5 Reasons HR needs to increase digital IQ and embrace social media

5 Reasons HR needs to increase digital IQ and embrace social media

The internet has changed the way businesses market, the way we shop, get our news, watch TV, and communicate with friends and family. It’s time that HR and organizations realized that we must also embrace web 2.0 to better connect and engage our workforce. The Social Business, Enterprise 2.0, or whatever you want to call it, is here to stay, and it is the new reality of business.

Here are 5 basic reasons HR must embrace social technology. I could probably give you a hundred, but I’ll try to limit my “soapbox” time.

1. HR must be aware of the risks to your business and people

pic courtesy of sxc.hu user alitaylor

If you don’t know what twitter is or how an open network like it works, how can you protect your company or employees from it? Two recent, ongoing cases highlight this. In one case, an employee who managed a twitter account for Phonedog Media changed the account name when he left the company, taking 17,000 followers with him. Phonedog is suing for $340K. In another, a lawyer who abruptly exited a law firm allegedly stole files from a dropbox file after leaving. If HR is not aware of the types of platforms their people are using, they will be ineffective in creating policies and in investigating cases like these.

2. Research and knowledge opportunities

I started on twitter because I was doing research for training I was developing. Twitter gave me the most recent articles rather than a google search that can turn up everything from the time the internet was created. There is a ton of free content on the web, and Twitter is a great search engine to find it.

3. Connecting to amazing thought-leaders

Twitter is an open social platform, which means that you can follow and tweet to anyone. I can’t count the number of amazing leaders I’ve met through twitter, who I would otherwise never have had the opportunity to. People who are CEOs of great companies, great authors, Human Resources thought leaders. Almost everyone has been very open to chatting in 140 characters, and then later to progressing to IRL (in real life) or other digital conversations.

4. Social media is where your employees and your customers are

An #Ilovemyjob tweet

If you’re not there, you’re missing the conversation. Social media is a great place to lurk and listen, and to engage and connect. Monitor what people are saying about working in your organization. Sites like glassdoor.com provide a forum for employees to rate their companies and provide feedback on what it’s like to work there. Check out what people are saying bout your organization. Sites like Twitter offer a forum for people to vent. Compare the streams for #Ihatemyjob and #Ilovemyjob some time (a great idea I picked up from my friend and business partner Christine McLeod). See what types of actions are engaging employees and disengaging them. Search for your company’s name and see what people are saying. Watch for trends.

5. Social platforms offer amazing tools for recruiting, training, recognizing, managing talent, and connecting your employees

My favourite free tool that I’ve tried so far is Yammer. It’s free for a basic account, and provides a closed network where you can share updates, recognize team members, post projects to collaborate on, tag information so that it’s searchable, share documents, have private discussions, and so on and so on… An awesome way to increase collaboration and improve productivity. I know several companies using Yammer and they have seen great benefits. Upmo is another social platform that offers an innovative approach to talent management and succession planning. I’m looking forward to checking out Topyx BOLT, which is a way to add a social network to your existing LMS and training platform. Imagine the improvement in learning when a peer community can be built around a course or topic. My Innovative HR page gives lots more examples.

5 pieces of advice for HR:

  1. Get a Twitter account. Watch and listen to how people engage.
  2. Check out companies who do a great job in social media. Best Buy, ING Direct, Starbucks are a few.
  3. Increase your digital IQ. Try new platforms and technologies, to gain an understanding of the opportunities and risks they hold.
  4. Work with IT, marketing, PR, Legal, Operations to understand how social media might be used, what the risks are, and to prepare policy and processes.
  5. Don’t get caught up in the worries about what negative effects social media can have. Think of the magic it can create.
Are you using social media technology within your workplace? I’d love to hear about it! Please leave a comment, connect with me on twitter, or contact me!
Read my Innovative HR posts for more examples of social media in business and workplace guidelines for social media. If you’re on twitter, check out hashtags: #SocBizMinds and #Impact99 for great sharing. And keep your eyes and ears peeled for dates for Impact99 2012, coming to Toronto and Vancouver.



  1. March 2, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    What a great article (And I am not just saying this because I am a HUGE fan of your work :) nor because I have to because you are my better half of @impact99 the best most innovative HR conference in Canada - no shameless plug there). What I like is that not only do you give compelling calls to action, you give a few small bite size pieces to start with. If each person in the company is not socialized, does not have a comfort level with digital IQ and just uses the excuses "I am too busy" or "there are too many platforms and they change all the time anyway), then the organization needs to be OK with being "status quo" and even then... whatever is LESS than status quo. the risks are big, but the opportunities are VAST. Surrounding yourself by people who you trust to help guide you through your learning and discovery is something I would add to Pam's list of 5 tips. Seek out those people in your network, your work team, consultants, coaches, whoever you feel most comfortable with and start by a dialogue.. open up to what you are most excited about- most afraid of, most anxious about, most inspired by, most curious about. My journey started over 2 years ago when it comes to social media, and I still feel like i am just scratching the surface. As I dig and connect though, I find people, like Pam Ross who are those people who I feel not only I can learn from AND I can have great robust discussions with and sometimes get my mind changed. Just by reading this blog, you have taken a step forward. What will your next step be? Christine @impactresults

    Reply »
  2. January 7, 2013 at 7:45 am

    [...] There are several “burning platforms” to motivate this change. I wrote about many of them in my post last March on Why HR Must Embrace Social Media. [...]

    Reply »

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