Over recent years, social media has crept into the workings of many a business department, and HR is no exception.
Some HR professionals have been using social media as part of their day-to-day activities for a while, but those that haven't are likely to need to do so in the near future in order to keep up with the competition. Here are five reasons why: 1. Social networking sites are useful to find and engage job applicants There is a wealth of effective and easy-to-use online recruitment and career management portals available to HR professionals. But social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are also helpful in engaging potential candidates on an ongoing basis. This is because they enable you to promote your brand, whether consumers are actively seeking a new job or not. LinkedIn, a professional network with more than 135 million members worldwide, has become a favoured platform for employers and job-seekers to showcase and market themselves for some time now. For HR, the site provides access to an entire network of candidates that would otherwise be difficult to pinpoint. Employer branding opportunities, direct contact tools and the ability to manage your pipeline also mean that LinkedIn is useful for reaching both active and passive candidates. But jobseekers can also the site to search business pages for openly advertised roles. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, on the other hand, have their own advantages as recruitment tools in that they appeal to a wider audience. Taking a non-business focus and targeting candidates through their private social pages enables employers looking for fresh talent to engage with individuals on an entirely new level. This situation can result in better understanding on both sides, which enables both employer and candidate to decide if they are the right fit for each other. YouTube can also be a particularly engaging recruitment tool in that it enables businesses to tap into a target audience, while potentially giving applicants a real insight into company culture. 2. Social media can help support training and development activities Because training and development is an ongoing process, employing social applications, using Twitter to follow influential individuals and subscribing to RSS feeds of relevant blogs and websites can prove to be effective ways of staying in touch with industry news, enabling HR professionals to better identify potential areas on which to focus. Employees can also use benefit from using apps and subscribing to blog feeds as a means of undertaking informal learning, which supports more formal approaches. 3. Social networking sites enable staff to keep up-to-date Information spreads quickly via social media and can reach a wide audience. The use of lists within sites such as Twitter, and more recently Google+, also means that businesses can now choose to whom they wish to communicate their messages. Scheduling tools likewise make it possible to issue updates at times that are suitable for international staff in order to ensure that communications have an optimal impact. But internal blogs are also an effective means of sharing company information and it is possible to obtain feedback by inviting employees to leave their thoughts and comments. External blogs, on the other hand, are a way of inviting outside audiences to understand the business and its brand more effectively by means of regular postings and community discussions. 4. Social media can underpin an effective reputation management strategy If the right channels are selected, social media messages can hit audiences far and wide. The opinions and comments of members of those audiences can also have a significant impact on a given business’s reputation and be either hugely beneficial or hugely damaging. Therefore, monitoring social media for conversations about the organisation and acting on them will help to protect your employer brand. There are a number of free and chargeable tools available on the market to help you do this. From an HR perspective, ensuring that employees are delivering positive messages about the organisation is imperative, however. Introducing policies and guidelines can help to control what is said and, therefore, limit any damaging effects to the brand’s reputation. 5. Social media can help boost staff morale and motivation Social media makes it easy to share company and employee success stories both internally and with external audiences. Showcasing the achievements of a team or individual using sites such as Twitter, Facebook or YouTube can provide a motivational boost not only to those involved, but also to others keen to gain the same level of recognition. For example, you could use social networking sites to single out your top performing individuals and/or offices to boost moral on an international basis or announce awards that the business has won as a whole. Internal blogs and micro sites can also enable staff to share stories and photos and/or put faces to names in order to increase a feeling of team spirit. In summary, the ways in which HR professionals can exploit social media for the benefit of individual employees as well as for the business are numerous and varied and can be tailored to specific requirements.
Heidi Myers is an HR business partner at SaaS-based online media monitoring software provider, Meltwater Group.