Are you an HR person wrestling with how best to use social media?
You've got plenty of company.
At this week's IQPC Corporate University sessions there was an entire two-day track dedicated to Social Media. Speakers included Sharlyn Lauby and Jessica Lee, HR pros who know their way around the online community and the tools available to best do that.
The questions from the audience surprised me since I've been online for some time:
1. Do we need legal regulations before we start using social media? (This was the starting point for a lot of people; their management wanted to nail down any liability before seriously discussing social media).
2. How do we control "it"? The concept of losing control to gain relationship--as well as instant feedback from customers and employees--is still terrifying to many.
3. How do we explain and best use tools like Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and LinkedIn?
These are all reasonable questions.
They are also indications that, while a portion of the population takes social media for granted, businesses do not. That means HR pros who believe there is a place for social media will have to introduce them in the same way as any other change: Awareness, Education, but most importantly, specific examples of Application.
Then, organizations need to do what they do with everything else: answer the question, "What is our strategy and how can we use some or all of these to further it?"
Note: If you are charged with this, a good example would be Scott Monty at Ford Motor Company.
& Social Media
You may not know this but there was a time when, like social media, people were scared to death of Fluoride. Yep, the stuff that's in your toothpaste to help prevent cavities. When I was a child there was a movement to put Fluoride into drinking water. The population rose up indignantly claiming, amongst other things, that it was a Communist plot to poison us all. I recall my parents and our neighbors in hugely emotional discussions about Fluoride. (If you Google "fluoride" you'll see that it is still unpopular in many circles).
Fluoride was Twitter. All of the implications weren't understood, it was a new "solution" and, as such, it became a rallying cry for many "slippery slope" arguments.
Which is why executives aren't totally crazy when they hear the mention of a new solution named 'Twitter' as a business tool. I give you, cut and pasted directly from Twitter (drumroll): @JESUSLordThyGod, Thank you for being my 3000th follower.
This first grabbed my attention because, as a follower of Jesus, I thought that the "following" part was the other way around. I had absolutely no idea that Jesus was using Twitter Himself.
Then I put myself in the position of a COO sitting next to the kids at home watching this particular tweet go by. If I'm the COO I'm not going to be comfortable with this as a "solution" until someone shows me specifically, with a 'sticky' business example, how my company can use Twitter to further some part of the mission. And, in ways that minimize misunderstandings and liability.
There was a time, not long ago, when web portals and email raised eyebrows. It took time to figure out what was useful, what was 'safe', and what simply didn't matter. Most of all, it took hands-on experience to discover the answers.
What to do? Stop talking about social media and start showing examples of internal chats and how they cut communication time and increase project understanding. Show how many high potential employees have been hired through LinkedIn and Facebook. Design a learning program using all of the tools, pilot it, and do an honest evaluation about what works and what doesn't.
Don't dump social Fluoride into the organizational drinking water. Introduce it purposefully--think "business toothpaste" for a better chance at a brighter smile.
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