Define the Great Disruptor: “Social Media Networking” in the HR Sphere

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Defining Social Media Networking in Business

Social media networks have been one of the most direct expressions of the internet’s ethos to arise in the past decade. The ability to communicate globally has expanded our individual range of influence while bringing our world closer together. As social media and social networking has evolved to be a functional tool of daily communication, the line between what is business and personal has blended. For HR professionals this creates great opportunities to build and observe relationships, but also presents some hurdles as we are often in charge of handling some of these social media networking platforms. It is important to define what social networking is really about for your business, for employees and for the human resource team.

LinkedIn is, for most professionals, ubiquitous. We have our resumes or CVs available, our professional contact information, and our network of peers at our (and others’) fingertips; we have the ability to browse jobs, join professional groups, and read articles/posts about the fields in which we are most interested.

If your company does not currently have a LinkedIn profile page, I would highly recommend setting one up regardless of your company’s size. Company profile pages allow for original content to be posted and shared across various social media platforms, and (for those on the recruitment side) the ability to post jobs while sifting through candidates, metrics, and viewing activity. LinkedIn provides many tools and tutorials to help get you up and running.

A few tips for successful use include:

  • If it’s easy to do, then everyone will do it: in this case, submitting your resume to a job via LinkedIn is quite simple and the amount of responses can sometimes become overwhelming. Always go in with a game plan for what you are looking for and segment your candidates into tiers based off their criteria. If you are looking for some good advice in maximizing your recruiting reach, here’s an excellent primer.
  • Learn to use the analytic tools that are available within the site – most are self-explanatory, but understanding their correlation to each other and your success rate in finding good candidates lets you know if you are efficiently utilizing your time.
  • Join HR specific groups to create lines of communications; learn what is being done in the industry and be willing to bounce ideas off of other members.

It’s OK to Facebook at Work

Facebook at Work is a new platform developed by Facebook that acts as an Enterprise Social Network (ESN). ESNs are essentially social media that only your employees can utilize, but mimic the standard layout and use of a normal social media platform. In this case, Facebook will allow for users to move interchangeably between their work and personal profiles, allowing them to see and share information in the professional space that should not be publicly available, while allowing personal content to still be shared with close friends and family.

Given that there are over one billion users worldwide accessing Facebook every month, there is a good chance that your employees are already familiar with the platform. Teams can create group sections specific to their members and the Messenger function allows for whole companies to interact without having to purchase additional enterprise tools. Providing this option at work could create a seamless platform transition that allows employees to communicate in a way that they are already comfortable with, without having to introduce (and train) them on a brand new system.

Most ESNs (there are many from which to choose) share the benefits of open communication and ease of use, but they do come with some pitfalls:

  • HR must develop proper social media policies and ensure employees understand what type of content is appropriate to share. Legal considerations should also be taken into account regarding this policy.
  • Getting people to use another social network can be hard if the benefits are not understood (by management or by employees).
  • Implementing an ESN with limited functionality (i.e. messaging, meetings, blog-like posting options, collaborative functions, etc.) may inhibit widespread utilization and thus limit the potential of the tool.

How Many Characters?

Twitter makes this list for one very specific reason – information shared on this platform can move like wildfire. From a marketing or advertising perspective, this can create a tantalizing opportunity to gain recognition for a company or product; from an HR perspective, this can become a major concern if not fully respected. Even large companies with full Public Relations and Social Media services have seen their company names and reputations in the wrong kind of spotlight because users select a poor choice of words. Access to a corporate Twitter account should be protected closely and all tweets vetted by another party before being posted.

Last Things to Consider

It is important to create and curate an ongoing social media networking policy that governs how employees use social media for professional means as well as in their personal lives. Our employees may use any combination of the tools above (and many of those not discussed including Facebook for personal use, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Youtube, etc.). Your social media policy must balance the employee’s rights to free speech and press with the need to protect your company’s proprietary information. Most employees already know the right thing to do without being asked; but, make sure to consult federal and state laws as well as your legal department when drafting your social media policy.

If you have yet to employ an internal social media resource, you may also choose to engage an external social media consultant who understands the complexity of this space so that you and your team have the insights that you need to capitalize on this exciting and promising medium.

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