Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to speak with my new friend Paul McFarlane at HRATV. Our presentation was an Agree/Disagree style, where we discussed social media in human resources and employee relations. Paul, being a very skilled attorney, had as much to say about social media as I did.
In real life, Paul and I probably agree much more than we disagree, but it was fun to poke holes in each others theories and show our audience the depth of consideration that social media in the workplace requires.
What surprised me was how many of the companies represented still do not use social media in any way. Some of their staff is using it as individuals, but it seemed (by my very unscientific show of hands poll) that few firms have policies and practices in place.
As I mulled this over, I asked my communications friends online if resistance to social media was still an issue at the corporate level. My friend Colleen Steinman had a great response:
I’ve worked with folks who are deathly afraid of social media and will trot out every single incident of people who have been “Dooced” (although they don’t use that term).
There are some very real legal reasons not to use it either, mostly having to do with public records requests, open governance rules, and similiar issues. Case law has not been established for many financial institutions or for political campaign postings requirements. These concerns are very real, although I think they can be addressed with some good policy decisions and case law will follow. Based on my experiences in Florida where the Sunshine Laws were interpreted by the previous attorney general to include all social media posts. That meant we (state government PIOs) had to be able to keep — indefinitely — all posts, all replies, all comments and all retweets, along with date and time issued and by whom. At any point, we had to be able to provide anyone who asked for all posts/tweets/comments on specific topics or by date.
Colleen and I share a background in government affairs, so our viewpoint in that area is similar. The regulations and potential legal ramifications are huge and I understand why public organizations are proceeding with caution.
What I do not understand is why private companies are still hesitating. If you have insights, I would love to hear them.
PS. For now, I’ll share my Jules Rules for Social Media in the workplace, but am looking forward to feedback.
1. HR can and should work with communications to lead the charge to set the social media “rules of engagement” within organizations.
2. HR can and should work with communications to teach the C-suite how to lead enterprise social media engagement for their organizations.
3. HR can and should work with communications lead the charge on addressing potential landmines that organizations need to be aware of when it comes to social media.
4. HR can and should work be leaders in understanding how this communications revolution affects the workplace and the work of HR professionals.