Put Social Media to Work for You

By Jennifer Taylor Arnold Dec 1, 2009
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December CoverSocial media isn’t just a cause of angst for HR professionals. It can be a powerful business tool. Here are some ways employers are leveraging social media to accomplish HR-related tasks:

Recruitment

  • At Waltham, Mass.-based staffing firm The Winter, Wyman Cos., recruiters use personal and corporate pages on Facebook and LinkedIn to announce openings and network with prospective clients.
  • Recruiters at a variety of companies are beginning to use Twitter to announce employment opportunities; job seekers can subscribe to their Twitter feeds to get notification when positions are available.
  • Innovis Health, operator of 21 multi-specialty clinics and a regional medical center in northwestern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota, uses YouTube for physician recruiting. “If I need a urologist, I’ll videotape the urology department,” says Kris Olson, vice president of marketing, quality and physician services. “It’s fast, and it’s free.”

Engagement

  • Some companies use a corporate Facebook page to communicate new programs or policies. Employees can react to the announcement immediately and comment or ask questions.
  • Intuit, the Mountain View, Calif.-based software giant, uses a corporate blog and video sharing to keep employees around the world engaged in the corporate officers’ semiannual meeting. “What an amazing way to quickly disseminate information on the state of the company and have everyone feel involved, whether they’re in California, the U.K. or India,” says Kira Wampler, social-marketing leader for Intuit’s small-business group.

Knowledge Sharing

  • Leverage social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to facilitate the exchange of expertise. Employees can indicate areas of expertise in their personal profiles, allowing co-workers to take advantage of often-hidden resources. According to Ethan Yarbrough, president of Kirkland, Wash.-based Allyis Inc., a web design and development consultancy, this type of knowledge sharing will be the next wave in learning management. You can enjoy some of the benefits now by using existing public-domain networking sites or basic freeware such as Ning (www.ning.com).

Crisis Management

  • Use a business Facebook page and Twitter account to communicate with employees, clients, suppliers and the media during an emergency. At Innovis Health, Olson’s department deployed this strategy during spring floods in Fargo, N.D. Olson needed to get out the message that the hospital was staying open, but traditional means of communication weren’t working. “The phone lines were overloaded, and everyone was out sandbagging,” says Olson. She consulted with staff at Russell Herder and quickly pulled the trigger on social media. Says Olson, “At 5:15 on Friday afternoon, we started blogging and Twittering. By 5:30, we had over 1,500 hits.”

The author is a freelance writer based in Baltimore.

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