Will Using Social Media in Your HR Strategy Open You Up to Self-Absorbed Whiners?

Paul Hebert Communication, Employee Communications, Employee Relations, Employment Branding and Culture, Generations, Paul Hebert, Policies, Social Media

The XXX Olympics (I snicker every time I type that.  Should I use the number 30 instead?) has been running for the last week and there have been some high points and low points.  The NBC coverage – both real-time and prime-time has been difficult to manage and some of the connectorati have voiced their outrage at how crappy some of the coverage has been.

A recent article on Forbes said…

“The first ‘social’ Olympics has revealed that we are a nation of self-absorbed whiners. We are the Global Positioning System (GPS) generation. Instead of checking a big map and seeing where we are and how we fit into the world, the world now is shrunk down to just us as individuals, our individual wants and needs, our individual “routes,” with little or no concern for the greater world beyond. Social media feeds this beast.”

And to a degree the author is right.  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, whatev, all have driven our expectation for real-time feedback and real-time information.

We want it NOW.

This IS About HR

While this may seem like a once-every-four-years phenomenon, it isn’t.  It is the current “state” of communication for a vast majority of our employees.  They communicate with each other at 4:00 am via foursquare to say they are at Waffle House with someone they just met a rave (kids still do raves, right?)  They tweet on their dates; they update Facebook with foodporn and pictures of their newest craft-brew discovery.  They use instagram to take a 10 megapixel image and convert it into something a two-year-old would create.

And they expect everyone they are connected to be in the same boat.

So if you, and by extension, your company, is thinking about social media as a communication channel for your employees understand the depth of the water you’re getting into.

It’s Not Email.

Once you jump into the pool of social media the rules change.  You can’t just update once in a while.  You can’t ignore the comments, retweets, updates and shares of your content.  You can’t email one department about a change and expect it to stay in that department.  You can’t make a policy change and update your internal Yammer account without expecting it to get outside the walls.

Social media is a lifestyle choice – and if you choose that lifestyle you must commit.

As the Olympics discovered, the expectations of the connected are high.  They want you to play the same game they are playing whether you like it or not.

This isn’t a post about whether you should or should not engage on social media (I personally think you should,) it is post about commitment and focus.

If you’re not ready for the whiners – and there will be whiners – don’t get in the pool.  Don’t set an expectation you can’t meet.

It’s okay.

I won’t judge you for not being on social media.

I (along with my 3,000 followers) however, will judge you for doing social media wrong…

That’s what we self-absorbed whiners do.  We wait for a sign of weakness and then we pounce.

Happy HR!