At ArCompany, with our focus on Social Business Intelligence, we understand exactly how important social communities are for brands and causes; we also know how difficult it is to build an engaged community. The hard reality is that it is a monumental task, and many brands just don’t get it: customers do not want to have a relationship with YOU… they want to have a relationship with other customers perhaps, but from you they just want to buy a product or service that satisfies their needs.
We’ve witnessed brand after brand try to build a community and fail, primarily because their goal was very simply: to build a community. You build a community to provide something to the people you want to connect with, be they friends or customers – be it customer service, communication, education, information…. whatever it is that they need and want. A community is never built successfully based on what the BRAND needs and wants. For instance: “we want to market to potential customers” is an absolute death wish if it is the primary reason your social profiles exist.
Because we run up against the misunderstanding of how communities function repeatedly, we’re introducing our Community Builders series to highlight successful social communities and how they were built. This week we are focusing on Alert Qian and his Albert’s Job Listings & Referrals board on Facebook.
The beginning of a community
Albert started his job board in March of 2013 with a small group of 20 or so friends and people from his personal network. The reason he started the board is something many people who graduated into the Great Recession will understand.
Upon graduation from college, Albert had a few interviews with some major corporations, which, in his own words:
I blew them all because during the interview I was an entitled Millennial focused on the wrong things.
He returned home to his live with his parents in 2010 and asked his mother, an IBM programmer, to introduce him to some people. His mother doesn’t have a broad network, although both parents are programmers in high demand; she had never been in his shoes. Her response was “you’re on your own – I can’t help you.”
That was an Aha! moment for Albert; he realized that he needed to figure this out, and do it quickly.
Albert’s next steps was to go to his alumni group and asked for help… an alumnus told him he needed to get out there and network. Eventually he landed a contract job where his pay was less per year than his college tuition; he knew that there was something very wrong with that fact.
Albert is a natrually introverted, quiet guy; all he’d ever wanted was a stable job, a marriage, a home, a couple of cars and a very traditional life. It is likely that the Great Recession and the challenges it wrought changed the course of his life. Not only was Albert’s career path taking a very different course, it became a personal transformation as well, because he had no choice but to take a road he’d never intended to travel.
Slow growing in the early days
Due to his contract job, Albert had profiles on Monster.com, CareerBuilder, and any other job board where he may find work. During the 9 months Albert stayed in his contract position, he was receiving job recommendations from people and was sharing them via email and on his own status on Facebook. He began to post detailed job listings daily, and added networking events. The response he got made him realize that he should start a group, and thus, in March of 2013, Albert’s Job Listings & Referrals was born. The first month he had 22 members, the next it grew by 86, and in the 3rd month he added 10 new members. He was posting every couple of days. Growth was slow; as of early 2014 the group had around 360 members.
Then Albert brought Michael Briggin on board as Community Manager; Michael was unemployed and looking for a job, so it was wise of him to take the opportunity to expand his network. Michael was very active posting job listings and engaging the community, and through his involvement in the group, realized that the career he really seeks is in business development.
With Michael and Albert participating and posting regularly, the board began to take on momentum; January 2015 has been the biggest growth year to date as they added 438 people. All of the listings are also posted to Twitter, and today the group sits at a total of 2,875 members. Both Albert and Michael interact daily, numerous times, on the board.
It has become so much more
When I asked Albert what he gets out of the board his answer was simple:
Because I know Albert through his participation on our Millennial Think Tank, I wasn’t surprised; he is a solid human being in every respect. But with that answer Albert nailed the one thing that so many brands miss, a great community cannot be based on the selfish needs of a company. And what’s more, because the board was created to help people, it has become so much more than a jobs board; people are engaged – they have opinions and express them. Discussions happen around jobs and companies, and members regularly ask for and are given career advice.
So far members have found jobs at Cisco, Google, GoPro, Ingram Micro, and other companies, and members have increased the number of offers they’re receiving.There are 14 different staffing agencies regularly participating on the board.
I asked Albert where this all leads; he wants to grow it into more of a service. He intends on creating a premium platform on top of it for career enrichment, career counseling, (webinars), personal career coaching, networking, resume help, feedback and possibly a marketplace. Although Albert does not intend to make this his full time job, he has reserved the domain albertslist.org, so watch that space for future developments
Connecting with Albert
You can reach out to Albert on his job board, and also find him on:
VP of Content & Strategy at ArCompany. She has an extensive background in Sales, and focuses on generational marketing and content. With Hessie Jones she founded ArCompany’s Millnnnial, GenX and Boomer Think Tanks and writes and speaks on those topics from an insights/strategy perspective.