The Social Conundrum for HR: Is There One?

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Social Media is exhausting.

Let me restate, doing social media right is exhausting.  While at a conference a few years ago, several of us stood around, dark circles under our eyes, squinting to read the Twitter handles on name tags, grasping at topics not yet run dry.  The dark circles were not brought on by conference parties, as many might suspect, but by late night blogging and creations of the next day’s social media strategies.

Someone in the circle looked up from her phone and said, “Is anyone else tired of social media?”  There were a few looks of surprise because the person who asked the question was Jessica Miller-Merrell, but most of us nodded our heads in agreement.  I was tired of it, many of us were – are.  It takes great effort to learn everything you can while still executing (what you already know) with precision and interesting content.  Not everyone can do it and as I look around my social world, many folks are missing who were once present  4-5 years ago.   They have gone dark, as one might say.  Keeping up with the Klout is not an easy endeavor.

Is Social Media Hurting HR?

I was recently intrigued by a post published at entitled, “Social Media is Paralyzing HR.”  I don’t often comment on blog posts, but I felt compelled to put in my $.02.  I agreed with much of what Paul Hebert, the author, had to say – HR is indeed inundated with individuals and organizations who claim and proclaim to truly help or make HR life better/easier.  I, personally, loved being on executive, contingency, and corporate recruiter working with and in HR departments.  I loved developing retention programs and working closely with learning and development teams to keep employees engaged and happy in their work life.  But I also love working on the HR solutions provider / vendor side of the HR Tech equation – bringing my knowledge and experience with me. And somewhere along the way, as these two work lives crossed streams, social media drew a big circle around it all and I was able to more clearly share what I know and what my experiences have been and will continue to be.

Social Media doesn’t have to paralyze HR.

HR and their solutions providers should not be held captive by the few who claim to know more than anyone and everyone  else.  The fact of the matter is that Social Media is benefiting HR and Recruiting – we are seeing levels of communication like never before.  And the social sharing of advice and ideas is blooming on every social corner – I love it and wish I had had these types of resources and networks when I was working in the trenches.  Here’s the thing, though – I am still in the trenches because part of my responsibility as an engaged employee is to engage with other employees and add to the culture of my organization.  I do not just sit back and wait for that culture to drop in my lap or circle its wagons around me.  I make waves and ride them.

A recent Jobvite survey reported that of 1600 respondents, 60% had saved an average of $20,000 annually by using social recruiting tools – and 20% saved an average of more than $90,000.  This is a budgetary difference that gets noticed.  As we all know – social recruiting is NOT free.  Many of these tools come with a hefty price tag and precious time attached. So where are these hiring companies seeing the savings?  Perhaps it’s in retention, employee engagement/contentment which leads to still the greatest source of hire: employee referrals. Perhaps it’s in the subtle shift of job boards and HR technology to add social capabilities to their offerings.  Perhaps it’s just a sign of the times that hiring is getting more strategic (like any other business function!) and just not applying the old school method of “post and pray”.  All of these things play into the hiring and job search changes we have seen over the last few years.


And the candidates – they are more “social savvy” than candidates and applicants of years past.  They are taking responsibility for their own search and finding out what works, learning how to engage with those who can help, and then they are doing it – executing on what they have learned.  I find it interesting that there are no longer multiple discussions, webinars, and white papers about passive versus active candidates.  A candidate is a candidate is a candidate.  An applicant is an applicant is an applicant.  And candidates and applicants have a voice now to talk about their own candidate experiences.  And so do employees and they are all talking.  Follow the #recruiter hashtag some time – you’d be surprised how vocal candidates and applicants, as well as employees can be.

Effective Metrics

And we are seeing a complete shift in how ROI is reported.  Measurement counts.  HR tech providers have tapped into “big data” to supply hard and fast numbers to their clients so they can effectively tell the story of the money they save and the difference social engagement is making.  And with all this data, organizations can better prepare by using the information right before them to create predictive analysis and use it – not just talk about it.  This is how we use it – social/tech/data – for good and not for evil – by taking control of it and not letting it just hang in the cloud or ignore it for others to pluck from.

My Point…

My point continues to be that social media is a great ice breaker, but it’s not the party.  Effective time spend must be budgeted, just like effective money spend.  If you don’t measure the give / loss, how can you possibly understand the gain?  Measuring the ROI of social media time spend is next to impossible for its true reach is really unknowable.  Measure what you can – use what you know.

I am driven by strategy and change.  So is the company where I hang my hat.  Synchronicity.  I love it when a plan comes together. 


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