Be Careful When Using Social Media in Hiring Decisions

It’s no secret that auto dealerships have frequently been forced to defend themselves against discrimination claims by employees and agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As a result, many dealers have instituted comprehensive human resources programs to avoid potential problems. However, new technology brings new challenges.

As the use of social media grows, more and more dealerships are using the internet to screen potential employees. Many managers tasked with hiring find these sites to be particularly helpful because they perceive that this information reflects a more accurate representation of the applicant beyond the interview. This influx of information regarding applicants would seem to be a great way to vet their ability to “fit in” with a company.

While social media may allow employers to learn vast amounts of information about job applicants, hiring managers who even casually use these tools to gather information about a prospective employee could expose the dealership to legal risks. Given the real possibility for inappropriate and illegal uses in the hiring context, organizations need to carefully consider how, if at all, they utilize the sites when screening candidates.

Discrimination Claims – When a job candidate is the subject of a social media search there’s a possibility that the search will reveal information that would be off limits in an interview, such as age or marital status. Hiring managers should be very careful in using private information people are posting publicly to make hiring decisions. An employer’s availing themselves of such information could pave the way for allegations of discrimination if the employee or applicant believes that the employer used such information to make an adverse employment decision. A risk may be created that that this protected class information actually is being considered or, even if it is not, putting your organization in the position of having to defend a claim knowing that this information existed on the sites you visited. Risk factors include:

  • Information regarding age, race, religion, sex, disability, or other protected characteristics, such as pregnancy, illness or disability. For example, a person’s Facebook page may disclose their religion. Once an employer knows that information, the fact that the employer knew the potential employee’s religion can be used in an employment discrimination suit.
  • Checking social media or the Internet only on applicants of a certain race or gender.
  • Searching on all applicants, but using the same information differently against one particular type of applicants. For example, if all of your applicants had pictures of themselves of drinking alcohol in public, but you viewed that fact more negatively against females, that could be considered discrimination.
  • Rejecting an applicant based on conduct protected by lawful off-duty conduct laws.
  • Rejecting an applicant because of his or her political activities may violate state constitutional law.

To avoid these legal obstacles, you may decide that it’s better to not even collect that information, so you can say that you didn’t have access to it. Another procedure would be to have someone other than a hiring manager or decision maker in human resources conduct an online background check of job applicants. The individual who does the online check should avoid sharing with decision makers any personal information about a job candidate that’s not relevant to the hiring decision. This individual should be properly trained to avoid improper access and to screen out information that can’t be lawfully considered in the decision-making process. Having a firewall between the hiring manager and social media information about job applicants makes it difficult for a plaintiff subsequently to contend that the hiring manager discriminated against him or her based on a legally protected characteristic.

Invasion of privacy claims by potential employees – Generally, a potential employee will have a tough time asserting this claim because you need a “reasonable expectation of privacy” and a lot of people keep their social media profiles open to the public. However, it’s clear that if the applicant is using the highest privacy settings and the employer somehow gets past all these barriers, the claim is stronger.

A point to consider is how the hiring manager will obtain access to the candidate’s page. Many social media users have some degree of privacy established in their settings. As a result, access to the candidate’s page may require “friending” the applicant and the applicant accepting the request. Not a good idea.

Using an outside agency to screen applicants – If an employer uses a third party to conduct searches on job candidates the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and applicable state law on background checks likely will apply. The Fair Credit Reporting Act governs “employment background checks for the purposes of hiring” and applies if “an employer uses a third-party screening company to prepare the check.” Thus, if an employer is using an outside resource to view social networking sites and provide information, the applicant must be informed of the investigation, given an opportunity to consent, and notified if the report is used to make an adverse decision. It’s important to ensure that any company you use to perform background checks follows the correct procedures, and that your employment applications contain the proper notifications.

Best practices for the use of social media in hiring decisions:

  1. Develop a policy on whether or not the hiring manager will search the internet or social media sites in hiring.
  2. If you decide to use social media in hiring, do the searches on applicants consistently and in a uniform manner.
  3. Make sure candidates are notified, in writing, about the companies use of social media to gather information, e.g., on job applications.
  4. Ensure that employment decisions are made based on lawful, verified information. Don’t allow factors to be considered that have no relevancy to job performance, such as race, age, or sexual orientation. They’re all protected statuses by law and using them as criteria for hiring is discriminatory.
  5. Follow best practices in identifying a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the hiring decision with the documentation supporting the decision.
  6. Prohibit “friending” a potential employee to learn things about them that the general public doesn’t have access to.
  7. Discourage supervisors from being social media friends with their direct reports.
Posted by Anwar in SEO, 0 comments

SEO – On-Site and Off-Site Optimization

SEO consists of two major parts: on-site and off-site (also called on-page or off-page) optimization. Just focussing on one of them means neglecting the opportunities that the other one opens up. It is fatal to think being perfect with on-site leaves room for neglect in the off-site optimization. This is sooo not the case.

A Definition

On-site and off-site optimization are a team. And there is a reason why people say “Never change a winning team”.

On-site optimazitaion refers to all SEO done directly on the website that is to be optimized. This includes adjustments in the HTML-Code as well as in the editorial content. Because I don’t consider myself an expert in technical SEO, I will focus on editorial content as well as some HTML tactics to better your on-site optimization.

Off-page optimization is the opposite to the on-page optimization, as the wording indicates already. But let me break it down: Off-(the)-site optimization refers to all measures undertaken outside the own website. Often it is misunderstood as pure link building. Though link building is an integral part in SEO, it is not the main ingredient in the optimization mix.

Off-site SEO is a mix

I am referring to off-page optimization as a mix, because there is more to it than links. If you have all the links in the world, but fail to master all the other implications in off-site SEO a lot of potential is thereby neglected. There is more to it than just (spammy) links in directories and social bookmark platforms. Even building a content network is not enough. While many agencies still operate this way, off-site SEO has gone further than just links from blogs.

But what ARE the ingredients in that mix? Other than links there is one major area often referred to as social signals. Social signals simply means what is the response in social networks towards your website, your content, a subpage or a posting. The more people talk about you in their social media feeds, the better it is for your website. Good social signals or a large quantity of them might not automatically lead to a high ranking, but it definitely adds some spice to the mix.

Ultimately, social signals are also links. Because talking about something in “social media terms” means sharing, commenting, posting and liking. Ultimately, those social signals create links as well and thereby add to the link mix of a site.

Posted by Anwar in SEO, 0 comments

Social Media – A Family Connection

Social media is a perfect vehicle for connections between family and friends. While it has many marketing opportunities there is a more personal side to social media worth exploring.

For instance, families used to connect only through the occasional letter that may be passed around from one family member to another and photos of grandchildren were passed along in Christmas cards.

Today social media is having an impact on how scattered families can remain connected. Beyond the useful emails, the use of social media can allow families to access a number of methods to help keep others up-to-date on family news.

Slide Shows – this is a photo tool that can allow you to send highlights of a special event in the life of your family such as a birthday party, anniversary or family trip. In a matter of moments your family can gain access to a visually pleasant presentation of your most immediate adventures.

Social Networks – many social networks provide a privacy setting that only allow approved members into your personal network. For all intents and purposes this type of network allows you the privacy you may desire in sharing family news, audio, video and photos in one convenient setting. Other family members can also set up a privacy account, which allows a no-cost alternative to family connections.

YouTube – Video sites like YouTube can be repositories for family videos. In most cases, however, the video information remains available to the public for viewing. If privacy is a primary concern there are programs such as BigUpload that will allow you to host a video or other large file and select email addresses to receive access to the files for download.

Family Forums or Blogs – the use of a forum or blog can allow the various personalities of your family to shine through. They can also allow you to coordinate potential gatherings or gift exchanges. Due to the dynamics of family there might even be the occasional bit of tension – even cyberspace can not change that.

The use of social media offers great opportunity for families to enjoy the privacy you want with the connectedness you desire.

When you participate in a social network you can also branch out to visit other friends without disabling the privacy you need. If you desire a more public profile you should check with the social network to see if they allow a second account. If they do, the second account can be used to keep in contact with a more public audience.

Social media provides a unique opportunity to connect families in the 21st century. Perhaps it is an idea worth pursuing.

Posted by Anwar in SEO, 0 comments

SEO – Is it Really That Important?

In the last few years SEO has become one of the most important and effective methods to get your website seen by the right person at the right time.

Effective SEO can be the difference between your website being on page one of a search engine and not being searchable at all. If your website is not searchable your potential customers can not find you and therefore you're not selling.

SEO being a number of elements that collectively improve your ranking in search engines. Unlike pay per click (PPC), which can be a short term boost, organic SEO is more long term. Once your website has reached the first page in search engines you can stay there as long as you remain active, ie updating regular with fresh content, blogging, releasing press releases and using social media to spread the word about your business' activities.

Pay per click offers excellent short term boosts and gets your products / services out their fast. They are good to use for a short time after launching a new product / service until it has gained its own following and status. PPC is a cost option, and records show only 10% of searchers click on paid for links.

Organic remains the most cost effective way to get your site ranking well in Google, Yahoo, Bing etc. Even the stats prove it, with 91 per cent of all Internet users using search engines; and 87 per cent of all visitors are clicking on a link ranked on page one, so yes you need to be on page one for your chosen keywords. Interestingly 73 per cent of online transactions start with search engines, so being on searching improves your sales, meaning you make more profit – and that is what every business wants.

Posted by Anwar in SEO, 0 comments

Video Production – Using Video on Social Media

Video production is a very effective marketing tool in the modern business environment. The contemporary business landscape presents a unique combination of opportunities and challenges and it is important for companies to reposition their strategies to reflect the changing times. Social media has become the next frontier in modern marketing and it is important to tweak your marketing to target these users.

Video Production for Social Media

According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), there are over 3.62 billion internet users and most of these are using social platforms. Facebook today boasts 1.71 billion monthly active users (MAUs), Twitter has 328 MAUs (monthly active users) and Instagram has reported over 500 million subscribers while WhatsApp has over 1 billion monthly customers. Of course, there are other popular social media networks including YouTube, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Pinterest among others and they boast billions of users.

Most of the content on these networks is visual and this should be your focus if you are targeting this audience. 82% of Twitter users watch visual content and share the same rapidly. 45% of internet users spend time on Facebook and YouTube watching visuals. These numbers give a strong argument for including a well prepared film in your marketing campaign.

A professional corporate video production will boost visibility for your brand when it is shared, increase conversion, build brand loyalty, enhance ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs) and increase engagement with customers.

Whatever the size of your business, you need to use a professional video production company for the best results. These experts help to fill the gap existing in your company in terms of skills and resources in film making.

Boosting Your Video Production on Social Media

The question then becomes how your company can gain better visibility using this innovative technique. Of course, the competition is most likely using visual content marketing and as such, you need to be more creative with your corporate video production to stay ahead. Here are some ideas:

  1. Cross promote on different platforms to build excitement and use teasers before the actual launch.
  2. Engage your followers and let them know about what’s coming up. Ask for ideas from them and incorporate these in your project.
  3. Encourage sharing of content and offer freebies as incentives.
  4. Use auto-play on your website or blog to encourage users to continue watching.
  5. Add playful subtitles.
  6. Use a call to action (CTA) encouraging viewers to like, watch, comment or rate your film.
  7. Use influencers to talk about your campaign such as bloggers, traditional media outlets etc.
  8. Use opt-in mail to share links to your content with existing customers.
  9. List on main search engines.
  10. Make sure you appeal to emotions in your story because this is what people love sharing online.

There is no denying that visual content will help you unlock the potential to be found online. By using this tool on social networks, you will reach a larger target market and increase visibility of your brand. This is a marketing strategy that boasts high levels of ROI, which is what every business owner wants. Find an experienced video production company that understands your brand, goals and video needs so you can make a meaningful presence on social media platforms.

Posted by Anwar in SEO, 0 comments

Social Media: Does Social Media Allow People To Create Their Own Shrine?

If one was to go into a populated area in the west and to ask a number of people if they are religious, they may find that a common theme begins to appear. This could be a time when they will that see that not many people believe in or worship a god or a number of gods.

A Strange Reaction

There is also the chance that a number of the people who were asked found it strange to even be asked this question. It would then have been clear that this is not something that remotely interests them.

If one pushed further and asked them why this is, they may have heard that it is because they have more important things to focus on. A number of these people may spend a lot of time using their Smartphone, for instance.

Other Priorities

Along with the amount of time that some of them spend using a device, there will be other things that take their time. There can be the time they spend at work, and with their friends and family.

What is clear is that it is not difficult for someone to find something to do in today’s world. It could be said that there is no reason for one to be bored; that is unless they are at work, or if they have become over stimulated.

Too Much

When one has been exposed to so much stimulation, and this has happened for a certain period of time, it is going to be a lot harder for them to be stimulated. Their brain will have adapted and they will need even more stimulation in order to be stimulated.

This is then similar to how a drug addict will need to continually take more to achieve the same high. The law of diminishing returns as at work here and this is a game that can’t be won.

A Number of Options

And when one uses their Smartphone, there are going to be plenty of things that they can do. One of the things that they are likely to use the most is social media, and this will allow them to stay up to date with their ‘friends’ and family.

Here, one might share practically their whole life online, or they might only share certain things. In addition to this, they may just use one of these sites, or they might have a number of different sites that they use.

A Different Level of Exposure

When one doesn’t share a lot online, it can show that they don’t have a strong need for attention. They might prefer to send a private message, or to speak to someone over the phone or in person.

On the other hand, when one does share a lot online, it can show that they have a strong need for attention. It might be hard for them to keep things to themselves, and it is then going to be easy for their ‘friends’ and family to find out about what they have been doing.

Effortless

What can’t be denied is that social media has made it extremely easy for someone to receive attention. There is no need for them to achieve anything significant; the only thing they need to do is to upload a video or a picture of themselves, for instance.

And if one is physically attractive, they can end up being treated as though they are some kind of celebrity. Once they have shared a picture of their face or even their body, the ‘likes’ and comments are likely to come flooding in.

One Step Further

Due to the effect this has on how they feel, one could share a picture everyday or a few times a week. When it comes to the amount of positive feedback they receive, it is partly going to depend on how many ‘friends’ and/or ‘followers’ they have.

So, regardless of what their profession is, one can end up having their own followers. These people will ‘like’ what they share and they can tell them how special they are, amongst other things.

Another Angle

Thus, even if one didn’t set out to do this, they will have created their own area where people can worship them. Some of these people will be religious and some won’t, but they are still going to be treating them as though they are some kind of god.

If one was to realise this, it might make them feel uncomfortable, or it could be something that has a positive effect on them. When it relates to the former, it could cause one to take a step back and to reflect on if they want to carry on doing the same thing.

A Business

At the same time, if sharing their life in this way is part of their business and not just a way for them to receive attention, they might carry on doing the same thing. In this case, they don’t have the desire to be worshipped; it is simply a by-product of what they are doing.

When it relates to the latter, it could show that one is completely out of touch with their true-self. One can then see themselves as being better than others, and it will then be seen as normal for other people to put them on a pedestal.

The Other Side

Alternatively, one could be in a position where they worship a number of people on social media. They might visit their page a few times each day to give themselves a mental and emotional boost.

When it comes to the people who they look up to (or down to their Smartphone to), one could believe that they are superior to them. No matter what they say or do, it might not have an effect on the idealised image they have created of them.

Conclusion

What this emphasises is that even if one says they are not religious; it doesn’t mean that they are not worshipping something or someone else instead. There could be something else in their life that binds them.

One could say that the people who look up to a god are not very bright, but this could be coming from someone who looks up to a sports team or a celebrity, for instance. It could then be said that one is deluding themselves.

Posted by Anwar in SEO, 0 comments

5 Tips to Improve Website Visibility for Better Google Ranking

Most people who start building their first website believe that as soon as their website would go online, there would be a flood of people visiting it and bringing new business to them. In reality, this does not happen like this. A new website is just like a shop in a big desert. No website is by default visible to anyone. All our Search Engine Optimization efforts have only one purpose and that is to increase the website visibility. It is therefore at the core of SEO. However, first, we should understand what website visibility is. Even before we talk about how visible is a website to search engines, we should note how people interact with search engines. They type certain keywords in the search box and the search engine presents the results page called Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The domains shown higher on SERP are more visible than the ones below. It shows a relationship between website visibility and keywords. Now we can define it.

What is Website Visibility

Website visibility is calculated in percentage AND with reference to certain keywords. There is no such thing as perfect visibility. Whenever we say visibility it means visibility for a “set of keywords”. So, for example if we are targeting 100 keywords, our domain visibility would be based on those 100 keywords. If our website has a visibility score of 10%, it would mean there is a 10% chance that someone would click on our website if the person types one of those target keywords. The SEO tools which tell a visibility score such as SEMrush or SEO Profiler, ask you to enter the keywords for which you want to know your visibility. The selection of the keywords is therefore crucial for the website visibility score you would get. If you poorly chose the keywords which are less competitive and of less value to your business, you might get a higher visibility score. However, this higher visibility score would not be so fruitful for the business. Now I assume that you have selected the profitable keywords after a proper research and your visibility score is perfectly valid then this is the time to discuss how can we improve the visibility. Here are the five actionable strategies:

1. Remove Errors and Mistake from Your Website

This activity is also called “technical SEO”. Search engine hate websites with errors such as broken links. The first thing you should do is to remove all errors. You can find errors by using tools such as screaming frog or deep crawl. Not only the errors but also the slow websites cannot get good Google ranking. GTmetrix is a free tool which not only tells the speed of your site but also suggests how you can improve it. Use this tool and act accordingly. Also, not following Google guidelines would be a big mistake. Some people argue that Google is not a law. That is correct but because you are relying on Google to get the traffic, you must follow their SEO guidelines or you will be penalized.

2. Put High-Value Contents

If you want to make search engines happy, then make your website readers satisfied with some valuable and well-researched contents. Since to get higher Google ranking, you are competing many others in your niche, you have to beat them with the depth and value of your contents. Do not just re-phrase the contents from other websites. Create your contents and publish regularly. Consider contents as the blood of the body of your website. When writing contents, focus on your audience. But for this, you have to do some hard work. Do the following:

i. Think about your target customers. Who are they what are their problems and issues. Most website owners have an only vague concept of their clients. They think of just some random people interested in their products. You should clearly and precisely define your target clients and build a “customer persona” for your business. Only then you can target them in your campaigns.

ii. Go to Yahoo Answers, Quora and other similar websites and try to find out what questions, people are asking in your niche. These are their pain points and you have to address the answers to these issues in your contents.

iii. Now it is time to do some keyword research. First you should write down your objectives and business goals. Then find some profitable keywords using not only Google Keyword Planner but also some other tools. If you cannot afford a paid subscription, there are plenty out there which are free. This topic has been discussed elsewhere and also on my YouTube channel, so I leave it there. After you find the keywords, you should arrange them in groups and make a map of keywords to your website. Now it is time to write some contents.

iv. Before you start writing using the tool called Buzzsumo to get an idea of what titles are getting backlinks and social shares. Make your title and get some ideas of subheadings.

3. Link Building

Try to understand what is link building and how it differs from spamming. A backlink is a link pointing to your website from another site. You do not need thousands of backlinks as many people try to promote. You only need few but high-quality backlinks. The most important thing about backlinks is relevancy. These links should be coming from relevant websites. Now the point to note here is that the relevant websites are most of the time your competitors. However, if you try, you would find few highly relevant websites which are not your competitors. Do not just focus on websites with very high domain authority. If you do not know what a domain authority is, use two of your free daily searches on Moz website and find out the domain authority and page authority of any internet site. Do not get frustrated, link-building is a slow process and increasing the visibility of your website is a long term commitment. Therefore, just proceed forward, slow and steady, bit-by-bit. Also, try to earn links with your contents as mentioned above.

4. Social Media Engagement

Everyone knows that social media is important to get your website visible. However, there are some very critical points you should take note of and I will try to put only a short mention of those here in this post. It is because every single one of them needs further explanation and I will cover this in my future posts. Some of the important points are the following:

i. For a continuous visibility and traffic to your website, you need a constant engagement with your audience and not just occasional interaction. For this you need first to figure out what types of contents are needed for that. Also, there are certain engagement metrics in Google analytics which you must understand and monitor. Videos are also good for engagement. If you are shy of the camera, not a problem! Just screen capture videos are enough for engagement. These are three points and the rest will be covered in a separate post with an explanation to these three.

ii. If you find social media overwhelming, then use the tools such as coschedule or hootsuite.

iii. The last but not least is trying to find the “hottest” social media and focus on that. People have gained a lot of visibility, traffic and money from Facebook and LinkedIn in good times. However, now, in my opinion these two are dead dogs for small businesses until you pay them a huge sum of money. However, the Facebook advertisement is still cheap and if you know how to make a good custom or lookalike audience for Facebook ads then you can try that and tweak that until you get results.

5. Promote Your Business Website Locally and outside of online media.

There are still a huge number of people who prefer paper format. There are many local magazines out there which have a large circulation and advertising there could be on a budget or even free. You can talk to your council or local clubs and you might be able to get a free advertisement or at a nominal price.

Posted by Anwar in SEO, 0 comments

The Difference Between Social Media and Social Networking

Is there any difference between social media and social networking sites? There is quite a difference in the terminology social media and social networking. Although many people employ both these terms interchangeably, you can isolate them as well as the websites that epitomize one or the other successfully.

When you remove the word social from both terms, then you are left with media and networking. By this, we can suggest that social media is a strategy and a channel for broadcasting, while social networking can be considered as a device and a utility for connecting with other individuals. Basically, you can be able to piece the two terms together in one umbrella known as Web 2.0.

When you look in a dictionary, you will find each of the words' meanings. However, the difference does not end in semantics alone. There are also differences in the features as well as the functions placed into these websites by their developers or creators, which lay down the way they are supposed to be used. The argument of which came first is also present; Many believe that social networking came first, and this then evolved into social media.

LinkedIn, for example, is a great tool for social networking. Your interests, the companies that you have worked for, the schools that you have graduated from have all become links to other individuals who share the same history as you. It is perfect for business reasons. It allows you to recommend the work of other individuals and it's also great for job fishing. A lot of small businesses nowdays use sites like LinkedIn to reach a wider range of potential clients. Social networking sites like LinkedIn act as functional websites for hooking up people, as well as businesses, with other individuals who might want to do business with each other or share similar interests.

On the other hand, YouTube is a good example of a social media website. Websites like these allow individuals to better express themselves visually. It is a medium that provides people the opportunity to share their expertise, knowledge, opinions, and experiences through video presentations. YouTube has become an excellent marketing tool for many businesses that wish to expand their reach in cyberspace. Websites such as YouTube also offer one of the easiest distribution outlets for video, since the video cassette known as Betamax. No doubt you have heard of people getting recording contracts because some Mr. Big saw their performance in YouTube.

There are, however, Web 2.0 sites that offer the whole package – social media and social networking in one website. Twitter and Facebook are such sites. Facebook, for example, provides you with a lot of space to broadcast your pictures, links, and everything in between. It's perfect for individuals looking for friends, relationships, and work. It is also perfect for businesses to put their products out there and let the consumers decide if they're good or not.

The bottom line is that social media and social networking work better hand-in-hand. One can not reach to its potential without the other. In other words, they need each other.

Posted by Anwar in SEO, 0 comments
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