Okay HR, Time for Social to Pay

Many of you know my back story. I fell into social media back in 2009. Like most HR vendors I searched out the market I sell to. But, what transpired in that search did not exactly lead directly to my customer. Late night tweets, revolutionary think-tank mentality and conference meet-ups changed how I understand and interact with my customer and how I understand social media as a tool for business. Social media is here to stay and businesses are begging for help to manage an ever-growing segment of business communication. People ask me how we do it all the time.

A Harvard Business Review post talked about social media trends for 2012 and named HR in the trend set. Specifically “gamafication” was mentioned when developing systems for employee motivation and the “cult of influence” which is a well documented success at Zappos, influencing employee performance, retention and brand cheer leading. I have personally witnessed HR and marketing careers totally transformed by social media. The HR think-tank twitter mentally of 2009 has morphed into 2011 defining and applying usefulness for social media in recruiting, personal branding, incentive strategies, work-place policy, labor relations, employee behavior, employee performance and corporate community management.

Social media is a communication tool. A tool that must be learned. A process that must be implemented and managed. Networks grow. They don’t just appear. And they must be sustained or they will fade away.

HR is Changing. Be the Trend Setter.

Social Media-minded HR professionals now is the time to seize the moment. Don’t get caught in an “HR Spring” of social media risk mitigation. You are on the cutting edge to create best practices in your organization with regards to social media across business segments. But, it is up to you to help define those best practices. Here is great stats post by “Blogging 4 Jobs” on how HR is using social media. How is social media migrating into your business or organization? Do you know? And are you ready to go outside of HR to find out?

Help your employees become empowered by social media to push the best of your business. Give them the rules, the expectations, tell them about reputation pitfalls and guide them to wise use personally and professionally. Shape every employee as walking customer service reps and brand ambassadors. I feel the Coca Cola Company has it going on. http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/socialmedia/ I’m sure there are other great company policies out there as well. Educate yourself now. Small businesses are clamoring for consulting advice. I feel every law firm and HR policy firm needs a passionate social media consultant to advise them before social media policy is written. A good policy needs to be guided by the tool’s usefulness not just the tool’s risk. There is no one-size-fits-all social media plan. It must be evaluated based on the individual business market and community culture.

Okay, So you Wanna Get Paid?!

I have had the pleasure of meeting some pretty smart business people online through social media. Typically I find them engaged, driven people, fueled by personal interaction and the online methods that connect them to niche markets and professional fields of practice. These are the golden natural abilities that make them skilled social media users.  I also believe this economy has pushed people online to network and find their customer or find a job. And as networks grow, so does the complexity of managing that network and understanding how to leverage it to help your career skills or the business you work for. As of late, a trend has emerged with several in my online HR network. They are figuring out how to take all of this social media experience to the next level and make it part of their job.

Here is the question I get. How can I get someone to pay me for social media consulting?

My answer: tell your network and hang out the shingle. Tell people what you do. Describe your social media management services. Own it. Tell them the results you expect to give them. But, you have to decide your niche. Do you cross over into marketing? Law? Recruiting? Customer service? Training? I’m not talking about helping a company set up a twitter or Facebook account. Any monkey can do that. I’m talking about helping a company understand how to use the tools effectively to engage, educate, broadcast, listen, collaborate, participate and build community relationships. And please help them understand why these things matter even if they do not lead directly to sales. I can tell you they do lead indirectly. Online reputation matters. Much in the same way brand awareness works to help your customer remember you or refer you when they, or someone they know, are in need of your products or services.

Here is another reason why social is important and why you should be getting paid to help businesses. It may not be as important to the C-suite but, it is important to customers, specifically those under 40. Why? If you do not have a social footprint you are distrusted and seen as behind, out of step with the marketplace. Does business want their brand unreachable and un-engageable in the world of smart phones and Facebook?

So write your business plan and publish basic pricing packages for your services. Do I know what to charge? No idea. But, charging anything is more than some of you are making now in social media. So put prices out there to see what the market will bear. Looking for a promotion at work? Pitch your social media contribution. What are you waiting on? Spell out the value your knowledge brings to the table and show how to apply it. Then send an invoice.

There is real opportunity out there. But there are pitfalls. Looking at the consultant track? The hurtle: most of those needing to buy your services are not using social media. And they may not even be in HR. There lies the catch. They know it is important. But, you are going to have to market more conventionally to find them. I think we are still ahead of the curve here. I think there are very few full time in-house social media/community manager positions. But, that is changing. So make your plan. Where are you going to fit your skills? The other pitfall: describing the results of your consult or plan. Be ready to educate against the myth that social clicks lead directly to sales and be ready to explain why social still matters as an indirect reason for sales.  (See: un-Google-able, un-tweetable, un-engageable.)

Social Media is Not Yo’ Mama’s HR Silo

In the end, I also feel those in HR need to understand the application of social media skills are a hybrid, some way out of the HR box. My business is a great hybrid example that has helped us survive this economy. We are not a trophy shop or a custom frame shop. We are a hybrid of custom framing, trophy shop, design firm, brand promotion and manufacturer of our products. If I was just a trophy shop we’d probably be long gone by now. And I am committed to my business. I am not a social media consultant. I just love to use it and blog about it. I need a referral list. I’d love to publish a list of HR professionals across the country ready to consult on social media. You know who you are. Some are out there doing it well. And I think there is room for more. Especially relative to industry expertise. Send me your info! Do you have info to send? I know you have the talent. I will tell people with a guest post on your blog!

New social technology application is not a nice neat package for your HR silo. You must see yourself as a trainer, a marketer, a policy enforcer, a user of technology to engage and communicate. Set your price, sell your services. Buyers are waiting. Your boss is hungry for new ideas. But, you have to be clear about a plan and spell out the results. Social relationships matter. It is the human in human resources. It is why HR needs to be a strategic player in social media. Step out of the silo and sell it.

Seriously, I would love to compile a list of professionals ready to market their HR social media consulting services to small and mid-size business. You know who you are. Contact me.

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One Response

  1. chris Says:

    Message received.

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