Why I Joined The Social Media HR Revolution

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In a Twitter exchange today with David Goddin, he asked me “…What/who prompted you to write & share what you’d written”.

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So here goes.

In October 2015, I decided that I wanted to help influence the direction of the HR profession in Wales as I felt that more needed to be done to raise the profile of what we do in this country. I love Wales, I am a proud Welshman and it is my view that our economy is built upon a fascinating history of incredible industries employing passionate people.

We also have an important time ahead with businesses like Tata and Airbus in the private sector, and vital public sector organisations such as the DVLA and so its really important our profession here keeps up and even leads the way in some areas of the future world of work.

With this new found passion and objective in mind, I created the South Wales HR Forum, initially as a ‘toe-dipping’ exercise to see if others were as interested in this as me. They were, we now have 400 members. 399 actually, but you’ll let me have that one.

I set-up a group for the Forum on LinkedIn and people were looking at my profile. A lot. But of course they were, they were naturally interested as to who I was and why I decided to do what I did. The problem was, I hadn’t really considered my online presence in any coordinated way.

In a recent talk I did, I likened this experience to when you were a child and you invited your friends around to play computer games at your home. It’s great that they want to, and you feel like Mr Popular, but then you realise you’ve left your Mickey Mouse quilt cover on your bed and now all your friends are going to see it.

In summary, I realised i’m trying to encourage the profession forward but my own SoMe footprint wasn’t setting an example, and was probably a little embarrassing.

As a result of this, I updated my LinkedIn profile and didn’t stop there. I realised I wanted to use SoMe to promote the South Wales HR Forum from what was my Twitter account. This was a big change for me. The decision to use Twitter for the ‘HR’ part of my life wasn’t something I’d done before. Previously I had unwittingly conformed to the view that this was my ‘personal’ account and should only be used to whinge about Swansea City losing, praise a new boxing champion or share funny videos from LadBible.

So there’s the first point I guess – I decided using SoMe to engage about my work interests as well as my personal interests would be a good thing and so far, I was right. I recently described this as part of a conscious ‘open-book’ policy. I wasn’t encouraged to use SoMe by any HR professional for this purposes, it just dawned on me one day that it was what I wanted to do.

Secondly, I initially followed a few select accounts from the world of HR. HR Zone, HR Grapevine, CIPD and People Management I believe.

Then one day in London whilst flicking through Twitter at Paddington station waiting for my train back to Neath, I stumbled across a post on HR Zone called ‘An Introverts Attempt At Networking Showman’ written by a HR pro called Paul Carter. I could relate entirely to the article and I wanted to share my own experience so I set-up a blog so I could post my view.

I actually wrote two separate blog posts on that same journey home from London (here and here – it’s a 3hr journey and I was particularly enthusiastic). I posted links on Twitter with the hashtags ‘HR’ and ‘Introvert’ (at least I think I did, this was 6 months ago after all) and my post was retweeted by a few people until it was responded to by Michael Carty and Siobhan Sheridan who outlined that they blogged on similar topics. I read through their blogs and loved what I read. I continue to love what I read from these 2 bloggers.

I guess naively I didn’t even contemplate that there was a HR blogging community but when I realised what was out there I just wanted to read more. I was a lurker, which means I didn’t contribute much I just watched on and read what I could, however, I then wanted to contribute more. Then I wanted to respond to others. Then I wanted to gain the response from others to my viewpoint. Before I knew it I had organically learned the absolute best thing about Social Media – the power of sharing. I had moved from ‘lurking’ to contributing.

I wrote a few blogs on a few different topics and then stumbled across Professor Rob Briner and his work on Evidence-Based Management something I took to immediately. I wrote a blog on how I believed EBM could support HR credibility and it had an incredible response. For weeks afterwards I had to disable my notifications because it was being read and re-tweeted a lot. This response definitely incentivised me to want to write more.

My mission to raise Social Media use in the HR community in Wales took a step further recently when I presented on this subject at a HR networking event in Cardiff. 6 months on from my HR blogging journey, i’m passionately encouraging others to do the same. After the event several attendees had dusted off their accounts and started to follow me, some even told me they were starting blogs of their own and this made me feel really proud.

The amount of blogs I write has decreased now that the initial novelty has worn off, but I am a firm believer that blog writing should be natural and shouldn’t be forced for the sake of it, so i’m ok with my blogging volume activity.

I don’t think I would have continued to embrace SoMe in the way I have if it wasn’t for a few different factors, and in no particular order;-

  1. People seemed to read most of what I write, and I like gaining new followers, readers, connections and having my posts retweeted and favourited. This is not because i’m a narcissist but because I want to engage with more people, I want people to read my opinions and I am genuinely interested in hearing their thoughts and having my thinking challenged. It means I also get to discover their work too.
  2. I feel like I am benefiting from learning from the HR community in my PLN (as I now know it’s called). I’ve learned things from Social Media about the future of the HR profession that I might not have stumbled across otherwise. I genuinely believe that our SoMe use as a group will directly influence how this profession develops.
  3. It helped reignite my interest in this field. I love what I do but now I love it even more
  4. I believe it is helping my reputation which in turn is helping my career
  5. Not a week goes by where I don’t stumble across another HR SoMe user whose work I find interesting.
  6. I was supported, encouraged and embraced, and continue to be so, by an exceptionally kind, inclusive, engaging and occasionally humorous (*regularly humorous) online HR community. The people in my PLN who I won’t name because I will inevitably leave someone out and upset them, actively pursue my opinion and support my work, treating me as an equal. If they hadn’t done that my involvement might have been limited, which would have stunted how much further I wanted to go down this road. This level of inclusion has been beyond encouraging, it’s fair to say.

So there you go. Thats why I started, that’s why I still do it, that’s what I get out of it and that’s why I’ll keep doing it. To those that have helped me along the way so far, a huge thank you.

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