HR, Social Media & Punk Rock

I’m chairing the CIPDs Social Media in HR conference next week and so I’ve been thinking about how the conversations around social have grown and developed in the space at the apex of social networking, HR and recruitment – pretty much the bubble I live and work in.

I wrote in one of my blogs about CIPD12 of how the questions have clearly been moving from ‘why‘ to ‘how‘ and this is clearly a shift which informs much of the writing and speaking that I see and hear. Sure, there will be many who are going to need some evidence before taking teams and businesses on the social journey, and rather than stamp off in a strop I think more of those who do ‘get it’ need to raise the conversation away from statistics on usage and reach, and talk more of outcomes.

The more I think about the rise of ‘social‘ the more I seem to think about punk rock. Not sure why, but there are similarities.

Punk wasn’t enabled by technology but by attitude. Coming at a time when you needed an ology to be in a rock band it was a clear shout by a ‘forgotten’ generation who felt they had no voice.

The link here is that it started with a younger generation but quickly became more widely adopted. Just as with today’s social media consultants, gurus and evangelists who climbed on the bandwagon quite early, back in 76/77 you had many journeymen rockers getting a spiky haircut, skinny jeans and a few tattoos and ripping out some three chord thrashes to sudden acclaim.

Of course you had the doubters, those who thought it was a fad and would never really catch on. In music broadcasting, for every John Peel you had a Nicky Horne.

Nicky H was the serious ‘rock’ DJ on Capital Radio. He broadcast regular shows that we’re ironically called ‘Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It’ – ironic because it featured just the type of corporate rock music that most people’s mothers WOULD like.

He was quick to rubbish punk, famously and proudly proclaiming that his shows would be punk free, that you wouldn’t hear any punk music on them.

And guess what. Less than a year later you couldn’t move for the punk and reggae that he was playing on his shows!!

How many social engagement naysayers and doom mongers are now evangelising? Even the PM (he of the ‘tweeters are a bunch of twits‘ sound bite) now has an official account. Though I accept he may not have much input!

And just to square the Punk circle, here is part of an interview that the Sex Pistols gave to NME in the summer of 77. You can read more of the interview on this website – complete with the famous Sid Vicious ‘The definition of a grown-up is someone who catches on just as something becomes redundant”

Just read though this excerpt and substitute mentions and references to ‘punk rock’ with ‘social media’….



Punk Rock

8 thoughts on “HR, Social Media & Punk Rock

  1. I can so identify with this – and I remember Nicky Horne’s Capital radio show well, as I lived in London at the time. I can also identify with the parallels with social media. When I started working independently again in 2010, a younger friend of mine told me that I ‘needed to get on Twitter’. I responded by saying that I did LinkedIn already for business, and Facebook for my personal stuff. I hadn’t the time or inclination for anything else.
    I went away and thought about it – and changed my mind. Now I don’t know where I would be without Twitter and I have to carefully manage my time on it!

  2. Hi Merv, I hope you and everyone there has a lot of fun. I was asked to speak at last year’s event and thoroughly enjoyed it, got some lovely feedback from the event too. I think I stuck out a little partly because I prepped long and hard and delivered a good story, and partly because I was the only speaker not representing an established brand, although there were panelists in similar situations and Matt Alder too who did a good job as chair.

    This year – the line up looks a bit….safe to me, not very punk at least. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying the CIPD should have had me back again – but surely there is room for someone a little…closer to the edge?

  3. I think that social media is here to stay. People enjoy being able to go online whenever they want and say whatever is on their mind and know what someone, somewhere is reading it. The correlation between social media and punk rock really is uncanny. And from your little excerpt, John says “They’re the ones who make all of the decisions now.” He is right, the younger generation is the one who uses social media in a way that would have never been thought of just a few years ago, and it is going to continue to grow with them.

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