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Maximise your social intelligence for advanced HR


Arjun Singh

18 June 2014

How can you find, inspire and attract a digital native workforce to leverage social media in the ‘war for talent’? Arjun Singh of PA Consulting advises.

Social media started as a platform enabling young people to network online. Since then, it has morphed into a world-changing phenomenon. Around 25% of the planet’s 7.1 billion people use social media today and, by 2017, this number is expected to reach a staggering 2.55 billion.

In our recent report, The Seven Billion Faces of Social Media, we shared how the explosion in social media usage has started to profoundly affect businesses and governments, and how it will continue to re-shape how these entities behave and interact with their communities.

By leveraging social intelligence capabilities, organisations have begun studying the data generated by social media and predicting what consumers want before they are even aware of it themselves. And the influence that ‘hyper-connected’ individuals have on their millions of online followers will transform businesses’ traditional approaches to engaging with their markets.

While many organisations are already exploring how they can use social intelligence to drive sales and build their brands in new ways, many have not yet fully considered the positive difference it can make to their HR, organisational development and talent management activities. So far, most of the focus has been on leveraging social media to drive recruitment decisions – for example, most if not all recruitment agencies and functions use sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to find and screen talent.

If, as an organisation, you can harness the power of social media, you have an opportunity to drive efficiency and effectiveness across your HR decision-making. This should be of particular importance to companies in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, which boasts the fastest growing population of digital natives (those that have used digital technology their entire lives and are always connected through social media). This group is expected to reach 209.4 million in the region by 2017 and 700 million by 2050 – making them the future lifeblood of companies throughout MEA and positioning social media as a powerful tool to tap into this dynamic market.

Improving how you find, recruit and retain people

Social intelligence allows hiring functions to develop a detailed understanding of potential candidates’ interests, behaviour habits and personalities (their ‘social genotype’). Knowing these characteristics makes HR functions more efficient at finding applicants with the attributes and behaviours that the role demands and which fit with the organisational culture. Progressive organisations are already starting to use these social genotypes as a replacement for more traditional personality testing. Hiring managers can also use analysis
of online conversations to identify behaviour that reflects an ideal individual’s dissatisfaction with their existing job and therefore flags an opportunity for recruiters to start targeting them for future roles.

Social intelligence can be used to personalise what your company or a role offers candidates – enhanced and targeted communication increases the likelihood of them
joining and staying as employees.

Proving a much more effective and efficient approach than traditional and expensive staff surveys, anonymous analysis of employees’ social conversations gives you an insight into how satisfied they are in their work and what their priorities are. This allows you to identify emerging themes and trends – giving you the opportunity to make your staff feel valued and tackle any dissatisfaction proactively.

Managing and organising talent

Social media gives people the power to mobilise quicker,gain access to more information, exert influence and achieve a wider reach than ever before. The recent past has provided us with several dramatic examples of how social media can bring together a disparate group of people at very short notice – all of them focused on a common cause such as Dubai’s bid to host Expo 2020. So great is the impact of social media that organisations as we know them may soon be replaced by ‘pop-up’ teams of talented individuals that come together on a demand basis.

Representing an entirely new crowdsourcing approach to talent management, employers will hire individuals for specific projects from the global labour market of freelancers, dispersing the team once the project is completed or the demand is fulfilled.
If specialised crowds can be harnessed through social media platforms, the need for a static workforce reduces. A crowd of talented people will also provide a more cost-effective resource on a global scale. This level of social collaboration will provide employers and potential employees with power to plan and deliver with a high degree of flexibility and efficiency. We are seeing growth in demand for services provided by entities such as, which have the ability to radically reshape the use of talent.

Engaging the next generation in the Middle East

By 2050, we expect to have 700 million digital natives in the MEA region. The numbers speak for themselves, with countries across the GCC showing a high penetration and a growing demand for digital consumption, social media use and online streaming.

Given the rapid rate at which social media penetration is growing across the region, we can expect social media to cause the biggest disruption to our lives since the birth of the internet. Not only can your business benefit from this – by driving new sales or finding new talent – but it stands to lose out if you sit back and let the competition get there first.

Arjun Singh is a strategy and social intelligence expert at PA Consulting Group

To find out how we can help your organisation use social media to predict and influence the future, please , contact us now.

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