3 Ways to Use Social Media to Build Your Company Culture

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Company culture is a lot like meetings and memos: it’s an inescapable, and inevitable, part of the employee (and candidate) experience.

But with the rise of social media, virtual employees and global teams, new business paradigms mean that when it comes to communicating culture and developing an authentic and resonant employer brand, it’s anything but business as usual.

At its core, every company’s “culture” is defined by its workforce, from CEO on down.

“Your company culture will be created accidentally or on purpose,” says Kirsten Ross, President of Focus Forward Coaching. “Your culture is your team machine,” she adds, “it either works efficiently or it has a lot of malfunctions.”

3 ways to leverage social media for company culture

That’s why “fit” is so important to talent acquisition and development, but what does it take for employees, their managers, executive leadership and customers to engage with, and thrive, within a unique company culture?

Answering this is a critical first step in defining an employer value proposition (EVP), which should serve as the core component of messaging culture both inside and outside the organization.

Meghan M. Biro, CEO of TalentCulture, suggests that for HR professionals and executive leadership, culture is often a top down directive. Yet it’s the front-line employees who truly define the corporate culture within the organization. With the growing ubiquity of social media tools and technologies, they do so externally as well.

The good news for employers and talent managers: when it comes to reinforcing and even reinventing company culture, social technologies represent a powerful tool. If leveraged properly, it can help employers gain the winning edge when it comes to acquiring candidates and retaining top talent.

Here are some of the top company culture considerations and strategies for leveraging social media that can transform your workplace culture into a competitive advantage.

1. Conduct a social media culture audit

While you may think you understand your employer brand and employer value proposition, look to social media for more of the story. Monitoring social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, along with discussion forums like Glassdoor.com and Quora can help identify some of the recurring themes and conceptions associated with your company culture and employment brand.

Comparing these comments with your employer branding materials and value proposition is an important first step. Listening to what the marketplace is saying (if it’s saying anything at all) also provides the evidence and insights necessary to build a business case and gain internal buy-in.

A social culture audit should also help you identify the most active, and influential, voices who are discussing your company culture online.

2. Tap into the “new water cooler”

Company culture is no longer a centralized, uniform concept, given the increase in global teams, multi-national workgroups, and in many companies, increasingly siloed or specialized business units and functions. It has become the amalgamation of often dozens of drastically different workplace experiences and expectations.

Analyzing how these experiences differ across the enterprise can help you identify internal best practices that can be replicated throughout the company and highlighted in internal and external communications.

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In the past, this sort of data was culled through anonymous employee surveys. In the new age of talent management, social media platforms present a “virtual water cooler” where employees can communicate about their unique experiences and perceptions of your company’s workplace culture.

Start by creating a destination, whether on an internal platform like Sharepoint, or on a secure external social network like Yammer or a closed LinkedIn group, where access is strictly limited to employees and can be administered by someone on the HR or marketing teams. Populate a few questions or conversation starters, (e.g. “Suggestions for Improving Efficiency,” “How Can We Improve Internal Communications?” etc.)

Employee disengagement and dissatisfaction is largely driven by the perception that leadership and HR doesn’t value their input and feedback. An internal social network is one way to show that you’re listening and actively engaging around issues that matter to their employee population.

Of course, this sort of forum is only as effective as it is interactive. Be sure to monitor and respond to employee comments in a way that’s consistent with the company’s social media, employee communication and privacy policies.

3. Empower employee advocates

Just as internal referrals can be effective means of direct sourcing, your employees can be powerful advocates in conveying and amplifying your corporate culture and employer value proposition.

While the message of almost every career site or corporate collateral espouses some form of “our people are our greatest assets,” actually highlighting these employees and letting them tell their own story, in their own words, sends a powerful message that goes beyond buzzwords.

Some HR and recruiting professionals block social media in the workplace, believing that it makes employees more visible, and thus susceptible, to talent poaching. In fact, empowering top talent not only sends a powerful message externally that individual employees are valued and recognized, but also acts as a powerful employee retention tool.

An employee who actively advocates your company culture effectively links their personal brand with your employment brand, creating a social media win for everyone – particularly when it comes to improving the candidate experience for both internal and external candidates.

This originally appeared on Talemetry Today.

As a veteran of the HR and recruiting industries, Matt Charney has served in marketing leadership roles for companies such as Monster, Cornerstone OnDemand, and Talemetry, overseeing online, social media, content marketing, and press/analyst relations. He developed expertise in recruitment advertising and strategy, online employer branding, social recruiting, and direct sourcing while an in-house recruiter for companies including the Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros. Entertainment Group, and Amgen. A highly sought after writer and speaker on recruiting, marketing and technology, you can follow him on Twitter @MattCharney or connect on LinkedIn.