Social Media in the Workplace and Policies

It is interesting how things align for the last few months I have been talking with FCB Workplace Lawyers about speaking at their breakfast series on social media in the workplace. The growth in discussion on this topic over the same period has been amazing. Last week FCB announced the details of these sessions 8th May in Sydney and 11th May in Melbourne, so if you want to know more come along.

My topic is loosly “Four sides of the same coin – How to keep brand managers, lawyers, employees and employers happy when engaging with social networking.” I plan to cover topics such as :

  • What is social media/web 2.0
  • Workplace risks and benefits of social media
  • How to manage and monitor it
  • How to safe guard your company’s brand
  • The risks of unknowingly extending corporate liability
  • Harrassment from online friends in the workplace
  • Bullying
  • Confidentiality issues

Following my talk there will be roundtable discussions on:

  • Social media: what does it mean for current workplace policies including developing a social media policy
  • Should you regulate the use of social media in the workplace?
  • Legal issues arising when recruiting with social media
  • Employers legal risks associated with employees using social media related to work

The sessions are free and you can register online for Sydney and Melbourne.

Joining the Cult of Done

I am officially joining the Cult of Done. There I have said it. I also blame John Sumser for pointing to it over at Social Recruiting. The original link comes from Boing Boing.

So with no further intro here is the Cult of Done Manifesto:

1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
3. There is no editing stage.
4. Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.
5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
7. Once you’re done you can throw it away.
8. Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done.
9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
11. Destruction is a variant of done.
12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
13. Done is the engine of more.

Social Recruiting and Social Media ROI

It is said in business you measure what matters.

The same can be said for the implementation of social recruiting/social media. Basically its use is designed to positively impact your business. The only way to ensure that this is in fact the case is through clear and focused measurement.  Measurement also allows you to adjust your approach along the way. Spending too much time in one area without a positive return? Then measurement will help you understand how to make changes. Finally measurement is part of reputation management, as the only way to understand your online reputation is to measure what is being said, it’s also the only way to really manage your corporate brand online.

The measurement process does not need to be complex. However it does need to allow you to understand the impact on your business.

I also believe there is no right way of measuring the return on investment for use of social media in business. Why? Because the objectives for using social media are different. 

Lets look at Quantitative Measurement.

Quantitative measurement is required when you are looking to measure hard numbers such as increases in candidates or sales, site traffic, speed to hire, reduction in calls to your customer service staff. To measure the results you will require tools and services that provide you information on your program success.

As part of regular business operations you should have tools to measure your sales, time to hire etc but what about measuring your activities online and your reputation?

Here are a eleven free tools to get you started:

  1. Post Rank
  2. Post Rank is a free service that measures social engagement on online content produced in RSS feeds such as blog posts or news stories. This is done by measuring the type and frequency of your audience’s interaction with the content, for example bookmarking, commenting, blogging about the post.

  3. FeedBurner
  4. FeedBurner is an essential free RSS distribution service that provides detailed blog readership measurement and engagement metrics. Using FeedBurner you can measure the number of subscribers to your feed, gain an understanding as to which blog posts are popular and also measure users who have taken action based on your content.

  5. Google Analytics
  6. Google Analytics is another essential tool for any web site. Google Analytics provides sites traffic trends, search keywords, conversion measurements, time spent on your site and the number of pages viewed. Google Analytics provides a professional level of information for free in an easy to use and understand layout.

  7. Xinu
  8. Xinu measures the status of your site in several search engines and social media sites. It also provides some simple diagnostic tools to allow you to improve your site.

  9. WordPress Popularity Contest plugin
  10. If you are using WordPress as your blogging tool of choice installing the Popularity Contest plugin by Alex King is highly recommended. This plugin measures views, comment etc are tracked and provided point values to determine popularity.

  11. Google Alerts
  12. Are email and RSS updates of the latest Google results based on your specific watch list words or topics. You can subscribe to each alert through email and RSS. The alerts track blog posts, news articles, videos and even groups. Set a “comprehensive alert,” which will notify you of stories, as they happen, for your name, your topic, and even your company.

  13. Technorati
  14. A free blog search engine that amongst other things allows users to create custom watch lists of words of topics. When one of your terms appears Technorati will add it to your customer RSS feed for that watch list.

  15. Yahoo Pipes
  16. A free service from Yahoo that allows users to build very complex aggregation tools, called Pipes. The Pipes can be either kept private or shared publically. Yahoo Pipes is a very comprehensive tool, however I would not recommend it for someone without significant technical skills.

  17. TweetBeep
  18. A tool that reviews the content of public Twitter updates, Tweets, and based on your key words will send you an email either hourly or daily as people discuss your keyword. If your business is locally focused the alerts can also be restricted to specific locations so you do not get overloaded with irrelevant information.

  19. Social Mention
  20. A free search engine that aggregates information across many different user generated contact sites such as blogs, comments, photos, voting, tagging and micro-blogging. Users can subscribe to the watch lists by either RSS or email.

  21. BackType
  22. Most of the above tools do not allow you to see the comments left on sites that might mention your terms. This is where BackType can help. BackType allows you to receive updates whenever your terms are mentioned in a comment, once again subscribe via email or RSS. 

Another tip, all of these tools can be used to source candidates, plug in a keyword and “automagically” you get feeds of potential candidates. More on how to manage that information flow later.

Inspired in part by Jim Durbin’s post yesterday on Sodexo’s activities.

Update: Here are 3 more tools Radian6Techrigy, or Spiral 16 

Social Media Policy (Again)

Just a quick comment. I have been reading some of the feedback to Telstra’s Social Media Policy on other blogs and news sites. One comment that keeps coming is that Telstra is essentailly applying old school thinking to a new world policy.

Well of course they are.

When you create policies they need to match the culture of your organisation. Just because it is a social media policy does not automatically mean it needs to be all hip and new.

Telstra is a large old corporate with government roots, hence their culture is still like that. Should the culture of Telstra change, well yes and then the policies will be updated to reflect that. I do know that there are many inside Telstra who are working very hard to change the culture and this policy is just one step in that process.

Telstra’s social media policy

Yesterday Telstra was the first major Australian corporation to publicly release it’s social media policy. Called guardrails to help employees navigate the world of social media the policy is defined around three concepts, the 3 R’s; Representing, Responsibility, and Respect.

After the last few weeks I think both employees, management and stakeholders at Telstra will be pleased to have a few boundaries. However as Stephen Collins said where are the boundaries in the policy? That said it is good to see companies coming forward with policies allowing others to learn.

As a bit of a review, let me compare the Telstra policy to my recommended best practices:

5 key areas:

  1. Provide rights for the participants and define their equitable treatment – Yes
  2. Protect the interests of all stakeholders, external and internal -Yes
  3. Define roles and responsibilities for implementation and operation – Yes it is covered but I would like more information on how the implementation will take place. 
  4. Define integrity and ethical behaviours of participants – Yes
  5. Cover disclosure and transparency – Yes

5 main messages:

  1. Stop & Think – Implied but not explicit
  2. Use your loaf – Yes
  3. You can always disclaim, but you cannot hide – Yes
  4. Keep it real – Yes
  5. Respect the channels – Yes

So all in all a good first release.

It might also be good for Telstra to reference some of the relevant legislation:

  • Copyright Act, 1968 (Cth)
  • Spam Act, 2003 (Cth)
  • Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act, 1998

It should be noted that Telstra is in no way the first Australian entity to release their policies online, The Powerhouse Museum did so in April 2007!

Unlock the social graph of candidates

First you need to know what a social graph is, simple put by Brad Fitzpatrick the “social graph” is “the global mapping of everybody and how they’re related”, therefore your social graph is a mapping of everyone and how they are related to you.

So what does this have to do with candidates? Well I am glad you asked.

Two things:

  1. Helps you find them
  2. Helps you research them

Simple really.

Now the fun bit. Fire up your copy of Firefox, you have Firefox right? Head over and grab a copy of the new Firefox extension Identify. Head to a page that has a rel=”me” tag in the HTML, press Control i and bingo you find all sorts of useful information about the person.

Example Identify Image

This is the first tool to really open up the social graph for visual analysis. The plugin uses the Google Social Graph API to bring together all sorts of data about the person.

Now lots of discussions need to be had on privacy, data protection etc but I can see potential.

More social media and workplace firings

It seems that social media is creating an environment where “firings will continue until moralw picks up”, or it just could be that Asher Moses knows he on to a good thing so his editors keep him writing about it…

So far in April Asher has written five different articles around social media sites and losing your job, that is one every four days! This comes after the flood Conroygate in March. Having said that this all makes great content for this blog so I hope Asher and his editor keep it up.

April 2: Facebook comments by prison guards had them being threatened with disciplinary actions according to one of the guards:

the comments on the Facebook group were largely suggestions of ways Corrective Services could save money without having to privatise prisons. Some disparaging comments were made against senior officials but these were largely “tongue-in-cheek”.

“I personally have no idea who I’ve supposed to have bullied and what comments I’ve made that are defamatory,” the officer said.

“It’s a big waste of taxpayers money to investigate us for having an opinion, the irony of it being that some of the cost saving suggestions we’ve made have actually been implemented.”

April 3: Facebook discipline may be illegal has workplace lawyer Steven Penning saying:

He said employment contracts are unlikely to cover staff use of social networking sites.

“What employers are doing is they’re scrambling and trying to make out that present policies can be stretched to cover these new areas, and in many respects they can’t,” Penning said.

April 8: Facebook snitches cost jobs we have more and more examples of people losing their jobs, although in this article Asher starts to reuse comments by Steven Penning to keep the story moving. Here we have a 20 year old losing her jobs for saying “saying no to working for shitty Government departments” on her Facebook status and then Jane Morgan who said her job sucked so she was sacked.

April 16: Has our dirty Domino crew from the US who were fouling up customers’ food. They were caughtby their YouTube vidoes and have been arrested.

April 17: Finishes the list with accusations that companies are now hiring firms like SR7 to track down dirt on employees so employers can discipline them.

I think things have got a bit out of control, on both sides of the fence. Let’s break this down a bit. 

  • Not wanting to work for shitty Government departments, fair call and most people I talk too tend to say that all Government departments are shitty. I know a heap of people working in the Government who have spoken negatively about their workplaces both online and offline, shall we sack them all? Eventually we might just run out of workers.
  • The prison guards, again my personal view is they seem to want to help, maybe the Department of Corrective Services should sit down with them and listen to their ideas. Usually people only lash out after they have backed into a corner. I have also found most workers actually have great ideas about how to improve the workplace.
  • A workplace with snitches “telling on you” over your Facebook status is a bit like primary school, and I tend to like a place where people get along. Unless of course you are blatantly causing harm to the reputation of your employer. But even then will one small remark from a low level employee really damage the reputation of a large company? The potential PR storm you could have as took place in the UK is a bigger issue I would think. Take this further I know a public officer of a multinational who was alleged involved in a road rage incident, all covered by the press. That guy kept his job, so a Facebook status is not that harmful, really is it?
  • SR7, there are always people out there trying to profit on things that might be considered border line ethically.
  • The Domino’s example, yep sack them but this is not a social media issue.

This is really just setting the scene more later, 

A final note, I will be speaking about these issues in early May in Sydney and Melbourne for FCB Workplace Lawyers, details soon.

(This post has been updated following editorial feedback.)

Internet usage at work makes you productive

Flickr Photo by : dietpoison
(Source: Flickr dietpoison)
An Australian report released yesterday found that employees who “surf the Internet work” are 9% more productivity than those that don’t! The study was conducted by Dr Brent Coker from the Department of Management and Marketing.

The study covered 300 workers and found that 70% engage in what has has termed “workplace Internet leisure browsing” and helps with their concentration.

“It’s the same in the work place. Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days work, and as a result, increased productivity.”

The Deacons Social Networking Survey found that a majority of Internet users (91%) felt they use the internet appropriately while at work. It could be said that not only are people who have access to these sites more productive a majority use the tools appropriately. To all those organisations that are blocking sites such as YouTube, Facebook etc due to productivity issues, well you might in fact have it the wrong way around!

Let me push this thinking further.

Trusting and respecting your employees provides a foundation for engagement. With somewhere in the order of 20% of Australian employees actively disengaged and 62% general not engaged. Organisations need to work on engagement, part of this is how to motivate employees and improve employee morale, ok this is not news to most.

What if you trusted your employees that they would ‘behave’ on the internet and allowing them “workplace Internet leisure browsing”?

You might find that not only are they more productive, more engaged, motivated and have a higher morale.  Also don’t forget that companies with highly engaged employees tend to out perform (financial returns) their competitors by 2:1.

Of course there is always a flip side, the study also found some of us are addicted to the internet and as such “workplace Internet leisure browsing” just feeds the addicition. Oh well maybe it is time for some IAA meetings.

Joining HR Tech Central

A few weeks ago I received an email from Tony Karrer from TechEmpower about a new blog consolidation service he is building called HR Tech Central.

HR Tech

So what is HR Tech Central?

The HR Tech Central community collects and organizes great information on human resources technology. 

I figured why not. So I have given permission to re-publish my blog feed on the HR Tech Central site, at http://www.hrtechcentral.com/&source=michael-specht.

But what is very good is they are summarising tags and categories so you want to learn all about Taleo? Subscribe to the Taleo feed. Workforce planning? They have a feed for that as well.

Head over and check them out. Some of the other blogs they are syndicating include: