HR and the social media ...
Make HR part of your organisation’s social media strategy. By Inge Fisher
Social media is currently traditionally viewed as the domain of an organisation’s media relations department. However, one department that has a need for accessing the social media channels is an organisation’s Human Resources department. A comprehensive social media strategy will provide benefit to all departments within an organisation to help expand and grow the business.
In an interview with publicist Tatyana Gann, Jessica Miller-Merrell a leading voice in HR social media states, “HR is the keeper of communication, conversations and investigations. As social media blurs into these three, it makes HR’s role and importance in understanding social media all the more crucial for businesses to engage their candidates, employees and clients successfully in the channels they frequent.”
HR Social Media Strategy must be aimed at sourcing, identifying, influencing and engaging the audience present in social media and communities around them. It is about targeting and finding the right audiences, influencing HR issues internally and promoting the employer brand externally. It does not concern having the Facebook Page or the Twitter Account or the LinkedIn page. It is about having the right content on the right page to attract and involve the right audience.
As the world is embracing social media, some HR departments are still pondering on how they should be taking part in it. It is imperative that organisations invite HR on board the social media bus before it becomes too late to board.
Three reasons to involve HR in your organisation’s social media strategy:
1 Recruitment strategy As HR is responsible for searching for talent, an organisation’s social media sites provide the ideal location to find talent and “go viral” about career opportunities and vacancies. Posting jobs in the free resources of social media assists an organisation to save money on the cost per hire. Comparing the free resource of social media to the cost of paid advertising in print media, for example, is a no-contest. Targeted social media recruiting gives a viral reach out to the suitable candidates and piques the attention of passive candidates, these are the candidates who are not looking but can be enticed. It allows employee referrals and recommendations like LinkedIn, for example. Referrals on such networks and personal connections may give rise to quality hires at the lowest cost per hire. HR must develop the skills necessary to fully utilise the potential of social media networking for the benefit of the organisation.
2 Employer of choice branding Social media can be leveraged to support the employer brand to attract top talent to an organisation. Social sites can be used to provide a snapshot of what it is like to work for a particular organisation just as sites are used to promote products or services to attract customers and build brand loyalty. So you can use your mission, values, culture to attract talent. But it is critical that your current employees are positively engaged and the culture positive, as social media can’t fix what’s already broken. Awareness and enthusiasm must be proliferated from within the organisation so that you are actually recruiting for inside out. An organisation’s social media footprint must engage existing employees as well, using tools such as an employee’s blog for example to heighten employee engagement. IBM employee blogs is a case in point. www.ibm.com/blogs/zz/en/, as is OpenView Venture Partners www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/2010/08/case-study-corporate-blog/. However, the substantial risks of this needs to be governed by the organisation’s social media policy.
3 Manage the legal implications HR needs to be engaged as an important part of social media strategy in determining how to manage employees who are using organisation resources to access social media sites and using their personal pages in work time for non-work business. And, most importantly, what are they saying on their personal pages about the organisation? Will access be given to social sites? Will they be blocked and opened at lunchtimes only? Organisations must have a social media policy in the organisation policy bank to inform employees regarding the workplace rules on social sites, what is suitable to say and what could potentially cost them their jobs. The social media policy must establish clearly defined guiding principles for employees using social media for business and non-business usage. We are seeing CCMA cases in which employees have been dismissed as a result of defamatory information published on Facebook against organisations they worked for. It is important for employers to ensure that, in addition to the company’s electronic communications policy, they introduce a social media policy.
As Miller-Merrell states, “As social media becomes more integrated into corporate and business cultures, it is especially important for the human resource industry to have a foundational understanding of how their companies as well as their employees are using social media.”
The Internet has opened up channels of communication across the globe, enabling millions of real time conversations to take place every minute of the day. Why not use this to grow networks, make people connections, find people with critical and scarce skills and source new applicant pools of future employees for your organisation?
Inge Fisher is the head of Inge Fisher Consulting, www.ingefisherconsulting.co.za.