How Social Media Impacts Your Organization

Last June, at the SHRM2014 conference, I had the pleasure of attending a very enlightening seminar given by Alice Kilborn, JD, on how social media effects an organization and how managers and owners should handle this relatively new business phenomenon. Here are just a few of the key takeaways:

Get Comfortable with the Limitless Workplace

Don't get me wrong. The seminar was not a lecture on the basics of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and the rest but it was a wake up call to me to start paying attention to these platforms and the way that everyone's – and I mean everyone's – employees are visiting and using them. Still, the idea that the workplace was theoretically limitless was a bit of a shock and, in the end, I realized that I and my team would have to deal with this reality in an efficient and ongoing manner. One last caveat – I may not have transcribed Ms. Kilborn's points in the exact same order that she did but I do believe that I understood the gist of most of her arguments.

It's a New Tool that Must be Embraced

Not to overwhelm you with too many numbers but Ms. Kilborn pointed out that in 2013 over 70% of online users over the age of 18 followed Facebook. While it was easily the most popular of the social media sites - the others that I mentioned above were all around 20% - even those numbers were quite impressive and the data indicates that the numbers will only get bigger. The point being that the prudent, 21st century HCM manager must recognize the opportunity and the dangers inherent in social media sites.

Your Company's Online Persona is Defined There – Whether You are Ready or Not

Ms. Kilborn made a very compelling point that the face of your company to the GenXers and the Millennials is now your online social media persona, no matter how much your company has invested in developing a separate personality offline. You just can't argue, or compete, with these numbers – Facebook has over 1.3 billion users worldwide while Twitter and LinkedIn log in with over a quarter of a billion users each. There is simply no disputing the fact that some of these people are viewing and investigating your company before they decide to sign on. 

Lawyers are Paying Attention Too

It may seem a simple vanity to many people that everything they say and do online will be memorialized in some way or another. To the legal community, this fact represents an amazing opportunity as they can cull and edit everything that your company has said and done online to represent you in the worst possible light. In short, you must assume that every communication on your social media site is common knowledge because that is how the courts treat it. For this single reason, nothing should be posted without due consideration by senior management and the legal department.

A Final Thought

As you can see, there are several important reasons to engage with social media from your company's HCM point of view. It is no stretch to say that I did not touch on every matter in the seminar but I hope that I covered the bulk of the presenter's points. For more information, please visit the site for the full seminar by Ms. Kilborn or contact us directly at