Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust: a social media journey

Richard Wormwell

Richard Wormwell is a resourcing manager at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust. In this blog he shares his personal experience of using a digital advertising agency to help the trust develop a social media recruitment campaign.


Apparently, more people own a mobile device than a toothbrush. Whether you believe that stat or not, it is hard to ignore the impact that smart phones have had on our lives. And with this smart phone revolution we’ve seen an enormous growth in social media.


As a trust we have always had the desire to operate engaging and interactive social media platforms that reach out to a never ending supply of potential applicants. As recruitment professionals, we all know how powerful social media can be when it comes to reaching out to the perfect candidates, however, effectively using social media can be difficult. In reality, social media campaigns take time to plan, build and maintain.


Knowledge of what to post, when to post it and who to target requires expertise that many NHS recruitment teams simply do not have as focus can be solely aimed at processing pre-employment checks.


In September 2014, the trust’s nurse recruitment and retention group began discussions with a digital recruitment advertising specialist called Just R.


Following internal discussions, we realised we needed support from experts to create and build an effective social media platform to attract Band 5 registered nurses and nursing students to our inpatient wards.


Our brief was fairly simple, we wanted to use the biggest social media platform, Facebook, to showcase our nursing careers and ultimately recruit more nurses. Easy… right?


The trust chose to work with Just R as they demonstrated an in depth understanding of the NHS and how Facebook targeting could work to promote the trust to our target audiences, which included student nurses attending a university within a 30 mile radius.


Following the preparation of a full brief which detailed the trust’s values, our current vacancies, our objectives, scheduled events and further department specific information, we worked in partnership to develop engaging and creative content.


The content included photography, video and animation, featuring the perfect people to promote our trust: our staff.


Our dedicated recruitment Facebook page ‘Team Harrogate’ was born and all ward staff were invited to like and comment on the content to help promote the page.


The campaign involved over 60 bespoke advertising posts every month and reached an average targeted audience of over 70,000 people each month and has over 1,000 followers.


The adverts targeted our ideal candidates based on location, age, job title and interests - promoting the trust’s USPs, details of open day events and information on how to apply.

Applicants were directed to online landing pages that captured contact details and relevant information on the applicants experience and positions of interest.


Just R provided a call back service on behalf of the trust to encourage those enquiring to submit an application. This helped to create a database of over 300 people who have interest in joining the trust.


The campaign has had a direct impact on the number of qualified and student nurses the trust has recruited. Through targeted messages and engaging content the trust has nearly double the number of people attending events and increased the number of student nurses recruited each year from five to 35.


Facebook has certainly proven to be an essential tool in our recruitment tool belt and is one the trust will continue to use not only for nurse recruitment, but potentially for other hard to recruit areas and new campaigns.


While I try to be active on social media, there is a distinct difference in the messages and voice of an effective recruitment campaign; after all I can only post what I had for tea so many times.


Just R has been engaging and supportive throughout our campaigns and they have provided a level of advice and expertise that have been the catalyst for the success of our nurse recruitment. We look forward to continuing to work closely with them in the future.

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