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Inside//Out: Backtype

HR in the age of social media

iStock_000001943264XSmall.jpgI am far from an HR specialist, but I often see companies who are struggling to adjust to the age of social media. On the flip-side, I see a few companies who understand this shift and take advantage of the possibilities.

We're operating in a difficult economy, surrounded by a shifting, unsure world. HR practices of yesterday are not possible to maintain. Leaks happen, employees are building personal brands and creating content that is (like it or not) related to your company.

As challenging as this is, it also is an unprecedented time to use social media to engage and acquire the best talent in the world. It takes a clear strategy, a solid focus on what works and the follow through and commitment to make it work.

Here are some successful, and unsuccessful lessons from social media. What would you add?


Don't create a staged, inauthentic video that makes you look silly (I'm talking to you Bank of America)

Don't post a video that you wouldn't want to have used against you for the rest of your agency's life ( Subway pitch aka "When we roll we roll big")

Do create a video that allows people to see who you are, how you operate and do it in an authentic way (One of my favorite videos from Connected Ventures will either implore you to run away or apply immediately)

Picture 9.pngDo give the world an insight into your culture using the tools of the trade (I always enjoy the Critical Mass Always in Beta site which evolves as they need it. Through video, photography, new applications, Twitter and more they engage their customer and recruiting audiences in an authentic way.)


Don't think that people who you are laying off/disciplining/promoting/hiring/etc. will keep quiet, don't think their peers won't find out from Twitter first. Once it hits, the message (right or wrong) spreads very quickly.

Here are some layoff announcements on Twitter:

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Do be proactive, honest and open (Zappos is a great model for this. They missed some funding and the CEO sent a Twitter message linking to a blog post with more info. Some employees made a video to help people cheer up.)

Here is the original message from Tony, the Zappos CEO. Note, you could see all of their customer and employee reactions in realtime at

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I could go on and on with other platforms, but this should get the conversation boing. How are you using social media for HR? It's has the potential to be an amazing sales tool or it could be a repellant for new talent. Would you know? Are you listening and engaging?

Let me hear what you think!

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