In his post, Mr Boorman cites a number of reasons as to why the take up of social communication has remained limited within HR circles. Of course, this is not to say that these views are his own; indeed, anyone who knows Bill will surely be of the opinion that he is one of the biggest social media advocates around. However, the points he cites are indeed indicative of the HR industry’s thinking and it is these that I wish to address briefly in this blog post.
‘It’s a waste of time’.
Visible examples of ‘wasting time’ does not mean that social media ‘is’ a waste of time. Like any form of digital communication, social media is a tool. How you use that tool is completely down to you. If you want to tweet about the fact you’ve had eggs for breakfast, you’re feeling tired, you hate your commute, that’s up to you. However, I have solidified relationships with business contacts; developed contacts with people I would never have been able to get in front of before. As a business, we have received briefs from people we’ve developed relationships with exclusively through social media. How’s that for ROI? Waste of time? Not when it’s bringing in tangible results.
‘The domain of the mad’.
Say you walk into a pub and spot the ‘resident nutter’ – some cantankerous old drunk in the corner spouting vitriolic abuse. Does this make every patron in the pub a nutter by association? Of course not. And just because a wide range of social media nutters make themselves visible, this does not mean that every Tweeter is a mentalist; it does not mean that every Facebook user is a spurned lover hell-bent on stalking their ex.
‘A risk to law and order’.
I can see why many employers and HR professionals are worried about litigious comments and being unable to ‘control’ content that is published by their staff. However, you know what? Adults are actually able to control themselves without writing ‘willies’ or ‘bum’ in a tweet that may get seen by a client / partner etc. Sure, you may get a rogue employee who has an axe to grind; you may have to implement some general rules (no swearing on public accounts) but on the whole, the advent of social media has not turned us into a mass of slobbering Neanderthals who are incapable of adult, rational actions. We live in an age of transparency and most people don’t want to look like a tool in front of anyone, friends of business contacts alike.
‘Not worth the effort’.
Again, refer to the first point addressing the ‘waste of time’ issue. If, as an HR person, you encourage staff to spend 5 minutes a day on Twitter discussing the X Factor, then yes, it is a waste of time. However, if you promote a collaborative culture where employees share information, links, articles and documents that they come across, then surely this fosters a productive working environment – that alone is surely enough to ridicule the assumption that social media is ‘not worth the effort’.
‘It’s for kids’.
Again, what a farcical statement. My boss, Gareth Jones (you’ll find him on Twitter under the handle @garelaos), is far from a spring chicken – meant in the nicest possible way! Indeed, even at the tender age of 27, I wouldn’t label myself a ‘kid’. Recent studies show that the fastest growing demographic of Facebook users are the ‘silver surfers’ – 50-60 year olds who are looking up old friends using this new technology. Again, I refer once again to my ‘tool’ mentality. Whilst kids may use social media to organise hedonistic house parties or ensure that ‘LOL’ remains part of youthful linguistic repartee, there are just as many adults using social media to network, share knowledge, converse and learn. Internal comms is also undergoing a radical overhaul thanks to social media. Just for kids? Think again.
Hopefully my humble musings will alleviate some concerns that HR folk have concerning social media. I will be attending the #ConnectingHR unconference on Thursday and will be more than happy to discuss this, the blurring lines between marketing and HR, and indeed anything else you may want to.
Just look out for the bald bloke with the beard who’s handing out the badges…