Panel: Use Social Media to Advance, Protect Brand

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LA JOLLA, CALIF.—Using social media as a recruitment tool is just one of many ways that organizations can harness the power of social media, said Jeanne Meister of Future Workplace LLC, at the HR People & Strategy (HRPS) 2014 Global Conference. HRPS is an affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management.
Meister is the author of The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop & Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today (HarperBusiness, 2010) and founder of the 2020 Workplace Network, which looks at how people will work, learn and communicate in the future. She moderated a panel discussion, “Leveraging the Power of Social Media in Your Organization’s Human Capital Strategies,” for the conference’s afternoon keynote presentation here recently.
“Do you have a strategy?” she asked attendees, referring to the online company that provides unvarnished reviews of more than 250,000 companies, which are posted anonymously by employees and job candidates.
“Do you know how your company is rated [on]? That’s where your prospective employees are going to do their research. You might want to see how the [chief HR officer] is rated” on leadership style and commitment to mentoring.
Those ratings affect a company’s brand, and for Millennials, she said, the brand is just as important as the job they’re seeking.
“Everything’s being rated,” from hotels to restaurants to taxi service, she said. Drivers with  Uber Taxi Service, an app that allows customers to find, pay and rate a driver, can rate their customers. “Why not [chief HR officers] on Why not each and every one of us?” she said to the hotel ballroom filled with executive HR leaders.
Organizations that aren’t using social media will lose out, according to panelist Steven Rice, executive vice president of HR at Juniper Networks, a computer and network security company in the San Francisco Bay area.
“I’m reminded daily when driving into work about the competition around innovation,” he said, noting that the Yahoo campus is five minutes away, Google headquarters is down the street, and Facebook and Apple are nearby. “They’re looking for the same talent you are; every single day the battle for talent is alive and well.”
Meister pointed to Marriott International as an example of a company keeping pace with technology. In January 2014 it became the first company in the hospitality industry to offer a mobile app for its job site. In a news release announcing the launch, David Rodriguez, the company’s executive vice president and chief human resources officer, stated that 70 percent of job seekers use their mobile devices to research their next career move. He said investing in new mobile technology is critical for attracting talent, especially Millennials and people in emerging markets who depend heavily on their mobile devices.
For Millennials, there is no “unplugging” from the frantic pace of technology, said Meister. She got a laugh when she noted wryly that her mobile-technology-hip son pointed out that there is nothing to unplug. The idea of “unplugging,” he informed her, is so Boomerish.
Brand Ambassadors
Ambrosia Humphrey, vice president of talent at social media dashboard provider HootSuite, stressed that an organization’s employees are its brand ambassadors, and they retweet in other languages to demonstrate scalability.
“This is really revolutionary about the way people communicate. … It’s not just a technological phenomenon; it’s in every organization,” she said during the panel discussion.
Humphrey advised organizations to find a way to educate their employees about using social media. At HootSuite, new employees go through a one-week social media boot camp. Additionally, “We spend a lot of time on [chat service] Yammer;” encouraging employees to use social media. “The empowerment comes, [but] you have to educate your people,” she said.
People expect accessibility and transparency from their organization, said Donna Morris, senior vice president of people and places at Adobe Systems Inc. Social media can provide that.
Millennials, used to communicating via social media with their teachers, “expect to have the [same] ability to have an ongoing dialogue with their leaders” in the workplace.
Like Humphrey, Morris emphasized the need to educate employees on social media use.
“Teach people what social means … but don’t expect it to be everybody’s job.”
Kathy Gurchiek is the associate editor at HR News. 
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