HR Goes Social

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on June 20, 2013

The world of communication has witnessed sweeping changes, which has impacted the way businesses are run. Today companies are relied on powerful social media tools against traditional newspapers, radio, job boards or word of mouth. Social networking accounted for 25.2 % of the total time spend online in June 2012 making increase of 0.8%. HR is slightly lagging behind other business functions such as sales and marketing in using social media. This article discusses how HR can be more social, tools for going social; advantages of going social, common mistakes those companies do and tip for current and prospective employees to reap the benefits of social media.

What is Social Network?

The explosion of social media has been incredible. Social networks started as a means for people to have a social connection with other people with similar interest [1].  Over the course of last decade social networks have been used both for social purposes and conducting businesses by variety of organizations and industries. For example When Ford launched its 2011 Explorer on Facebook, it created a flutter in the business circles or Starbucks going for social marketing for attracting youth.

HR goes social

Social media has thrown a world of possibilities before HR professionals and they are gradually adapting to it. Two third of the 21,000 companies which participated in the recent survey by Harvard Business Review Analytical services said they are either currently using social media channels or have social media plans in the future. But many hold it as an experiment, as they were trying to understand how to best use different channels, gauge their effectiveness and integrate social media into their strategies. Another study conducted by Wipro Limited concludes that “Majority of the organizations use social media in human resources. However they also agree that it has not been tapped to the maximum. It is used disparately and inconsistently, However organizations are confident that they will be confident that they will be using social media better in the future to be ahead of the competition [2].”

Social media experts believe that is high time for business to accept and recognize that they can use social media to their advantage, irrespective of whether or not the job deals with the social media or the internet.  According to recent research report ‘Social Media and HR: How to stay ahead of the curve’ by Sage (UK) Limited, HR is slightly lagging behind other business functions such as sales and marketing in using social media to their advantages, however its value has started to be recognized.

As social media picks up in HR, there is still disparity in different countries. “None of the Australian respondents said that they use social media to vet or reject job applicants, while in Singapore, 17 per cent confessed to have rejected a candidate based on information available on social media site and 29 per cent of recruiters in Hong Kong revealed they actively vet candidates online [3].

Data on HR goes Social

Benefits of HR going Social

Social networking has emerged as the preferred online activity of web users in India. There are more than 200 active social networking sites, most prominent being LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, and Myspace, besides Yahoo groups and Google groups. According to a report by comScore- a global leader in measuring the digital world and preferred source of digital business analytics- Social networking accounted for 25.2 % of the total time spent online in June 2012, making an increase of 0.8 per cent from the previous year. So company HR has to go social to tap this opportunity.

Howard Schlutz, CEO of Starbucks, made a pertinent remark about the role of social media “ Whether you are creating a brand, building one, or running a big one , you’d better understand social media, because there is a seismic shift in how people are gaining access to information and, as a result, how they are behaving.”

There are lots of tangible and intangible benefits of HR going Social, some of them are as follows

  • Creating positive employer brand
  • Greater collaboration within organization
  • Game changing role  to play in Recruitment
  • Help HR professional to share best practices
  • Help to learn from the experiences of their counterparts in other organizations
  • Centralizing the data sharing
  • Fast information sharing by employees at various locations
  • Supporting and cultivating the corporate culture
  • Creatively engaging the employees
  • Higher productivity at workplace
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Positive Cross effect on other mediums of communication
  • Ability to get altogether different perspective on various issues
  • Informal approach reduces friction and resistance
  • Supports innovations
  • Liveliness to the organization
  • Recruit fresh talent
  • Generate Publicity
  • Keep the workforce in good humor
  • Ensure growth

Tools for HR going Social

There are various tools for HR to go social. HR professional may use Twitter to stay updated with the industry events and happening. They may do blogging to share their business methodologies and practices. More popular forms like Facebook and LinkedIn can help them engage with employees, both new and old. Staying in touch with the alumni network- an art perfect by many consulting firms- can pay back when they recommend new hires. Ray Ponter in his book The Handbook of Online Social Media Research: Tools and Techniques enlists some important social media tools for the public sector, which includes online communities, Twitter, social networks like Facebook, blogs and public discussion forum , and the virtual world.

Factors for success

Time: - The social media may not give results overnight and two way communication platform. Company builds ‘likes’ and ‘followings’ over time with a consistent, engaging, and audience-centric presence. So the companies should be prepared for negative feedback on those forums as they are frank, interactive and earnest. The key is to be quick to acknowledge and address concerns.

Top management commitment: - Top management must be involved in the process whole heartily. Without support and continuous involvement of top management it is not possible to achieve success while going social.

Careful planning: - Something can go viral and become popular within a fraction of second, it will hardly take a minute for things to go wrong, so the user has to deal intelligently.

Control issues: - Sometimes you may not have full control over a certain things because it happens at a lighting pace and company hardly gets enough time to rectify it.

Dedicated team for going social

Employee side

True Information is the crux of the success from employee side of view. Job seekers need to ensure that they are present on right platforms.  If they want to use Facebook as a professional network, it is better to have a separate professional profile. They should also ensure that their profile picture is professional and career information is accurate and timely updated. Adding specific skills, joining related groups, posting comments that add value would improve their social media profile and help potential employers identify them.


Social media is an important avenue where companies engage with, identify and meet various stakeholders. Social media definitely has its advantages to offer- the time will unveil it slowly. For the, it cuts across boundaries and unites people. It has become powerful medium to stand for the right, build an emotional connect, and announce ones successes and disappointments. Human recourse managers must reap these benefits by ‘HR goes Social’ exercise.

This article has been authored by Amol S. Dhaigude IIM Indore


[1] ‘Social network and their impact on records and information management’ by Arma International Educational foundation.

[2] ‘Social media: Impact and relevance in managing human resources in India’ by Wipro Ltd seminal study

[3] A report on ‘social media and resourcing: The impact of social media on recruitment and HR in Asia Pacific by Australia based Alexander Mann and the Chapman group.

[5] Social media at work: Networking tools propel organizational performance by A.L. Jue, J.A. Marr and Marry Ell

Views expressed in the article are personal. The articles are for educational & academic purpose only, and have been uploaded by the MBA Skool Team.

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