Q&A with Andrew Morton, SHRM’s New Social Media Guy! #SHRM14

We’re excited to be able to re-introduce and learn more about SHRM’s new Director, Social Engagement, Andrew Morton. Most SHRM members are anxious to get to know Andrew at SHRM’s Annual Conference this year in Orlando, FL, but we have the scope before you start traveling down to sunny (or according to weather.com, rainy) Florida.

Getting to Know Andrew Morton

What do you love about HR?

You know, as an Army officer our go to person was always our adjutant – or personnel officer.  He/ She helped us understand our career progression, and ensured that our Soldiers got the awards and professional development opportunities they deserved.  They were our HR…and we always ensured that the best and brightest officers held those positions..it was not glamorous and certainly hard..but I always sensed that it was rewarding.  Making a difference in a person’s career/ personal life is something that really feels good.

How did you get started working in social media?

Back in 2006 when I was deployed to Iraq we saw an increasing trend..more and more service-members were sending clips home from Iraq using MySpace (yeah- it was the platform of choice then) and YouTube.  While in some ways this was a challenge- making sure that operational security was first and foremost we soon realized that these videos (user-generated stuff) were fostering an important connection b/t our troops and their families and the general public..something that truly helps folks understand and appreciate our men and woman in uniform.  Well- we decided- after quite a few rounds of approval- to start the very first DoD YouTube channel and encouraged folks to submit their videos through us so we could promote them to a wider audience, above and beyond those family members…People connected and loved it and our biggest job was keeping up with the volume.

Point is rather than shutting it down we embraced it, leveraged it to give people a bit of window into the challenges, rewards, and day-to-day lives our Soldiers lived. From there I worked with the State Department’s folks and even the Iraqis to help them start their own social media channels – meeting a lot of amazing people along the way.  I ended up becoming the lead for the Army Reserve’s social and digital media and continued to apply the same principles..don’t stifle it..embrace it in a responsible, strategic and sustainable way..most importantly, give people something they want and deserve- access to amazing stories.

What’s your favorite social media tool and why?

You know there’s one constant in social media and that’s change…no one’s an expert..NO ONE!  Things change too much and too often to keep up on platforms and tools…But, I’d say the overwhelming rule is that good community management is most important..responsive and relevant interaction..and one tool that can help with that is a moderation/ monitoring dashboard- whether it’s an out of the box tool such as Hootsuite or something more sophisticated..bottom line is that you have to monitor and engage to effectively give your audience the content they want.

What’s your favorite social media site and why?

I think it’s Twitter now…and that’s changed along the way.  But, I’ll add one caveat and that’s a good tweet needs to link to good content..Content is and will always be king.

Where do you want to take SHRM’s social media? What are your goals?

First, we’ve a great team and wonderful support from across the organization..it’s a culture that has embraced the tenants of social media.  My predecessor did a remarkable job in fostering that.  My goal / vision is to develop a sustainable program that pulls stories and content from across the organization- and to stand up capacity at the local and state level- where the stories really are.  We have to be strategic about how we develop capacity and continue to focus on what matters the most- finding out what the audience wants and needs and then giving it to them as much as they want and need it..simple, right?  Not really..organizations are tempted to be everywhere on every platform and that can fragment both your audience and your resources….I once had a boss ask me if he needed his own Twitter handle..I, at the risk of getting fired, said No Sir, you need to have a regular and engagement roll in the execution of our current handle.”  The rest were simple details in how to make that happen.  My goals are to be there, across all aspects of the organization- to centralize efforts where necessary and to foster decentralized content- making sure that no great story or critical piece of information is lost along the way.

Outside of being the “SHRM Social Media Guy” what are some of your hobbies?

I love all things baseball..coaching my eldest son’s team..watching it…I live on Capitol Hill in DC, so politics is a natural discussion here…nothing wrong with that so long as you are willing to listen as much as you opine.  I love to run with my dog and spend time with friends and family..and any chance to be on the water is a good thing.  I’m also passionate about veteran’s causes, particularly those that support disabled veterans and those returning to communities and places of work across our country.  I think the HR profession has a wonderfully important role in that transition and I’m honored to be some small part of promoting that!  I’m proud to be a veteran but I’m more humbled by the efforts and outreach that so many have done to support all of us- and HR professionals are certainly a huge part of that equation.

Where can we learn more about you?

I started @SHRMSocial on Twitter to share/ listen and learn from all of you..so that’s one place to learn..I’ve chaired a number of seminars and workshops on sustainable social media – one piece I wrote on the 10 rules of social media….although as I alluded to before..there’s no expert..just a bunch of folks passionate about sharing stories!

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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