HR blogs and blogging habits (4): The benefits of microblogging

Microblogging is a particularly hot topic in HR blogging circles. Although use of microblogging is comparatively limited among UK HR practitioners at present, there are signs that usage is growing daily, as HR gradually wakes up to its benefits.

Microblogging can be defined as “bite-sized” blogging, typically consisting of very short, timely updates. It can take place in ‘public’ (via services such as Twitter (external website)) or internally, behind a ‘firewall’ (via services such as Yammer (external website)).

Internal microblogging

In a recent post on the trainingwreck blog, Dan Pontefact offers an excellent overview of the organisational benefits of internal microblogging (external website).

Pontefract believes that microblogging represents “a natural example of both informal and social learning” and “will become a natural part and indispensable piece of the connected workplace”. He argues that one key benefit is that microblogging can massively increase internal connections between employees and senior management. Pontefract notes:

When microblogging enters into the equation, the connection can be so much more powerful. ‘Senior leaders’ can lurk, listen and actually get a stronger sense of what is going on in the company be it opinions, ideas, issues, etc. Individual contributors can not only contribute and be part of the dialogue, they can ‘hear’ the opinions and ideas of their peers (not necessarily in their team or even business unit) as well as the senior establishment of leaders. This can do so much for the organisation in terms of leadership and culture.

Public microblogging

But the majority of microblogging activity takes place in ‘open’ settings. Public microblogging offers HR practitioners the chance to air their views and form connections with like-minded individuals around the world. Microblog updates from HR practitioners can represent either their own personal views, or be integrated into a wider organisational communications strategy. Pontefract cites the example of some major corporate employers whose microblogging strategy embraces public messages from senior executives (these messages “are transparent, open and shed personal light on their obviously senior roles”) and the use of internal microblogging tools behind the organisational firewall.

Microblogging: The “conversation that never sleeps”

With so much to offer, why are so many HR professionals hesitant to take the plunge and give microblogging a go?

HR recruiter and author of the T Recs blog Mervyn Dinnen (author of the T-Recs blog (external website)) thinks that concerns over the amount of time needed to get to grips with social media could be to blame.

But he argues that time constraints need not be an issue at all. Dinnen says in a guest post on Recruitingblogs, that social media such as Twitter have enabled a “conversation that never sleeps” (external website). Growing virtual networks of HR and recruitment professionals are engaged in ongoing, round-the-clock discussions on the people issues of the day. But participants do not need to be plugged in to the entire conversation to benefit from it. Rather, it is entirely possible – indeed advisable! – to dip in and out of the 24/7 HR networking opportunities offered by social media. As Dinnen puts it:

[W]ith social media, there’s always a chance to pick up the conversation, anytime! Whatever you talk about, you’re engaging with people. As long as you’ve got something interesting, engaging, informative or just plain funny to say, then people won’t mind hearing from you.

Dinnen goes on to note that use of Twitter is at present less prevalent among UK HR practitioners than it is among their counterparts abroad. He says:

There are very few HR professionals and recruiters from the UK on Twitter, which is a shame. I would love to be able to build an online rapport with them.

Earlier this week, US HR blogger Chis Frede explained “how Twitter has made me a better HR professional” (external website) via a post on the HR Buoy blog. Frede lists a number of benefits of using Twitter, including the following: networking; knowledge; recruiting; getting feedback from others; and sharing information and ideas. 

Connecting HR: London “tweetup”

Next Monday (29 March), the Connecting HR event in central London (external website, free registration required) promises free-ranging discussion of what social media (and Twitter in particular) can offer HR. I will be attending, along with a number of other active social media users from the XpertHR group. And for HR professionals who want to find out more about getting started on Twitter, consultant Andy Spence has written a useful beginner’s guide for ‘HR Twitter virgins’ (external website).

Tomorrow, this series on HR blogs and blogging habits concludes with a round-up of the best HR blogs, as voted for by participants in our online survey.

I’d be very interested indeed to hear your own views on HR blogging – get in touch by e-mail, by Twitter, or by leaving a comment below.

Read all articles from our overview of HR blogs and blogging habits in 2010:

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