Are You Really Recruiting Socially?

My first tools in recruitment were a phone and a rolodex. I used them a lot but never said that I was telephone recruiting. My first MD had previously invested in a fax machine but regarded it as the devils own work come to wreck the recruitment industry so always discouraged us from using it. If anyone did they never said they were fax recruiting. Some candidates would put their CVs in an envelope with a handwritten covering letter and post it to us, clients would similarly send job description through the post, and some recruiters would also mailshot their clients with a selection of CVs. If placements occurred no-one called it postal recruiting.

But then the internet came and changed everything. We had emails, websites and job boards and were now internet recruiters or e-recruiters – because this was different but also a distraction. Funnily enough this approach is now just called recruitment, in fact it’s what most people would now refer to as ‘traditional recruitment’.

And then we got social.

Now the digital platforms would have us believe everyone is doing it. The latest Jobvite survey (an online survey completed by 1,855 recruiters and HR professionals) found 93% of recruiters using or planning to use social to support their efforts. But is this right? The recent employer perspectives survey from UKCES (drawn from 18,000 interviews with employers) found only 7% citing social as a recruitment channel. Whilst recruiters may not be well represented in this report, SMEs and smaller businesses – employers of around half UK employees, and unlikely to have specialist recruiters to complete online surveys – are.

So are we really doing that much social recruiting?

Well it depends on what you call social. Looking at the Jobvite results then their 93% only stands up if you regard LinkedIn as a social network…


Some might see it this way, but I don’t. It’s not a social channel but a content publishing platform. A database. And look at how these recruiters use LinkedIn…

Makes it about as social a a CV database – which I’m sure no-one would ever really call a social platform. Searching, tracking and vetting aren’t social. More talking less stalking required.

If we take away LinkedIn then recruiters don’t look quite as social as the 93% figure would have us believe. But how successful are the networks for hiring?

So LinkedIn gets results, as any database of more than 300 million people should. Not so good for Facebook and Twitter though…maybe it’s because of the way recruiters use them?

Showcasing and posting, instead of engaging and relationship building. At least there are mentions of referrals – as there should be given they still provide a large number of hires, particularly in the US – but then with enterprise social networks like Hollaroo there are possibly more effective ways to manage them.

Social recruiting is recruiting. Social networks can enable you to recruit well and more effectively. The bedrock of effective recruitment will always be understanding why you need someone new, what they will be doing, why you need to look externally, what exactly you have to offer the right person, whether the person you want will be happy with what you have to offer them, and lots more.

And once you know that then it will be about having the right conversations with the right people at the right time about the right things. Social should be enabling these to happen.

Everything else is just broadcast and advertising. Not very social.

Telling Stories in 2014

Last Thursday I saw a Q&A with author, speaker and social media strategist Gary Vaynerchuk. He was in the UK to promote his new book and took a lot of questions from the floor. He was funny, anecdotal, energetic, swore a lot and made a number of observations on social media marketing, most of which resonated with me…

  • Can’t automate the human touch. It takes time to build a relationship. You can’t apply email marketing techniques to social media.
  • Social media is a marathon, it takes time to build engagement.
  • Every business is now in the media business, the only way to compete is to become an authority on content.
  • Stop thinking of social media as a distribution channel, think of it as a storytelling channel.
  • Storytellers are controlling the conversation and making the money.

My last two blogs have been about the importance of content, blogging, brand journalism and story telling, so it was good to hear many of Gary’s takeaways refer to the same topics. As with much social media marketing wisdom, it’s the simple principles that many seem to find difficult to grasp – yet the notion of conversation, relationship building, give before you ask, speak with an authentic voice are all part of the basis of meaningful human interaction and should be second nature to a marketer.

The creation of content and building of authority may be something that comes less naturally, particularly to businesses used to pushing out one way messages, but the concept that Gary mentions of everyone being in the media business is one that is recurring. This recent piece on IBMs predictions for the top social media trends of 2014 observed:

They have a reported 40,000+ content producers and brand journalists within IBM, some of which are writing for their industry’s most well-known publications. IBM is becoming a powerful media house and does not rely on the media to tell their story

For businesses from all sectors and industries there can be no excuse for not embracing storytelling and developing customer relationships that rely on conversation and engagement rather than telling and one way dialogue. As Gary says:

Your core story must remain constant. No matter how you tell your story, your personality and brand identity must remain constant, too

And for those still unsure there’s no better place to start than this slideshare on Storytelling in 2014…

Social is an HR Issue


Next week I’ll be chairing the CIPD Social Media in HR Conference 2013. I chaired last years’ too so it’s nice of them to invite me back! At the event they will be presenting survey findings from their ‘Social Technology, Social Business‘ research.

They have already written about some key findings. Unsurprisingly they find that younger employees use social channels more than their older counterparts, but they do find some more interesting behaviours amongst senior employees:

  • Over 50% of senior leaders use social media for work, compared to 33% of Managers and 20% of non Managers.
  • Senior leaders are externally focussed and see social media as a way to build networks
  • 52% of the senior leaders who use social use LinkedIn
  • Senior leaders are more likely to comment on forums and post blogs
  • Managers are more likely than non-Managers to job hunt using social media

There was one point of caution sounded though…

“However, senior leaders don’t seem to have seen the potential for social media as an internal leadership tool, helping them to be visible to their employees, gain trust and focus employees on strategy – indeed the data suggests thy could learn a thing or two from their middle managers here”

This interest in using the platforms probably won’t come as a surprise to regular readers. I’ve always believed that senior leaders, the C-Suite, are quite comfortable with social and that the real roadblock often lies within middle management. But the inability to see social as an enabler of better leadership is very disappointing, as is the nagging reluctance of many in HR to see this whole area as one for them. If anything should bring HR to the social table its the potential for better and more engaging leadership – visibility, trust and focus.

There’s not really a road back. This is evolution in the way that people connect and share information, and just like the phone and email, businesses need to adapt it if they are to survive and thrive in future.

Too often HR practitioners seem to see social technologies as something for marketing or internal comms to get their heads around, happy to leave it to the broadcasters and external message conveyors, but this is a gross dereliction of duty!

These tools and platforms aren’t just for external use – they are for internal use too! And that’s the point at which marketing need to let go of the reins.

  • If an an employee says something on Twitter that causes the business a problem, then that’s ultimately an HR issue.
  • If your key workers are posting on how they hate Mondays and wish the weekend could last an extra day or two, then that’s likely to be an issue for HR they are highlighting too.
  • If they go on to Glassdoor and post an anonymous review of how awful it is to work four you, then that’s also flagging up an issue for HR.
  • If you’re missing out on the talent you need because other companies have social technologies embedded, and a range of employee advocates telling their story online, then that’s another HR issue.
  • If there’s a lack collaborative working in the company, then that’s a managerial issue, which will almost certainly become an issue for HR.
  • If employees are disengaged through a lack of leadership visibility or a lack of trust in senior management, then that’s certainly an HR issue.
  • If your employees already have their own social media policy (as Euan Semple has said) then it’s certainly an issue for HR to make sure that the company is included in it.

When I say it’s an issue for HR, I don’t mean for HR to control and police…I mean for HR to get with the programme and start understanding how these tools are used and how they can be harnessed for creating the type of work environment in which employees feel valued, proud and able to give their best efforts. Not workplaces where people moan, hide, feel undervalued and generally have no desire to perform.

Of course, some of these issues require HR to challenge, not to accept the status quo or meekly follow leadership will. As Neil Morrison says, HR needs to be a trusted partner, and that means knowing when to tell a hard truth.

And to tell that hard truth you need to understand it. The opportunities are there for collaboration, learning, sharing of knowledge, different working arrangements, and creating a stronger bond with customers, clients, suppliers and partners…it needs to be grabbed.

As the recent book Attenzi – A Social Business Story defines ‘social business’:

“Social business is about adapting the way in which an organisation delivers its mission and pursues its vision by designing the organisation around influence flows, connecting: its people, partners, customers and other stakeholders; data, information and knowledge in and all around it…more openly, productively and profitably with the application of social web, big data and related information technologies.”

In my conference preview a year ago I likened social media to punk rock, but the clock is now ticking and this time it’s even more vital, not something you can indulge in if you like.

As Peter Cheese said when he opened CIPD13 “The future’s already here. It’s just happening at different speeds in different companies

I’m hoping #CIPDSocial13 offers a great way to start getting everyone up to speed…

(image via xln business blog)

In Praise of Experience During a Time of Social Media Crisis

There have been a few blogs recently about social media crises. Storms around Tesco, The Sun, Ryanair and even our own HR brouhaha over Peacockgate have all thrown the good and bad of open social comms in to a sharp light…possibly adding fuel to the arguments of those who fear and want to control it.
This comprehensive post from Rachel Miller offers much information and sound advice on how to prepare for a potential crisis. I like that she crowdsourced some of it, as this helps underline the collaborative, community style of the social comms – we can learn from each other and the best ideas need not come from multi national businesses.  In fact in these type of crises it’s often the bigger names that are most susceptible…although some the biggest can also afford to do very little or even ignore it completely – as Amazon showed earlier in the year.
I saw Euan Semple talk recently of the connection between your internal comms structure and your social approach – if you need a dozen people to approve a blog post then it’s unlikely that your social updates will have a natural flow to them.
Regular readers will know that I think posts like this one on why a business’ social engagement should be the preserve of the young, digitally native Gen Y/Millennials/interns are complete nonsense and you need look no further than a social media shitstorm to bear that out.
The keys for any of theses situations are usually tone, context and perspective. Knowing when the storm is at an early phase and when we’re reaching the eye. When to apologise, when to educate, when to pull the plug and how to turn it into a badge of honour. And never knee jerk in panic.
When I present on dealing with negative comments I always use this post and chart from Laurel Papworth.
It’s a pretty foolproof way to assess what to do and how, and you’ll notice that pretty much all the actions require sensitivity, perspective and balance. All things that come with experience.
Now you could be forgiven for thinking that someone who has a mile or two on the business experience clock would say that – but then what it does give you is a more measured, less excitable and responsible approach. For example I wouldn’t have responded to Peacockgate with a hashtag campaign of #ProudtoworkinHR as it appears to marginalise the profession with a whiff of minority defiance, implying that we know that most others see us as being different or a problem. It also failed to tackle with the points being raised…there were more sensible ways to tackle it and take ownership of the debate.
Once in a while there’s nothing wrong with having a bit of experience – hell, it may even be a positive.

Common Sense, Judgement and Social Business

Social Business

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing Brian Solis speak. He’s passionate and insightful, gives good soundbite, and is able to convey some of the intricacies around social business in a way that makes them natural and easy to understand.

He’s recent released a co-authored ebook – The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy – and last night ran a webinar dealing with topics from the book.

Sadly I wasn’t signed up to the webinar but was able to follow the conversation it created through Twitter and the hashtag #7socialfactors – here are five main takeaways from the thread that seemed to be most popular…

“Outcomes are not Likes, not RT’s…outcomes are business benefits”

“People don’t remember words, but they do remember stories”

“Social media is too important to be left to the marketing department”

“Don’t just do something because you read it on Mashable”

“Social Media success lies in focus on engagement, experiences, relationships and outcomes – not channels”

A lot of the wisdom and thinking around ‘social business’ is usually good business practice requiring a mind-set that doesn’t see using social media for business as complex and uncharted just because the technology is new and emerging. As Brian wrote recently:

Social media = technology
Social business = thinking or convictions

We used to talk about internet commerce and internet recruiting, then e-commerce and e-recruiting and now it’s just commerce and recruiting, and the same will go for social over the next couple of years as social business becomes business as usual.

What we really need to make a lot of this happen is common sense and judgement …and as some of the commenters on last night’s thread noted – common sense isn’t always common and judgement isn’t something you can train. As one tweeted:

“Social Media training = what you should do and what you shouldn’t. Judgement is needed in-between. You can’t train judgement”

Maybe common sense and judgement are two things we need to look for a lot more in the hiring process, and also seek to create a social media ‘knowledge hub’ in the business.

After all, social engagement in a business isn’t owned by one person or one department – it’s owned by everyone.

10 Things about Social Media and Business

Social Media Network


Over the 4 years I’ve been a regular user of social networking platforms for business I’ve heard, and been asked for, plenty of pearls of wisdom to help newcomers, or those looking to get more involved.

Clearly there are far too many to include in one blog post, but here are 10 of my favourites for a start.

Remember, no saying, slogan or cliché (nor speaker or blogger for that matter) can tell you everything you need to know…only by jumping in, experimenting and trying different things can you ever really experience the joys of social media and find out what works for you…

Your brand is what others say about you, not what you say about yourself

You’d think that everyone would know this by now but sadly not. There’s no point broadcasting air brushed messages about how wonderful you are. Over 80% of your potential, lapsed and current customers and employees will trust the experience of a peer over anything you say about yourself so embrace your satisfied customers and employees, make them your advocates, and let them tell your story.

Brands don’t tweet, people do

I won’t try and take credit for paraphrasing Euan Semple’s must-read book but changing ‘organisations’ to ‘brands’ reminds those using social platforms for business that behind every corporate update, every piece of content, is a person…talking to a person. It may also be worth remembering the words of Adobe’s Head of Social Jeremy WaiteIt’s no longer about B2B or B2C, it’s now P2P’

If you make people use social media they’ll use it badly

Once a business embraces social platforms there’s often a sudden desire to get everyone in the business using them. As someone who has had to encourage employee participation in a business I say Don’t! Identify your internal advocates and influencers who are comfortable using the tools and start with them. Then encourage, empower and enable all who want to use them. As Content Marketing author Jay Baer says “if you don’t love social media you will suck at social media” so go find the passion in your business.

Social Media – It’s Evolution not Revolution

From carrier pigeon and letter, through post, telephone, telegram, telex, fax, computers, email and mobile to social platforms… business always adapts to the way their customers, partners and collaborators communicate. Social platforms are another stage along the business communication evolutionary cycle.

I don’t think you should have a social media policy – what you are saying is ‘we don’t trust you’

This is one of Neil Morrison’s sayings, and is usually likely to cause apoplexy amongst the lawyers. It’s harsh but it’s true. If you can’t trust someone to use a communication platform properly then what are you doing employing them.

Remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent

This is one of my favourite one sentence social media guidelines. When you take to the platforms it’s often easy to try and entertain and challenge, but if you’re doing it as part of your business role then remember your duty to that role, to peers and colleagues, your profession…and your friends and family.

Get as good as you can be at the platforms you’re already using before you go looking for new ones to try

At every conference, exhibition or event I attend there are always people wanting to know what’s next. Which up and coming platforms are the ones to try out, and what new ways of creating and presenting content can be embraced. My advice is always to get really good on the wagon you’re driving before jumping to a new one. The principles of engagement and reach, content and community, will be the same on whichever platform you try – if you’re not yet good at one then you quite possibly won’t be good at another.

You don’t need to be big to make a big noise

Social media is a great leveller. The big companies may have big budgets but in the land of connect, engage, share and learn it’s the quality of conversation that usually counts. If you’re going to run a twitter campaign for recruitment you’ve got to have good content to put out there, irrespective of size. Check out my coverage of Bromford Group’s #gottalovecake campaign to find out more.

You don’t need 1,000,000 likes. You need 1,000 new customers

This is one of Jeremy Waite’s 80 Rules of Social Media, and one that should never be forgotten. At the heart of your business you need an outcome from social interactions, and producing content that gets liked is only one small part. You need to make sure that what you do on social channels also supports the business objectives. And you should check out Jeremy’s other 79 rules too!

The conversation that never sleeps

Unashamedly this is one of my own sayings and also the title of one of my earliest blogs! Social media, especially twitter, literally is a 24/7 365 days a year conversation and if you’re a global brand, or have an interest in global business or global HR issues, then every minute of every day there will probably be someone saying something that’s deserving of your attention.


Convincing the C-Suite

Following my recent blog on the barriers to embedding social media within an organisation, I made the offer that anyone who wanted to share their story, and maybe give a different view, could do so anonymously on this blog.

Here’s a guest post from an HR professional telling a slightly different story to the one that I did…

‘It’s just so superficial’.  Said the MD to the HR type.  ‘I don’t see how it is relevant to us’.

Yes, you’ve got it; this conversation was about social media.  I’m writing this blog anonymously, mainly to avoid being fired.  I have a big mortgage you see.

This is the story of my so far futile attempts to convince our C Suite of the benefits of social media to them as leaders, to them as individuals, to our business.  So far, I have heard every dumb reason why we don’t need or want social.  (Klaxon alert).

  • It’s only going to interest younger employers.
  • I haven’t got time for it.
  • It’s intrusive.
  • I don’t see it as a main part of our internal communications.  Newsletters and roadshows are better for our sort of employees.
  • Yammer is a security risk.
  • If we give people access to social media sites then they will time waste.
  • Social networking is for personal not work.  If it is social that is what it means.
  • I wrote a blog once before and it didn’t work.
  • If we give people access to twitter then they may tweet inappropriate material about our company.  Said by our IT DIRECTOR.

And here is my current personal fave:

  • It’s irritating.

So I think that is pretty much the complete list, don’t you?

I’m guessing that the readers of Meryvn’s blog won’t need to have the benefits of social media explained to them.  If you’re reading blogs and tweets you get it already.  But how do we get other people to see it?  Right now I am taking some inspiration from Doug Shaw.  I am proceeding until apprehended.

We got Yammer up and running by just launching it, although the IT department aren’t speaking to me because we didn’t ask their permission.  Everyone now has access to Twitter and LinkedIn, although Facebook is a battle for another day.  And yes, I did have to throw my teddy out of my pram to get this.  I had to point out the absolute obvious.  If you want to tweet something rude about your employer, you can do it on your smartphone.  If you want to go on Facebook you can do it from your smartphone.  If you want to time waste you can do it on your smartphone.  At your desk, in the canteen…even in the toilet if you want to. Deal with it.  Or deal with the individual.  You think your employees don’t want it? So why did we get 200 of our employees joining Yammer in a matter of days? Perhaps you should go over and take a look at what they are talking about.

We now have a blog too, and a Pinterest page, and a twitter account. No one has actually contributed to the blog yet, and the twitter account only has 63 followers.  But we are getting there, we will get there, one new Yammer comment at a time.  As Mervyn himself said in a recent blog, it’s evolution not revolution.

So here is the rest of my rant to the C Suite.  You don’t have time not to do it.  You are missing a massive opportunity to talk directly to the people that work for you.  Turning up twice a year with a PowerPoint presentation with the great strategy from on high isn’t internal communications.  It is talking at people.  Communication implies dialogue.  You want to know what your people think? Get on twitter, write a blog, post on Yammer.  It will give you a little bit more real time information than that annual survey you get your wallet out for every year.  If none of those interest you?  What about staying in touch with your industry, making contacts, your personal brand, improving your job prospects?

Or maybe I’ll just do what Perry Timms does when they say they don’t have the time for it.  Just wish people well in keeping up to date in their careers without it.


 …Is this similar to your experience?? Share in the comments…or offer your own guest post, either named or anonymously…
Here are some comments from Twitter…
CSuite tweet1
CSuite tweet2
..and try this excellent graphic about Alexander Graham Bell from Jane Bozarth, author of Social Media for Trainers, if they still need convincing…

Be Social to Get Your People Social – The 3 E’s and Pizza

Clearly the readers of this blog like social media – my last post became my most viewed of the year within 48 hours, and the second most viewed is this one on social media judging.

I did get messages from those who wanted to agree with me but couldn’t publicly, and I also had some DM conversations with people who felt that it was the C-suite who were the barrier in their organisations – again they were unable to say so publicly. If anyone is up for it, I would be really keen to publish anonymously from any guest who wanted to write about their experiences.

One question that I’m often asked at conferences and events is how to get employees using social channels for business. It’s one thing getting buy in at either C or management level and sometimes another to get people using it effectively.

I gave a presentation at the recent Social Media Results Conference on some of the ways to get user generated content, with a particular emphasis on internal involvement.

My advice is to keep it simple and keep to the 3 E’s…Empower, Enable and Encourage.


Pretty much everyone in your organisation has some kind of digital footprint. Without going generationalisationist I think you can pretty much guarantee that any Millenial, Gen Y, Gen X type (and older ones too, now) will have a Facebook page as a minimum. Anyone in a client facing role or a specialist area – sales, marketing, finance, technology, HR, customer service – will almost certainly have a LinkedIn profile too. So don’t tell me that there’s no social capability in the company!

They know the tools to use; they just need the green light to use them. So let them! Remember its guidelines not policies, and conversations not targeted conversions.  And make twitter accessible too.


Of course, there’s a big difference between posting a picture from this morning’s dog walk, or adding something to your key skills section, and sharing something about what your company does. So in addition to giving people the green light to use social channels you need to up-skill them too. In a way that makes it easy and fun, not a chore.

The last thing you want is for people to get the impression you’re increasing their workload so this has to be natural, let them have the tools and have some fun with it.


It’s not a test with a right and wrong answer. People won’t always get it right at first, which is why you need to encourage. Most early tweets can be embarrassing, so let people develop their own voice and style. Nothing will turn someone off quicker than being told they’re not doing it right…immediately it will feel like a measurable task , and if it isn’t in their job description then they won’t want to do it!

And, finally…

Be social to get social

I hold a monthly lunch – the Social Lunch – and get a group of colleagues together who want to find out more about social networks and how they can use them. I get some pizzas in and we talk about social, particularly how the can use it for themselves. Everyone is keen to know more about Twitter, so that’s where much of the focus has been. Some months we get someone else along from the business to talk about how they use the networks. We’re creating a blog too that everyone will contribute to.

It’s been going for a year and we have a loyal group that, crucially, keeps getting added to. People are talking about being the twitter champions for their teams, and more people from their teams want to find out what’s happening.

The pizza element is important. It needs to be fun and social, and there needs to be something in it for them, else it becomes a missable training session. Remember…

‘Is that cheese, tomato and lettuce on malted brown? I’ll have one of those please’. Said. No-one. Ever.

‘Is that a Chicken Supreme with extra mushrooms? I’ve never tried that before, I must have a slice’. Says. Everyone.

So make it fun and sociable and everyone will be keen to help share your message.

After all, your employer brand is what your past and present employees say about you, so why give them a bad experience of using the channels through which you need them to communicate it?



Hey Gurus, Leave those C – Suites Alone

















(many thanks to the wonderful illustrator, animator and cartoonist Simon Heath for this graphic)

Q: What’s the biggest barrier to embedding social media in your business
A: Getting buy in from the C Level

How many times have you heard that over the last 3 or 4 years? Loads of times, and it’s still being trotted out. Last week I was at a Digital Shoreditch event where a distinguished panel (of suppliers who also happen to be industry commentators) said much the same thing.

You need to get buy in from the C Level. Make the business case. Show them ROI. They sign the cheques and need to see proof.

I call bullsh*t!

In my experience most of the C suite are just fine with this. A lot of them like the online celebrity status it brings them, the opportunity to talk about their business (and have it talked about) and they place trust in the managers they appoint to make the right calls on usage, content and guidelines. Social networking platforms are conversation channels – no-one ever called the C suite a barrier to putting in a phone system, did they?

Middle managers are another thing entirely. In common with a number of owner managers in smaller businesses, many that I have met see it as a hindrance. They don’t like the transparency and immediacy it brings, the hierarchical flattening that comes with it, and the fact that those they manage know more about it (and are more adept at it) than they are.

They often have no time and little inclination and wrongly fear that their charges will spend too much time on it and will therefore fail to deliver the outcomes for which the manager is accountable.

So what’s the main barrier then?

It’s the structure. If you’ve got a traditional post-industrial age corporate structure of owners/directors supported by the usual hierarchies of management (senior managers, middle managers, junior managers) then the line managers who have the responsibility and accountability for ensuring things get done inevitably like to manage processes. That’s why e-mail is so prevalent… it’s all about managing activity and giving direction, with its cc capability giving visibility to the managing and direction.

Not everyone likes to learn new tricks that take them out of their comfort zone, especially when they have a position of responsibility.

So if you want to influence them here are three points to take into account next time you need to jump the barrier.

If you make people use it they’ll use it badly. You can’t force it, mandate it or set KPIs for it else they will do it wrong. Its conversation and you want online conversationalists. Broadcast messages are the preserve of those who don’t understand conversation.

You can train people in how to best use the platforms but if they don’t naturally get it then it won’t happen for them. It starts with hiring people who are comfortable using them.

It’s evolution not revolution. From letter to phone to telegraph to fax to e-mail to mobile, business always adapts to shifting ways of communicating…particularly when their customers and clients start communicating with them using those ways.

What’s the cost of NOT doing it? How many times do you hear ‘we’re not ready for that?’ or ‘it’s a fad that won’t take off’? Most businesses learn the lesson when it hits them in the pocket…the question isn’t why should you use the platforms but what are you missing by not using them.

If you think you’re not ready then don’t bury your head in the sand, because I’ll tell you who are ready…current, former and lapsed customers/clients, and current, past and future employees. And no doubt a lot of your competitors too.

And remember, anyone who says ‘we pay people to work, not to play around on social media’ has little understanding of how the platforms work, how people use them, and how they can be used to positive effect in the business…so show them.

There’s no better way than to start with the following slides from Paul Taylor at Bromford Group, a business in the social housing sector that gets it. Maybe because they have a CEO who favours hiring people with a digital footprint because ‘all future leaders will need a positive digital footprint…without the ability to communicate across all platforms they won’t survive as credible leaders

As Paul says in his latest blogThe medium is irrelevant. The conversation is everything

Social Media, Judging Others and The 5 Year Rule

The guy who first managed me in recruitment, the owner of the small agency I had joined, had a way of dealing with some of the slightly more overconfident outpourings of the younger, cockier me. He said…

“Write down what you just said.
Put it away.
Look at it again in 5 years’ time.
You’ll never believe you ever said that.”

It was a put down, deliberately aimed at making me feel immature with a lot to learn about the business world. Probably something I needed at the time, and certainly something that stayed with me. The 5 Year Rule. As individuals we do evolve, we learn, we gain experience and confidence. I had views, perspectives and opinions then that I didn’t have 5 years later. Probably not even 2 years later.

When it comes to social media I do wonder sometimes what to tell the kids. I see them using the platforms to communicate in their own way, in their own language and syntax, with their own friends and peers…trying to make their few followers laugh and trying to be more outrageous than each other.

Of course, at some stage they will be entering the workforce and all these old tweets, updates and snaps will be judged by an older generation who never said inappropriate things, made risqué jokes, swore and got drunk. Well, they did but only their close friends knew. Now they’re able to judge another generation by their own standards.

I expect stories of people in trouble for Twitter and Facebook updates to become so commonplace that we stop feeling the need to talk about them. But until then you will get storms like the hounding and eventual resignation of Paris Brown.

As Andy Hyatt from Hodes Group says in this blog:

“You see, part of being young is making mistakes. Saying and doing dumb things and learning from them.

As adults, we are supposed to understand this. We are supposed to provide the right environment to ensure that young people can grow into socially responsible adults. A positive learning environment. Teach them right from wrong. Ensure that children have access to facilities so they can maintain their physical, as well as intellectual wellbeing.

As adults, we are also supposed to recognise that sometimes, children can be childish: selfish, thoughtless, horrible and stupid. And more importantly, we are supposed to understand that this behaviour is only ‘acceptable’ (and again, I use the word loosely) until someone is deemed an adult. And this definition varies between the ages of 16 and 21 depending on where you are in the world”

I’m sure Paris Brown wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. Right now the next generation of public servants, low skilled service workers, MPs, doctors, journalists and bankers are saying what they damn well like on social media platforms. They’re dating on them, partying and sexting on them, and making people laugh on them.

I see them when I monitor mentions as part of the day job. I see more of the teen users now that I’ve got a search running for comments on the advert that my son is in. Often they have about 100 followers who they constantly try to amuse and/or shock. Sometimes they’ve got thousands of followers, and a level of interaction that some social media gurus can only dream of.

It’s no different whatever your generation. The humour, the insults, the in-speak are always different. The tone and content, the syntax and swear words look very different to an older person trying to judge out of context.

No-one thinks about the 5 year rule while they’re tweeting. Continue reading “Social Media, Judging Others and The 5 Year Rule”