Posting on social media while at work may seem like a waste of time, and in many cases, it is. Chances are your boss is not going to be impressed by your retweeting of a funny cat video. But according to consultant John Baldino, using social media strategically can boost your career and your company, too.
Baldino will speak on using social media to advance internal marketing at the Human Resources Association of Princeton on Monday, May 8, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Princeton Hyatt Regency. Tickets are $55, $45 for members. For more information, visit hrma-nj.shrm.org or e-mail email@example.com.
“In any organization, there is the opportunity for each employee to develop their own brand around skill sets, competencies, and knowledge,” Baldino says. “That reputation can serve them as they look to move along or up or across the organization chart, so they can market themselves. With social media, it’s actually easier than ever.”
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social networks can be used to tell the world, but most importantly your co-workers, that you are on top of the latest trends in your area of expertise. Some companies have internal intranet sites where employees can post this kind of information without sharing it publicly. But for most workplaces, Baldino says, this means using a personal social media account.
Most of the time “marketing” means promoting a product or service to potential customers. But Baldino says “internal marketing” within a company should not be overlooked. For employees that means self-promotion. For employers it means getting staffers enthusiastic about their work and inculcating company culture.
CEOs who post online often set the tone for their employees to follow suit. For example, Jeff Bezos at Amazon, Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook, and Elon Musk of Tesla are all prolific online posters. “They set the tone for what’s OK for their employees,” Baldino says.
But what kind of post is going to help build a reputation as an expert? Simply re-sharing someone else’s post is not enough, Baldino says. “That does not market you as an individual thinker. You might settle yourself deeper as a member of the collective because there’s not ever anything original that you’re doing other than retweeting or reposting. Some people will maybe think they’re doing a good job of being a team player, but they’re not also being an individual subject matter expert or a thought leader.”
Baldino says it is better to write original insights in quick bursts on Twitter or some other platform, or write longer fully developed posts on a blog, then link to it using other social media platforms.
Social media can be a great way for younger workers to “internally market” themselves since they are more likely to use social media already. It also might be a way for someone who is naturally reserved or introverted to promote themselves without the nervousness of speaking to a crowd.
“You can be thoughtful, and you can hide a little bit behind your profile,” Baldino says. “Not that you’re presenting a disingenuous version of your self, just that you’re not standing in front of a group of people where the nervousness of your personality sets in and you can’t express that thought the way you want to.”
While social media may be a great way to level the self-promotion playing field, Baldino cautions against companies mandating that their employees use it. “When it becomes mandated, it becomes stale and people are just going to check it off a list as a requirement rather than have an actual enthusiastic response,” he says.
Baldino’s human resources consulting company, Cherry Hill-based Humareso, is a good example of “internal marketing” in action. Baldino uses his Twitter account (@jbalive) to tweet links to a blog he runs at www.humareso.com and his thoughts on various human resources topics. The posts are informal in tone and are often reactions to recent human resources-related events in the news, such as the video of police dragging a doctor off of a United Airlines plane, and connecting it with a larger business concept. He recently wrote about why it’s a bad idea for companies to be cold-hearted, and cited United’s PR disaster as a cautionary tale.
“I cannot believe that a paying customer would be treated in such a way. Yet, I couldn’t help sense that we figuratively may treat our customers and employees that way in our blind enforcement of policy. We may introduce a context to our staff that drags out their willingness to invest themselves into our companies; we’ve done that,” he wrote.
Baldino grew up in Philadelphia, where his father worked in security and his mother in food service. He attended St. Josephs for an undergraduate degree and Villanova in grad school and chose a career in human resources because he liked combining business skills with an understanding of human dynamics. “You need people to get things
done,” he says.
Baldino says having a social media presence today is just as important as it was to have a website in the past two decades. He adds, however, that most companies built websites without really exploiting their full potential. “The integration of that site as a communicative tool was not there,” he says. “The website really functioned as a bigger Yellow Pages ad.” By providing something more — expertise, and a place where people can interact with the company on social media or blog posts — the Web presence is much more valuable.
“Now you’ve created a community, and that creates a brand,” Baldino says.