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Are you Social Media Smart?

Ceinwen Wilson, UK Head of Hays Credit Management, discusses how organisations should be social media smart.

Social media is here to stay. Channels such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have become far more than a way of people to stay in touch and share information. Large corporations have been quick to employ the medium as a core element of their communication plans. It is not just marketing and communications departments that need to put social media at the heart of their strategy. It is clear that for businesses to remain competitive, the HR function has to embrace it too.

Engaging with the array of social media sites that potential jobseekers use gives organisations a means to boost and enhance their reputation as an employer of choice, and being able to network virtually can change how a business is perceived. Get a social media strategy right and the rewards are great. Get it wrong and the damage to the employer’s brand can be devastating.

Once in work, employees may find employers’ attitudes to social media use vary. Some companies enforce a ban on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, while others actively encourage their staff to engage with these channels on behalf of the corporate brand. The key is to set out the company’s terms of use in a policy and make the consequences clear if the policy is breached.

Employers need a clear strategy on how they address social media and present their brand. It has to be part of an overall brand strategy and not a free-for-all. The investment needed to implement an effective and safe social media strategy can be substantial. Content must be consistent, high quality and channel-specific to add value and reflect well on a firm’s brand. Potential and existing employees will only return to a blog or follow a feed if it is relevant and topical. Getting this right can be hard and raises questions of message and brand control.

Evidence suggests that old-style corporate ‘broadcast’ messaging is unpopular with social media users. The focus is much more on personal insights. For example, getting existing colleagues to share information about their work is more likely to be effective in engaging jobseekers. Equally, using Flickr or YouTube to upload pictures and footage of the workplace demonstrates more tangibly the employability skills candidates need, and provides a visual idea of what it may be like to work for a particular organisation.

The burden of creating a sufficient amount of relevant, up-to-date content is increased by geography. Savvy organisations that operate across the world are tailoring content for specific territories. Global brands must ensure that their Facebook and Twitter feeds are in different languages to ensure that messages are heard, wherever in the world.

A dedicated, ongoing person or team is needed internally or externally to post and monitor content, and to interact with a company’s followers. Managing resources in-house presents its own hazards, since content is often provided by more than one person and by different departments. Someone needs to manage this process across all channels to ensure content and messaging are integrated.
In essence, the good practice that organisations have employed for years on paper should be copied into the digital world.

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