How HR can leverage Social Media

In addition to assessing online candidate profiles, HR can leverage social media to retain the company's best employees. -

Internet revolutionized the manner and speed at which information travels and is processed. In the last one decade, there has been an explosion in the growth of social media. Presence on social media is no longer a choice; it has become a necessity. Social media has emerged as a powerful business and HR tool, and evolved HR departments are using social media effectively to connect with internal and external audiences for a variety of purposes.

Some of the most popular social media platforms are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc. Facebook is a networking site used to connect with friends or family, or for promoting businesses. LinkedIn is generally used by working and business professionals. Twitter is largely a small-post blogging-networking site where images can also be shared. Google+ is a social networking site similar to Twitter and Facebook. Besides these, there is also YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumbir, Flickr, Reddit, etc.

Read: How Twitter has helped to hire

Social media technologies take on many different forms including blogs, business networks, enterprise social networks, forums, photo sharing, products/services review, social bookmarking, social gaming, social networks, video sharing, etc.

Human Resource personnel can use social media for a number of purposes in multiple ways. Some of the important purposes are listed below.

1. Talent acquisition:

HR can tap into a very large pool of candidates to recruit high quality talent with speed and at no cost by leveraging the power of social media in the following ways:

  • Posting open positions on company page as well as in various groups on different social medial platforms.
  • Encouraging current employees to spread the word about open positions in their networks.
  • Studying the profiles of target candidates and reaching out to them directly.
  • Engaging potential employees in conversations on business related topics on social media.
  • Doing pre-employment background screening by studying their activities on social media.

The material/ photographs/videos/blogs/tweets etc. the candidates upload on social media speak a lot about their personality, thought process and attitude. The manner and style of participation in social media conversations reveal a lot about the level of professionalism of the candidate. Some companies study the activities of the candidates on social media while taking firing decisions, besides hiring decisions. uses Social Media Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) to pre-screen candidates along behavioural patterns, intent to join, etc. in the mass hiring segment.

2. Employer branding:

Alumni and current employees are great brand ambassadors of companies. HR can leverage the potential of alumni and current employees as brand ambassadors by using social media judiciously.

Further, potential employees also source a lot of information and vet future employer, as organizations screen and assess candidates.

HR professionals can use social media to ensure brand visibility by building, cultivating and promoting their organization’s image as ‘employers of choice’ by effectively engaging and keeping their target audience interested. Employer brand building may include activities like:

  • Creating alumni groups on social media.
  • Sharing company’s best practices on social media.
  • Posting pictures, videos and details of important company events like AGM, annual day celebrations, sports activities, CSR initiatives of the company, launch of new products & new projects, expansion plans, receipt of national and international prestigious awards, company’s participation in industry events like quality circles competition, AIMA’s national competition for young managers, etc.
  • Sharing organization’s story, values, culture, learning initiatives, career progression opportunities and employee success stories, etc.

Positive employer branding also plays a big role in retention of employees.

3. Knowledge sharing, employee development and mentoring:

In today’s knowledge economy, knowledge is the key differentiator for organizations. Organizations face the challenge of how to get people to share their knowledge with other employees. One of the HR initiatives can be to encourage people with specialist knowledge and experience to write articles about their work on company blogs. This is a very effective method of knowledge sharing.

Companies can make use of current and emerging social networking media (such as Weblogs, iPod, RSS/XML, podcasting/audioblogs, wiki, Flickr, and other self-publishing media) for online training and induce the formation of learning communities.

Social media platforms can also be used for mentoring employees individually or in groups. Mentors can interact with mentees from wherever they are, saving travel cost and time.

By allowing employees to access and use social media to post, tweet and pin, employers can encourage flow of ideas, drive innovation and creative thinking in today’s dynamic environment.

Read: Is your Careers Page getting you enough applications?

4. Employee engagement:

Social media platforms have immense potential for keeping the employees engaged. Nowadays, organizations are creating online in-house forums where employees can build personal profiles, communicate with each other, network, and collaborate with colleagues.

Employees can voice their concerns and give suggestions to improve organizational processes and work life quality. Through online conversations, HR can understand employee issues and promptly address them.

For developing new policies and updating existing policies, HR can take suggestions from employees through social media groups and networks. Employees involved in evolving and discussing policies and procedures are more connected and responsible for outcomes.

HR can also use social media for recreational activities like online quiz, contests etc. to keep the employees engaged.

Read: Are you hiring the best people available?

5. Employee communication:

HR can start weekly or fortnightly blog posts on in-house forums for sharing relevant information with various groups of employees. HR can encourage people with expert knowledge and specialized experience to write articles about their work on company blogs.

Company announcements, reward and recognition programs, new policies, change in policies, employee benefits etc. can be shared with employees through HR blogs.

6. Productivity enhancement:

Large organizations have project and work teams wherein team members are spread across geographies. Virtual teams and expert groups can be created on social media where employees working on same/similar issues can communicate with each other continuously within the group. Solutions to problems can be reached quickly through discussions in expert groups rather than through the exchanging of emails.

7. Monitoring employees’ activities:

Creating Twitter lists allows HR to view messages being sent out by employees. Following Facebook and LinkedIn accounts help in keeping abreast of employee activities on the web. Alerts can be set up for Google lists as well as for monitoring content posted under hashtags. The idea is not to intrude in on the privacy of employees, but to ensure that employees do not indulge in any anti-company activities.

To use social media effectively, HR needs to ensure that-

  • A robust social media policy is in place
  • Online content is relevant and updated
  • Controversial and contentious conversations are avoided

About the author: Indu Wadhwa is Founder & Principal Consultant of Aspiring People focusing on Coaching, Leadership Development, Learning & Development, and Employability Skills for Students.

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