Snapchat Recruiting Isn’t a Magic Bullet for Millennial Engagement

Snapchat Recruiting Isn’t a Magic Bullet for Millennial Engagement

We’ve heard of McDonald’s using Snapchat to target its recruiting efforts at young people, but other employers are turning to the youth-focused platform to recruit millennials and members of generation Z as well, including some major investment banks. Ellen Chang at The Street recently highlighted Morgan Stanley’s new Snapchat-based campus recruiting initiative:

Morgan Stanley launched its campaign with Snapchat earlier in 2016 in an effort to attract college students, and geofilters were created this summer for its analysts and associates. “We have to be where the students are,” said Lisa Manganello, head of integrated brand marketing at Morgan Stanley. “We want to build on the momentum and leverage and it fits naturally with student behaviors.” …

The bank could expand the geofilters to include other colleges across the U.S. if this initial program is successful to help them garner a broader and more diverse group of future investment bankers, Manganello said.

Other banks like JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs have experimented with advertising jobs on Snapchat as well. ERE‘s recruiting tech blogger Joel Cheesman thinks it’s a great idea:

Highbrow companies who dismiss Snapchat as a medium for greasy burgers and salty fries should now take notice. Snapchat is making strides to becoming a legitimate advertising platform. Need more proof? In addition to Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan actually started testing Snapchat as a recruiting tool last year.

The argument for using Snapchat as a platform for recruiting appears to hinge on the concept of meeting that their target audience in the digital space where they already are. I’m skeptical of the hype about these efforts to raise brand awareness, however, mainly because if big investment banks like Morgan Stanley are no longer competing just with each other for top talent, but with tech companies and startups as well, there is little evidence that simply being in the same digital space as their target audience has much impact on attracting talent or raising the quality of their applicant pool.

Our recruiting research at CEB (now Gartner) highlights the importance of building an employer brand through meaningful messages, rather than meaningful channels. For example, Goldman Sachs, which we profiled in our major study on employer branding in 2014, created a pre-application diagnostic tool to create a connection between a potential candidate and the organization by inviting the candidate to imagine where they would best fit in the organization, in order to match them with the right potential role (More recently, they’ve experimented with incorporating personality tests into their summer intern recruiting).

In contrast, Snapchat filters don’t create meaningful engagement with the target audience. This strategy may boost visibility, but even though higher brand awareness may result in higher applicant volume, there is no proven correlation between this high volume and higher quality in applicants. Concerns about inclusion also arise when an organization puts too much emphasis on a recruiting tool that caters to a specific demographic, especially when that tool is being used to reach out only to students at specific (elite) schools. Goldman Sachs, again, has been working to make its recruiting less exclusive in this regard, announcing last year that it would no longer conduct first-round on-campus interviews at elite universities.

Our study also shows that messengers—the people communicating the brand—are actually more influential than channels. The CEB 2014 Employment Branding Effectiveness Survey found that Messengers had a 68 percent impact on the quality of the applicant pool, in comparison to the 32 percent influence of brand channels like social media and online career portals. (CEB Recruiting Leadership Council members can read the full Branding for Influence study here.)

“If Snapchat is good enough for Morgan Stanley, it’s good enough for you,” Cheesman concludes. Perhaps, but I would caution against blindly using this case as a benchmark for successful employment branding in recruiting just yet, and would not advise employers to put all of their millennial recruiting eggs in the Snapchat basket.