social-media-strategy and Human Resources, SHRM

A January 2012 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) explores recent trends in the use of social media in the workplace. The SHRM survey reveals information about social media responsibility, strategy, measurement, monitoring and policy. Below is a summary of the key findings, along with resources for managing social media in your workplace.


Survey Findings: Social Media Strategy, Policy and Usage

  • Marketing (35%), IT (17%), HR (14%) or senior management (14%) are usually responsible for leading social media activities.
  • 12% of organizations identify at least one full-time employee whose primary role is to manage social media efforts.
  • 28% of organizations surveyed have a social media strategy. Large, multinational firms are more likely to have a social media strategy than smaller, U.S. based firms.
  • 21% of organizations measure return on investment (ROI) for their social media efforts. Multinational firms are more likely to do so.
  • 39% of organizations monitor employees’ social media activities on company-owned devices.
  • 20% of organizations use social media for internal communications, with larger, multinational firms being more likely to do so. The most common internal uses of social media are information sharing and group discussion.
  • 40% of organizations have a formal social media policy. Popular elements include: codes of conduct for professional and personal use of social media, notes about monitoring, and guidelines for communicating through social media.
  • Of the organizations with formal social media policies, HR is most often responsible for creating (43%) and enforcing (44%) these policies.
  • 33% of organizations with a social media policy report taking disciplinary action against employees who violated their policy in the past year.


A few things strike me about these findings:

  • Only 21% of organizations measure social media ROI. This is something marketing departments and social media experts have been struggling with for a while, but there is still no “best solution” to the social-media-ROI problem.
  • Only 20% of organizations use social media for internal communications, and only an additional 9% plan to do so in the next year. Further, fewer than half who use social media internally do so for group collaboration and problem solving. These results are actually quite shocking, though I suspect there may be wide variance among different industries (not reported in the SHRM results).
  • Only 40% of organizations surveyed have a formal social media policy. Even among the largest organizations (25,000+ employees), the figure only increases to just over half (55%). I expect the prevalence of social media policies will increase in the near future, along with social media popularity and related legal and disciplinary issues.
  • I was pleased to see that HR plays a major role in creating and enforcing social media policies. While I don’t necessarily believe HR should take total control of social media in the workplace, HR professionals are in an ideal position to facilitate the adoption of social media policies and practices. HR has the people, communication and community-building skills, which when combined with resources from marketing, IT and senior management, can add value to an organization’s social media efforts.


Jumpstart:HR provides free information about social media usage in the workplace, along with best practices and tips for writing a social media policy through HR University. For more details about how we can help with your organization’s social media strategy, contact us today!