HR & The Social Media Battlefield

Leveraging the most from social media as a buisness

HR & The Social Media Battlefield

With the nearly 95 million people on Facebook and 28 million on Twitter in the U.S. alone, social media is a force to be reckoned with.  And yet still businesses fail to effectively leverage social media which is a low cost way to build consumer relations, develop an employment brand, recruiting, and market their business.  Those of of us that are members of the New Media Evolution understand the importance of embracing the Web 2.0 world, but the question remains, how do we educate and persuade fellow  professionals, family members, and our own business leaders?

Early adapters have voluntarily chosen to be drafted in this Social Media battlefield.  Those of us that have embraced this new technology and use it as a tool either personally or for their business.  The social media landscape has forever changed my life and in a positive way.  I have met, learned from, and developed relationships from professionals across industries while being exposed to real-time news and information straight from the experts who are fighting fires everyday.

Although most of us have never intended to, we are fighting to educate the have nots into being present and active in this new way of thinking.  Chances are if you are an HR professional or recruiter like me, you have contemplated just how to get your company or business on board and knee deep into the world of social media.  If you are also like me chances are you have also had hundreds of conversations with other professionals, friends, and even family members with regard to social media.

Typically, my conversations with professionals go something like this:

Me:  “Social media is a great tool to engage candidates both active and passive.  I’ve made a number of hires because of Facebook alone. “

Have Not:  “Isn’t that discriminatory?  I just don’t get it.  My IT department says that sites like Tweeter and Facebook are unsecure.  Plus, I just don’t have the time.”

Me:  “There are more than twice as many cell phones as there are personal computers.  People are communicating through text and social media as a way to conduct business and build relationships.  Businesses use social media a variety of ways.  I know of a jewelry store who made a $8,000 sale because of Twitter and a local restaurant who sold out of their daily special in under 45 minutes from a tweet. “


And when it comes to my family, particularly my mom, it goes something like this:

My Mom:  “Your sister said she knew you were at dinner because of Facebook.  Under no circumstances should be writing these things there.  People can break into your house.  What about your daughter?”

Me:  “Mom, come on.  I’m an adult.  I have a book coming out on how to use Twitter.  Shouldn’t I follow my own advice?”

But what about when it comes to the business or office in which we work?  How can we have success in convincing the decision makers who happen to be one of the Have Nots?  When working with clients or even past employers, I have had success when doing the following:

  • Offer to assist. Although the HR or recruiting team at your company might not be using social media, chances are your marketing or PR department is.  Schedule to meet and understand their social media strategy and build from there.  Chances are if the marketing department or competitor has had a great success is using Web 2.0, it will be easier to convince your boss that this is an option to grow your business.
  • Draft a social media policyBy creating and defining the rules surrounding how your business or department intends on using social media, everyone will rest easier.  It seems like the news these days is filled with social media misuse by celebrities, athletes, and businesses.
  • Speak their language. Enough of the tech speak and baby talk.  Use words and phrases that are appropriate for your audience.  Words like TweetDeckAPIMashable, and Twubs are confusing.  Qualify your audience and take time to provide some background and general information.  Most Director level folks don’t want to hear the tech talk.  They want answers.
  • Plan thoroughly and carefully. When speaking with someone either within your organization or one you represent, it’s important to plan your key points, facts, and figures.  Remember that every person learns and understands things differently so plan visual and tactical aids into your presentation or conversation.
  • Talk ROI. Use case studies and examples to support your strategy.  Use measureable results, numbers, and figures when describing your course of action and the way your strategy could lead to success.  Sites like Twitter AnalyzerMashable and Quantcast provide a great start to educate yourself on the power of social media.
  • Start Small. Although you and I are not new to the Web 2.0 world, these individuals are.  Start small and be prepared.  If trying to create a new employment branding strategy, start with a Facebook Fan page and in 3-6 months after you have measurable success move on to using Twitter or other platform.


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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

Reader Interactions


  1. Migdalia Burgos says

    I really enjoyed this, and I would one more thing to the IT argument about security: USB’s are far more dangerous than logging on to social media sites. How many times have people acquired viruses from programs uploaded from USB’s? (And how many times have people walked away with data by sneakily saving it onto a flash drive?)

    If security is an issue, you can create a separate user account that would exist outside of the corporate firewall and allow specific users access to the outside system. They can then set up a process for sharing information.

    However, IT should not be dictating corporate communication, marketing or strategic planning. It is there to assist and provide resources. With all due respect to the IT groups I have known, very few people in IT understand or appreciate the company’s vision, mission or goals. Instead of giving me reasons why something as it stands is risky, they should be finding solutions to the problem that facilitate the users’ needs.

    Social media is an easy, inexpensive and effective way to communicate to an audience that would be otherwise unreachable. Learning to coexist and benefit from the relationship is far wiser than trying to block it and avoid its existence.


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