You’ll like being social. Trust me. You will. Now be quiet or I’ll stop the car right now.
Some final thoughts from the SHRM Annual Conference in Atlanta. It’s The Big Show, the Super Bowl, the World Cup, (insert your favorite ‘big event’ here), for all things HR. This week many of the FOT crew are in attendance – presenting, blogging, tweeting, and we even did a casual FOT Show panel discussion at a space called The Hive, (more on this later). The FOT panel was fun, even if Dawn ‘HRRocks’ Hrdlica-Burke had her own agenda that she wanted to push once she got wind of how boring myself, Sackett, and Hebert were getting. I don’t blame her really, the three of us can be pretty tedious.
But while the SHRM Annual show, (and make no mistake, it’s a show, not a ‘conference’ or an ‘event’), continues to rely upon most of the long-standing and battle tested staples that have made it an annual pilgrimage for many a HR-sojourner, (big name keynote speakers that may or may not have anything to do with HR, 7:00AM sessions for the truly dedicated HR pro, 3,295 available re-certification credits, an expo hall that goes on for days, and impossibly long lines for the ladies restroom), this year at SHRM the focus on social media, social networking, and driving home the need/value/really-really-really important-ness of all things social has been much more at the forefront.
The blogger/social media lounge is bigger than ever before (and full of more HR bloggers than the average HR pro knew even existed), the number of tweets flowing by on the #SHRM12 hashtag bordered on unfollowable, (ironic, since we social media veterans often advise Twitter newbies to follow specific hashtags to make more sense out of Twitter’s fire hose), and a new and pretty large social-themed space called The Hive was set up by SHRM to house informal panels and talks on social themes, project the #SHRM12 twitter feed on a giant wall, and included a walk-up social media ‘Smart Bar’ where conference attendees new to the social space could ask HR social media veterans for tips and tricks (and in a stroke of genius, phone and laptop charging stations). With the increased focus and emphasis on social media as a component and supplement to the actual show, it seemed almost like SHRM and its loose-federation of bloggers, tweeters, and assorted social surrogates were putting all things social much more front and center than ever before in the show’s history. There wasn’t a twitter feed scrolling behind Condoleeza Rice as she gave the opening keynote, but I wonder if that was at least considered.
And while I think this focus on educating the greater HR community on the value, tools, and potential of social media and social networking by SHRM at its signature event is altogether fitting and good, at the same time I couldn’t help feeling that the show and the horde of bloggers, tweeters, impromptu panelists, and the like are almost but maybe not quite yet forcing social media down the HR’s profession’s collective throat. It kind of felt that at times, (and maybe this is just my slanted perspective from spending too much time in The Hive and in the Blogger’s lounge and not meeting enough real, on-the-ground HR pros), that social was being pushed for its own sake, and not as a tool or a channel to help assist the average HR professional with their real, direct, and vexing problems. I think there was some of that for sure, and maybe some of the bloggers who staffed the ‘Smart Bar’ will chime in here and tell me I am full of it, but mostly and still, it seemed to me the message about social in HR, that continues to be shouted, tweeted, and blogged by the social evangelists, is still kind of hollow, fuzzy, and leaves many an HR pro unconvinced.
One question I heard from HR pros a few times around The Hive was ‘Why should I be on Twitter?’
Honestly, I don’t think the answer matters too much. I think if you’re still asking the question then you already know your answer. No matter what you heard at SHRM.