at your fingertips
How HR professionals score as social networkers

A CHA report
November 2009
      ed n

Like it or not social networking            comfortably on LinkedIn, building     employers and the consult...
Conversations at your fingertips
 How HR professionals score as social networkers
 3                                      ...

 The venues                             The conversations

 Social networking, a catch-all         Almost five milli...
Conversations at your fingertips
  How HR professionals score as social networkers
  5                                    ...

                                         Six steps to a                                      Develop a clear strateg...
Conversations at your fingertips
How HR professionals score as social networkers
7                                        ...

Take time to build followers. You   Check out who those you follow
won’t get big results at once. Be   follow themse...
Conversations at your fingertips
How HR professionals score as social networkers
9                                        ...

approach to social networking builds         every month, with Twitter and LinkedIn       proprietary networking so...
Conversations at your fingertips
How HR professionals score as social networkers
11                                       ...
CHA—the insideout communications specialists
CHA was set up in 1993 and works with organisations to
help them take the ver...
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Social Networking For Hr Professionals


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Social Networking For Hr Professionals

  1. 1. Conversations at your fingertips How HR professionals score as social networkers A CHA report November 2009 ed n mto ia i ss pa
  2. 2. 2 Foreword Like it or not social networking comfortably on LinkedIn, building employers and the consultancies is here to stay, for a while at relationships with clients, that serve them. We wanted least. Companies large and influencer groups, academic to understand how well HR small, national and global, experts, and suppliers. But professionals and consultancies from every sector are tapping many more remain sceptical and are embracing this new medium, into the unexpected business anxious about how it all works and how their organisations opportunities afforded by linking, and what risks it may carry. could benefit from a strategic xinging, blogging and tweeting. Notably, few HR consultancies approach to social networking Noone really knows where all have jumped on the bandwagon. to build closer relationships this will lead or how the sites with clients and customers, themselves will make a decent Some believe we’d better employees and suppliers. return for opening their doors make the most of it while it to us all. But in the meantime, lasts. Michael Wolff, author In our view, the momentum is the innovative and imaginative of Burn Rate, which recorded there; the benefits are evident among us are making the most the dot com boom and bust, is and there is not a moment to of a sensational new toy. not optimistic about the long lose in joining the revolution. term: “Social media is based on Web 2.0 is a fluid space where the internet model. It creates Colette Hill you ride the wave without moments of intense enthusiasm, Chairman being able to control its size or but they do not – cannot – last.” direction. It takes imagination and flexibility as well as a More likely, as the early adopters willingness to innovate and make way for more cautious change behaviour. For many, it users, social networking will appears difficult both because change, providers will change PS Some of my contacts on LinkedIn of the technology involved and the environment will mature contributed to this study, which will and because of the mysteries into something that is quite be circulated to the wider network of surrounding what it actually different to what we know today. people I have connected to on LinkedIn; delivers and how. But the principle will remain: I will tweet about it and put a copy on creating beneficial relationships StumbledUpon. The team at Pass It On In the HR sector, many large with people you might otherwise Media will blog about it and link their employers already use social struggle to reach as easily and blogs back to CHA’s and their websites, networks to connect with future cheaply. optimising our search engine ranking. staff and build a collaborative culture. Thousands of individual This report looks specifically HR consultants network at the HR community, at big Report methodology: One-to-one interviews with major employers and consultancies conducted during September and October supplemented by desk research. Social network audit conducted by Pass It On Media over the same period with over 2000 conversations tracked. With thanks to: ; Jeff Waldman, Fusion Point ; Abi Signorelli Ragan Communications ; Leigh Steere, Managing People Better Pass It On Media provides online reputation management and monitoring. Its consultants challenge your assumptions and help you ed n m o ia it connect with your clients and stakeholders to maximise profit. ss pa
  3. 3. Conversations at your fingertips How HR professionals score as social networkers 3 3 A CHA report – November 2009 Key findings • Few providers in the UK HR • HR professionals’ nervousness prospects as redundancies sector and only some major about embracing social continue, we would have employers are making the networking is not vindicated by expected to see a lot more most of the opportunities the online content. Work and anger and disquiet. It may be inherent in social networking. career related conversations are that workers are too anxious at While employment issues are unusually neutral in tone and in the moment to stick their heads widely tackled, the general many cases are very positive. above the parapet.” public, recruiters and generic Participants share information, players – such as universities work opportunities and career • Indeed as Chart 1 shows, you or publications – dominate the advice openly and there is are more likely to find the tone conversations. almost no negative sentiment, of posts ‘very positive’ than something Fleur Hicks-Duarte, ‘somewhat positive’, a real • The field is still wide open for managing director of Pass reversal of fortunes for web- commercial players to get It On Media, finds ‘startling’: based discussions. involved in conversations to build “Most consumers use social their brands, position themselves networks to share frustrations • The busiest days for social as thought-leaders and attract and disappointments. Yet there networking about employment staff, clients and interest from is very little of that in this context. issues are Thursdays and influencers. Given the tensions about job Fridays. Little is done over the weekend. • Broadly, the themes covered Chart 1: polarity of HR-related conversation are: the working environment & friendship at work, salaries & 998 related issues, how people are 1000 feeling, and work/life balance & holidays. There is very little discussion about HR strategy. 800 • The most frequently used 600 word in Pass It On Media’s 427 HR messaging cloud (which automatically registers 400 274 the vocabulary used in conversations) is Health – a 200 useful guide to employers 31 considering what to tweet about 12 and to health service providers Tone very Tone somewhat Tone neutral Tone somewhat Tone very whose expertise is clearly in negative negative positive positive demand. The cloud, based on a search for the term HR or human resources, includes no mention Chart 2: HR messaging cloud at all of themes such as talent management or outplacement. This may be because these themes are not yet well covered on social networking sites. • The key venues for conversation are message boards or forums, which account for 54%, followed by social networks such as LinkedIn (23%) and blogs (23%).
  4. 4. 4 The venues The conversations Social networking, a catch-all Almost five million people in the UK talk about HR-related issues on social phrase that covers a whole networking sites. The conversations are dominated by information giving range of web 2.0 activity, is and advice posts, primarily recruitment related. There is almost nothing on defined by the activities it strategy, leaving that field wide open to newcomers. involves: sharing, conversing, exchanging, following, At the moment, a simple way to build profile on social networking sites is networking, through a whole to offer expert advice in employment forums such as range of venue types. The most Talk and Because there are so many, the starting relevant for the HR sector are: point is to prioritise the most influential within your field. It is also important to prioritise the topics that enable you to publicise your specific areas of • True social networking sites: knowledge or expertise. profile-based networking sites. The top five are LinkedIn, “The main downside of larger panels is that the interviewers tend to have Facebook, iVillage, Netmums more time to think about your responses and formulate their questions. and UK business labs It’s quite likely that each person there will have either their own line of questioning…” • Boards/chatrooms: communities based on bulletin boards formed “I lost my job in September. It was in the education sector with a well- to cover specific topics, for respected institution… Should I include the fact I was let go in my cover discussion and knowledge letter, or just leave the gap to be explained in an interview if I get one?” sharing, such as www. “I have a Job interview at DWP for A/O post on Monday. I have the preparation for interview paper and I just want to cry. I don’t know • Microblogs: provide and follow where to start…” quick status updates in 140 words or less, ie Twitter • Blogs: millions write or contribute to weblogs • Newsgroups: generally subscriber based repositories Chart 3: Venue share of conversation • Social tagging/folksonomies – social websites where web pages are saved, tagged by social network 23.24% content and shared for others to view and bookmark or add themselves, such as blog 22.66% • Wikis – collaborative websites which are edited and added to by all participants, such as Wikipedia • Podcasts/video networks – specific or generalised networks message board using RSS to distribute digital 54.10% media files for playback, such as YouTube
  5. 5. Conversations at your fingertips How HR professionals score as social networkers 5 5 A CHA report – November 2009 Just think what you could do It is still very early days for social As an employer you can: As a business networking. Pioneers and early builder, you can: adopters dominate the field. • Collaborate with staff in the But it is already clear that a development of company • Strengthen brand awareness. well-planned social networking policies and strategies, so programme can support a whole improving outcomes and • Identify and network with range of business objectives. employee engagement. prospects for the long term. • Improve the sense of community • Invite potential customers and in dispersed teams or the whole clients – or employees – to Hello, everyone. Just passed 9000 organisation by appealing to events. followers - thank you! And for those employees as members of asking, Virgin is hiring at http:// the same hive, with common • Support marketing pushes. ~SirDick interests and loyalties. • Reach new audiences where • Tap into the expertise of other conversations are already taking professionals across the globe place. when conducting research. • Drive traffic to your website. • Keep track of what is being said about your organisation and start • Keep in touch with the to add to the conversation. future candidate pool of undergraduates on Facebook. • Identify suppliers. • Follow thought leaders on Twitter • Post a job or find a job on to stimulate ideas and keep up to LinkedIn or Twitter. date on HR trends. • Use LinkedIn’s reference section to check out senior hires informally. Chart 4: HR discussions / message share venue recommended 3.40% job recommendation 16.99% general HR HR strategies 1.70% 45.65% employment success 6.37% direct advertisement 14.65% advice requested 11.25%
  6. 6. 6 Six steps to a Develop a clear strategy, The stats coherent strategy properly resourced for the long term. Social networks are now more Explore the terrain. Audit the popular than personal emails. sites, review how others are Create a push pull approach: using them, for what business consider not just what you LinkedIn, the professionals’ purpose and with what results, want to talk about but also network has 43 million and seek the expert view. what networkers are already members across 170 industries; interested in discussing and over 80% are university Consider which parts of your where so that you become the educated, their average age is business should be involved, the go-to influencer of discussions. 41 and their average salary is HR department for recruitment, £75,000. internal comms for employee Evaluate and revise regularly. collaboration, marketing for Facebook has signed up 300 brand positioning, sales for million users in three years. prospecting. Involve them in Tips for first timers developing a coherent strategy Upstart Twitter, which only linked to agreed business Take things at the right speed for really got going in 2008, is priorities. you and your audiences: don’t already the third largest social rush the faint-hearted. But do networking platform with 45 Recruit your subject experts to start; you need to know what’s million users, three quarters of the cause: they are the ones going on out there. whom signed up this year. with the expertise that will add real value to your posts but Keep an open mind. It’s like The UK is close behind the they will also be on a steep shopping at IKEA: you may not USA in its enthusiasm for learning curve unless this style of come out with what you went in social networking accounting communication already appeals for but you may well be pleased for almost 40% of activity to them. anyway. according to Pass It On Media. Almost 80% of UK consumers would use information from blogs and forums to influence Chart 5: Reasons that US executives use social media their practical and purchase decisions. 82% Brand-building The term ‘human resources’ has been used only 13,000 60% Networking times on Twitter - ever. HR on the other hand has been used 32% Customer service a staggering 323,000 times in 26% Sharing work-related project information the life of Twitter, demonstrating that many already find Twitter a 25% Competitive monitoring useful medium for HR-related posts and queries. 21% Sales prospecting 19% Research Nearly 80% of students say social networking sites are the 19% Other key to employers engaging them, according to new 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% research by TMP Worldwide and Target Jobs. Source: Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law, “Social Media: Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risks,” August 6, 2009
  7. 7. Conversations at your fingertips How HR professionals score as social networkers 7 7 A CHA report – November 2009 Be patient: it is time consuming – too many are disguised one before you know it. in the early days for no sales meetings. Review the immediate reward. membership list and the quality Don’t say anything online that of discussion before you commit. you wouldn’t to someone face to Aim for influence rather than face. fame – so value not volume. You Once you have committed, keep don’t need thousands to follow up the communication: it doesn’t Make sure the corporate you and you on Twitter like Stephen Fry. have to be frequent but it does the private you match up. You need the right people to have to continue. follow you. If you handle sensitive Conversations on social information, give employees Don’t try to join everything networks have a different guidelines on what kind of – you’ll run out of time and ‘tone’ to others: they are information can or can’t be enthusiasm. There is no need informal, open, often very frank posted. to join both Xing and LinkedIn and revealing. Competitors – LinkedIn is probably the ‘must find themselves comfortably Make sure you evaluate formally have’ site. collaborating. Think about the regularly: how much time is it implications: if you reveal all on a taking? What is it delivering Keep the right company: whom social networking site, you can’t directly or indirectly? What you link to says a lot about you. put the genie back in the box. benefits were predictable? But if you are too buttoned up, What additional benefits have Develop a clear policy – for you will not swim comfortably accrued? example friends only on with the tide. Facebook, business connections Then adjust your approach, after only on LinkedIn. But don’t be Don’t say anything online you the early days of experimenting, narrow-minded: great ideas may wouldn’t want someone to read now you know your way around, come from unexpected places. years down-the-line. Once it’s tighten up your usage and set Invite those you turn down on up there, it’s up there for good very clear objectives so you don’t Facebook, for example, to meet because even if you take it down waste time or go down blind you on LinkedIn or follow you on it has probably been quoted alleys. Twitter. elsewhere. Similarly don’t join more Be useful and interesting and discussion groups than you avoid the overt sales pitch or have time for and be discerning you’ll find yourself in a group of 12 top HR blogs …and there are more of course so apologies to those we have omitted.
  8. 8. 8 Take time to build followers. You Check out who those you follow won’t get big results at once. Be follow themselves. Maybe you DDIworld RT @artpetty: Why do patient. should follow them too. we develop our first time leaders by "sink or swim" approach? The Become a valuable source of Don’t let your page go out of risks and costs are too high! information. date – worse than not having a page at all. Keep your tweets relevant to your positioning and your Keep your account clean. Block HRweekly RT @NatalieRHarris: followers. users who are irrelevant and Classy advice for grads from Jim spammers. Knight MP on the #Workthing+ Promote your twitter account in blog: your email sign-off. Stick to the subjects you want to be known for – if you want If people follow you, reciprocate to promote your credentials as (but not slavishly). a recruiter, don’t be tempted to tweet about the winner of X Factor. ® Join the special interest groups in your field – leave them sharpish if members spam you ALL QUESTIONS with sales messages. Open Questions Invite your contacts to events, sorted by: Degrees away from you | Relevance | Date ask them for their input to your projects, and consult them on their areas of expertise. What are your biggest concerns about how your employees use social media? Give back by participating in Do you worry about what they will say about their work? Their colleagues? discussions. The more you give That they will spend too much time on social media sites during work? the more you gain. Or do you worry about something completely different?… 4 answers | Asked by Liza Barry-Kessler Start your own discussions 14 hours ago in Labor Relations, Personnel Policies | Open and keep up the conversations with those that participate constructively. Looking for Organizations who can help us staff Monitor the questions section salesforce requirement. and offer answers where your We are looking for resources who have hands on experience with expertise matches. as Tech Lead or developer. …Please feel free to call me at… Send your news to your contacts and show an interest in theirs.
  9. 9. Conversations at your fingertips How HR professionals score as social networkers 9 9 A CHA report – November 2009 Case studies A change of approach and has launched it using social multiple body-piercings and tattoos at Badenoch & Clark networking. provides has just been promoted – good news practical support to employees facing for him and for the organisation. Managing director Neil Wilson started redundancy. Alberg has exploited the the first blog at Badenoch & Clark in power of social networking to identify E.ON marries the online and offline response to employees’ request for clients, find business partners and discussions: its online conversations more information and insight direct build awareness of the site. He blogs about the future of energy shaped from the top. Blogs by other directors regularly to keep in touch with his large offline events with a panel of experts quickly followed. However, Alison Smith, network of established contacts. He and invited guests from inside head of internal communication at the uses Twitter to identify others interested and outside the organisation. recruitment firm, found that they were in the sector – early conversations used really only as a broadcast tool, have led to partnerships. LinkedIn has “It’s an extraordinarily powerful way eliciting little feedback from employees. produced both expert advisors and to make 18,000 scattered colleagues people who have joined the company. feel part of an intimate community, to “I’m not sure that is a criticism though: the give a personality to the organisation blogs were designed to put everyone in and to make everyone feel they can direct contact with the senior team, which Energetic debates play a part in shaping things.” they have done - very well. The level of at E.ON UK debate that is generated as a result of a blog post is determined by two factors: Power company E.ON encourages Storming success at Dell the topic and the style of communication.” online conversations to tackle tough issues such as the: future of coal, the Dell’s social media platform, Inevitably, Smith also found that use of nuclear energy and employee EmployeeStorm, culls ideas from blogging works best when the blogger diversity. Tom Crawford, head of internal its business units and fosters is comfortable with the medium. She communications and engagement, discussion among employees. cites Group Marketing Director Andy believes that encouraging colleagues Powell who enjoys throwing down the to join in discussions has already Its worldwide community of more gauntlet to have open and frank debates. improved retention rates, productivity than 80,000 employees post and and employee engagement: discuss ideas on topics ranging from Badenoch & Clark also uses professional product upgrades and innovation to network LinkedIn. Its LinkedIn group “We light small fires to stimulate debate critiques of company policies, facilities is a shop window on the firm; all among our colleagues. The discussions improvements and benefits. Ideas employees are invited to join and that then take place are completely submitted are then routed to the right consultants actively encourage new honest and open and we learn much departments for consideration. contacts and candidates to join, to from them. It allows us collectively share insights and opportunities. “It’s to ask difficult questions and air our Communications and leadership team valuable without a shadow of a doubt.” worries about controversial subjects. members can join the discussion, Colleagues have a real sense that keeping posters abreast of the Its corporate Twitter fulfills a similar they can influence where the business status of the ideas they submit. purpose. Primarily a hub for candidates is going. I am massively supportive it is open to anyone who may be of this approach, it has driven a real Dell has implemented nearly 200 of interested in the scope of its work or culture change at E.ON towards greater the 10,000 or so ideas that have been the talent agenda generally. Twitter is collaboration, openness and trust.” posted on IdeaStorm in under a year. particularly effective as a marketing tool, driving traffic to the firm’s websites. Crawford cites a diversity debate that led E.ON to engage directly with Building links the gay and lesbian marketplace, across the globe New beginnings at marketing its services at Nottingham Gay Pride and beyond. The debate Government organisation UK has also resulted in a clarification of Trade & Investment (UKTI) helps Having built and sold psychometrics how E.ON defines diversity, taking it UK-based businesses succeed specialist PSL, Richard Alberg beyond the typical minority groups. abroad and overseas companies has embarked on a new venture A high-potential employee with succeed in the UK. Its integrated
  10. 10. 10 approach to social networking builds every month, with Twitter and LinkedIn proprietary networking software. The strong links with its community of featuring in our top 5 traffic referrers.” company wants to reduce its carbon businesses across the globe. footprint and encourage greater care of its fleet by employees: two options As part of a small team, online #UKTI_events Attend IPSEF and are a cap on CO2 emissions and communications manager Kate find out about prospects in the an excess on insurance premiums. Sbuttoni has created a 2000 strong international schools and private The subject has inevitably attracted LinkedIn group to bring together education sector vociferous interest from employees; current and potential customers, but it has done so without jamming partners, consultants on trade and email in-boxes or hard drives. investment, sector specialists and other experts. They share information, #UKTI_events Meet HR contacts HR manager Deb Self also believes the seek advice, make connections, from Geneva-based international feedback will be more valuable to RM: launch initiatives and participate in organisations events. She also has plans to create “Social networking is an informal activity special interest sub-groups, such as in which people are invited to be the life-sciences group of healthcare, spontaneous, open and brief. Those biotech and pharma stakeholders. Becoming a Virgin Twit who may feel awkward and dumbstruck in a townhall meeting or daunted by “It makes sense to talk to people As director of internal communications official correspondence are relieved where they are already networking at Virgin Media, Abi Signorelli to be able to communicate discreetly rather than expect them to volunteer pioneered social networking to build and quietly online, anonymously to come to your web site.” a sense of community across the or openly as they prefer. So the organisation’s 100 UK offices. Last output is much richer for us.” UKTI’s Twitter feed has 2800 year Virgin became an early adopter followers and Sbuttoni believes it is of Twitter for internal communications RM uses the same Microsoft tool key in demonstrating the government when it invited employees to become for a wide range of topics from department is agile and collaborative Twits. By Christmas Signorelli held its Green Team initiatives – open rather than slow and cumbersome the first ‘Twitmass’ to bring together to all – to its annual salary review as many might expect it to be. It also friends who had built relationships for planning, open only to managers. helps the organisation reach beyond a celebration of collaboration at Virgin its own database to customers that Media. “A year later several hundred Blogging is used as a collaborative might have missed it altogether. regularly connect, collaborate, innovate means to behaviour change. CEO Terry and generally have a bit of fun.” Sweeny blogs regularly to encourage “Twitter has 45 million users across improved performance and productivity. the globe. So it’s a phenomenal Signorelli, now an independent Blogs about RM in the US remind place to do build connections.” consultant, is passionate about the staff of the company’s global reach; a positive impact of social networking: “It recent blog about the scourge of jargon Sbuttoni uses Twitter to assess UKTI’s humanises people who work remotely encourages RM’s techy employees to reputation: “99% of comments about from you at whatever level. This makes communicate in plain English, enhancing us are positive which is very motivating. it particularly suitable for the distant their relationships with customers. The We can also spot the 1% that aren’t senior team. The leader who blogs, blog attracts weighty responses on and nip any problems in the bud.” tweets as he goes about his business the issues it raises, seeding debates and provides podcasts so his voice that continue offline and raising The key, argues Sbuttoni, is to integrate can be heard directly becomes real awareness across the business. all the channels: “We will launch a story and approachable for everyone.” through Twitter, create a discussion Twitter is used to keep in touch with group on LinkedIn, provide a video about the teaching community, to swap it on YouTube, and supporting photos Frank conversations at RM education-focused news and articles. on Flickr, all of these referencing each other and referring the viewer back to our The educational IT supplier RM is And, finally, RM uses LinkedIn with website. I estimate that all this delivers consulting with staff on changes to its great results as a recruitment tool. Its around 500 extra visitors to our website car policy using Microsoft sharepoint, recruiters join relevant groups and
  11. 11. Conversations at your fingertips How HR professionals score as social networkers 11 11 A CHA report – November 2009 Summary update their status regularly with Social networking is becoming specific recruiting intentions that established as a versatile business tool. yield good results at every level. Social networks provide easy access Self again: “It is all a matter of trial to new customers, clients and opinion and error, then more trial. Our recent shapers across the age range, from efforts at networking on a site for expat junior to senior. workers yielded little of interest. So we left despite our real need to keep Commercial players are proving slower abreast of the issues since so many than publishers and academics in of our employees join from abroad. seizing the lead. “But using social networking in these The opportunity is still at an experimental many different ways is essential to stage so there is an element of trial and a company like RM which works in error in developing strategy. It is a matter the IT sector, develops leading edge of having a go, learning and adapting. IT for schools and needs to attract a constant stream of new graduates from Once involved it is vital to keep clearly a wide range of related disciplines. focused on the objectives of any They are hardwired for online programme and to evaluate its impact conversation and would be baffled regularly so as not to become distracted if they couldn’t talk to us that way.” by the myriad possibilities on offer. Avoid addiction! Blog it Talent consultancy DDI, software companies Kenexa and Taleo, and job board all successfully use blogs to build their brands, promote their expertise and sell their wares. See their sites at
  12. 12. CHA—the insideout communications specialists CHA was set up in 1993 and works with organisations to help them take the very essence of their business to the outside world. An expert in the HR and workplace field, we create dedicated communications campaigns for major employers, HR and technology consultancies and organisations campaigning on workplace issues. The rise of social networks has rapidly changed people’s ability to access information from a wide range of sources. Therefore in today’s world it is even more important to make sure your organisation is communicating effectively and consistently both internally and externally. For further information about this report, please contact Colette Hill on 020 7580 7025 or For copies of our earlier reports, Worthwhile Work, Dream Jobs or Talking In The Dark please visit our website, CHA Telephone Network House 020 7580 7025 5-11 Mortimer Street Email London W1T 3JB Website