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
3. How do we explain and best use tools like Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and LinkedIn?
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.
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
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”
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.
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
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