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    Guest Post - A Beginner’s Guide to using Social Media for HR

    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!Flickr - alles schlumpf

    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.

    Staff Communications

    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.





    New territories

    Whether it is teaching a class, coaching a sports team, or taking on a new professional responsibility, sometimes I think there are two main types of challenges out there.

    One - the kind that you are extremely well prepared for, the processes and outcomes are clearly defined and reasonably predictable, and success is to a very high degree linked to effort - the harder, and to some extent longer that you go at it will determine the results.  

    The other kind of challenge is new or uncharted territory for you.  The long-term result may be known, but it is certainly more intangible. You may have some kind of understanding of the 'how' part of the task in front of you, but you quickly discover that there is not a set pathway to follow. And long-term success may not at all be tied to how 'hard' you work, it could be that some new type of insight and creativity is necessary.  That may come in ten minutes, or it may not come at all in five years.

    But ultimately it seems like the most rewarding kinds of challenges contain elements of both types. With enough predictability and process to support making steady and incremental progress, coupled with a nice batch of uncertainty and excitement that can make the task more challenging and fun.  Some folks will naturally gravitate towards one type or another, but it is pretty unusual for someone to always prefer routine and repetitive assignments, or always choose complex, challenging, and unpredictable jobs.

    I am thinking about this blend, and the best way to ensure that organizational job design can be flexible enough to support both kinds of people, and both kinds of roles, while meeting the needs of the organization and people's desires for meaningful work.


    Tactics and Technology

    The climax of the American Civil War Battle of Gettysburg that took place in July 1863 was a Confederate Army attack that has come to be well-known as 'Pickett's Charge', named after General George Pickett,General George Pickett one of the Confederate leaders on the field that day.

    Pickett's Charge was essentially a direct frontal assault by the Confederates, across an open field, uphill, against an entrenched Union Army enemy force that was supported by artillery on even higher ground.

    Part of The Conference Board's Leadership Experience program at Gettysburg has the participants walk the same path across the field and up the hill that Pickett's (and many others) men traversed that day. The well-documented history of the battle tells us that the Confederates suffered horrific casualties, were unsuccessful in breaking the Union Army lines, and were forced to withdraw and retreat.  Twenty-one months later the war ended, with the Union Army victorious.

    As the leadership experience attendees traced the path of Pickett's Charge, it was seemingly obvious that attempting such an attack, covering almost a mile of open terrain, with the enemy dug in and holding the superior position, was absolute insanity. As we marched up the path towards the high ridge where the Union Army was aligned, one of the class questioned the 'march in a straight line in the open and approach the enemy' attack formation, that in 1863 was still the most common attacking tactic. This was troubling, since advances in technology and weaponry had improved the range, accuracy, and deadly force of the various artillery pieces, rifles, pistols, and ammunition.

    The technology of war had dramatically improved to such an extent that it began to render the traditional tactics, if not essentially ineffective, certainly more costly in terms of casualties.  And the crazy part is that one of the event facilitators indicated that the basic attack strategies continued all the way until World War I.  But even then it required another technological breakthrough, (the tank), to significantly alter the accepted tactics.

    I know the corporate world is not the same as the 'real' battlefield, and getting too comfortable with military metaphors risks oversimplification of what are usually complex issues. But in this case I think the comparison is appropriate. 

    New and better technologies are being created, improved, and being brought to bear with increasing frequency in a wide range of traditional human capital functions.  Whether it is in recruiting, performance management, learning and development, or internal collaboration, the rate of advancement in capability and potential is accelerating.

    But advances in technology, without an appropriate and complementary shift in the strategy and tactics to better leverage the new and more powerful technologies will only result in partial victory at best, and a significant loss at worst. Your competitors are likely to have the same access to these technologies as you go, simply 'owning' them will not be enough, being smarter and even bolder in their deployment will be the difference.

    If you deploy fantastic new tools and technologies, but continue to execute in a 'march in a straight line across the field' manner, then history may be as unkind to you as it has been to General Pickett.





    The Most Important Job on the Boat

    This week I am attending, as a guest of The Conference Board, their excellent Leadership Development Experience at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. 

    The experience is just that - an experiential learning program that educates on the important historical aspects of the Battle of Gettysburg and the important leadership situations and decisions that were made and applies them to some of today's modern business leadership challenges.

    Last night at the welcome sessions and dinner one of the attendees, shared some of his prior background with the table.  He had served for a number of years as a submarine officer in the US Navy. He was not allowed to share many other details about the specific of the service, but did share this anecdote, about the training and development of skills of submarine crew members.

    He asked us - What is the most important job on a submarine?  While we offered some meek guesses, he gave us the real answer - steering the boat while it is underwater. You can't 'see' anything, you have to know how to read instruments, interpret data, make fast and vital decisions, etc.  

    So yes, he continued, steering the boat is the most important job on the submarine, and it is the first thing that we teach every new crew member, and everyone on the sub needs to know how to do it the right way.

    Love it.  The most important job, taught to every member of the team, and taught as the very first development experience for new team members.

    Think about your new employee onboarding - do you make sure that the most critical skills and capabilities are taught right up front like that?  And that every team member is capable in these critical skillls?

    Love the story and what it suggests to those of us that have to bring new team members on board.



    Monsters under the bed

    Well, not literally under the bed, but on Ebay, Pandora, The Weather Channel, and hundreds of other sites where millions of potential candidates goof off, I mean research important information online. 

    What the heck am I talking about?

    The Monster.com Career Ad Network.  The Career Ad Network is a (relatively) new offering from the online job board leader Monster.com that gives the ability to extend the reach of the traditional job board advertisement to literally hundreds of sites, generating millions of exposures.

    The basics of the process are as follows:

    1. Company purchases Job posting on Monster, say for a Java Developer in Milwaukee.

    2. Company opts-in to Career Ad Network syndication for a fixed duration

    3. Targeted and optimized job ads are syndicated across the Monster network and affiliated sites targeting folks likely to be interested in Java Developer jobs in Milwaukee.

    4. Monster helps track not only the sheer numbers of impressions and click throughs, but also how many applications were generated via the career ad network syndication.

    How does the Monster technology know just when to serve our example passive candidate a Java Developer job in Milwaukee while they are listening to Radiohead on Pandora? Some little bits of internet surfing magic called cookies that quietly sit in the computer's memory and tell every system smart enough to process them just what the heck you have been up to online.

    So if this example passive candidate got ticked off after the last staff meeting and perused a few openings on Monster at the lunch hour this information gets registered in the form of a cookie.  Later that week when said disgruntled java pro tries to unwind with a little Pandora - wham - how about this great new opportunity near where you live and in the field you are in?

    What I like about the Career Ad Network is that it provides a way for companies with limited reach outside of their own jobs site to potentially get their openings to a really wide audience, potentially in the millions.  Which ironically, is the same thing I don't like about it, there is no way to ensure that the increased exposure won't be more trouble, in the form of an increase in volume of unqualified candidates, than simply relying on more traditional job advertising.

    This week Monster is announcing some improvements to the service that will allow companied to opt-in to Career Ad Network syndication without having to buy 'regular' Monster postings, and improved analytics to track campaign effectiveness.

    Overall for companies looking to extend the reach of their job ads, at a reasonable cost, and with no special technical skills required, the Career Ad Network is worth an evaluation. And it is also kind of cool and refreshing to see Monster looking for ways to innovate and improve their basic offerings, as the way people look for jobs changes over time, Monster has to find ways to evolve beyond the traditional job board, in order to better navigate these new waters.

    You never know, one company's slacker engineer listening to Pandora all day just might be your organization's next hotshot superstar.

    Thanks so much to Kathy Reilly and the team at Monster for giving the great Kevin Grossman fromHRMarketer and I a sneak peak at the new offerings.