweeting your jobs from, contrary to the opinion that I usually offer. No-one said this was going to be easy!

So here are my tips in light of this question and this bit of research:

1. Tweet your jobs, use hashtags, but don’t over do it (on both counts). Less is more!

2. Try starting conversations with other influencers that mention the hashtags and links to the jobs. This style of tweeting is more likely to get traction and engagement. (Broadcast less, discuss more).

3. Play the game. Re-tweet others, favourite their content and engage in other people’s conversations. (Be Social in other words!)

4. Make it part of your day, don’t just try it for a few weeks as it’s unlikely to work in such a short period of time. (Commit to Twitter for the long haul!) According to research from Bullhorn Reach, your job tweets are 8 times more likely to result in a CV or resume being submitted on your careers site then if you shared the same link on Facebook or LinkedIn – so believe in it, it works!

Or does it? Let us know in the comments below 🙂

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