The Social Media War for Talent

Source: iStockphoto

The Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) regularly makes videos for the Hafen TV channel, both about the port in general and its own activities, and then publishes them on YouTube. Supported by presenters from the Hamburg TV station Hamburg 1, new videos are constantly produced about the exciting work at the port and about the HPA, which is responsible for the entire port infrastructure and employs some 1,800 people.

One of the topics to be found on YouTube is how the port and all its networks function. In a pilot project known as Smart Port Logistics, the HPA, Deutsche Telekom, and SAP have joined forces to further optimize the port’s traffic and logistics. Hamburg 1 presenter Madita van Hülsen explains that “getting the right truck to the right load transfer point on time even faster” is the main aim of the joint project. Thirty trucks have been equipped with tablets, so that the dispatchers at the trucking companies can now use a traffic management system to see where the trucks are at any time and assign routes.

The goal: creating enthusiasm

The HPA is not always the focus of the videos, but the objective is always to make people enthusiastic about the port and what goes on there. Some videos explain directly what work at the HPA can be like – and therefore help the HPA to attract prospective employees. The most popular HPA video has already had more than 37,000 views.

Next page: Boosting the brand and recruiting new talent

This story is part of our special focus on human resource management. All the articles related to this topic can be found here.

As the most-used business-to-business network in Germany, XING supplements the HPA’s video promotion work in several ways. First, the most important videos and images are shown here, too. And second, the company’s scores are displayed on XING ( is a site that gathers evaluations by employees, calculates an average score, and then publishes it). With an overall score of 4.38 points out of a possible 5.0, the HPA performs very well. Furthermore, the first contact in the employee area of the HPA’s XING company profile is Martina Kröpelin from HR recruitment and development. “We advertise some of the specialist and management positions on XING. Others are advertised using conventional online recruitment portals,” explains Kröpelin, who has recognized the value of social media marketing. “We plan to shift the focus more to HR marketing as a whole,” she continues. “We can certainly do more than restrict ourselves to XING and YouTube.”

The HPA has made a good start – but does this really represent a genuine social media strategy for HR? Many organizations are in a similar situation. According to a survey by Walter Gora from the Institute of Electronic Business, which works in alliance with the University of the Arts (UdK) in Berlin, only one in six companies has a social media strategy in its HR department, although 26% of those questioned have a strategy in the pipeline. “And it’s about time,” says Gora, “because tech-savvy people such as engineers and technicians or also young talent – trainees, students – can almost only be reached through social media.” The trend is clear: Six months ago, 54% of the companies surveyed had no idea whether their company used social media at all for HR management, but now 55% know that they don’t have a strategy. And 41% of the companies have either planned a strategy or are now using one, compared with just 24% six months ago.

Social media on the rise in HR departments

At the HPA, social media activities have two main purposes: The first is employer branding, in other words, portraying the brand in a positive light, and the second – and more important – is recruitment, getting new talents on board. In the analysis that Gora performed with SAP partner ADP, it emerged that 27% of the 240 companies surveyed use social media in HR management (compared with 26% six months previously). Employer branding efforts rose from 22% to 24%.

Next page: Today’s hottest social networks

For the social media expert Gora, the social media index is the Ifo Business Climate Index for social media. As head of the midmarket research group at the Institute of Electronic Business, he developed this index to show where German companies and international companies headquartered in Germany stand in comparison with each other.

Across all industries, the index has registered a sharp increase among midmarket companies, with a moderate increase in the IT and telecommunications sector and in recruiting. In other words, social media does not yet play an outstanding role in the 240 companies surveyed, but it is playing an ever bigger one. The significance of social media is growing particularly in HR management. This is because the lack of skilled talent is an issue that is hitting Germany especially at the moment. In some regions – such as in Upper Bavaria – the unemployment rate is less than 4%. “If a company there is looking for 60 trainees, it will perhaps get 30,” Gora says.

War for talent: shortage is an issue

But which channels are today’s hottest media? Here, it appears that the HPA didn’t do badly to concentrate on the B2B network XING and the video portal YouTube. XING is used in almost two thirds of companies, followed by the international B2B network LinkedIn (56%), YouTube (55%), Facebook (54%), and Twitter (48%). There’s a definite trend here: Over the past six months, LinkedIn’s popularity has grown quantitatively by 20% and the network could soon be nipping at XING’s heels. Specifically when it comes to recruiting, LinkedIn has already overtaken XING: Here the company website plays the decisive role (95%), followed by LinkedIn (54%) and XING (52%). Martina Kröpelin from the HPA uses XING especially for attracting managers, while all other vacancies are advertised using standard online job portals such as and

Next page: Watch effective corporate videos from four companies

The HPA and other authorities in northern Germany are now highly reluctant to include Facebook as a tool in their social media strategy. After data protection organizations warned more than a year ago that data from Facebook can be used to draw up personal profiles, Kröpelin says that “quite a few authorities completely deleted their Facebook accounts.” And any authorities concerned about criminal activity should treat the advice of the most senior data protection officer as an authoritative announcement rather than as a recommendation – because otherwise they may well find information falling into the wrong hands.

Take a look at some good corporate videos from HR management departments:

– SAP places particular emphasis on its employees’ global development opportunities. Here are a few examples: SAP’s early talent program, the opportunities at the Global Support Centre Canada, how SAP developers work, the profile of a consultant at SAP, the program at the University of Cooperative Education and SAP.

– The Norddeutsche Landesbank (NORD/LB) bank publishes videos (in German) about possible traineeships and the trainees’ experiences – for example, about becoming a chef, an information technology clerk, or a student in the cooperative work-study degree program.

– The Hamburg Port Authority and Hafen TV: Customs inspectors at the Hamburg port.

– The automotive company BMW gives an introduction to apprenticeships: what a production mechanic does, trainees talk about their apprenticeship at the BMW Group, a day with Sven Stein, the process development engineer.