Using Facebook and LinkedIn Ads to Intelligently “Poach” Employees

September 18, 2012

Recruiting top talent for your startup is a huge challenge. In fact, it’s probably the biggest challenge for most companies. There are only so many awesome people to hire and Craigslist postings and referral bonuses only go so far. So you have to be creative to get above all of the noise. One really cool example is Full Contact’s paid paid vacation policy. It got them tons of press and probably caught the attention of a bunch of talented people they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to get in front of. Another clever technique is to go to LinkedIn and send a message to talented people who are currently employed. Putting aside the questionability of poaching employees of other companies, since you are contacting people who aren’t necessarily actively looking for a job, your conversion rate (interested candidates) will probably be pretty low and it doesn’t scale very well so you might not end up with a sufficient pool of candidates. A good marketer knows conversion rate and conversion volume are inversely related, and the cold message approach doesn’t lend itself to either.

What would be better is if you could target many relevant people working at specific companies (competitors, companies that only hire top talent, etc.) who might entertain a new career opportunity should they see something that interests them. And you can do just this using Facebook ads and LinkedIn ads. Both of these ad platforms allow you to target at the company level, so you can setup a campaigns and show ads only to people who work at specific companies. This allows you to get much more reach than individually contacting people, and interest is initiated by the potential employee so your conversion rate will be higher.

Here’s a real world example: we were recently looking to hire an Account Executive to join us at Circl. We posted on Craigslist and we tapped our networks and we got a lot of talented candidates. But let’s say we wanted to expand our candidate pool even further and we knew there were a lot of companies in our space that might have relevant candidates. I could have created an ad campaign on Facebook that might look something like this:

Facebook has a huge reach and people use it very regularly so your potential audience pool is in the hundreds of millions. But as you can see, the number of users this ad targets is very small (340). Granular targeting is the key to facebook advertising (and any advertising really) so you can create relevant ads that lead to relevant products/services/destinations for a specific audience. Since this audience is so targeted, you would want to bid to the higher end of the suggested bid range and potentially 2-3x the highest suggested bid. The reason being you want your ad to show as often as possible since your campaign is so targeted and you want to reach as many of these 340 people as possible.

We could have also launched a LinkedIn ad campaign. LinkedIn users tend to be more business oriented and in a professional state of mind than users on Facebook. That’s why you see most advertisers on LinkedIn advertising business-related products/services. Seems like a great place to advertise an open position, right? So we could have created a campaign with targeting that might look something like this:

One thing you have to be mindful of when advertising on LinkedIn is that if your target audience has less than 1,000 people, they won’t let you continue setting up your campaign. This is to ensure sure enough people see/click on your ad so you get some results (and they make their money). Fair enough, but this affects the ability to target at a super granular level so keep it in mind if you start targeting smaller companies and/or specific job functions.

I hope this recruiting hack helps you land a new employee or twelve.

Conversion Tracking for Facebook Ads

August 17, 2012

Conversion tracking is a crucial part of advertising. If you can’t track what’s working, you won’t know what to focus on. For some reason Facebook doesn’t fully agree, as there is no native conversion tracking for Facebook ads. There was at one point. Then there wasn’t. Then there was for certain advertisers. And that’s where we are today. You cannot have a successful ad platform without letting advertisers accurately measure performance, so you would think Facebook would want to lower the barrier to get as many advertisers as possible on board. Until that changes, you can use non-Facebook tools to track conversions.

If you have a large monthly budget, it can make sense to use a third-party ad management tool to easier manage your Facebook ad campaigns. There a growing number of these tools and they usually have built-in conversion tracking. But these tools can be expensive and they are definitely not for everyone. Another way to track conversions is to use Google Analytics combined with UTM URL parameters. It’s straight forward and doesn’t cost anything but a few minutes of time to setup. First, make sure whatever site you’re sending traffic to is setup on Google Analytics. Then create a goal within Google Analytics for whatever your conversion is. Make sure your goal URL is the post-conversion step (i.e. thank you page, order confirmation, etc.) in your funnel. Now create a UTM URL for each ad, changing the parameters accordingly so you can segment your conversions by different ad copy, image, targeting, etc. And that’s it. Now when you send traffic to each of these UTM URLs, you’ll be able to use Google Analytics to track conversions by the various UTM parameters you used. This also works great for other traffic sources where you can’t directly track conversions, such as email campaigns and social media.