SHRM Survey: HR Has Key Role in Corporate Social Media Efforts


By Bill Leonard November 11, 2011

More than two-thirds (68 percent) of the respondents to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey reported that their organizations were using social media for external communications, marketing or recruiting purposes. The survey, which is the third phase of a social media survey conducted by SHRM, revealed that human resource staffs play a key role in implementing corporate social media efforts.

The results of the SHRM Social Media in the Workplace survey showed that, among organizations currently using social media, marketing (67 percent), HR (44 percent) and public relations (38 percent) functions were most likely to use social media on behalf of their companies to reach external audiences. According to the survey, examples of an external audience include current customers, potential customers and potential employees. The third installment of the SHRM social media survey was released Nov. 10, 2011. The latest phase of the survey queried 532 randomly selected SHRM members and asked them questions about how their employers used online social media for external communications and which social media outlets their organizations used. The first two parts of SHRM’s survey were released in April and August 2011.

According to the survey’s respondents, the most popular social media web sites used for external communications were Facebook (45 percent), LinkedIn (38 percent) and Twitter (28 percent). Among the respondents whose organizations use social media, 47 percent said their corporate social media efforts were initiated in 2009.

These results came as no surprise to SHRM researchers and closely mirror the most popular web-based social media sites. In addition, nearly one third of the respondents to the SHRM survey reported that online platforms such as web logs (better known as blogs) and webinars/webcasts were popular external communications tools.

The survey revealed that some CEOs are using social media to reach external audiences. According to the survey results, 20 percent of the respondents reported that their CEOs used LinkedIn to build external relationships while 17 percent said their CEOs used Facebook and 9 percent said their CEOs used Twitter.

Although the survey results indicate that a growing number of employers are using social media as an external communications tool, 43 percent of the respondents reported that their organizations block access to social media sites on corporate-owned computers and hand-held electronic devices. The survey found that larger sized organizations (more than 500 employees) are more likely to block access to social media sites and track employee usage.

Even with the growth in social media use as a communications tool, the SHRM survey found that nearly three-quarters of respondents (73 percent) said that their organizations did not offer social media training to employees who used the online platforms to reach external audiences and potential customers.


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