I spoke at a conference the other week on behalf of Ragan Communications and sponsored by Aon Hewitt – Social Media for HR and Internal Communications. Great event. I enjoyed learning about what some other big brands are doing in this space including Intel’s employee recognition overhaul and Best Buy’s approach to employees on social media channels. Really helpful for me as I get more settled in at Marriott.
At this point, personally, I’m kinda over the Social Media for HR 101 talks at conferences. I think (hope) we’re all past that point by now so instead, I took a stab at speaking at this conference about the concept of digital influence. What does influence in the digital space mean, how can an HR pro use it for themselves and their organization, and how do we measure it. (Presentation embedded at the end of this post.)
One of the interesting things that came up from the audience during my chat was whether online influence transferred to the offline world… and if one guaranteed the other… and could influence really be learned? Or is it a gift?
In the online world, the suggestions I made about how to build influence were… tactical. Know your brand. Be relevant. Align yourself with other influencers. Be consistent. Have conversations. But in the real world, offline, in-real-life… can the same be said? Do this, then that. Don’t do this, but do that?
For many, in the offline world, the ability to influence is a gift. Sure, you can learn to influence, you can try build the ability to influence over time… it’s about relationship building to after all. But let’s face it – influence also is about charisma. And really great thinking and smarts. And sorry to break it to you – but not everyone has charisma or amazing smarts. Yes, I might be talking about you right now.
If we continue to think about influence on an individual level, we can probably draw parallels to the world of online dating. Awesome profile picture, engaging and witty email banter… maybe you’re thinking you’ve met the man/woman of your dreams! And then you go on a first date and there’s NO FREAKING SPARK. Ugh. But what about if we’re talking about a company? A service or product? Your employer brand?! What if the digital cache of your brand is far from the reality of it? What if what people actually experience day to day – what if it doesn’t match up? Do your carpets match your drapes?
I can’t help but to think, if you’ve got a discrepancy between the carpets and drapes… that’s a problem.
In our world, we’re talking about what your employer brand might be about, largely expressed in digital channels at this point, versus what a candidate experiences as they go through the selection process. Big problem if there’s a disconnect. Not to say I come from a place that’s perfect. Far from it. But it’s a gap I desperately want to close. A gap that I want ALL of us to close. You can have the prettiest website, the most engaging voice on digital channels, your PR team might have gotten you a handful of awards for being an amazing place to work… but if how a candidate is treated through and after the interview process, and how their actual employment experience is once hired is drastically different from what you express online through your employer brand? Then it’s time to go back to basics, folks. You shouldn’t even be focused on the digital.
The online has got to match the offline.