Article on Social Media and HR

I recently wrote a guest column for India’s leading HR magazine, People Matters on why and how HR people should leverage social media.

Here’s an excerpt from the article. Click on the link to read the full article.

Would appreciate your feedback

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The big change between earlier media and “social media” is that people who participate in these have moved from being passive consumers of information and entertainment to creators. Every person can theoretically publish his own newspaper editorial (aka blogs) or his own TV channel (on YouTube).

Most organizations don’t get this. They believe Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are additional channels to TV, radio and print. They then are surprised when consumers react and respond. It’s a great high when the reaction is positive – and despair when they react negatively.

Organizations that are venturing into social media need to embrace transparent and open communication. It also has to set processes and workflows that add on to traditional operations and customer service workflows so that external issues are absorbed internally and resolved and then communicated externally.

Having just one gate between the organization and its customers results in social media bottleneck – and that approach does not scale for larger companies in the long run. Hence, the social business enables a large part of the employees to interact with customers and encourages customers to connect with other customers. A large technology firm in the US found that it could reduce support costs if it put in a bulletin board where experienced users helped newer users.

At its epitome, the social business involves the customer in its innovation process either by using the collective wisdom of the community or by an ideation system where users give ideas for the product or service.

Why should HR lead this initiative?

HR (in the sphere of OD) has the critical skill to make such changes less painful and with a higher rate of success. Let’s face it, change management seen from a tool vendor’s point of view is just a “training program” and about process changes. Other business functions really don’t have the change management understanding that OD practitioners have. That understanding can be channelised to make “social business” a reality by thinking about the structure, process, emotional and personal aspects of change.

Enterprise 2.0 is both about engaging people with other people (employees, partners, customers) as well as embedding that in the business processes. Typically, HR professionals don’t get a chance to influence what happens in the business – but with E2.0 they can – and build their strategic impact. Holy grail, anyone?

Enterprise 2.0 will soon be the platform of learning and people to people engagement in the organization and as such will have impact on all aspects of HR work – Recruitment, Employee Engagement, Learning and Development. And unless HR leads the conversation, it will find itself more and more redundant like IT departments are finding themselves.

My view is that someone in the Marketing / Recruiting function needs to take a “Talent Community Manager” role to drive these initiatives and to get others internally in the organization to get engaged with the candidate community. This community manager needs to have a mindset of open and honest collaboration and organizations must be clear about what objectives they expect from her / him and therefore what metrics to track to check her / his performance.

Soon companies will collate all these efforts into a community that they will own – and which will have representation on social networks and blogs.



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