Monday, November 9, 2015

Guest post: Social Business and HR, Part 1 — Online Reputation Management in the Context of HR

By Mike Wise

Today, we are going to try something new — a guest post. Readers, meet Mike Wise. Mike will be joining us for a three-part series over the next three months to share his thoughts on the social business and human resources. Today is Part 1: Online Reputation Management in the Context of HR.

First, as a first-time guest author on the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, thanks to Jon Hyman for the chance to speak to you from a different perspective. After several rounds of discussions at a few different venues, it’s great to see the ideas come to fruition. Please Comment below if you find value in this kind of content – or not!

A couple sentences on my background: I’ve been blogging for 10 years on, first about e-Commerce, then about Social Tech, and now about HR and Human Capital Management. When I asked Jon what he would like me to blog about, his first choice was Social Business.

I’ve been teaching social tech for 5 years, primarily in the insurance vertical. As I transition back into the HR world with a fantastic group of people called CPI-HR in Solon, Ohio, I’m finding that a surprisingly high percentage of HR folks have not yet tapped into the incredible power of the Social Web. Thus, while it’s not feasible in a blog to cover every nook and cranny on a topic, the hope is that the following stories and examples will serve to point readers in the right direction and stimulate discussion. Again, please use the comment area below to share YOUR thoughts. Follow-on readers will no doubt appreciate them. We’ll be sure to respond.

A 3-Part Series on Social Business:

     Part 1: Online Reputation Management in the Context of HR

     Part 2: Social Business and Internal Communications (December)

     Part 3: The 3 R’s - Recruiting, Recognition, and Retention (January)

Part 1: Online Reputation Management (ORM)

A Hypothetical: Pat is thinking about taking a new job. So she pokes around Websites like Glassdoor, Google+, Facebook, and of course Google and LinkedIn, looking for clues. These data-points shed insights on what the corporate culture is like, how much turnover has happened in and around the job she is considering, what customer sentiment is out there, and much more. In the space of 30-60 minutes, she has a pretty good picture.

Meanwhile, from a different perspective, Chris considers the same company as a finalist in his RFP for potential supply chain partners on a new product line. So he searches on Google and LinkedIn as part of his due-diligence. What are the intersecting circles? Who knows who and what can they share? What are the Google Reviews? What do the non-proprietary sites say about the culture of the company?

These fictitious examples should not be unfamiliar to you, the reader. In fact, you are likely to do these same activities yourself on a weekly, if not daily, basis. What others say about you, or what you say about others, is now open for the whole world to see and interact with.

So what do you do about it?

Three things:

  1. Reject passivity
  2. Accept responsibility
  3. Lead courageously

1. In the early days of the Social Web, the most common corporate response was to do nothing, to passively let the Social Web happen without any proactive efforts on behalf of the company. If that is still your paradigm, spend a couple hours in the passenger’s seat of your company’s online reputation and pretend you are looking from the outside in. What do you find? Is there a bunch of negative sentiment? We all know that negative experiences are much more likely to be talked about, so those are usually the first mentions online. Or is there a dearth of mentions. That’s not good either. When it comes to ORM, silence is NOT golden.

Either way, take ACTION. A few easy steps to take: Consider asking your current business partners for unbiased reviews on Google and LinkedIn. Consider asking your current and past employees for unbiased reviews on Glassdoor, with candid, honest assessments. Ask your staff to get Recommendations of their work from clients via their LinkedIn Profiles or the LinkedIn Company Page. Yes, there are important nuances to be aware of in this. Do your homework and understand the protocols, but above all, reject passivity around ORM.

What questions do you have? What else have you done or would you recommend to others? Please share in the comments.

2. Are you responsible for what is said about you? Yes. Common sense dictates this: What is said, with rare exceptions for truly crazed people, is probably accurate. So accept responsibility for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Fix things that are broken. Ask customers and suppliers for honest feedback. Take those comments to heart, make improvements, and ask them again after changes have been made.

We’ve been doing this in business for years via customer surveys, etc. The only difference today is that the feedback mechanism itself is public. But if you are good at what you do, that’s actually a good thing – it’s free, it’s real, and it helps validate your business model to your prospects and clients, and thereby supports your revenue and retention goals.

3. “What makes a muskrat guard his musk?” The iconic Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz humorously points the way. We must lead courageously and with great vigor. Never hide. Get out there and publicly make your case. As an example, with regard to online personas and profiles on public sites, never do things online with anonymous pseudonyms. Take courage and build your brand with your own voice, your personal reputation, and so forth. In fact, when you create a profile on LinkedIn, The Wall Street Journal, Disqus, The Huff Post, or wherever, take a few extra cycles and upload your picture, a brief bio, and a link to your Website, Twitter page, or LinkedIn profile. Be real, be transparent, be courageous.

Here’s a great example. One of the fastest growing companies in Cleveland is doing a spot on job with ORM. Open another tab, go to Google, and type in Jakprints. Do you see that Jakprints Reviews is one of the most frequently searched terms? Pick it from the preview list and start poking around and see what you find. Click through to the owners and their profiles. Within about 15 minutes, you’ll have a pretty good picture of why they have been so effective at solving for growth.

In conclusion, if you weren’t aware before, I hope you now see that Online Reputation Management is a big deal. It’s a driver or inhibitor of recruiting effectiveness and revenue growth. Ignore ORM at your personal and professional peril. Attack it just as you would any other business challenge. Depending on the current state of your business, building your reputation online is not hard, does not take a lot of extra work, requires a fairly nominal budget in the mid-market, and has positive implications across your entire internal and external ecosystem.

What questions or comments do you have? Do share in the comments below. Consider sharing this post via LinkedIn and Twitter. Perhaps others in your network will appreciate the share.

Thanks again to Jon Hyman for the guest blogging opportunity. By the way, Jon is a great example of someone who has reaped the rewards from spot-on ORM.

Next up in December: Part 2 – Social Business and Internal Communications.