HR Must Use Social Media to Reach Organizational Goals

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For HR professionals to be influencers in their organizations, they need to bring something new to the table that will promote growth and return on investment. One way HR can do this is by embracing social media and leading employer branding efforts.

Sue-Ellen Watts, founder of wattsnext—a strategic HR consultancy based in Brisbane and Sydney, Australia—says she often hears her HR peers complaining about not having a seat at the leadership table. HR professionals should absolutely be at the table, she said, but first they need to show how they are moving the business forward.

"That's what your CEO cares about," Watts said during a workshop at the SHRM 2017 Annual Conference & Exposition.

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Start thinking like marketing gurus and developing strategies to drive revenue. Using new technologies in recruitment and retention is one place to start.

"We have to attract talent. We have to think about retention and about ensuring that our employees are able to embrace and engage with everything we offer," Watts said.  

Social media can help organizations share their stories and connect with their target audience—candidates, new hires and current employees.

Emma Garcia Parsons, SHRM-CP, a conference attendee, told SHRM Online that she wants to leverage social media platforms as a way for employees in various locations around the world to connect with one another.

Parsons is the HR manager for Eternal World Television Network. She works out of Birmingham, Ala., but the business has employees all over the world. "My goal is for HR to help people in the organization interact and to see how their jobs connect without making them think HR is trying to be the social media police," she said. "I want an employee in Italy to be empowered to share knowledge and experience with an employee in the U.S."

Set Social Media Goals

Watts said social media use is incorporated into her employees' performance goals. For example, each employee has the following key performance indicators:

  • Submit a relevant blog for publication monthly (which can be on a topic as simple as "4 reasons not to come to work with the flu").
  • Increase Twitter followers by 350 per week and LinkedIn followers by 20 per week.
  • Post 50 unique tweets per month and engage/interact daily on Twitter.
  • Develop thought leadership and engage on LinkedIn three times per week.


These goals create an opportunity for employees to contribute to growth and revenue. Watts said her business landed a client that brought in $100,000 in revenue because of an HR administrator's interactions with the client on social media.

Consistency Is Key

Social media activities must be done consistently, Watts said. Sporadic tweets are about as effective as sporadic visits to the gym, she noted.

Branding also must be aligned. All employees should follow the same style guidelines for pictures, usernames and posting. Watts said consistency is more important than volume. "Create once and publish often."

Andrew Morton, SHRM's social engagement director, said it's not enough just to post on social media sites. Have a plan and a purpose for posting. "What is your objective?" he asked. Is it to create a brand or to attract and hire the right talent?

No matter what the goal, the content must be real, relevant and reliable—and there must be passion behind the message. "You can't be out on social media if you're not passionate about the things you are sharing," Morton said.


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