Get Smart, Have Fun at Smart Stage

By Christina Folz Jun 28, 2015
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Andrew Morton, SHRM director of social engagement, takes the SmartStage

​Andrew Morton, SHRM director of social engagement, takes the SmartStage at #SHRM15 to talk about effective use of social media. Photo by John R. Anderson.

LAS VEGAS—Ruhal “Rue” Dooley, SHRM-SCP, opened the Smart Stage in the Connection Zone at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2015 Annual Conference & Exposition on June 28, 2015, by redubbing it the “fun stage.” Actually, both adjectives apply: “Here at the Smart Stage, you will learn something you didn’t know before,” he said. “And you will have fun while you’re getting smarter.”

Dooley is an HR knowledge advisor for SHRM with 20 years of experience in the field. As a long-standing member of Toastmasters International who dabbles in stand-up comedy, he also happens to have incredible stage presence, which comes in handy when you’re tasked with emceeing a series of back-to-back presentations over four days.

This is the second year that the Annual Conference has featured the Smart (and fun) Stage, a dynamic platform for thought leaders to talk about everything from what to do in Las Vegas to social media trends to the future of HR. Modeled after the popular TED Talks, Smart Stage sessions are creative, high-impact presentations with an 18-minute format.

After his introductory remarks, Dooley welcomed the first presenter, Andrew Morton, SHRM’s director of social engagement. “That’s the weirdest title I’ve ever had,” Morton said. “My mom thought I was the director of a dating site.”

In reality, Morton is responsible for directing SHRM’s social media strategy and engaging the HR community through social networks. While he focused his presentation on tips for using Twitter, he noted that social media is not about any single platform. “Social media is not about technology,” he said. “It is not a cellphone; it is not a particular device; it is not a certain platform.”

What it is, he said, is a powerful way to share stories and experiences with a large number of people. “I’m not saying you need to spend all your time on social media,” he said. “It is not a replacement for the networking you’re doing in Las Vegas. What it can do is make that even better.”

For example, he noted that, through Twitter, 25 million people were able to experience the Annual Conference in some way on June 27. That is the number of impressions associated with the #SHRM15 hashtag that day.

In terms of advice about tweeting, Morton’s biggest message was simply to participate, which does not necessarily mean that you need to post or share anything. “You can be on Twitter to learn about the things that are important to you,” he said. In fact, an estimated 90 percent of social media users are what are called “lurkers”; they use social tools primarily to learn, look and absorb information.

Morton pointed out that HR professionals have valuable advice, stories and perspectives to share. “You touch so many,” he said, “and you have the potential to reach thousands more.”

Other tips include:

  • Use an aggregator such as Hootsuite to organize your tweets and search by hashtag or another relevant dimension, such as Klout score.
  • Leverage your face-to-face network to get started on Twitter. “If you don’t know who to follow, the best thing to do is ask your colleagues,” Morton said.
  • A good picture for your avatar is important, as is a short Twitter alias that communicates the brand you want to convey.

Morton’s presentation was the first of many that will make learning enjoyable over the next few days. Visit your program guide or the conference app for a schedule of Smart Stage presentations. And tweet about it using #SmartStage in addition to #SHRM15.

Smart Stage, fun stage. Call it what you want; just make sure to stop by.

Christina Folz is editor of HR Magazine.

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