The rise in online recruitment through social networks is thought to have significantly contributed to the recent rise of sites such as Facebook and Twitter being the most visited online destinations in the UK.

A new report issued by information services company, Experian Hitwise, showed social networking sites – numbering more than 9,000 – collectively received around 2.4 billion hits from UK visitors in January 2011.

It indicates that they are now, for the first time, more popular than entertainment and media sites such as BBC iPlayer.

Co-founder and CEO of Experian company Techlightenment, Ankur Shah, said that the figures indicated the rapid encroachment of sites originally intended for social purposes, into business and transactional spheres.

“Social networks and search complement each other. To reach new and existing customers, transactional websites need to use both channels effectively,” he explained. “Social networks, however, allow brands to tailor communication, reaching exactly the right audience at the right time.”

The numbers also showed that, while Facebook did account for 56 per cent of all social media traffic, there was significant interaction between different social media sites. This indicated that recruiters looking to hire through social networks would be mindful to have a diverse social-media marketing strategy.

However it may not be as simple as building a fan page or tweeting. Recruitment expert Geoff Newman who works with flat fee recruitment agency Recruitment Genius feels many people have rushed in to social media in recruitment without a proper strategy.

“Becoming someone’s friend has never been so meaningless than on Facebook. A successful recruitment strategy is more than followers but collaboration and engagement. Surprisingly this requires a strong engagement strategy and lots of content which can become very expensive. Therefore social media in recruitment is not always the panacea to cheap recruitment many employers hope for.

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