More about why social media is an HR issue

originally posted on Concept Hub

Who should own social media? That is a debate that has been going on for years, typically between PR and Marketing. I have always been of the opinion social media cannot be owned, but is shared. However, if pressured to give an answer of who within an organization should be the ultimate “go-to” person for social media, I have often said Human Resources.

Human Resources already is responsible for creating company guidelines, participating in employee reviews and providing training. Human Resources is the one department that gets to touch all areas of the company and can help integrate social media within the respective communication goals of each department.

More importantly, HR has the ability to educate employees who are not responsible for corporate communications about how and when or even if to speak on behalf of the company online.

It is great if an organization could get to the point where all employees get to speak on behalf of the organization. In fact,  many social media evangelists will tell you that it is the ideal situation, but it can also be a disaster.

Take the recent Starbucks story. A woman at a store overheard a conversation between a manager and employee which disturbed her. She wrote about it as an open letter to Starbucks on her blog. There are many, many HR training opportunities in this simple situation that happened offline but ended up online, but what caught my attention was the comment on the post that read

This comment simply made a bad situation worse and showcased the culture of openly bashing employees at the store, not to mention could be grounds for a lawsuit.

Social Media is still in the stage of wild, wild west. Although it may seem like the rules are not clear, in reality, the rules are very much aligned with HR initiatives. The more HR embraces social media for the organization the more organizations will be able to truly empower employees to speak on behalf of the organization.