Human Resources

Periscope is a great tool for live broadcasting a social campaign, but how should you go about it? We spoke to Lars Schmidt, founder of Amplify Talent and employer brand strategist at Hootsuite to find out more.

You can listen to the conversation on iTunes and Soundcloud, questions by me and answers by Lars.

What is Hootsuite Open Source HR?

Yes, so Open Source HR, or “HootHROS” if you want to put that in hashtag form, was really a campaign that we put together. Ambrosia Vertesi, Hootsuite’s VP of Talent, is a good friend and she’s the person that brought me in. Her and I have a very similar ethos around the world of work and particularly around social HR, and trying to share and help people understand some of the value and advantages of bringing Social into HR operations. Really being a leader in social HR is one of Hootsuite’s talent groups’ objectives. So, it’s one thing to lead the way, it’s another to do that and bring everybody along with you. And that’s really been engrained in their culture, including their organisational culture, for years. But when I came in, we started having a conversation around how we might bring the idea of Open Source inside of HR. And ultimately where we landed is the concept of Open Source HR. And the idea is that we want to start working out loud on some of the projects that we’re doing, where really the whole HR team is empowered to share some of the things that they’re working on, what they’re learning, where’s they’re finding inspiration.

And what we’ll also be doing is we’re going to be creating a series of case studies that will really go into a lot of detail on particular HR projects or recruiting projects that we’ve developed within Hootsuite. Beyond just saying, “Hey, here’s a thing we did,” and really breaking it down to say things like, “Here’s where the idea came from. Here’s how we pitched it internally. These are what the expected outcomes are. This is how we executed it. This is what the actual outcomes were,” and then ultimately even, “Here’s what we got wrong.” Because we want to really be open about that, especially around social HR. There’s a degree of risk-taking that I think takes place, which is a good thing, but it also means you are going to fail and you are going to get some things wrong. And we think it’s important to be able to share that too. So, it’s not all unicorns and roses. You’re able to say, “Yeah, we thought this was going to be how this would turn out and some of these things were right but actually some of these things were wrong.” So, that’s going to be a key part of each case study we do.

What is the difference between social HR and social recruiting?

To me, social recruiting is kind of a subset of social HR. Even within recruiting you’ve got different subsets. You have social sourcing which is kind of how you’re using social media to find talent. You have employer branding which one might argue kind of sits either in recruiting or in HR, so that could kind of be linked to either. I think social HR is really the idea of having your entire team being open to sharing on HR, sharing best practices, and even interacting within your organisation. One of the things that’s really unique about Hootsuite’s HR team, and this is a testament to Ambrosia’s leadership within that group, is that HR within Hootsuite is actually looked at as an innovation-driving function within the team. It’s very kind of well-established and well-respected as one of leading teams that takes risks and tries new things. And I haven’t really encountered that in many organisations where HR has that rep, that earned rep, of being a den of innovation within an organisation.

What was Operation Follow the Sun and where did you get the name from?

Yeah, so the story of Follow the Sun started at South by Southwest. Ambrosia and I were at Craig Fisher‘s TalentNet conference and we were having a conversation, Meerkat just launched. And we were using Meerkat to live stream a live podcast that we were doing. We were talking about the employer branding kind of possibilities of live-streaming in general. So about a few weeks later, Periscope came out and that was right around the time that I came on to Hootsuite. So Ambrosia and I were having a conversation around how we could use Periscope to really convey the global scope of Hootsuite. We were operating in nine different offices. We wanted to make sure we could help prospects get a sense of that global footprint. And then also, the unique culture within Hootsuite. We thought live streaming would be an interesting way to do that. So the idea was we wanted to start in Singapore and actually work our way East, around the globe throughout the day, showcasing a different office every hour on the hour. So we started in Singapore, we moved to Bucharest, moved to London, to Boston, to São Paulo. All the way over to the headquarters in Vancouver. And the idea of Follow the Sun was we wanted to literally Follow the Sun as it turned around the earth.


Tell us about the Twitter handle @HootsuiteLife and the hashtag #HootsuiteLife?

Yes, so @HootsuiteLife, the Twitter handle, is the primary recruiting and employer branding handle for the HR team. That’s our primary, what I would consider to be, HR/recruiting/employer branding handle on Twitter. We use that to interact with fans. We use that to promote the HR and recruiting team. We use that to participate in chats and Periscopes and things like this. HootsuiteLife is really kind of the anchor employer branding asset, if you will.

But all employees are empowered to use that, whether they’re periscoping, tweeting, posting stuff on Instagram, or even Facebook. The volume of that hashtag is massive. And it’s all, for the most part, employee-generated content. So, again, from a recruiting perspective, it’s really easy for us to showcase and show people what the culture at Hootsuite is all about. We can share that hashtag and we have a link to Hootsuite campaigns URL that actually aggregates all of the content on that hashtag into a branded page. It allows us to actually show prospects or applicants what it’s like to work here. And the kind of people they’ll be working with. So that becomes a really authentic and powerful recruiting tool.

What are other company life hashtags to check out?

#NPRLife is one that still has a lot of traction. #AdobeLife is another one of the early pioneers. Then you start to see other things like TripAdvisor, has #GoTripAdvisor. So you’re starting to see other versions of it. has #dreamjob. Well the dream job’s a little trickier because other people will just randomly use the hashtag #dreamjob. So, the volume is a little misleading. It’s not all Salesforce content, but I think most major companies these days that are active on social have a #(whatever)life or some variation of that to empower their employees to show their culture.

Let’s face it. I mean, recruiters are biased. We’re trying to bring people into our organisation. So, I can tele-prospect about what our culture is, but it’s much more effective, I think, if I can show them an unfiltered view. Because the reality is, that’s going to attract some people, it’s also going to repel some people. Some people are going to see that and say, “You know what? That’s not for me.” And both of those outcomes are good.

What other companies are doing interesting things in the social HR space?

One of the companies that I’ve been following for the last is L’Oréal, actually. I saw a live stream presentation that they did at Talent Connect London last year and actually going to be doing one on of the keynotes now at Talent Connect in the US this year. Some of the work and campaigns they were doing was just really interesting. Things like, geotagging and putting some sensors near their headquarters and asking prospects to put in an app, so as you’re walking, or commuting towards the building, you’re getting notifications about the company or about some of the people you may be meeting with. And just some really innovative things. So that’s an organisation that I certainly track and follow some of the stuff that they do.

SAP continues to innovate. They’ve had kind of a “who’s who” of people around employer branding involved in their efforts, like Matthew Jeffery who’s still there, Will Staney who was. Aaron’s doing great work, Aaron Rector. So they continue to do some interesting stuff.

And then TripAdvisor, who I mentioned, I think they’re doing some different campaigns that I think are really interesting that also are very employee empowered-focused. And even Oracle, Celinda Appleby recently came in as their global head of employer branding. I’m watching her with a keen eye, because she’s very talented, and I think she’s going to be bringing some interesting things there.

What will happen in the social HR space over the next three years?

I’m curious to see how virtual reality continues to mature. Oculus is obviously getting a lot of buzz. There will be more platforms coming on the market soon. I think if virtual does become fairly mainstream, I think that there could be some really interesting implications for recruiting and hiring with that. I think we’re also starting to see, this is something I’m really happy about, a shift in approach around job descriptions, because as much as I think recruiting has evolved over the last couple years, and particularly in recruiting technology, job descriptions, for the most part, haven’t. They’re probably one of the least evolved tools we have in recruiting, so I’m starting to see more visual job descriptions, more dynamic job descriptions, more video job descriptions, and most importantly, mobile-optimised job descriptions as well.

Connect with Lars on Twitter @ThisIsLars and subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.

About Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO at Link Humans, a recruitment marketing agency.

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