Social Media, Personal Brand and You


I recently presented to the CIPD Student conference on social media for personal brand. Here’s a summary of what I had to say for your reading pleasure.

Personal brand is the idea that people can manage and promote their personal reputations in a similar way to organisations managing their consumer brands. There are some formal definitions on Wikipedia… but my personal favourite is this explanation. It’s what people say about you when you are not in the room.

Social media presents an opportunity to create and manage a personal brand in an effective way.

Why would you bother? I suggested that there are three reasons…. followed by an important question to answer.

You can use social media to build your personal credibility, to position yourself, and to create opportunities. It provides a way for you to say this is what I know about, this is what my area of expertise, this is what I bring to the party.  It is a way of connecting, engaging, promoting and learning.

But before you start you do need to consider: what do you want to be known for? This is the essence of a personal brand.  This is the what you want people to say about you when you are not in the room.

From there, everything else flows.

If you want to use social media for your personal brand, here is some stuff to think about:

  • Your elevator pitch. What is it? What is your thing? How do you explain who you are and what it is that you do?
  • Your image. This is partly about your actual image – the photographs you use, how professional you look (no pub pics please). But it’s also about your Twitter bio and your LinkedIn headline and your blog strapline. Put together, what is the image you portray?
  • Create a personal policy. Not an actual written one (unless you like that sort of thing), but just a few rules for yourself. If you use lots of social media platforms, which ones are private and which ones are for public consumption? What will you share…. and what won’t you?
  • Clear up. When you have your personal policy in place, clear up the past. Delete your dodgy photos, remove that which doesn’t present the personal brand you are aiming for. Or, leave them where they are and lock down your privacy settings.
  • Pick your platforms. You can’t do every platform well, so don’t even try. Instead, decide which are the right ones for you, and do them really well. Before deciding – figure out just where on social media the people you want to influence are likely to be.
  • Play to your strengths. If you can write, blog. If you can take great photographs, go shoot. If you have a face for video…. you get my point. Show off your skills.

And finally, of course, my standard advice for getting a little bit more social. Be you.  Dive in.  Share Stuff.

A consumer brand is more than the sum of the products that they sell or the services that they provide. In the same way, you are more than the sum of your job title and list of qualifications.  So if you want a kick-ass personal brand, social media is the place to start.

Social media and conflict in the workplace

Today I am at Manchester Metropolitan University, sitting on a panel to talk about social media and its impact on employee relations, and specifically on conflict at work.

The panel is mostly academic types, and I am there to provide the practitioner viewpoint. I seem to be one of the only tweeters, so I guess I might be providing the advocate viewpoint too.

So in advance, I am collecting my thoughts on the topic.

Whilst there are other theoretical positions, I think most people will agree on a practical level, conflict at work is inevitable. Frankly, so is social media.  Whilst there are plenty of individuals who aren’t interested in it, and many organisations still yet to catch on, in a world where there are 2billion people on one network, we can be assured it isn’t going away.

Social media has fundamentally and irrevocably shifted the way we communicate – at work and at home. The ever increasing blurring of home life and work life sees a spill over of technology and social media into every corner of our lives.  Social media is a place in which conflict can arise or present itself.  In many ways, it is merely the medium, not the cause.  But this spill over has the potential to move it out of the workplace.  Conflict doesn’t end at 5pm when we can connect so easily with colleagues in a virtual space.

The expectations of employees are changing as a result of technology. As consumers, we are used to ordering goods to arrive on the same day, tweeting a brand to share our dissatisfaction, having information at our fingertips via the devices in our pockets.  Why wouldn’t we want this at work too?

Consider typical methods of conflict resolution. A lengthy grievance procedure.  Multiple meetings.  Letters and policy.  Who has got time for that?  I read a paper recently on innovation in conflict management.  This so-called innovation involved rolling out internal mediation.  Hardly my definition of innovation.  I trained as a mediator a decade ago, and it was old school then.

These days, our employees are much more likely to post a bad review on Glassdoor or share their frustrations on Facebook. And here is where social media changes workplace conflict in another way – what used to be contained within a letter in the HR office or to a few friends down the pub, can be seen by the many – and lasts longer too.

For the social media generation (which spans age related stereotypes) are we likely to see them raise a formal grievance, or just tweet about it instead?

There are plenty of people queuing up to tell you about the risks social media can bring to your workplace. Companies still fighting the inevitable and blocking sites on the corporate network.  But when we consider the risks, we must also acknowledge the significant rewards too.

My view is that just maybe, social media, instead of being a place for conflict, could just be your best employee relations opportunity.

Social media is about conversation. Transparency.  Community.  Interaction. It is about building trust.  Availability of information.

And so is good employee relations.

If I go back to the theory for a moment, trust is at the heart of a good employee relations culture. When there is trust, there is less of a requirement for formal, traditional mechanisms.

The theory also tells us about the importance of employee voice. For many writing about employee relations, this means formal structures for employee representation.  Personally, I’d rather find my CEO on Twitter and engage with him or her there than raise an issue through the inevitable bureaucracy of trade union consultation.

In many organisations that I have worked in, there has been a gap. A gap of communication and information.  A gap in visible leadership.  A gap where meaningful voice can be spoken and heard.   A gap in trust.

Social media has the potential to fill some of these gaps. If we take the time, if we invest in it.

Although social media has been around for a while now, in many ways, in the workplace it is still an unfolding dynamic. For organisations it is still new space.

But for those places who want what the employee engagement lobby promises but doesn’t always deliver, maybe social media the place to start.

Employer brand. It’s a crowd thing.

I saw a post over on LinkedIn recently, in which a recruiter criticised a candidate who dropped out of an interview process after reading negative reviews about the company on Glassdoor. The post suggested that this was a ridiculous reason to decline an interview.  It had generated a whole range of responses, some agreeing and some not.

My thoughts are these. If that candidate made a ridiculous decision, then I am guilty too.  Because I once did exactly the same thing.

Recruitment today is in many ways no different to other types of consumer behaviour. When we are on shopping sites we read the reviews from other people who have already purchased the product.  If we want to go on holiday, we head over to TripAdvisor or the like, and read what previous guests had to say about their experience.

Guess what? We don’t know these people.  We are willing to put our trust in the crowd.

So why should recruitment be any different?

It’s the world we live in. I’ve decided against buying certain things over on Amazon because there were too many reviews making the same criticisms about quality.  I’ve also decided against applying for a job at an organisation where a few too many people talked about the terrible culture and management style.  I take note on how many reviews there are in total.  I look at the average star ratings before getting the credit card out.

We live in a world in which what people think about you can be shared easily.  You can’t control your employer brand, no matter how hard you try.  The stuff that used to be said in the pub to a handful of mates can now be shared and seen on a massive scale.

From a trust perspective, many folk will take the views of the many, even if they are strangers, over the corporate brand message.

Here’s the thing.  You can either embrace it, or ignore it.  But isn’t going away.

Better to do the former.

I’ve heard of organisations unwilling to set up a company Facebook page or Twitter account ‘because people might say something negative’.

Stating the obvious klaxon perhaps, but there’s probably a bigger elephant in the room if that is your reason for avoiding social media.  For the most part, people will only say yours is a bad place to work, if it’s a bad place to work.  Maybe that should be the starting point instead.

If you have bad reviews about your company find out why. Just as importantly, acknowledge them, where they are.  If people have had a bad experience working or interviewing with you, acknowledge it.  Offer space to take it off line for a proper discussion.  Apologise if you need to.  It is better to be part of the conversation, than unaware of it.

But either way be assured people are making their mind up about whether or not they are interested in working for you based on the opinions of the anonymous crowd.  This is the social world.

Hang back or get ahead.


Be you, dive in, share stuff

Today, I am speaking at an International Women’s Day event at Launch 22 in Liverpool.  My talk, somewhat unsurprisingly for anyone who knows me, is about social media.  About what it can do for your career, your business, you personally.  Later this week I’m working with 50 or so folks who want to know how to use social media to build their corporate brand and attract talent.

Different venues, different needs, but similar advice.

I talk a lot about social media.  About how to recruit with it.  About how to manage the legal risks.  How to blog for your business.  About addressing the myths.  About how to practically do social stuff.

This is what I know, the core of what I have to offer.  When it comes to all things social, whether you want to use it to make connections, learn, recruit or build your business, it starts with you and it starts with skills.

You have to know how.  You to pick your platforms and learn the lingo and create the content.

But first, these three things, familiar to anyone who has read our books:

Be you.

Dive in.

Share stuff.

Social media is a place to be yourself.  Mostly. You can keep any dubious political views to yourself. But for the most part, it is a place to show up, as a person.  To be authentic.  It’s not about broadcasting your awesomeness.  It’s about telling your story.

As for diving in….it is the best way to learn.  Don’t worry too much about it. Instead, JFDI.  There isn’t all that much you can mess up.  Yes, you can find some trolls and some people that have some very strange views on social media, but mostly you will find the benefits massively outweigh the negatives.

Sharing is a fundamental part of being social. Through sharing, your own stuff and that of others, you contribute to the community.  You become a useful human.  It is also a great way to build early those connections, to help you find your tribe.

There is much to learn about social.  But if you start with these simple rules, your social journey will begin.  Good luck!

black-and-white, dive, header


The #SocialLeaders Series – Peter Cheese

This is the second blog in our Social Leaders series exploring how real life leaders are using social media to connect with their customers, employees and stakeholders and seeking their advice for aspiring social leaders.

Today we have Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.  As HR professionals, he’s kind of our boss, so we were chuffed that he was happy to talk to us about how he sees the role of social media in leadership.

Peter is recognised as a leading consultant, speaker and writer in the field of human capital and organisation, having worked with many organisations, practitioners and thought leaders in this field.  He was voted as the UKs most influential thinker in HR for 2013 by HR Magazine. He is also a Non-Executive Director at BPP University and sits on the Advisory Board of the Open University Business School.  Prior to joining the CIPD, Peter was Global Managing Director of Accenture’s Talent and Organisation Performance consulting practice.

We say he is also a great example of social leadership.  He uses Twitter to engage with the people that work with him and who are members of the organisation he leads.  He shares content not only from the CIPD but other relevant sources (one of our key recommendations on being social!) and isn’t afraid to engage in a bit of social recognition.  You can find Peter on Twitter as @Cheese_Peter.


Tim had a Skype with Peter to put our questions to him about all things social leadership…..

You can watch the video here…….

Or just check out the transcript……


What are your social media platforms of choice and why?

My social media platforms of choice, which are really the ones I engage with the most, are Twitter and Linkedin primarily. I am also on Facebook but rather less active on that and I do from time to time in a more social context (and I do think it is interesting to think about it in my business context, professional context and social context) engage a bit with Snapchat and Instagram.

As a business the CIPD is across pretty much all of those channels.  Like any business we have a large constituency we are trying to communicate with and we are really working across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and trying to make use of all of the channels.

But personally, I most engage with Linkedin and Twitter.


How do you believe that your use of social media has benefited you in your leadership role?

I think the use of social media for leaders is really interesting. We have talked for a long time about authenticity and leaders, and being able to hear them as real individuals.  These channels do provide that opportunity, they provide the opportunity for us to speak.  I recognise that not all leaders who are speaking on these channels are speaking for themselves and are getting others to do it for them – but it is my voice coming through these channels.  I think that is very powerful and first and foremost it allows people to see me in a more holistic way, to see me in a perhaps a slightly different or informal context and hear the kinds of things I am thinking about and what is on my mind.  It has benefited me through that kind of outreach and that connectivity.  It is very interesting to see how people react to that and how they react to what I push into these channels.

The second point to recognise is that they are fantastic learning channels for me personally. I am always saying to people through these sorts of social media outlets that they are wonderful learning opportunities. I do follow a lot of different people – it is quite extraordinary to think before we had Twitter how we did all of these this.  It is the other really, really important part of social media – it creates an incredible learning platform and opportunity to stay connected to what is happening and as a leader in the modern world I think that is more important than it has ever been.


How engaged do you find the rest of your organisation with social media? 

We have created a Yammer-like internal social media platform at the CIPD and we are trying to use that across the organisation.  We have offices internationally as well and we are trying that same technique across our organisation – we are trying to help people connect – that to me is what social media is all about.

We are promoting that but as with so many of these things, you have to create that movement of change.  Some of it is a bit viral and some of it is what you can direct from the top.  I personally, of course, need to be visible on these platforms. So that is one aspect – how we are using it within our own organisation.

Then, more broadly, it is about how are we seeing our own employees out on social media platforms themselves. Are they on Twitter or LinkedIn?  I continually try to encourage people back to the points I made earlier: this is not just using social media to express your innermost thoughts or what you had for breakfast, it is a fantastic vehicle for learning and keeping in touch so I am always encouraging them that way.  I say the same things when I speak to HR professionals – you should be on Twitter as a good example because it is such a great learning platform.


What, if any, downsides do you see to being a leader on social media – and what do you do to avoid them?

I have, like many of us, lots of conversations with business leaders about things like this. You can divide it into various camps. There are some leaders who feel quite exposed – they feel that if they are on social media platforms they always need to be commenting or always writing stuff. “I may not say the right thing”: there is a real fear of saying something inappropriate or inadvertent.

There are also concerns, and it was part of my concern when I got onto things like Twitter for example, of your sheer attention span.  We are already overwhelmed with emails and texts and other forms of communication.  Some people say ‘oh my goodness you now expect me to on Twitter and Instagram and LinkedIn and blogging and I don’t have the capacity to keep up with it all!’. That is a genuine issue.  How do we make sure that we managing these different channels but not overwhelming ourselves and finding that they become a huge distraction? I don’t know that I have entirely cracked it myself – but the great thing about social media is that you can access it any time, any place, anywhere.  I tend to do things like Twitter when I am on a train journey or in a taxi. You can do it very quickly.  That is the trick to this – not to think that you have to carve out an hour a day to do social media. You just interject it into those blank moments or whatever because it is so accessible.

Those are the two primary barriers that I hear: one is the time and attention and the other is what am I supposed to be saying – “if I’m a leader in a public enterprise, I’d better have my PR team telling me what to say”, that sort of thing. Those concerns have to be taken seriously and we do have to coach leaders in how to use social media platforms in ways that won’t get them into any “trouble”, if you will.


How have you used social media to connect with customers/service users/key stakeholders?

As a business, I often describe the CIPD as an “ecosystem”. We have 300 plus employees, a thousand plus volunteers – from people who run branches through to examiners and assessors and we also have a lot of consultants.  It is a big ecosystem and therefore the value of social media to connect that ecosystem is very powerful.

It has got to work two ways – you have got to have the people in the ecosystem themselves on social media and linked to us so we monitor that very closely. We have people who monitor all the stats about how many people are following us on LinkedIn and all these other channels. What are the subjects that get most interest – what gets the attention?  We are always learning how best to communicate through these channels.  Those are fundamental points – understanding, as with any communication, that if you want to use social media to communicate out, it is a two-way street – you have to know that people are listening in, and then use it not just for outbound communication but as an opportunity to hear from the wider ecosystem, the members and all the other stakeholders.

That is very important as well. We are, for sure, experimenting with Twitter chats and other things like online hacks through social media to ask questions of the community, get them to comment and bring ideas together.

Or, of course – and this is another wonderful thing about social media – people can be in some ways more challenging through social media.  They haven’t got to write a long email to me as Chief Exec – they can just challenge. We also know that there are some downsides to that – people do it, they think, anonymously and you get “trolling”, but in a professional business context I don’t see very much of that.  The reality is that It is a great channel for us to hear honest feedback, contribution to ideas and thinking. I am very excited about the opportunities for us to continue to grow, though social media, that ability to connect and recognise that, as I said, it is a two-way connection as well as a peer-to-peer connection which is so powerful.


What advice would you give to other leaders who want to use social media?

The advice that I would give to other leaders thinking about social media is to do it consciously. You do need to understand what it is you are seeking to get from it, how to approach it.  Having said that, you can also do it in real baby steps.  Twitter is such a good example, you can just get on and start to follow people, you don’t even necessarily need to say anything yourself at all. You can just begin to get the tone of communication, look at others, follow other people, find things that are interesting and then evolve towards it. Those would be two obvious points of guidance: don’t do it lightly and understand what you are trying to get from it.

I have described a lot about how I see social media as such an important vehicle for us to communicate and connect but that is not the only reason, there can be others as well. Think about it consciously and you can go into it with relatively baby steps.

To come back to my platforms of choice, Twitter is very easy, the easiest of all in my experience to get onto and engage with.  Linkedin is a bit more sophisticated and people are using it for a whole variety of reasons – I think that for the most part in the modern business world, most people are on LinkedIn in some shape or form.  But this is a channel that is evolving, going from “telling everyone who I am” to one that you can also write and blog and communicate through.  That is another step that people can think about around LinkedIn.

Some of these others – it is personal preference and choice, and where perhaps in different sectors or industries or communities, different social media platforms have a greater resonance, but that is why I tend stick mostly to Twitter and Linkedin, as they seem to be the ones that have the greatest connection to our communities.

I am not particularly interested in using Facebook, if I am honest, in a business context but that is also evolving and Facebook for business is evolving as a channel.  That perhaps is the third thought – keep an eye on what channels are evolving and how the communities that you are working with are using them and if you are seeing a movement towards another channel then probably you need to get onto it.


A huge thank you from us to Peter for sharing his thoughts on all things social.

Next time on the #SocialLeaders series we hand over to Rebecca Jeffery of Apprentice fame, who shares all about how she has built her business through using social media.

The #SocialLeaders Series – Tom Riordan


The time for social leadership is now.  To engage with customers and employees alike, to create a personal brand, to lead authentically and openly. To share and collaborate in a different way. To role model the digital skills that all organisations need now and tomorrow. We need social leaders.  But they are still few and far between.

This is the first in a series of conversations with leaders who already get this stuff.  Who are effectively using social media as part of their leadership role to engage and connect with employees, customers and service users.  We have asked a range of leaders from different industry sectors exactly why they use social media and how do they feel it benefits them in their role – as well as to share their advice to anyone who thinks they should be getting a little more social.

First up is Tom Riordan.  Tom is CEO of Leeds City Council, and an active Tweeter – he has even got himself a coveted blue tick.  He uses Twitter to share news about the Council, its work and its people.  He engages with followers and isn’t afraid to bring his whole self to Twitter, including pictures of his family, and a bio that tells you about him as a person, not just a CEO.


This is what Tom had to say about leading socially….

What is your social media platform of choice and why?

Twitter is my platform of choice. I was quite an early adopter because I like its mix of brevity, openness, wide reach, content and security (i.e. unacceptable behaviour can be blocked).

How do you believe that your use of social media has benefited you in your leadership role?

It’s allowed me a direct communication route to the outside world from a big organisation and to “walk the talk” of one of our main values of openness and honesty. I’ve tried to give more of a human face to a CEO role often seen as distant and protected, and to champion Leeds, public services and local government.

How engaged do you find the rest of your organisation with social media? 

Increasingly. Social media has become much more central to people’s lives over the last five years, and in that time the organisation has engaged with it more and more.  There are some great role models within the council, such as Phil Jewitt an excellent social media user who recently won a lifetime achievement unconference award. Many of our councillors now use social media widely now, which also helps.

What, if any, downsides do you see to being a leader on social media – and what do you do to avoid them?

99 percent of people are great to engage with on social media.  You have to take care at times not to be provoked by the 1 percent who, often anonymously, just want to cause trouble.  Never tweet when you’re angry is not a bad rule of thumb.

How have you used social media to connect with customers/service users/key stakeholders?

I’ve used it to get more direct messages out to a wider audience about what the council does, especially those front-line workers who make the city tick. Twitter has allowed me to contact a wide range of innovators both in the city and across the world and led directly to inward investment, new approaches on open data and great new ideas from people within and outside Leeds. I also get a pretty good idea of what people think about the council and the city!

What advice would you give to other leaders who want to use social media?

Don’t see it as a panacea but do treat it as a vital communication and engagement mechanism. Only do what you’re comfortable with and what suits your own personal style. Make sure your priority is enhancing the city or organisation, not your personal image or standing, because you’re almost bound to trip up if you think it’s all about you.

We’d like to send a big thanks to Tom for his insight.  If you are a leader who wants to use social media for their role then check out his Twitter feed for a great example on how to do this social stuff well.  And if you want to know more about social leadership – both the why and the how – then we’ve just released our latest book on Putting Social Media to Work – a version dedicated to just that subject.

Next time on the #SocialLeaders series…. Peter Cheese, CEO of the CIPD shares his thoughts.








Recruitment & social media – how far is too far?

I got into a Twitter chat recently about social media and recruitment.  Specifically, whether or not it is okay to check out people’s social media feeds during the recruitment process.

Now I’ve seen some fairly risk-averse advice on the subject that cautions you on the risk of (among other things) discrimination claims.

My view on it is simple.

It depends where you go.

On my CV, I am open about much of my social media.  There are links to my Twitter bio (hoping that prospective employers or clients will overlook my frequent Prosecco references), my LinkedIn profile and my blog.  When it comes to applying for jobs, my blog is going to give anyone reading it a sense of who I am and what I believe about my work more than a 2-page CV ever will. What isn’t on there is a link to either my Instagram or Facebook profiles.  The reason for that is that they aren’t about work.  They are for family and friends, or at the very least people I know, sometimes through other social networks.  My regular selfies of me and my significant other (#sorrynotsorry) are not for strangers… or employers.

Those sites that are professional should expect to be reviewed.  When I have been hiring, it is the first place I go and I would expect anyone thinking of hiring me to do the same.  If someone wants to scroll through my unlocked Twitter feed, fill your boots.  You will find a few mentions of One Direction too.  But the other stuff… not so much.

In our social world, platforms are ever-evolving.  There are no rules, apart from your own, about what is public and what is private.  There are fewer expectations of privacy than those of previous generations.  Even if you opt not to use social media, or are even too young to do so, you can still very much have a digital footprint.

So to job seekers I say this… expect to be looked for and at.  Google searched.  If you want stuff to be private, set it that way.

And to employers… if you are going to search people’s social media feeds then say so up front.  Put it on the ATS or the job advert.  Better still, openly ask people to send you their online stuff.  Allow links on your system.  Actively encourage it.  Go to the professional networking sites and read what you need to. But you don’t need to, and should not, trawl through what is clearly something else.  Personal photos.  Shares from many years ago.  Student day stuff.  What someone intends to be personal, platform aside, is probably obvious.

You wouldn’t follow someone down the pub and listen to their conversation before deciding to give them a job.  So leave their social social media alone.


The time for #SocialLeaders is now

Tim Scott and I have written a third version of our practical guides to using social media.  This time, it is aimed at the busy business leader.

The time for social leadership is now.  To engage with customers and employees alike, to create a personal brand, to lead authentically and openly. To share and collaborate in a different way.  To role model the digital skills that all organisations need now and tomorrow.

It is still a rare thing to see leaders using social media really well.  There are some excellent examples but they are  few and far between.  Previous research into Fortune 500 CEO’s found that whilst most of them could be found on LinkedIn, they weren’t exactly active.  Those that had managed to find their way to other platforms like Twitter still weren’t really all that social.

This book is, as with all of my books with Tim Scott, about practicality. There is advice on picking the right platforms, getting started, taking your organisation with you, and how to avoid social media fails.  We hope that it also makes a compelling case to why leaders should use social media and encourage their organisations to do the same.

Next week, to complement the book, we begin a blog series on social leadership, by interviewing examples from a range of sectors and organisations – talking to the people that already do it well in order to find out why and how they do it.  Look out for the hashtag #SocialLeaders on Twitter.

You can follow the series here and if you want to read the book, here’s the link!

Happy reading!


Why no one cares about your internal social network

I love a bit of social media.  No surprise there then to any regular reader of my blog.

Only when it comes to internal social media networks, Yammer and the like, many of them end up being underused.  Unfulfilled potential.

Sometimes this is acknowledged.  Sometimes not.  See this great slide share from Paul Taylor detailing the signs that you are not a social business.

Like with any people stuff, there are some great examples of organisations that have made their internal social networks really deliver.  But many places are not even close.

Why? There are lots of reasons.  And many of them aren’t specific to social networks either.

Sometimes it is about employee’s engagement with the broader organisation. Or lack thereof.

Sometimes it is about a lack of digital and social skills generally.

Sometimes it is about having the time to engage in anything other than the immediate task at hand.

When it comes to the social network itself…..

Sometimes it is about employees not having a clue what the heck it is for or what they are supposed to do with it.

Sometimes it is about practically not knowing how to use a social network.

Sometimes it is about the network being seen to be Somebody Else’s Problem.  HR or Internal Comms being top of the list of suspects.

Sometimes it is about line managers not letting people use them because they think it’s not proper work. Whatever that is.

Sometimes it is that the organisation hasn’t launched it properly, given people a reason to go there, given it a focus or purpose – or perhaps even more importantly, it hasn’t given people the right sort of permission.

It isn’t unusual in my experience to find that social networks have a small cohort of regular users, sharers and commentators.  And then the rest of the organisation is either all so-what or oblivious to its existence.

Get it right, and social media networks can be game changing.  They can open your organisation right up, getting over the age-old complaints about communication and silo working and not knowing what is going on around here and never seeing any of the leaders. It can be a real driver of change.  Of transparency.  Of innovation.

But otherwise, it is just something else on the to-do list, something else for people to complain about, something else that there has to be a policy for.

Employees won’t care about your internal social media network unless you give them a reason to care. And even then, they still might not.  Of course, a social media network does not stand alone within an organisation, it is part of the system.  Often, what occurs (or doesn’t) on an internal social network is representative of what takes place within that wider system.  So going back to that earlier point; if employees aren’t willing to engage on your internal social media platform, if they aren’t willing to share, to communicate, to collaborate, recognise and discuss…. just what does that say about your organisation, its leadership and its culture?


Putting Social Media to Work….

Blatant self-promoting blog alert!

Last year Tim Scott and I published ‘Putting Social Media to Work, a Practical Guide’.  The book was largely focused toward those working within the Human Resources profession, and was all about how HR can get social for themselves and lead it within their own organisations.

But the more we talked to people who work in smaller organisations, or who were self-employed and independent practitioners, the more we realised that there were other folks that needed some help getting social too.  Whether it is help with professional social networking, building a social brand, connecting with others or just a simple ‘how-to’, there was clearly need for practical advice just for these readers.

So, there is a new and updated version of our book now available via Amazon. If you are wondering what social can do for your small business, how you can find the time, which social platform to use, or even just what all the jargon means, then this is the book for you.

Coming soon there will a third version too…. A practical guide (obvs) to getting social for the busy leader. Watch this space!

Kindle version

IRL version (Note. Makes excellent Christmas present for all the family.)


PS. If you were kind enough to buy our first book, then you might find you don’t need to buy this one too.  Unless you want to contribute to our swimming pool fund of course. 


Repeating myself (about social media)

Blogging déjà vu

I am fairly sure I have written this blog post before.

I am bored of saying it.  Maybe you are bored of reading it.

But I’m posting it again all the same.

Scrolling through my Twitter timeline this morning, I came across a post about social media and employment law.  I’m not going to name and shame; it’s not about that. It’s about wanting to see something different.  Pretty please.

You have probably seen the like before.  Stuff about all of the risks.  About the potential claims just waiting to be made against you by employees and interview candidates alike.  About what should be in the policy and what you should and shouldn’t do and, meh, it was so risk averse.

Misconceptions built in.  Myth number one in the post?  Older people can’t or don’t or won’t use social media. So it might be age discrimination.  Or something.

First things first.  That isn’t true.  And peddling that particular myth is right up there with all the millennial clickbait crap. Social media isn’t just for kids you know.

It’s hard wired into the HR profession to consider risk.  It is part of the job after all.  Only sometimes we take it too far.  We write all the policies and issue all the warnings.  Unfortunately, we sometimes forget along the way to balance the potential rewards with the possible risks.

Transparency.  Internal communication opened right up. Dialogue not monologue.  Breaking down the silos. Connecting leaders to the people that work for them.  Employee advocacy.  Totally new ways of learning.  Bringing the outside in.  Collaboration.  Employer brand.

The benefits are many.  I could go on, but there’s a whole back catalogue of blog posts where I bang on about it enough.

My request of HR folks is this.

Worry less.

Some people will do dumb stuff on social media.  Most of them won’t.

Some employees will do stuff on social media that might find its way into the employment tribunal.  Some employers will do that too.  But most of them won’t.

But many of you, any of you, can have the benefits if you put the work in to making your place more social.

So next time you read some employment law social media write a policy now (we can help you with that of course) clickbait, then just close the link and read something (anything) less risk averse instead.

Pretty please.


PS – more on social media myths from my co-author and collaborator Tim Scott here.

Social Media #Fail

This news story caught my eye yesterday.

Southern Rail have an ongoing dispute with the RMT union. Strikes have taken place and more are planned.

So yesterday they sent this tweet, encouraging commuters to tweet the RMT, to tell them how the strike action is making them feel. They even had their own hashtag for the ‘campaign’: #SouthernRailBackonTrack. A search of that tells its own story. Of course the unforgiving nature of Twitter soon led to another hashtag: #SouthernFail.


Putting aside any personal views on the dispute itself and the resulting industrial action, you have to wonder who thought this was a good idea. How this idea made it through the gate. Clearly a little group think going on. You can almost hear the conversation….

This social media stuff everyone keeps talking about….. let’s do something with that!

Here’s the thing about social media. It can be a truly awesome thing.  If I wrote a list of everything that social can do, its potential benefits, what it has done for me, I’d be here all day and this would be a very long blog post.  But with every potential reward comes risk.  We have all seen the headlines, seen people use it in a way that does them no favours or backfires spectacularly.  Damaging brands, damaging careers.

This is one of those occasions. A scroll down through the responses to the above tweet shows pretty much exclusive support for the union and the workforce, and distain for the organisation and this particular tactic. This is basically the social media equivalvent of a couple having a row in Ikea on a Sunday afternoon played out for all to see.

I can only imagine that the team running the Twitter feed yesterday were undertaking a fairly epic #facepalm. I very much doubt this was their idea.

The RMT have come out of this pretty well. Their Twitter feed is now full of retweets of supportive comments and criticism of the campaign.

Southern Rail appear not to have replied to any of the dialogue resulting from their original tweet, moving swiftly back to talking to passengers about delays. So just in case someone at Southern Rail needs some social media advice, here it is in brief:

  • Don’t pick fights online unless you have a very good reason to do so and it is an actual thought out strategy with balanced risks. Maybe this was… but somehow I doubt it.
  • If you do start this sort of dialogue, be prepared to continue it and respond to comments appropriately and not just ignore them.
  • Have a strategy for a hashtag hijack or a negative response to your campaign and act on it, fast.
  • Apologise if you got it wrong.

For all that I love about Twitter, it is most definitely not the place to sort out employee relations issues with your workforce.

Social Media and the Candidate

Last week, research published by Monster and YouGuv found that 56% of employers admit that candidates’ online profiles influence their hiring decisions. Here’s a link to a CIPD blog post on the subject.

The survey goes onto to say that fewer than half of job seekers are conscious of how their online reputation looks to potential employees, with just 28% also stating that they are influenced by what they read about potential employers on sites like Glassdoor.

Should it be a surprise that employers have turned down potential candidates due to their social media profiles? No.  Not really.  You can have all the ethical arguments that you want about whether recruiters should or shouldn’t check this stuff out.  But back in the real world, they just will.  And if you are careless about what you put out there, then it will come back to haunt you.  We live in a social and transparent world and there is no escaping this fact.

As to the other statistics….. if you are looking for work and you aren’t conscious of your online reputation, might I politely request you join 2016. And to anyone not checking out a potential employer on anywhere but their corporate website, the 90’s called and they want their recruitment process back.

Here’s the thing. Social media is both a threat and an opportunity. This applies to organisations, brands and employees alike.

Your social media profile can be more telling than a two page CV or an hour long interview ever can. Anyone thinking about hiring me might as well just read this blog and my Twitter feed.  It will tell you most of what you need to know to make a hiring decision and some more besides.

Get it right as a candidate, and social media can enhance your profile. It can support your personal brand.  It can also help you build a great community from which to learn, and introduce you to a whole new world of global connections. It could be the deciding factor between you and the other candidate.

But get it wrong and it’s a whole other ball game. There are horror stories everywhere about social media.  There are plenty of examples of a careless tweet or post that have got people fired, or even publically shamed.  Anyone remember Justine Sacco?

There’s no such thing anymore as old news. Yesterday’s fish and chip wrapping paper.  What happens on social stays on social.  The delete key solves nothing.

When it comes to social media there are few that will advocate its benefits more than me. Other than perhaps Tim Scott.  And as we said in our book on the subject (blatant self-promotion klaxon), when you are on social media platforms of any description, don’t be an arse.  There are few real rules, but there is plenty of etiquette.

Don’t tweet dumb stuff. Don’t argue with trolls.  Be a nice human.  If you happen to have some dubious views or isms then best to keep them to yourself.  Consider what is private and what is not.  Think before you post. Watch your language. Check our your employers policy on this stuff if they have one, to ensure you know what is and isn’t going to cause you any hassle. Tidy up the past if you need to.

Social media.  Threat or opportunity.  But either way… someone will be Googling.

Wot, no cat pictures?

I had THAT conversation again yesterday.

The one where, following my confession to loving all things social, someone replied:

Urgh. I can’t be bothered with all that. It’s just cat pictures and what people had for their breakfast.

Here’s the thing.

It really isn’t.

Here’s the second thing.

If you are on social media and that is actually your feed, then my advice is follow better people.

Find some more interesting friends. Hit your unfollow button – that is what it is there for.

If you are however saying this and you are not actually on social media then I am going to suggest trying it for yourself. To establish whether or not this is reality or just a belief.

That is all.

10 myths about internal social media

I know that they are more properly known as an ESN (enterprise social network) but not everyone recognises the jargon.  They might however, recognise some of those things that are often said about using social media networks within organisations, networks like Yammer or Jive.

When I am out and about talking to people about all things social, here are those objections and myths that I hear often about internal social networks, along with my usual response:

It’s not work.

Using an internal social network is all about ‘working out loud’. Sharing what is going on and being worked on. It’s about improved communication and open, real time dialogue. It’s also about overcoming silos and barriers to good internal communication. That is most definitely work. Or it certainly should be. There will probably be a bit of social on there too. But that happens in real life too. Haven’t you ever chatted to colleague over lunch?

I don’t have time.


Everyone, especially leaders, should have time to share information and communicate with the people around them.  Frankly, this is a lazy excuse.  And if used to its fullest, a social network will save you time hunting for information or searching for the right person to talk to.

It’s no different to using email.

Oh yes it is. Email only goes to the people on the ‘to’ list. It is knowledge and information limited to a small list of people. Using a social network means information is open for everyone to see and benefit from. There are some things that email might be more suited for (see next point) but most organisations can share plenty more than they currently do.

It is a confidentiality risk.

There are some things that should be confidential, and this won’t change. Obviously, keep these things away from a social network – this is just basic common sense. But there are probably also plenty of things that aren’t that sensitive and can happily be shared more widely than they usually are. And don’t forget your internal social network is restricted to those with a company email address.

My team will waste time on it.

Some people will find any way to waste time at work, especially if they are disengaged. If they do, then deal with them. But don’t cut off the benefits to those that will use it wisely. Learning more about the company, colleagues, sharing information…. none of these things are a waste of time.

People will misuse it.

They might. See above.

It is difficult to use.

It is true that if technology is too difficult to use, it has a big impact on adoption. But most social platforms are fairly straightforward if you actually want to learn how to use them. Often, this means objection something else entirely. Like I don’t want to.

I’ve got nothing to say.

Lots of people say this when they first get social. But everyone has something worth sharing about their job, something that they are working on, or maybe can contribute to what someone else is doing. Just get out there. You never know what benefits you will find or how you can help someone else.

It doesn’t apply to our business.

Sound the klaxon. I’ve heard this one too many times. Social media applies to every business, whether you like it or not, believe it or not. Your customers are there, your employees are there, your competitors are there. The very basis of an internal social network is about collaboration and conversation. And that applies to every business.

It is only for younger employees.

Really? Sharing knowledge within the workplace and communicating with colleagues is just for a certain age group?  #generationblah.

Internal social networks have the power to fundamentally change how organisations communicate and collaborate.  There are some good examples of companies doing just that, but unfortunately for many it is a potential yet unfulfilled.  But maybe if we overcome these standard objections, we can truly reap the rewards.


If you have heard a different objection, then feel free to add it into the comments!

Watching the Watchers

Tim and Gem Book Promo Pic

I’m going to confess, right up front.  This blog post is a shameless plug for my new ebook on social media, written with that very nice Tim Scott, better known on Twitter as @TimScottHR.  Confession done.  Now that is out of the way, here is the post:

A few months ago, someone asked me whether or not I thought organisations should have a social media supervisor.  You know, someone who would keep an eye on what employees are saying and sharing in their social world.

At first I laughed a bit.  And then I realised it was actually a serious question.  So I attempted a serious answer.

Social media is 24/7, global, immediate.  Every single minute there are millions of Facebook posts, LinkedIn updates, Tweets, Pins, likes, comments and shares.  Social is constantly growing, constantly evolving.  I’ve seen Twitter in particular described as ‘the conversation that never sleeps’.  On that basis, neither could any social media supervisor.

Of course your employees can, and probably will, do stuff on social media that they shouldn’t. I’ve blogged on the subject before.  For some people, it might result in a disciplinary hearing.  For others, as the headlines have repeatedly shown us, it can result in the loss of their job and reputation.  But handing someone a contract of employment does not give you the right to monitor every aspect of their lives.  For many folks, social media is just that.  Social.  In the old pre Facebook days, you wouldn’t have thought to follow them down the pub and eavesdrop on their conversations with their mates.  So why would you do it in the social world?  I’m being glib, perhaps.  Because a pub conversation can’t of course go viral.

But I’d argue that taking the supervision approach will just give you more problems.  Practical ones and more fundamental ones too.  Issues of both privacy and human rights are relevant here.  But so is your retention rate.  Would you really want to work somewhere that monitored your every tweet and status update?  I wouldn’t.  I’d go and work somewhere less Victorian instead.

And then the thought occurred.  In this 1984-esque vision of employee monitoring, who supervises the social media supervisor?  Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

And just in case you want to know more about all of this social stuff, here is a link to the book. I think it is rather good.  And so does my mum. 

The cover for the book was designed by the fabulous Simon Heath

5 ways to stop employees stealing your Rolodex

Organisations have always been worried about their employees taking with them valuable contacts and information when they leave.

In the old days, it was mostly about taking the hard copy lists; names and addresses of leads and potential leads, customers past and present.  What now exists within an App, somewhere in the Cloud, and on the device in our pockets, used to be in a Rolodex*, a book of business cards or in a lever arch file.  Or of course inside someone’s head.  We haven’t found a way of downloading that.  Just yet.

Now, the issue has moved to social media.  The challenge presented by LinkedIn, and indeed any social media platform used for professional purposes, is no different from the one that has always been with us.  Employees leave, and they take stuff with them. Sometimes what they take is knowledge and information.  Sometimes, it is copies of documents. Sometimes it is other people, and occasionally, it is the stuff from the stationery cupboard.  But the real concern for most organisations is still the customer information.

If the clickbait advice genre had been around in the 1980s, you can bet that there would have been a headline just like the one at the top of this post.  Maybe some internal guidelines suggestions too, about how employees within their notice period should not be allowed within 15 feet of the photocopier, just in case they run off one extra to take home.

Unfortunately the topic of social media in the workplace, and LinkedIn in particular, continues to generate advice of a risk averse and impractical nature. Advice that, if applied, does the reputation of HR no favours.

Let’s play this out in real life for a moment. I turn up on day one at my new company.  I have an established network across several social media platforms, including a healthy number of connections on LinkedIn.  My new employer then declares that anyone I might connect with in the future ‘belongs’ to them, and, as I have recently seen suggested, I am required to delete these connections when I leave the business, at some unknown future point.

Such advice is as unworkable as it is unreasonable.  It shows a fundamental lack of understanding about how the social world actually works.

On the practical front, what is going to stop the future me from reconnecting with these people all over again once deleted?  What stops me from following them on Twitter, adding them to a G+ circle or sending them a friend request on Facebook?  And why single out LinkedIn?  Much of my own HR networking is on Twitter.  If we take this argument forward then should I record everyone who follows me during the course of my employment and presumably ask them to unfollow me upon my resignation?  An employer would have an almost impossible task of proving when connections had been made.  And so on.

Here’s the thing.  In the social world, you get the benefit of the connections made by your employees, within your employment and elsewhere.  Social has by its very nature blurred the lines between work and personal.  Taking an overly restrictive approach fails to recognise the many benefits of social business and social employees.  Social can support your brand message and your marketing activities, as well as engage with your customers. Social can help with your talent acquisition.  It is a place of learning for your employees. It is part of  your employee voice.  If you want the benefits and the rewards that come with all things social, then you need to balance a little risk too.

I would suggest that if connections are so fundamental to your business, the matter either will already be, or should be, addressed within your contracts of employment and your restrictive covenant clauses in particular.  Contrary to popular belief, restrictive covenants are worth the paper on which they are written.  They just need to be well drafted and reasonable.  And of course enforcing them can be expensive.  But they can prevent your former employees from soliciting customers or current employees perfectly well, without resorting to an additional policy that can never be effectively enforced.

Trying to control social is like chasing the clouds.  Unintended consequences will likely follow.  Your employees are social, so they will do this stuff anyway, with or without your permission. Better that they do it with your encouragement and guidance and for mutual benefit, than under the radar (or more likely, under the desk).

I would suggest to those writing this sort of advice, that there is stuff that you can own, and stuff that you cannot. Knowing someone falls into the latter category. In the social world and the real life one.


*Note for younger readers.  This is a Rolodex.  You can still buy them.  But most of what you would use them for is already in your phone, in one App or another.

Twitter, employment law and common sense.

A case involving social media and employment has made its way to the Employment Appeals Tribunal.  The case involved an employee dismissed for his use of Twitter, and is interesting to HR for a few reasons.

Firstly, it contains some legal folk getting to grips with the terminology of the social world, which is always amusing.  Secondly, it contained this gem of a sentence, referring to the tweets in question.

In her witness statement, she added that they were offensive to other groups of people including dentists, caravan drivers, golfers, the A&E department, Newcastle supporters, the police and disabled people.  As you would expect, I disapprove of the latter.  But I fairly sure none of the others are protected characteristics so I feel it is acceptable to laugh.  Especially at the caravan drivers bit.

The facts of the case are these.  The claimant, Mr Laws, worked for the retail outlet Game.  His job was risk and loss prevention.  He set up a Twitter account and followed a number of Game’s stores, each of whom had their own Twitter account, in order to monitor their tweets and any potential inappropriate Twitter activity by employees.  Many of these stores followed him back in return.  At least one of the stores had tweeted from their account suggesting that their followers might also want to follow the claimant.  (It is unclear from the decision if the concept of #ff was explained in evidence).  However, despite the fact that there was a clear link to his work even though the account itself did not identify his employer, Mr Laws tweeted all manner of offensive tweets, including some delightful use of the C word.

Someone told Game, and Mr Laws was suspended, investigated and subsequently dismissed for gross misconduct.  Another interesting sentence in the decision is this one, referring to the date of Mr Law’s suspension.  By that time he had enlisted the assistance of his 14 year old son, and taken down his twitter feed.  What would we do without Generation Z, eh?

The case results in a tribunal hearing to determine if the dismissal was unfair.  The claimant doesn’t dispute he sent the tweets, but did argue that the sanction was too harsh.  The tribunal held that the employer hadn’t been reasonable in the decision to dismiss.  They took into account that the tweeting was done in his own time, that he was using his own device and that the activity wasn’t part of his job.  For me, these arguments just don’t stand up in the real, social world.  I tweet HR stuff.  My twitter bio doesn’t identify my employer.  But I know that I am followed by lots of people that work at the same place, and my tweets can be seen by our customers, potential employees, my boss, anyone.  And I am capable of bringing my employer into disrepute by what I post. Some might argue my One Direction tweets already do. Social blurs the boundaries between work stuff and not work stuff. My advice is simple.  Get two accounts or protect your tweets.  Then you can misbehave in private if you wish.

One other important point came up in the first hearing.  Game had no social media policy.  You do need one.  It doesn’t need to be the size of a brick.  But you do need to tell people what is okay and what is not.

Game appealed, and the decision that the action taken by Game fell outside the responses of a reasonable employer was overturned.   The useful bit of the case is that the tribunal were invited to lay down some general guidance on misuse of social media in the context of unfair dismissal claims.  They declined to do so.  In a break out of common sense, they said that the existing law was good enough, and that cases would always be very fact and context specific.  What employers need to do is what they already required to do – be reasonable in the circumstances. They also said that companies will want to find a balance between the employee’s right of freedom of expression and managing their reputational risk.  They finished with this: For us to lay down a criteria by way of guidance runs the risk of encouraging a tick box mentality that is inappropriate in unfair dismissal cases.  Awesome.

What seems to me to be clear from this case, is that the claimant was a bit of an idiot.  And we should not generate guidance, binding case law or policies, based on or for idiots.

You can think what you like.  You can say what you like.  You can pretty much tweet what you like, unless you are breaking the law with your 140 characters.  But a little common sense would tell you that tweeting whatever comes to mind, especially when it includes expletives, obscenities and insults (not to mention some very dubious spelling and grammar) is going to cause you an issue if that account is linked in any way to your job.  Common sense.  Something that should be exercised alongside your social media use at all times.  And if you don’t know how to do that, you could always ask a 14 year old.

Stuff people say to me about social media

Anyone who reads my blog or follows me on twitter will know that I am passionate about the opportunities that social media brings to us, both professionally and personally.  Being active on social media has developed me, challenged me, connected me, and helped me make some wonderful friends.

I have noticed lately that when I meet people who know I’m actively social, they keep saying the same things, asking me the same questions.  So I thought I’d share them, and my usual responses.

How do you find the time?

The answer to this one is simple.  If you want to do something enough, then you will find a way and make the time.  And as the saying goes, if you don’t, you will find an excuse.  That is why there are usually more people down the pub than in the gym.

I know I should give it a go.

Usually said in the same tone of voice I use when I am pondering tackling my ironing basket.  See above comment.  Here’s the thing – if you are thinking about getting social, you have to know why you are doing it.  Because if you don’t have a good why, an aim, then you will find it hard to be motivated to get going or keep going.  My why is simple.  I use social media to learn from others, to make great connections, and to get updates on One Direction.

Isn’t Twitter just about people saying what they had for breakfast.


I don’t know what to say.

Don’t worry about it too much.  You are not crafting a novel. Just stay away from the obvious inflammatory stuff.  If you worry about it, overthink it, you will never do it.

How do you cope with the constant stream of stuff coming at you?

Cognitive overload is a real thing.  And it’s not just about social media.  Emails, phone calls, text messages, voicemails, instant messages, alerts, notifications.  We are constantly connected, constantly interrupted.   You can find a way to manage the social stuff just like you do with the rest of it.  In Twitter, I use lists.  I have ones for all the people who I really want to keep in touch with, be able to check at a glance if they’ve got a new blog post out.  Some people use apps or feeds.  You also have to be selective on who you follow and what you read, or you could easily be overwhelmed.  You can’t catch every tweet so don’t even try.

If we open all this stuff up to our employees, won’t they abuse it?

Possibly.  Or possibly not.  There will always be an employee or two who time waste, or who push things a little too far.  Your probably know exactly who they are at your place.  And if people want to waste time, they will.   They will take an extended smoke break.  They will stretch their lunch hour out a little.  Meander around the building.  Deal with them as you need to, for social stuff or that stuff.  This is the same argument that people made when email and the internet was first introduced.  Someone probably sat around a meeting table when Alexander Bell invented the telephone and discussed whether or not employees would make too many personal calls on it.  Employees timewasting on social media is an outcome of another problem, not the cause.

What if our employees do things that they shouldn’t on social media?

They probably will.  As I’ve blogged before, employees have always done stuff that they shouldn’t, but we deal with it.  If you close social media down for this reason, you will lose all the potential benefits too.

I don’t know how to do it.  There is all this terminology that I don’t understand. 

It takes a little getting used to, just like anything new. But it isn’t all that hard, if you want to learn it.  See earlier comments.  When it comes to HR in particular, there is a welcoming community who will help you along the way.

Isn’t it a bit sad? 

This all depends on your point of view.  Nothing is sad if you get some benefit from it or enjoy it.  Can you take it too far?  Yes of course you can. I was mindful of this recently.  Visiting Las Vegas, I stood to watch the fountains at the Bellagio.  They are truly a fantastic sight.  But was I struck by how many people were engaging in the experience through a lens, rather than being sufficiently present to truly appreciate it.  I tweeted a photograph with the caption ‘watching the watchers’.  There is balance in all things, including social media.  But to me, there is nothing sad about learning, reading, collaborating, chatting to my friends.


Isn’t it just for the younger generation?

Nope.  It is true that the younger you are, the more you have grown up with this stuff, the more it is second nature. For those currently at school, there is no time before the internet or the mobile phone.  But writing it off as something for those pesky kids is dangerous and inaccurate.  The evidence points to the fact that it simply isn’t the case.  It looks like you can teach an old dog new tweets.

It doesn’t apply to us / me / our business.

Whether we like it or not, believe it or not, social is the new normal.  This is the world that we live in, today and tomorrow.  It isn’t going anywhere.  The individual platforms might come and go, trends will rise and fall, but we live in a  mobile, connected, digital world.  Your customers are there, your employees are there, your friends are there.  You can choose if you want to be there too.  And it is a choice. But there are risks with not engaging too.

When I have answered all of these questions and comments, I usually say simply this.  Just give it a go. Dive in, be you, share stuff.   And if you have any more questions, tweet me.


And thank you to the lovely people at @IIPtweets for this image:


social is the new normal

Employees will do dumb stuff on social media (shock)

I had that social media conversation a few days ago, with a fellow HR professional. You know the one. About risk. About whether or not employees would do dumb stuff on social media if you gave them access, encouraged its use.

My answer was this. Yes, employees will definitely do dumb stuff on social media.

Why? It’s simple.

Employees have always done dumb stuff at work, and social is no different. And if you have been in HR for a while, you’ll know exactly what I mean. I know I have seen my fair share of dumb stuff over the years.

There was the employee who decided to smoke a special roll up in his car on his mid shift break. Only his car was parked directly under the car park CCTV camera and we got the whole thing on film.

There was the employee who came to work still drunk from the previous evening, and was found fast asleep on his desk, using the Yellow Pages as a pillow.
There was the one who made a lengthy call to sex chatline, whilst working in a call centre. Where calls were monitored and recorded for training and development purposes.

There was the employee who took a photograph of a certain part of his anatomy, and emailed it to several of his colleagues via his work email address.

There was the employee whose ‘trousers fell off’ whilst visiting a female customer’s home, while he was also rummaging around her bedroom.

Then there was the group of employees who filmed themselves causing damage to company property, whilst wearing their branded uniform, and then uploaded it to You Tube. With their faces on full view.

And then there was the employee who threw a Satsuma at the head of the call centre causing him to fall of his chair and split his head open on the corner of the desk.

Employees will do dumb stuff at work and on social media, because they are human beings, and sometimes, human beings are dumb. We do things that don’t make sense. We do things that are not good for us. We are not always rationale or sensible.

Here’s the thing. When it comes to social media at work, all the restrictions and the policies and the surveillance in the world won’t stop it. But on the way to trying, you might just lose something. So on balance, if employees do something dumb on social media, it really isn’t the end of the world.

And just as with the employee caught stealing, or over-claiming expenses, or misusing any of the other technology they have access to, or indeed any of the other things that fall under the scope of the disciplinary policy (up to and including dismissal) then we will deal with it. Just the same as in HR, we always have.

Note to readers: all the above examples are over ten years old. So anyone I have worked with recently can stop wondering who had the trousers incident.