In February 2009, Twitter.com, was, according to Nielsen, the fastest growing Member Community website in the world (1382% growth), and the fact that it has not generated any income since its creation in 2006 has not stopped it being one of the most talked about websites out on the web.
Celebrity users include Oprah Winfrey, Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears, Coldplay and Stephen Fry, but its uses are proving much more varied. During the October 2007 California wildfires, the LA Fire Department used the technology to keep the public informed, and still does . NASA allows ‘followers’ to receive updates on the Space Shuttle missions, and other uses have included ballot access monitoring during the 2008 US presidential election, organising mass anti-government unrest in Moldova last month, or a student journalist alerting friends he had been arrested during anti-government protests in Egypt in April 2008, eventually securing his release.
One of the keys to Twitter’s success is that it allows an instant access to information. Most news organisations, including the likes of CNN & the BBC or more new-media focused players like the Huffington Post tweet their headlines. But it also gives a new life to citizen journalism, the recent G20 protests or terrorist attacks in Mumbai saw Twitter users doing a better job than many members of the press.
Tweet yourself a job
One market that relies heavily on the public’s access to up-to-date information is the job market. HCA post their requirements, and various sites aim to aggregate job postings on Twitter. The latter are important, because to be sure readers won’t miss any updates, they must be ‘following’ the relevant feed, and most openings will always be with companies that don’t have the pulling power, the ‘dream job’ status that will encourage readers to subscribe.
Twitter is a very handy communication tool, but it does present a few drawbacks. It offers neither privacy nor the space to elaborate, and allow candidates to give a real taste of who they are; biographical details are also limited in length, and depend on the user filling it in. The demographic may also not offer a very even penetration of the market, with users tending to be more media/ICT focused and younger than more traditional job portals. Katie Canton, product manager for TwitterJobSearch.com, however points out that Twitter’s API offers engaged users the chance to build the functionality they’d like to get out of Twitter and that developments are under way to further take advantage of Twitter as a means to communicate, rather than solely its publishing capabilities, promising new recruitment tools that can fundamentally change the recruitment process.
Will Twitter supersede the current tools and actors in recruitment? This is not the first time such claims are made As ExecutiveSurf CEO Rod Bailey puts it: “It’s staggering how Twitter has passed from the realms of geek tool into globally recognised, reliable first source of information in a question of months. Our colleagues in executive search continue to lump it in with Facebook and YouTube at their peril. We embrace it as an excellent new tool to reach executives worldwide.”
One of the reasons however that may see Twitter (and other new media) remain solely tools is any hiring will always need to be sealed off by a human interaction between candidate and HR manager. Rod Bailey adds: “Our role in all this is to cover the ‘last mile’. Now, more than ever before in our history, anyone can contact anyone. The challenge is to qualify the mass of information into something meaningful. In recruitment terms that means a screened and referenced shortlist. That’s what we do.”
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