How Talented Is Your Online Community? #TChat Preview

We all live in social communities — not just physical neighborhoods, but online communities where people live and engage. Pick your passion, and there’s a social community for it. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn come to mind at first, but the list includes more interest-specific communities, too — e.g., BeKnown for job seekers, Ravelry for knitters and fiber artists, Orchid for jewelers, or the Steve Hoffman Forum for audiophiles.

Pretty exciting, really — it’s why we here at TalentCulture and #TChat have been talking about talent communities for several months. But what about the concept of talent communities — are we really discovering the best talent available in these online communities? Do these communities help hiring leaders discover talent quality over talent quantity? Why do we even call them “talent” communities? Should we, or are these simply the communities that the talented happen to call home?

For about a year I’ve been anticipating the emergence of talent communities, virtual online communities created by employer brands looking to forge bonds with job prospects and existing employees using Web-based software to facilitate and mediate social interactions. Many recruiters’ and leading practitioners’ thoughts have been mixed. It seems like a great idea to me, however, and I find myself wondering why we struggle to find more pertinent case studies.

It’s more than software, of course: Leaders and recruiters need the human touch, as well, in the form of a community manager, a gatekeeper and people who moderate and give life to the talent community. Put all that together, many HR and recruitment practitioners thought, and you’d be able to create a virtual community that represents your employer brand.

An applicant tracking database of contacts is not the same as a talent community of people looking for a place to belong and be engaged. We know this to be true. But, to be honest, many questions still remain in my mind.

I love the concept and believe with more case studies talent communities can find proper footing in the marketplace. It’s still early in the innovation game. I never thought I’d still be saying so, but it’s true: Talent communities are still an elusive concept to certain markets and people.

This is my reality to date, and I’m left with some big questions presently: Is social community simply too hard to box up and monetize? Is it antithetical to the people business to put up a Web interface first? What dilemma, really, do talent communities solve?

You see the problem. Leaders, Recruiters and HR folk are people people. We have stacks of business cards, smartphones filled with names and numbers, databases cross-referenced with name, number and expertise. We collect people. We have lunch with different people every day. Most of this activity is social, but not all-inclusive. We build our own communities, and then we link those to the employer brands we represent. So where do talent communities fit?

To debate, if not answer, the question, we’re throwing the topic out to our trusty #TChat Community. KC Donovan, close friend of TalentCulture (and one of our first tweeters ever), and early Talent Community innovator, will be your moderator. Joining him will be yours truly and other talented and thoughtful people. Should we take the talent out of social communities? We want to know your thoughts. So please join us in the discussion Wednesday, April 4, at at 7-8 pm ET (6-7 pm CT, 4-5 pm PT, or wherever you are), and have your crib notes ready for the following questions. See you there!

Q1: Is there a difference between a social community and a talent community? Why or why not?

Q2: Is the word “community” the right one to use for talent or social, or are there better names to use?

Q3: Can you manufacture online communities, or are they best left to develop organically?

Q4: What information do companies want to learn from talent communities?

Q5: What are the pros & cons of talent communities as an extension of orgs’ talent mgmt programs?