So it’s been a while since my last post (big shame on me!), but what a way to get back into it again than an interview with Steve Ward, the brains behind the successful and growing Cloud Nine Recruitment – award winning specialists in social media and digital talent. Some cracking answers and social media observations from Steve can be found below – he explores his motivation and success for blending social media and recruitment, and shares some lessons he’s learned. From Twitter to Facebook, and LinkedIn to YouTube, Cloud Nine Rec is spreading its wings…
Well, I guess I’m an old-dog learning new tricks. I’m a recruiter to the social media & digital communications industry, and an enthusiast in that area. I’ve recruited for 18 years. So seen all the horror stories!! Outside of that, I live down near Brighton and have a family, two kids, play golf and cricket pretty badly, and support Forest. (I’m a Nottingham man originally.)
2. You’re the brains behind CloudNine Social Media & Digital Recruitment – break down what you guys do?
CloudNine is what became of a grumpy independent recruiter who was disillusioned with recruiting. Social media saved my career by making things interesting and relevant. CloudNine is fundamentally a participator and integrator with the industry it supplies – which is social media and digital comms. We don’t sell, we don’t force – we identify the industry’s talent community, exist within it, provide for it – and build from recommendation and the strength of our reputation. It’s fun, and the future of recruiting, because it’s where people are.
We’re not big on parading ourselves for awards, but we won an Award at the end of 2011 for Best Social Media Strategy amongst UK Marketing recruiters at the Marketing & Advertising Recruitment Awards. I think it underlines what we are about – understanding Social Media or Social Business and how it works best – and this helps us identify the right talent in this zone too. I got trained in basic Social Media Strategy before embarking on all this – so I can genuinely be considered a specialist.
4. You’ve clearly embraced social media and are a case study in how to make it work for your business as well as personal brand. What was the first social network you put CloudNine on & why?
Aside of LinkedIn, which I don’t really see as a social network – we first ventured on Twitter. It was a patient process to get recognition, but it was fun and easy to identify and engage with relevant people, as well as my own mentors and idols within the industry. I used it to build relationships and introduce offline opportunities.
5. How did it go – any lessons learned?
Massive lessons learned. It went well I would say – there were probably only two of us at the time who were doing it ‘properly’ as the industry would see it, and we got respect and appreciation. The BIG lesson, or fulfillment, came in realising online alone is fruitless – you have to turn Twitter presence, etc. into offline relationships, and participation on the networking circuit to get genuine appreciation and authenticity.
Twitter is where we built the audience – so it’s the bread-and-butter for us for speed and breadth of communication potential. Facebook is a growing area for us – it’s not easy to get massive traction there as a ‘recruitment agency’ – but it seems to be working well for us, and attracting maybe a different audience. LinkedIn is not a social network in my opinion – it’s a business connections and accreditation zone with some redundant chatter. It’s where I pointedly identify talent, connect, and then go find them on Twitter or elsewhere to have a proper introductory chat. Recruiters have ruined LinkedIn and I don’t want to be part of that. We’re on Google+ too, by the way…
7. How do you manage them all – it must take a lot of time creating fresh content, updating them and engaging with individuals, let alone do your day job!
Good ol’ Hootsuite helps – but boy it is tough. My first employee was a Community Manager. As I say, we recruit and attract talent through our social media integration and presence. It’s important that we are omnipresent in social platforms to increase visibility. So the time spent is worth it.
Yes there are some fantastic examples of smart job seekers with creative skills using YouTube to get a job. Sadly though, there are too few. Most of the others are pretty hideous – I’m not sure I want to see an accountant selling himself in front of his wardrobe talking about his trial and balance skills. I always advise to keep it simple and don’t ignore traditional methods. Good CVs AREN’T dead!! I do hope however, that people may use YouTube in job searches – as we have plans there for CloudNine.
9. You also get yourself out and about at networking events – how on earth do you find the time?!
I choose carefully!!! As I say, it’s important that I’m seen at the right places where possible. Never an event or networking gig goes by without a request for help either recruiting or finding a job. It’s a no-brainer in a social industry, to join in the social. Plus it’s fun, and often involves free beer. (Simple motivators!!)
10. Are you a social media machine that can’t keep away from the Social Web even when on holiday, or do you (can you) switch off completely?!
I’m terrible at switching off my work, but I have found that increasingly I can break from social networks easily. My last tweet at 5.30 on a Friday will be my last tweet until Monday am, and when I had a holiday in Outer Mongolia Wales with the kids recently, we were out of reach of network for my iPhone apps to work. I found it easy to miss the social networks, but desperately needed my emails!! Emails AREN’T dead!