HR’s New Tool: Social Media

HR’s New Tool: Social Media

*Monika Soutiyal

According to a survey one out of every nine people in the world use Facebook, with an estimated 700 billion minutes being spent monthly. It is interesting to note that over 2.5 million organizations have a Facebook presence in addition to their corporate websites. Facebook currently has 845 million active users & twitter has over 100 million active users. Facebook account for 1 out of every 5 page reviews on internet worldwide & its users share over 100 billion connections collectively. All these statistics reflects the impact of social media on our lives. Today the social media has become an integral part of communication, through which people connect with each other, share information & keep themselves aware of what is happening around them. Business & organizations are not aloof of it. And organizations are embracing social media for various reasons & it has emerged as a new tool for new age’s HR.

Social Media, a social instrument of communication, is a widely known term today which consists of networking sites, blogging sites, information sharing sites & organization specific forums.

A social network site is a web-based service that allows individuals to construct a public profile, define a list of other users with whom they share a connection, view their lists of connection & those made by others. There are so many social networking sites available like Friendster, Hi5, LinkedIn, MySpace, Orkut, Facebook etc. Social media is not just limited to social networking sites but sharing photos, videos & other multimedia content is also a popular social media activity e.g. Photobucket, Flickr, Youtube, Slideshare etc. Apart from this there are blogging sites like BlogSpot or Twitter that enable individuals to present their thoughts to a wider audience & at last Organization-specific forums like Intranet, discussion boards, and other forums that encourage communication among employees.


HR being the face of the organization has always been the anchor for setting the right environment & ensuring that organizations have the right culture fostering change. This is the reason that HR cannot remain unaffected from the tossing social media in this world, where 2/3rd of world’s population visit social networking or blogging sites.

Social media is a kind of a platform that fosters more interaction. In organizations, it allows employees to communicate, share and digest more information any time they want and about virtually every aspect of their lives. As per a survey conducted by SHRM of 532 randomly selected HR professionals in 2011, 68% reported their organization currently engages in social media activities to reach external audiences. And the most frequently used social media and multimedia platforms include:

  • Facebook (45%),
  • LinkedIn (34%),
  • Twitter (28%) and
  • YouTube (18%).
  • Other popular platforms include company blogs (17%) and webinars/webcasts (16%).

Earlier, the most effective use of social media as a tool was considered to be for marketing, public relations or effective customer support. But now, HR is also opening up to the idea of usage of social media for reaching out to the employees. As per Social Media and Human Resources Report – Feb 2012, 72% agreed that Marketing and Sales is the main area where social media is used by organizations which is closely followed by the Human Resources function with 56% across industries.

Social Media platforms can be used in these four major HR areas:


Social networking is considered a great tool to connect with people. Everyone, right from a fifteen year-old student to an eighty year old granny is trying to keep on top of the ever-changing world of social media. According to experts, 80% of the candidates available on job portals are also present on social media, whereas not even 50% of the social media users are present in the job portals. Hence, social media provides a platform to look at huge untapped reservoir of talent pool.

Many companies are increasingly turning to social media sites for identifying and researching job candidates for meeting their hiring needs.  The referral program at Wipro is now strongly promoted through social media & they also leverage LinkedIn and other forums for targeted hiring, campus hiring, on boarding, and to create peer networks. Social Media recruiting is a low cost tool which  helps to assess the individuals capabilities and alignment to the organisations values and culture, & to know them a bit more personally by observing their preferences, dislikes, views and opinions that are shared on public forums which may not be reflected in their resume. Thus social media recruitment is redefining and reshaping the traditional hiring processes of companies.

“Social Media has helped us increase our reach. Today, candidates do not have to fill-up long winded forms on job portals. They have to merely follow or like and the requirements come to them. This is a significant shift in the way sourcing takes place.”

- Vijay Sivaram, Head-ITES – Ikya Global


Social media is rapidly becoming an ideal way of increasing knowledge-sharing & encouraging teamwork Thus, many organisations are using social media tools, like forums, blogs and social networks, to enable their staff and stakeholders to converse, collaborate and connect. It results in authentic conversations with employees, allowing communication to flow from the top down, bottom up, and even from side to side.

CEO blog is another effective means of one-to-many communication. Vineet Nayar of HCL & NV Tiger Tyagrajan of Genpact, Kevin Lynch of Adobe, Jonathan Schwartz of Sun Microsystem are some CEO’s who are active bloggers.

Social media helped SAP in catching the eye of potential employees in the warm up period. Recently they hired 236 college graduates’ who will join them in July. They continuously stay connected with them on FB so that they become aware of their work culture. They practice this with lateral hires also because they can always choose to move to another organization.


Now the big companies are leveraging the concept of employer branding & making potential employees well-versed with their organizations work-culture. With the advent of online media, it has become simpler to express organization culture through a tagline. Since this is the generation of technology & tech-savvy, so it has become necessary to use online media to reach out. Study by the global employer branding leader Universum reveals that apart from corporate websites & on-campus activities, social media is increasingly becoming an important tool for employee branding.

HCL portray itself as “Employee first, Customers second” while Genpact highlights its culture on its facebook & LinkedIn pages by posting stories of employees who have gradually progressed on the career front.


Employee engagement has become one of the key elements in this competitive era. According to Watson Wyatt’s Work Asia Survey Report for 2008-09 (Business Today, 14 June, 2009) the employee engagement score has declined 3% in India compared to the last year. Organizations are now paving newer ways for increasing employee engagement. More organizations are embracing social media as a means of engaging employees. Organizations are using internal social networks to recognize employees for a job well done or to promote initiatives that the organization is doing in the community. Wipro, as an organization, has various internal social media platforms: myWiproWorld, an in-house social network plus Xperience Wipro and Earthian are two communities on facebook for employees and others to share experiences & it leverages various initiatives  like Spirit of Wipro , Online Diversity , Moments that Click  & many more.

Similarly, Infosys has created an interactive portal called Infosys Bubble in June 11, where the workforce can exchange notes as well. The portal has seen 2,61,030 connections and 74376 profiles created in a span of few months. Likewise, Johnson & Johnson has Yammer, an effective and popular way to communicate on sustainability topics with younger employees.


Despite social media making significant inroads into our lives, most organizations are apprehensive about using it. It has been found that 43% of the organizations block access to any social networking services on company-owned computers.  Across all industries, close to 85% respondents said data security and privacy were the biggest concerns, while around 71% cited organizational maturity as a concern.

Thus, organizations using social media in their business processes needs to have a social media strategy & policy in place. Organizations need to invest in training its employees on different social media platforms. As per survey, currently only 27% of the organizations provide social media training to employees who engage in social media activities on behalf of the organization to reach external audiences. Dell, have a social media university that renders certifications across different platforms to employees. At Genpact, there is a 5 to 10 minute online test for employees, which certifies them to act as employee ambassadors. Such trainings make them informed about social media policies of the company. HCL has monitoring teams to keep track of online discussions.


Technology has been changing the face of the HR industry over the past 15 years & social media is no different. Human Resources have always been struggled with issue of reaching out & social media has helped to sort out this issue to a greater extent. It is up to the HR fraternity to tap into this. However, at the same time one needs to ensure that one is not too reliant and compromise on the hygiene factors of employee relations.

At last, the definition of social media is changing every day and organizations need to keep up with the speed of change. Organizations should tap into the communities within the organizations more from an employee engagement perspective. While publicly available social media applications will provide organizations with a bigger network to tap into, it is the employees who will ultimately play the biggest role in all spheres whether it is hiring or employer branding.


  1. Anupam, Pratik, & Santhi, Social Media: Impact & relevance in managing human resources in India, Social Media and Human Resources – Feb 2012, By Wipro Ltd
  2. SHRM Survey Findings: Social Media in the Workplace, November 10th, 2011
  3. Trends in Global Employee Engagement: By Aon Hewitt Consulting
  6. Kishore Bhave, New age employee engagement, Business Manager, May 2012, pg 19-23
  9. Blessy Pais & K. Srinivasa Rao, Social Media & HR, Human Capital, Vol 13, Jan 2012, pg 31-35


  1. Monika Soutiyal says:

    This article got published in “Business Manager” – aug12 issue.

  2. Yogesh says:

    Nicely composed article. Great work :)

  3. Tej Pratap Bisht says:

    Nice article !! Keep up the Good Work!!

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