Next up at Ohio SHRMis my friend Mike VanDervort, talking about Social Media and why it is important to HR. Mike is using his union background to show how even cool brands like Starbucks and Apple have labor relations problems, and they are being voiced in social places. In the same way as nations have been able to bring about revolutions to overthrow governments, people with a cause now have a location to get heard, and unite with others.
HR professionals need to be active in social if they are going to understand how these channels work, and how people connect around issues on social channels. It’s not something you can learn by reading a book, you need to be in it to understand it. you can use the alerts and monitoring tools to collect content, but if your listening, you really need to know how to reply.
Mike defines a brand as mythology. not myths as in lies, but the collection of story’s as told by everyone who is talking about you. some of it is true, some of it is the version of the truth that others want to tell.

“If you are in business, you are already involved in the dialogue of social media.”

Mike tells a story about how he had a bad experience with Delta airlines. Getting no response to the twitter assistance account, he wrote a blog post. Delta picked this up and fixed the problem, prompting a second post from Mike pointing out how Delta put it right.
picking up on this, Delta featured the post on their intranet, and the story became a case study for dealing with social media. This is a great example of how responding, turns a very public critic in to a very public advocate.
Mike showed this video about a group of hotel employees who teamed up to make a flash mob video in the lobby of a hotel about why customers should boycott it. The video has over 330,000 views. Not great for the owners.

The channels have opened up an avenue for on-line employee protest. Mike gave a whole list of examples of sites and groups, perfectly legally, to advise people not to join the company. This content goes viral.people loving to share negative campaigns about brands, particularly when they are well-known brands. The employees posting this content are well organised and tech savy, in most cases employing social marketing techniques, ad words etc to get the message out. The content is well written and presented, with protest calls to action. This impacts on profits and customer protection.
Mike told of his union background, in which before any negotiation, the union planned their rules of engagement. Now the social media age is here, the rules of engagement and disruption are very much a part of employee thinking, when they have a grievance, and they can mobilise quickly.
The only way HR can respond to this is if they understand it, and that comes with activity. Social media is a new twist on an old game. You need to be in it to win it!

Mike VanDerVort