Social Media & HR Primer: 3 Key Tools

I talk a lot about how Human Resource professionals can use social media for a variety of workplace initiatives, ranging from recruiting, to engagement, to internal communications. For the uninitiated, though, the topic “social media” may have little real resonance. If you’re an HR pro new to social media, there are three key types of social media that you need to understand at a bare minimum. Here’s a primer on each.


The word blog is short for “web log.” The author writes about topics he is passionate about, topics he wants others to learn about, or just his daily thoughts. The frequency of blog entries, called posts, depends on the topic and the blogger, and can range from multiple times daily, to weekly, to far less often.

In the hiring context, organizations can use blogs for several purposes, including: (1) improving the organization’s web presence (also known as search engine optimization or SEO); (2) humanizing the organization by projecting a public but personal voice; and (3) advertising particular job openings.

Microsoft Job’s Blog is an outstanding example of a recruiting blog done right.

Social-Networking Sites

Social-networking sites allow people to share information about themselves and to search for others with whom they can share information and form beneficial relationships. These sites are the modern version of the Kiwanis Club, the Rotary Club, Junior League, and local country clubs.

Facebook and LinkedIn are currently the most popular sites for recruiting efforts. LinkedIn targets professionals, particularly in knowledge industries, such as the information-technology, management, financial, and legal sectors. LinkedIn also targets an older demographic, though the average age of Facebook users continues to rise.

In the hiring context, organizations can utilize social-networking sites as a way to: (1) attract individuals who are not necessarily looking for employment (i.e., “passive candidates”); (2) provide current candidates with an inside look at working life inside the organization; (3) locate potential candidates for particular job openings; and (4) actively recruit high-potential candidates who may or may not be looking for employment. Another, increasingly common but less known use of social-networking sites by employers is keeping ties with former employees, known as alumni.

Some excellent examples of Facebook pages for recruiting include Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, the U.S. Army, and the CIA.

The HP Alumni group on LinkedIn, is an example of how organizations can leverage their alumni employees. There are also groups devoted specifically to HP alumni in certain geographic regions, as well as groups just for certain job types, such as sales.

Audio and Video

Posting videos online, either on your website or on sites like YouTube gives candidates a real-world preview of the work environment. Videos also can humanize your organization by putting a real employee as the public face for potential candidates.

KPMG’s branded YouTube channel, is one example of how to use video effectively. Google, not surprisingly, also puts YouTube to great use with its “Life at Google” channel, one of 27 channels it maintains on YouTube.

Learn more about social media in the workplace.

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