Social media: Your company’s most powerful (and underutilized) human resource tool

Do HR departments actually have the most to gain from Social Media? A funny thing happened in the middle of a marketing campaign we'rerun...

31 Mar 2010 2397 Views

Do HR departments actually have the most to gain from Social Media?

A funny thing happened in the middle of a marketing campaign we’re running.We realized that we also created a very efficient HR campaign pretty much by accident. This got me thinking. While everyone is focused on the implications of social media for the Marketing department, I wonder if the Human Resources (HR) department actually has more to gain from integrated social media campaigns.

The project we’re working on is based in social media and was initiated by the marketing department of a global technology company. So far, it has exceeded the marketing objectives we established at the outset. We have created a viable community of potential customers for our client and have successfully engaged them in dialogue. That’s all good.


Help Wanted But while building this community, we have inadvertently attracted thousands of people who are not potential customers. There are IT professionals working for competitors along with IT students. They were just interested in our client’s technology and what they were doing with it. To the marketing department, these people are chaff that got mixed in with the wheat.

We had a meeting to try to find ways to attract less of these non-customer types. As we devised ways to purge all these bright techies from our community, a coin dropped and the absurdity of our endeavor struck me full force. The saying “ones man’s trash is an other man’s treasure” came to mind.

I am not an HR expert, but I reckon the best time to strike up a relationship with a potential employee is before they are desperately seeking employment. And I would guess the best employees would be those with a genuine interest in the types of things your company does, as opposed to those who are simply looking for a paycheck. I would also imagine that having thousands of these people on tap could be of some use to an HR department. Especially when these people understand your business, have given you permission to speak with them and know lots of other people just like them.

Our brainstorming shifted to how we might be able to attract more of these people and how they could contribute to our client’s HR needs. We concluded that it would be relatively easy to modify our approach to benefit the company’s HR program without jeopardizing our marketing objectives. All we needed to accomplish for this to happen was for both the HR and Marketing departments to see the value and cooperate in that sense.

Most of the buzz I hear about social media campaigns centers around the Marketing department while I hear very little about its application to HR. While social media is a valuable marketing tool, it is actually a lot more organically suited for HR needs.

Assuming that I’m not the first person to figure this out, I went online to find some examples of companies who have harnessed the power of social media for HR purposes. I couldn’t find many cases, but I did find a useful list of articles on the topic at the website Human Resource Executive Online. The gist of these articles is that social media is being talked about in HR circles, but the actual practice of social media for HR purposes is in its infancy. Which makes it a great opportunity for companies who want to get an early-mover advantage.

I also found an interesting blog post by Chris Kieff who states his belief that, “…the true ownership of social media should be in the Human Resources department. They need to be given guidance by Marketing and Public Relations, but HR should own the social media implementation.” I never thought about it like that before, but it makes perfect sense.

So while we are trying to get a meeting to discuss this with our client’s HR people, please let me know your thoughts. And if you have any examples of companies launching social media campaigns for the purposes of recruiting, please share. In my next post, I’ll sketch out a few reasons why social media makes so much sense for HR.

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Sean Duffy | @brandranter
Speaker, consultant & founder of Duffy Agency, the flipped digital agency that provides accelerated growth to aspiring international brands.