Social Media Concepts at #SHRM15

JoeRotella

Last year (#SHRM14) I wrote a blog about how far SHRM had come with its position on social media presentations since my original involvement in SHRM-related conferencing in 2010.

So I wasn’t exactly surprised this year when the sessions included one titled “Social Business: Social Media Concepts Throughout the Employment Life Cycle”. I had heard that the speaker, Joe Rotella (@JoeRotella) was particularly fun, so off I limped to listen to what he had to say. He had a lot to say, but here are the highlights.

MARKETING

I have been complaining about SHRM presentations that do not focus on marketing for quite a while now. I have also implored SHRM to have more sessions that specifically discussed marketing and other business areas for conference attendees. So when Joe asked how many people in the room were “HR pros” and then reprimanded them, indicating we should call ourselves “business pros with HR expertise”, I gave silent thanks.

He then launched into a discussion of how marketers listen and respond appropriately, the large numbers that actually use social advertising, how hard social marketing actually is, and the elusiveness of social media ROI to the marketer. He also mentioned some specific trends, such as image-centric networks, the rise of micro-video, and the use of LinkedIn for B2B growth.

But in the end, he asked the business pros in attendence to CARE about marketing and to think strategically, because otherwise HR ends up being “the department of sunshine and rainbows.” He made sure the attendees understood why marketers built brands and why it was in HR’s interest to do the same.

SOCIAL BUSINESS

Joe defined social business as that which a company needs to become, not a description of a feature or business function. It is not a business that addresses a social problem, but the “intentional creation of dynamic and socially calibrated systems, process, and culture.”

In support of the social business, Joe presented statistics from an MIT study which showed how social business sophistication directly impacts traditional HR concerns, such as hiring needs (57% of employees age 22-52 say social business is at least somewhat important in choice of employer), and improving leadership performance and talent management (83% of employers utilizing social in this area).

Joe predicts that social business is business of the future – “connected, adaptive, and intelligent.”

SOCIAL MEDIA AND HR

A large part of Joe’s presentation went through most of the areas of traditional HR functions, and how practitioners could use social media in developing and modernizing those functions. Joe presented specific examples in each of functions such as recruiting, onboarding, training and development, and evaluations. As a former police officer, here’s one of my favorites:

In addition to video, some of Joe’s examples used intranet, blogs, Pinterest, Yelp, and gamification in different areas of the employment life cycle.

By the end of the session, I was ready to jump up and run back to my employer and start adding social media to all of our business processes.

Wait . . . I already do that. But I walked out hoping that the attendees who do not were listening and saw the value of what Joe was saying and were ready to take it back to their business.

 

SHRM and Social Media – What a Difference a Few Years Make

#SHRM14

 

My first SHRM conference was in March 2010, and it was not the big “Annual” affair that I am currently attending. It was the SHRM Legal and Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, designed for lawyers and senior HR pros who have a responsibility for legal compliance in their organizations.

At that conference, I was unhappy to find that social media – which I had embraced about 18 months previously and was enriching my life by leaps and bounds – was a topic of fear, avoidance, and derision. I blogged about that conference, mentioning the story of telling one attorney-presenter who was speaking on social media that I would be tweeting her session. She looked at me horrified and said, “you mean you are going to tell people what I SAY?” Another blogger wrote an entire blog about the lack of balanced presentations about social media, calling on SHRM to do a better job.

Well, it only took four years, but I think SHRM has finally decided that social media is not a crazy, soon-to-disappear fad to be avoided at all costs. Here at the big Annual bash (#SHRM14), there have been several sessions related to social networking and social media, most with a positive outlook about how much good social can do to promote a healthy workforce.

But when I saw the scheduled session with “risk” mentioned twice in its title, presented by an employment lawyer, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and my lips started to curl. It sounded like the old fear-mongering SHRM, and I knew there was no way I could miss that session, if only to hurl invectives via Twitter.

But my resumption, based on previous experience with SHRM’s social media offerings, was wrong. Dead wrong.

Jonathan Segal gave a fair, balanced, and delightfully energetic program showing the risks and benefits of social media use to the organization. One example? “Liking” subordinate employees on Facebook is too risky, but adding them as LinkedIn contacts has benefits that outweigh the risks (as long as you don’t endorse them). Another tip discussed the potential value of employee social media posts as both offensive and defensive evidence, advising to document them and hold them for litigation.

Overall the program showed the benefits of social media, the risks of certain social media practices, and ways to mitigate and minimize those risks. There are risks to being risk averse.

And I let out a little sigh of relief, muttering under my breath, “finally.”

Social Media Isn’t For 13 Year Olds

A few days ago a super smart friend of mind posted a blog (“Perception and Boobs”) about the importance of calling out speakers and other professional presenters at conferences who wrap their product in a lot of intellectual theory and slick sound bytes, without actually offering anything of practical value. In her laundry list of things she despaired, she made the following statement:

“I’m sick of intellectuals treating social media like it’s NOT something a 13 year old can do.”

Wait . . . what?

Can you imagine your small business social media efforts being run by your kid or grandkid? Niece or nephew? I have several grandkids in the social media space, but I can’t see them successfully handling a customer complaint about quality or prices or customer service.

In fact, many small business owners – way over the age of 13 – are so busy feeding, nurturing, and defending their baby small business that they are the most unsuccessful social media managers in the space.

Recently, an owner of Mile End Deli in New York got into a  very public cat fight with a customer on Twitter and Facebook over a raise in prices. The debate escalated to the point that people began calling for a boycott of the business.

 

The deli had lost it’s commissary in Super Storm Sandy, and there is no doubt in my mind that the owner was under far too much stress to be worried about posting on Facebook and Twitter. Ultimately an apology was issued on Facebook.

So . . . is social media really so simple that a 13 year old can do it?

I don’t disagree with my friend’s premise that social media, like most subjects at professional conferences, can be over-engineered and presented in a way that makes everyone in the room think that they have to run out and hire the most expensive ad agency on the block. And she’s right that conferences, like the HR conferences that I attend frequently, are far too full of glossy crap instead of real substance, and that people should be complaining.

But social media – good social media – isn’t so simple that any 13 year old can do it. Not usually.

Having someone else take over your small business social media efforts may be the wisest choice, but don’t let your 13 year old do it unless they are more mature, understanding, patient, communicative, intelligent, and reasonable than you are.

 

Baby Steps Are For Infants, Not HR Organizations

It’s been almost 4 years since I fully embraced social media, and 3 years since I started blogging. One of the things I loved about social media from the start was the ability to hook up with a lot of really smart people and hear their thoughts and ideas about business.

One of the recurring themes that I have heard repeatedly during this social media journey is that innovation and movement, whether personal or professional,  requires taking risks and willingness to fail. People in the social media business space are fond of quoting other smart people like Wayne Gretzky (“You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”), Frederick Wilcox (“Progress always involves risk. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.”), or Jim McMahon (“Yes, risk-taking is inherently failure prone. Otherwise it would be called ‘sure-thing taking.’ “)

So why do we make exceptions when it comes to HR and the adoption of social media? I have been told many times that the adoption of social media requires baby steps, and that I am wrong to suggest that we push our associations and HR business units harder to adopt effective social strategies.

Bullshit.

Real change and innovation in companies, organizations, and associations doesn’t come from acting like a baby who does not have the physical or mental ability to leap. It comes from leaders who are not afraid to leap when it is necessary, knowing that failure is possible but that any failure will bring even more opportunities to learn and change.

Today, Curtis Midkiff, Director of Social Engagement for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), announced that SHRM was a finalist for a 2012 Social Media Leadership Award.  SHRM isn’t a finalist for this award because Curtis took baby-steps to introduce social networking in tiny increments – he took giant leaps since taking his job with SHRM in 2010. Yes, he had some help from volunteers, as he acknowledges in this Facebook post,  but the vision and execution – and risk – was his. From 5 bloggers at the annual conference in 2010, he moved to a massive social media team in 2012, with 100 bloggers, a dedicated space where attendees could get social media training, knowledge, and networking, and a special website specifically for social media news, blogs, and Twitter  before, during, and after the conference.

Those were the decisive moves of a leader, not the tottering steps of an infant who is going to fall down many times, while we all smile and take pictures.

HR and its related organizations should be following this type of leadership, and not making claims that baby steps are a more appropriate strategy.

 

Most Job Descriptions Suck

An actual job description template found on the web

 

Last month a young woman named Cathryn Sloane posted a blog in the NextGen Journal titled “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25”. In this piece the author argued that because the youngest adults grew up with social media, it became part of their fabric in a way no other group could claim, which entitled that group to suspend more mundane requirements like work experience in order to be successful in that particular job.

As you might suspect, there was a huge backlash of comments about the arrogance, absurdity and ageism of the premise that only people under 25 could possibly be effective social media managers. The outcry was so great that the very next day the founder of NextGen Journal posted his own response, which continued to draw negative comments (“just as entitled as the original post”).  Finally, NextGen posted a rebuttal from an outsider that somewhat summarized why the oldsters were so upset with both posts.

But what all of these posts and counter-posts and comments seemed to miss was that Cathryn Sloane had a valid point. Yes, her youth, inexperience and poor communication skills made her miss that point entirely – but so, it seems, did all of the other writers. This is the point:

Job descriptions and requirements for social media managers suck.

HR writes countless job descriptions based on outdated templates that keep getting used over and over again, despite the fact that those templates are not based on any proven correlation between the stated requirement and the actual skills needed. Instead, you see advertisements that require things like this, an actual social media job posting on LinkedIn:

  • BS/BA: Marketing, Advertising, Communications
  • 3-5+ years Social Media experience
  • 3+ years Ad Agency Experience
  • Proficient in social media monitoring and analyitcal software/resources

Who cares if you have a BA in advertising? Your advertising degree could be 20 years old and irrelevant. Ad agency experience? What for? There are tons and tons of people on the net having extraordinary conversations via social media that have never set foot inside of an ad agency.  Instead, HR pros should create job requirements that really address what people need in order to be successful community managers:

  • Exceptional communication skills
  • A dynamic personality
  • Large amounts of creativity
  • Empathy, reason, intelligence

These may vary a bit from job to job or by brand, but the point is the same: successful social media management has a lot to do with personality and intelligent expression, and almost nothing to do with degrees and professional experience. And it certainly has nothing to do with age – a point missed entirely by poor Ms Sloane.

Job posts and ads for social media managers are not the only ones that suck, though.  Tom Brokaw, in his keynote closing address at the recent  massive Society for Human Resources Management conference (#SHRM12), told a story about a military captain returning from 12 years in Afghanistan. He is told by an HR pro that he has “no experience”. He replies to that criticism by listing all of the things he did in Afghanistan that were certainly key competencies for many jobs: he rooted out bad guys, he helped locals create better systems, he learned to live off the land and available resources, and he did it with minimal loss.

He got the job, but the sad truth is that in most HR departments that military captain would not have even landed an interview, because a ridiculous job description with boilerplate language that said nothing about real world skills and competencies would have kept him out the door. Job descriptions or posts would have asked for a college degree, with possible project management certification, a number of years at a Fortune 500 company, and all kinds of statistical proof of his claimed accomplishments.

And that really sucks.

July SHRMChat Recap – Conferences

 

Once again we had an interesting and lively chat, this time on the subject of conferences. You can see the preview post here, but I am repeating all of the questions we asked because I am lazy and it makes it easier for me to write. 😉

Q1. Excluding content, what are the 3 most important ingredients for a successful conference?

There were a lot of thoughtful responses to this question. Facilities seemed to be the most frequent answer, if you consider that facilities can include a large number of considerations such as wireless, the physical ability to network, and food provision. Food, in fact, was the subject of many serious tweets about its importance. Also included in the discussion of facilities was a suggestion to include electronic enhancements like charging stations or electronic kiosks. The ability for attendees to get online and stay online was clearly thought to be a priority by the chatters.

Q2. Can there be a successful HR conference without social media? Why or why not?

The consensus answer to this question was “no,” although there was a short discussion of whether that was what the chatters wanted, or what they thought attendees wanted. This question also prompted many tweeters to recognize HR Florida and the recent annual SHRM as models of using social media to engage the attendees as well as promote the events. One of the advantage social media brings, it was noted, is an opportunity to invest in future conferences through pushing and involving the speakers. In fact, there was an entire spin-off discussion about speakers and vendors during this time, with tweeters discussing the need to get speakers and vendors more involved in the overall fabric of the conference.

My favorite tweet regarding this question came from Curtis Midkiff, Social Media guru for SHRM. He stated that when social media is used effectively at a conference, it can thread together all of the components, such as marketing, speakers, attendees, etc., into a cohesive whole.

Q3. Name the top 3 social media practices a conference should use.

Not surprisingly, Twitter showed up on the list of almost everyone who responded to this question. After that, chatters differed in their choices, naming video/You Tube, LinkedIn, blogs, and mobile apps. A social media educational center, such as The Hive at the annual SHRM conference, was also listed as a best practice in several tweets.

Q4. Are HRCI credits a must for a successful conference? If not, how do you attract attendees?

This question did not get much of a response, because everyone just said “yes”, credits are an absolute when it comes to running a SHRM-affiliated conference. There was a brief discussion about HRCI and SHRM stretching their credit requirements in a way that would allow fresher, newer content and programming. (Note: I am trying very hard to find someone from HRCI willing to guest on SHRMChat for a discussion about HRCI credits. Stay tuned.)

Q5. What are the 2 or 3 most important attributes of a successful conference director?

This question prompted a very passionate and lively discussion, as you might expect from HR pros. Some specific attributes that were mentioned:

  • Patience
  • Dedication
  • Insightful
  • Motivator
  • Leadership skills
  • Articulated vision
  • Ingenuity

What most chatters agreed on, though, was that the best conference director had the same attributes as any good manager – the ability to build an awesome team and get out of their way.

Join us for our next SHRMChat on August 14 at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST. Details soon!

(AUTHOR NOTE 07/27/12 – If you are involved in conference planning of any kind, you must check out this blog from Dice.com, outlining what they did at #SHRM12 and how it paid dividends to them as a sponsor. It was mentioned briefly in the discussion of Q2 above.)

 

The Gift of Social Media

A day or so before I was to depart for college, I became violently ill with what I thought was gastroenteritis, (what people commonly call stomach flu). But it cleared up almost immediately after I met my roommate and settled into my dorm room.

It was really stress, you see, from a girl who had almost never been out of her white-bread, suburban Detroit, lower-middle class community. We were poor, and even restaurant dinners and family vacations were totally foreign to me. The idea of being 90 miles away from my mother and family was sufficiently stressful to induce 2 days of vomiting.

After college I returned to the same suburban community where I grew up, beginning my first career as a police officer and maintaining some old friendships and forging  new ones among co-workers and neighbors. I stayed safely snuggled in those six square miles, leaving infrequently and never going very far when I did.

Then I met and married my husband, and he yanked me out of my safety zone to live in his world. That world was only another suburb about a 1/2 hour drive away, but to me it was like moving to another planet. I didn’t know the geography and, before cell phones and computers, immediately lost touch with many people.  I didn’t get physically sick this time, but I was irritable, argumentative, or crying for at least 3 months after moving. More stress.

So I wasn’t really sure what to expect a few weeks ago when I packed up my dogs and car and  began the biggest move of my life: 1,400 miles and almost 24 hours of driving, from Novi, Michigan to Naples, Florida – from the same 30 or so square miles I had lived my entire life to, as my friend Dave Ryan said, ” just north of Cuba.”

This time, though, I didn’t get physically sick. I haven’t screamed, cried, or other wise acted out. I’ve been tired, sure, but peaceful. Calm. Happy. This time, my friends and family have been with me the entire time:

  • Driving across the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati, when I thought of Eric Weingardner, Jennifer McClure, Benjamin McCall,  and several others who live there.
  • Hearing “Everyday People” by Sly and the Family Stone on Sirius/XM Sixties radio in Kentucky, which I will forever associate with Steve Browne‘s broad smile and ready hug.
  • Driving by the I-71/Louisville exit and recapturing the HRevolution #1 post-lunch walk with Lisa Rosendahl.
  • Thinking of Mike Krupa when the rakish young man in a Mini Cooper flashed me a bright smile as he passed in northern Tennessee.
  • Watching a family walk their GSD puppy in a Georgia rest area and wondering how Deirdre Honner was.
  • Driving through Atlanta and remembering everyone from HRevolution #3, especially Neil Morrison, James Papiano, Tammy Colson, and Frank Zupan.
  • Hearing Jason Danieley sing “You Walk With Me” from The Full Monty, who is forever associated in my mind with Trish McFarlane.
  • Having several Floridian Facebook friends reassure me that I will get used to, even welcome, having geckos skitter across the kitchen floor.
All of the people I named, plus hundreds of others that space prevented me from naming, are friends with whom I first connected on social media. Others are people with whom the social connection had been lost 20 or 30 years ago but with whom I have reconnected. All of them – every Facebook friend and Twitter follower – make me feel whole. The sense of community and involvement I get from their active participation keeps me from ever feeling lost or alone.

Last week I went to my first Florida HR meeting. I was inevitably asked by a tablemate what I did for a living. I explained a little about me and my social media venture.  One of the people at the table made the standard complaint about social media and “not wanting to read about what people eat for breakfast.”

I don’t mind hearing about your breakfast; I find it endearing. I want to see pictures of your kids and grandkids, too. Tell me about your good days and your bad – I’ll try to be there for both, because the gift of fellowship I get in return is worth it.

Social media changed my life, and it is the greatest gift I have ever received. Thank you.

Have a wonderful holiday season and the best New Year ever.

HR Should Quit Fiddling With Social Media

When I was recently asked by a local SHRM chapter (not my own)  if I would be interested in speaking about “what’s new” in HR management, I politely declined. First, in my opinion there is not much new in HR management, and, second, it’s not what I want to talk about to HR peeps right now.

I did offer to speak about social media in HR, titling my presentation “Old Problems, New Tools”. In response, I received the following:

Our group has had a social media presentation before, and for some reason, our members just see it as “one more thing to do”.

Oh, snap.

After I quit banging my head against the table, I was reminded of a great article I had recently read at Human Resource Executive Online, titled “HR Fiddles While Organizations Burn“. If you haven’t read it, do so. Right now.

In the article, author Margaret Morford argues that the biggest problem with the HR profession is that it is overly mired in compliance, compensation, and benefits, paying little or no attention to the strategic needs of talent management and succession planning.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because I have heard many similar complaints from HR practitioners in the social media world since I had the good fortune to become involved almost 3 years ago.

In that same time period, though, I have seen very little evidence that the online HR community is making an effort to fix that problem. Sure, we blog and tweet and write endless words about strategic issues and say great things. But do we impact those people who need it most? Hardly.

Before we try to use social media to teach HR pros how to do their jobs better, we need to convince HR practitioners to use social media. They need to be persuaded that they will earn more professional respect with the knowledge they gain through social media. We need to quit fiddling around, and make a real, concerted effort to convert  HR practitioners to its use. All of the blog posts in the world are not going to change the profession if we don’t change who’s reading.

Think of the impact on the profession that could be made if everyone on Unbridled Talent‘s list of Top 100 HR & Recruiting Industry Pros To Follow On Twitter actually mentored and taught at least one HR practitioner how to use social media to the same extent they do. I don’t mean standing up and giving a presentation to 100 people and hoping for the best. I want them (you?) to find an HR practitioner who thinks social media is an administrative chore, and teach them otherwise. They’ll pay it forward.

Instead of fiddling, let’s build an entire orchestra.

 

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Vetting Social Media Speakers

The Klout "fail" puppy is cuter than a fail whale.

If the term “human resources” is in your name, like Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it would be reasonable to expect that you know something about choosing qualified candidates for a job function. Right?

So if SHRM – or a SHRM-affiliate – is looking for a conference speaker to discuss Twitter and how it relates to employment law, it would also be reasonable to expect that the speaker is knowledgeable about, well . . . Twitter and employment law.

Am I missing something here?

I ask because SHRM, the national organization, and some SHRM affiliates, don’t seem to agree with me. They have an unusual habit of presenting employment lawyers to talk about the crossroads of law and social media, but who know nothing, or close to nothing, about social media.

I am not making this up.

I first came into personal contact with this questionable practice in March 2010, at the SHRM Legal-Legislative Conference. Better writers than I blogged about it. Since then, I have encountered the practice several times, most recently at the massive SHRM annual conference in Las Vegas. Check here and here for rants about that session. Sadly, my own state will be adding to this travesty this October, when they present a session on “Twitter and Terminations”, led by an employment lawyer who is not on Twitter, and whose entire social media presence consists of a LinkedIn profile.

This practice truly short-changes attendees. Attendees have every right to expect that a human resources organization has properly vetted their speakers and trainers, and that those people have a certain amount of expertise in the totality of their topic. This is especially true since it is so easy to search people using Google to see if they have any kind of social presence at all.

If SHRM and other organizations want to really delve into their evaluation of a speaker’s social media involvement, they can also use rating sites like Klout or PeerIndex to see how involved a speaking candidate is on social media. I am not advocating that a potential speaker has a particular rating or number, but they should at least have one.

Is that really too much to ask?

My Klout score has dropped lately, but I least I have a score!
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Whose Privacy Is It, Anyway?

My husband, Sy, hates, hates, HATES it when I mention him on Facebook. Sometimes he positively snarls a demand: “Don’t put that on Facebook!” Other times he just whines a little: “You’re not going to put that on Facebook, are you?”

Sy is a really private, very old fashioned guy who thinks that nothing he does is anyone else’s business – often not even mine. He can also be one of those cranky, irascible old men who say inadvertently hilarious things. In fact, when I first started following @shitmydadsays on Twitter, I showed it to my older daughter and her immediate comment was, “Why didn’t *I* think of that?”

I really wouldn’t mind doing as he demands asks, though, except for one little problem: me. I am a pretty transparent person all across my social media life, and I try to tweet, post, and update the real me, whatever that entails. I want to have real conversations and I want people to talk back. So sometimes discussing “me” also requires discussing my husband.

The most recent example of this happened just this past weekend, when my husband became suddenly ill and required emergency medical treatment (see my previous post for more information). I began putting out tidbits on Facebook and Twitter for two reasons: (1) I was due to leave for a professional conference and wanted my many connections to know why I wasn’t coming, and (2) I like telling people when real, stressful things are happening in my life, because I love and appreciate the honest and thoughtful wishes I always receive. In this particular instance, the thoughts, wishes, and prayers I received on Facebook and Twitter were instrumental in preventing me from falling into a depression over my lost conference opportunity.

Did I violate my husband’s privacy by posting what was happening? He certainly thinks so. But I can’t think of any other way to be transparent and real about my life without involving him (I did leave out some of the most embarrassing parts). Would I be the same person if I had not shared?

When Justin Halpern started tweeting shit his dad said, was he violating his dad’s privacy?

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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