Note : In teaching my HR Technology Class when we get to the topics of Social Media, I am always looking for resources I can direct the student's towards to better understand the complex topic. This guest post does a nice job of covering some of the basics and the important issues - enjoy!
This guest post is by Natasha Stone, the Social Media Marketer for Silicon Beach Training, a UK-based training company. Silicon Beach Training offer wide range of Business, IT, Management and Social Media training courses, including HR Training.
Whether organizations embrace it or not, Social Media is seeping into organizations large and small. HR professionals will eventually be forced into the world of social media whether they like it or not e.g. when unions leverage Facebook for action, or when an employee behaves inappropriately on Twitter.
There’s no doubt that Social Media has huge benefits for sales, marketing, PR and customer services. But it’s also tricky defining who is responsible for social media with certain issues falling between HR, marketing and customer services. This is where strategy – or a social media policy – is required. The HR department must at least have a look at social media and decide which roles individuals in the organisation need to take.
From legal issues and reputation management to recruitment and improving internal communications, the implications really are endless; what follows are some key ways that HR departments can adapt thanks to social media.
This is the most obvious and the most established HR-related use of Social Media. Just type “using social media for recruitment” into Google and you’ll find plenty of help. LinkedIn is definitely the best place to do this if you’re choosing from the major social networks – with a wide range of professional users and extensive CV information on their profiles. New LinkedIn changes mean that you can announce new recruits on your LinkedIn business page, as well as listing previous employees. This is of use to marketers but it’s also a good way to keep in touch with your staff, past and present.
You can also use platforms such as Twitter to market vacancies – be sure to tag tweets with location and industry hashtags e.g. “Fantastic opening for an #SEO in #Brighton! Details here: http://…”. As well as a blog, many may also create a podcast as a more engaging way to explain your business and the employment opportunities.
As you can see, these social media platforms belong to no single department of a business and must be co-managed with marketing, sales, admin, customer services and HR having an input. Bearing this is mind, you may wish to consider employing a “Social Media Officer” to coordinate these efforts.
This is a tricky area; personally I wouldn’t recommend creating a Facebook page to encourage staff interaction and feedback. It requires staff to actually log in and check it and Facebook is still associated with private rather than business use. Try Twitter or LinkedIn instead, e.g. invite employees to a LinkedIn social media group to encourage them to engage, or run scheduled Twitter discussions with participants tagging tweets with a relevant hashtag. Asking for employee opinions or ideas on these platforms is a fantastically easy way to welcome new staff and to make all staff feel important.
Again the line between HR and marketing blurs: certainly marketers will be the main people to use Twitter, but HR should use it to recommend employees’ work or to praise them for a project.
Training is a key area where social media can be really beneficial, with ongoing discussions running in your LinkedIn groups and employees encouraged to share their knowledge and discuss best practices. You can also use these groups for career development, with advertisements of possible new openings. Using LinkedIn will give you access to online CVs of your staff, which you can encourage them to update. When employees leave the business, you can leave a recommendation on their profile.
Of course you could create much of this on your own internal network; but why bother when this is all mobile, readymade and free? One big advantage to doing this publicly on LinkedIn (content within a group can be made private, but your group size / name and your business page are public) is the promotion for your business. You will look like a modern and engaging employer; excellent for when you wish to recruit with LinkedIn. Not only do you attract top talent – you can also retain them.
Back to the question of departmental responsibility for social media: your LinkedIn activity will require a personal account to administer the group(s), pose questions and make recommendations. I would recommend having one for your Managing Director and also your Head of HR, so that all activity is entirely transparent.
Network and gain HR knowledge
Use Twitter to get advice from fellow HR professionals by tagging a query with relevant hashtags (#human #resources #humanresources and #hr are all in popular use). For LinkedIn networking see LinkedIn’s numerous jobs and HR groups, including a huge “Linked:HR” group with almost 300,000 members. You can share links in the News sections, post vacancies in the Jobs section, or start up a discussion.
Alternatively pose a question to all on LinkedIn. The LinkedIn categories for questions are a huge muddle but you can choose from “Compensation and Benefits”, “Personnel Policies” and “Staffing and Recruiting” all within the “Hiring and Human Resources” umbrella, allowing you to reach a huge range of HR professionals. People choose categories that they’d like to answer questions in, so alternatively try a different category such as “Administration” or “Career and Education” to reach a different sort of respondent. You’ll notice that some categories do overlap, so it’s worth putting some questions in the two allowed categories.
Social media policy
Many in HR aren’t yet making the most out of social media, because management fear a loss of control, legal concerns, unclear ROI and possible reputation damage. But your employees will be using Social Media – whether it’s for a bit of marketing or for a personal rant about work. Therefore one area where the HR department needs to get moving is policy.
A Social Media Policy should be short – no more than two pages of guidelines – so that employees can read and digest it. There are many questions that will arise (one common issue is ownership of networks and sales leads when an employee leaves) and these need to be addressed and spelt out. This will require research into the broad role Social Media can play e.g. Facebook may not be the place to encourage your staff to log onto during working hours, but a Facebook Page is a place to promote your company and showcase job opportunities.
Defining the role Social Media plays for your business will require working closely with other departments. I like this short Social Media post which says “Asking which Department owns Social Media is like asking which Department owns the Paper”. Social Media is happening whether HR like it or not; the sooner we address it the better.