“The industry is moving forward to a future of social media but it’s all about data,” says John Sumser (@johnsumser) of HR Examiner. This was one of the top findings of his recently compiled report, The 2012 Index of Social Media in HR and Recruiting. “There are no vendors selling social interaction, but there’s a ton of products out there about collecting data from people." Do Social Media Referrals Work? In his conversation with Sarah White (@imsosarah), Sumser went on to discuss one of the most misunderstood areas of social media and recruiting -- referrals. There are a lot of theories as to what “should” work. And it’s normal to think that referrals should work in social media. In reality, they don’t. “Your friends are not going to get you a job,” says Sumser. “People don’t get friends to manipulate them to get jobs. The last thing you know when you look at your friends is whether they’d be good at a certain job." Sumser jokes about his brother-in-law, an economic analyst. If someone came to Sumser looking for an economic analyst, he wouldn’t recommend his brother-in-law because “he’s that idiot I have to deal with at Christmas. I don’t think of him as a potential employee.” If Not Referrals, How Should You Launch Your Social Media Recruiting Efforts? Before you begin in social media, Sumser suggests you ask yourself, “Who do you want to hire?” How many people are you hiring in terms of growth and attrition? What’s your hiring-to-sourcing ratio? If you can calculate that you know the audience you’re trying to reach. From that, you can cogently create a conversation with them. Right now Sumser sees social media only being used in the sourcing process. That’s not very interesting, he says. What he’s looking forward to is companies using social media to interact with people in a community.