Over the past decade, an unparalleled growth and popularity of social media has undoubtedly revolutionized the way we communicate and use technology. When it comes to businesses, some people fully support this change and embrace the value social media could provide to them while others remain skeptical about the potential business benefits, believing it to be a needless distraction primarily aimed toward personal networking. 

The potential of social media in HR

Over the past decade, an unparalleled growth and popularity of social media has undoubtedly revolutionized the way we communicate and use technology. When it comes to businesses, some people fully support this change and embrace the value social media could provide to them while others remain skeptical about the potential business benefits, believing it to be a needless distraction primarily aimed toward personal networking. Yet the fact remains that social media continues to challenge traditional methods of communication. Large corporations, such as Starbucks and Dell, realized early that if approached in the right way, businesses can model and execute social media strategies that deliver great benefits to their organizations. If taken seriously, HR professionals can create a strategy that aligns with their organizational objectives to harness its full potential. 

Birkman International, a provider of industry-leading personality assessments, conducted a survey on human resources and social media that found HR professionals and consultants understand the potential of social media. Eighty-three percent agreed that these technologies can improve communication, bring greater efficiency to the workplace and provide great insight about people's interests and motivations. The survey also found that those who responded believe social media offers immense opportunities for learning and knowledge sharing. 

The most popular social networks for HR professionals (statistics from the Birkman study) are: 

  1. LinkedIn (75 percent)
  2. Facebook (66 percent)
  3. Google Reader (45 percent)
  4. Twitter (28 percent)

Key benefits of social media for HR professionals include: 

  • Talent acquisition. HR professionals can leverage social media as a recruitment tool. LinkedIn, for instance, has a dedicated Job tab that allows businesses to post details of vacant positions that can be accessed by potential candidates. Facebook fan pages, if used correctly, can also be beneficial. In addition to including company information, businesses can invite comments from current employees with positive experiences, upload images and post job openings.
  • Employee engagement. Social media can help foster teamwork and employee engagement among existing staff. Businesses could consider setting up online communities on Facebook or LinkedIn, which could be updated with company developments, employee successes and even podcasts from senior management. To empower employees, a corporate blog could be introduced with selected staff writing for it. More advanced companies might consider creating their own social media site, including games, videos, and surveys -- ideal for brightening up the often lackluster orientation process.
  • Building brand awareness. A simple, cheap and convenient PR and marketing tool, social media can also be used as a means of building brand awareness. Candidates and clients alike recognize brands and a visible corporate social media identity is key. But it is not all about spreading your company information. Social media also can be used as an educational tool and help HR professionals keep up to date with the rapid changes in the industry. With Twitter, for instance, you can follow like-minded people who 'tweet' about subjects of interest you. It's also a great way to engage with other HR professionals, allowing you to share business intelligence and best practice. Blogs can be very useful for educational purposes as they allow for comments that encourage discussion. It is important, however, to choose bloggers carefully. If an employee discloses sensitive information or views that conflict with the company's values, it could lead to difficulty as social media is heavily trafficked. Businesses should be prepared to tackle criticism as well as praise.
  • Thought leadership. A presence in social media allows you to position yourself as a thought leader. The best way to do this is to push out interesting information to attract as many people as you can. Remember to focus on more than just your company and brand.
  • Listening. Social media allows HR professionals to stay current with industry trends, topics and news. It can also be a place to obtain feedback on the organization and monitor your reputation.


Tips for HR Social Media Success 

  • With a myriad of options available, businesses must first prioritize the use of technology according to their unique business needs.
  • Consider your objectives and experiment with a few sites while keeping an open mind.
  • Whether your employees have open access to social media sites or not, it is critical that your company develops a social media policy to educate your employees. By doing this, you will help minimize business and legal risks, avoid loss of productivity and protect your brand and confidential information.

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