Twitter and HR Leadership

Twitter and HR Leadership 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

Last Friday, I helped to facilitate a social media “boot camp” for HR leaders in our area.  When we hosted the HR Reinvention Experiment last fall, one topic that seemed to be of paramount interest to that crowd was social media.  It seemed that most HR leaders are getting the message that they should know about and be leveraging social media, but they weren’t sure where to start.  That’s where Friday’s session came in.

I wanted to share a few observations from the session and then a few thoughts about how to start if you are an HR leader (or likely know one) who needs to get caught up with the times in regards to social media.  The first thing that jumped out from the group we had on Friday is at nearly everyone seemed to have some sort of awareness of and was using LinkedIn and Facebook.  Where this group seemed to be stuck was with Twitter and anything else beyond that.  We didn’t spend much time on LinkedIn or Facebook, but I’m guessing that while many said they were users, there is a difference between having a basic profile without a picture or much info versus actually leveraging these sites for the powers of good.  But, that’s just an assumption.

As for Twitter, everyone seemed sort of captivated by it but not many had done too much with it.  We heard all of the usual comments and resistance (“I don’t care what you  had for breakfast this morning, so why would I want to read about it on Twitter?”)  I think by the end of the time we spent together, most of the attendees were much more informed about Twitter and why they might want to get involved.  I think that some of them might even go out and get started.  We’ll wait and see.  For now, I want to share a few of the key things that were discussed or observed in the session.

  1. Twitter (and all other social media tools) isn’t something you do, it is something you use to accomplish things.  They are tools.  If you are trying to get on Twitter just to be on Twitter, you will probably not get much from the experience.  You have to know why you are using these tools to reap the benefits.
  2. Twitter is hard for HR because there aren’t really any rules and the rules change often.  You have to let go of needing to understand the rules before you start or you’ll never start.  If you are new to Twitter, google the phrase “How to Twitter” and you’ll get all the info you need to get started.  Then, just jump in.  (It was amazing to me how many people were stuck by not knowing how to “do” Twitter when there is so many free guides out there to help you make sense of it).  
  3. You have to use social media to understand it.  Our organizations are trying to make sense of social media and what we should be doing with it.  If you, as an HR leader, aren’t leading that discussion, shame on you.   To do that requires that you understand what social media is and why people us it.  To understand that, you have to use it.  Period.  There is no short cut.  
  4. Twitter is like a radio station.  The people you follow are like the artists who create music for radio.  You add people who create the stuff you like and not those who don’t.  Once you have a nice station created with enough good artists, you can listen when you want to.  You can drop in and out of Twitter whenever it works for you.  Just like the radio, if you follow enough people (probably need at least 300) there will always be something interesting on when you tune in.
  5. Be a little selfish at first.  Start out using social media for your own good.  There is no better and more interactive personal development tool out there than social media.  You have access to world class content and experts any time you need them.  You can build a vibrant network of brilliant colleagues around the globe.  All from the cozy seat right in front of your computer.
  6. As for the organization, don’t start by trying to solve social media for everyone.  Instead, get social media access opened up for your HR team and then experiment with it.  Once you have a few good stories to tell of how you used social media to create some value, use that to make progress organizationally. 
  7. When you are getting started on Twitter as an HR pro, here’s the first quick steps to follow:
    • Create your profile (use your full name for your username (i.e. JasonLauritsen vs. HRInstigator) and upload a picture. Using your full name and picture helps you build relationships more easily, lets people recognize you more quickly, and it builds your personal brand.  In your description in your profile, write something about being in HR, Training, etc.  That helps people know what kind of Twitterer you might be.  
    • Unprotect your tweets.  Social media is a wide open enterprise.  You have to be willing to let go of who sees your stuff to be taken seriously and embraced.  You want people you don’t know to see your stuff and follow you.  That’s how Twitter works.
    • Create a few tweets.  Examples might be “Okay Twitter, I signed up.  Now what?”  or “Hey, I’m new here.  Where’s the cafeteria?”  Your first tweets should tell the world that you are new and that you are going to try to learn on the fly as you go. 
    • Now, go find some people to follow.  Assuming you are using Twitter for mainly professional reasons (most of my comments here are geared that way), you can easily find a good list of people to follow.  Simply google the phrase “human resources twitter list.”  This will produce a series of lists that others have created of some of the best HR folks to follow on twitter.  If you don’t know how to follow someone, refer back to item 1 above.  
    • Finally, try to create a tweet or two per day for a while.  That will help you build up your twitter stream.  At first, the easiest way to accomplish this will be to retweet the content that you like.  If you devote 10-20 minutes per day to Twitter for a month, by the end of the month you will be hooked.  

Twitter is only a mystery until you start using it.  Good luck out there.  Let me know if I can help.

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Jason Lauritsen