SHRM Survey Shows Employers Need to Boost Social Media Training

Nov 10, 2011
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SHRM Survey Shows Employers Need to Boost Social Media Training

Alexandria, Va. – Nov. 10, 2011 – A new survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows few employees tasked with social media duties are trained to do so by their employer.

The “Social Media in the Workplace” survey shows that 73 percent of employers do not provide social media training to employees engaged in social media outreach to external audiences. Twenty-seven percent of employers do provide such training.

The survey also shows that most organizations—68 percent—have employees who utilize social media to reach external audiences such as current customers, potential customers, and potential employees. Nearly one-third, or 32 percent, of organizations represented in the survey do not use social media to further the organization.

“The survey data show a disconnect in that most organizations use social media to reach audiences yet few train employees to effectively do so,” said Mark Schmit, vice president of research at SHRM.

The lack of social media training may explain the low marks for effectiveness. Few human resources professionals rated social media a “very effective” mechanism for achieving goals such as sharing content, improving brand awareness, or increasing website traffic.

Most human resource professionals report social media to be a “somewhat effective” mechanism but a notable amount report it to be “neither effective nor ineffective.”

When asked, “Over the last 12 months, how effective were your organization’s social media efforts as a mechanism for the following?” the responses show:

Outreach goal

Very effective

Somewhat effective

Neither effective nor ineffective

Share content (n = 238)

19 percent

48 percent

25 percent

Improve awareness of brand (n = 237)

16 percent

54 percent

21 percent

Increase website traffic (n = 240)

16 percent

53 percent

23 percent

Engagewith customers (n = 239)

15 percent

57 percent

18 percent

Grow your e-mail marketinglist (n = 201)

14 percent

42 percent

34 percent

Source: SHRM Social Media in the Workplace Poll, Part 3

The poll shows especially low marks for social media as an effective tool for decreasing marketing expenses—only four percent rated it a very effective while 31 percent rated it somewhat effective and 51 percent said neither effective nor ineffective.

The survey examined 14 types of outreach goals and using social media to decrease marketing expenses received the highest response in the “very ineffective” category.

Who’s using social media in your organization?

The survey asked human resource professionals, “Which of the following groups engage in social media activities on behalf of your organization to reach external audiences?” Six of the 11 departments and teams stand out for most use: marketing (67 percent); human resources (44 percent); public relations (38 percent); sales (24 percent), management (20 percent); and customer service (15 percent).

What social media is included?

The survey defined social networking services and multimedia platforms to include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. Also included is MySpace, Foursquare, Second Life, photo-sharing applications, and video-sharing sites other t​han YouTube.

Those organizations that use social media tend to use four sites: Facebook (45 percent); LinkedIn (34 percent); Twitter (28 percent); and YouTube (18 percent).The other types of social media and multimedia platforms are used by no more than eight percent of organizations represented in the survey.

SHRM polled 532 randomly selected HR professionals from its membership. The survey is the third in a series that examines the use of social media in the workplace. For details, visit the survey section of SHRM Online at Follow SHRM Research on Twitter @SHRM_Research.

Media: For more information or to schedule an interview with a human resource expert, contact Julie Malveaux of SHRM Media Relations at 703-535-6273 and or Jennifer Hughes at 703-535-6072 and


About the Society for Human Resource Management
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in more than 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at and follow us on Twitter @SHRMPress.

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