The world of Human Resources is a weird place filled with contradictions, confusion, and cognitive dissonance. We tell our CHROs and SVPs to be more strategic and create a department of thought leadership and entrepreneurialism; however, we still ask our HR department to oversee personnel management, payroll, and compliance issues.
Good luck working in Human Resources in 2011. You have your work cut out for you.
A new trend in Human Resources has emerged—social networking and brand management. Because those concepts are much more appealing than employee relation’s issues and OSHA investigations, many HR professionals are coming to their senior leaders and asking for permission to play in the social media and Internet marketing space.
Depending on the level of personal trust in an organization, CEOs will either bless or dismiss the new “marketing initiatives” in HR.
I have four pieces of advice for HR professionals and senior leaders who wonder exactly what their company—and their HR department—should be doing on social networking sites.
- Secure your company’s name and variations of the name on the major social networking sites. You could ask an intern to do this. It takes five minutes on a site like KnowEm.
- Secure the online identities of your senior leadership team and buy their domain names. One former CEO of a Fortune 100 organization didn’t own his name anywhere on the Internet. A disgruntled employee registered the CEO’s name (dot com) and started a fake, sarcastic blog. It was funny to everyone else except the CEO and his board of directors.
- All of your jobs should be on a thoughtfully designed, mobile-friendly career website. Gartner predicts that a majority of Americans will access the internet via mobile devices in 2013. Spend money on your employer brand by investing where it matters—your company’s career website. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can supplement those efforts; however, always remember that your career website is the hub and those other social networks are just the spokes.
- Just because someone says something bad about you on the internet doesn’t mean it’s a big deal. Many Human Resources professionals and employment lawyers are afraid of social networking sites because it can fan the flames of dissent. Understand that you have a choice in the way you respond to information on the Internet: you can ignore it, you can acknowledge it, or you can ask to have it removed. It’s not the end of the world when someone hates your brand, or your senior leadership team, on Twitter.
Social networking and social media marketing aren’t going away; however, neither is the state agency that wants to audit your payroll records. Before anyone in Human Resources goes anywhere near Facebook or Twitter, you have a right to ask for a compelling business case and proof of some kind of ROI. Even if it’s an amorphous promise of a return, demand that your HR department think critically and strategically about its efforts.
And make sure your employee handbook has been reviewed in the 21st century by a lawyer who is more aware of the Internet than John McCain.