How to Use Social Media as an HR Tool



A number of stores are deliberately trying to strengthen bonds among their employees, and they’re doing it through social media. Rather than using these sites exclusively as consumer promotion vehicles, they’re using them internally—to connect their employees, to share ideas and information, and to provide inspiration.

“Social media is a great human resources tool,” says Shannon Chirone, coauthor of Digital Marketing for Everyone: Connect With Your Customers, Grow Your Business, & Demystify Social Media. “Retailers want to raise the level of happiness among employees, and one way to do that is to raise the connection between them. Social media can connect employees from one store to the other—or even people they are next to all day.”
 

Encourage employees to connect through social media.
Retailers can run contests between teams on these websites—such as asking employees to post their best Halloween costumes, from which they’ll pick a winner. And staying connected helps extend the good feelings fostered by out-of-office reward events throughout the year—for example, the holiday party or summer retreat. Using social media, workers can maintain morale-boosting friendships with their colleagues on their own.

And employees who have bonded tend to work together more effectively, Chirone says. When they’ve seen a recent baby picture or heard someone ran a marathon, “they’re going to get a fellow employee’s request completed faster because they’re more inclined to help a friend.”
 

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Emoticon Heart and Asterisk rings in sterling silver; $150 and $95Wendy Brandes Fine JewelryNYC; 212-213-3504; wendybrandes.com

Take advantage of social media as a communication tool within your business.
Designer Wendy Brandes uses Twitter (and occasionally Facebook and Instagram) to keep in touch with the people she works with, including her full-time employee, other jewelers, packaging people, graphic designers, and web developers. She’s used Twitter, she says, to track down other ­jewelers at a trade show, alert her graphic designer to a quick turnaround request, and share inspiration for press pitches with her marketing ­coordinator. “I communicate the most with peers, such as other designers and other small business people,” she says. “It definitely feels like the office ­water cooler, where you can talk to people with similar experiences.”
 

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New York City–based Diamond Envy uses Pinterest to communicate with its designers, artists, and fans on color stories and design ideas.

Use social media to foster productive collaboration, staff feedback, and a flow of fresh thinking.
Social media is an ideal tool for brainstorming, says Lorrie Thomas Ross, CEO of Web Marketing Therapy Inc., in Santa Barbara, Calif. “It’s a lot better than getting 50 emails from the team or getting the dreaded ‘reply to all.’?” Because social media is a more casual communication tool than email, it is more likely to elicit comments, Chirone says. If jewelry store operators are looking for input on a new move for their business, they can put up a post and take comments on it for a few days or weeks, she explains. “In social media you get the entire company collaborating.”

Don’t be afraid to share personal anecdotes.
At Indianapolis-based Reis-Nichols Jewelers, “We post a lot about our employees. It’s about getting to know us, not just the things we sell,” spokesperson Lori Roberts says. “It gives customers an inside look and makes our clients feel a little more connected to our business. We are ­trying to interact with them and be their friends, not to sell jewelry.”

A version of this story originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of JCK magazine.

(Top: Jose Luis Pelaez/Media Bakery)