I’ll be the first to admit, I have a pretty foul mouth — especially when I’m frustrated or angry. So, I found a kindred in Laurie Ruettimann, SPHR, founder of Punk Rock HR, when she started letting obscenities fly during her SHRM session, “The Future of HR is social.”

When she led off with “HR people do s**t work,” I knew what I was in for. By the time she reached the end and called Microsoft founder Bill Gates a d**k (more on that later), I barely batted an eye.

But between all the swearing was a serious message: HR/benefits need to understand, embrace and leverage social media technology to their advantage in their daily work.

Citing stats that some 1 million self-identified U.S. HR pros have a LinkedIn profile, she declared “HR people are social,” adding that according to a poll Punk Rock conducted at an event conducted by IHRIM, 23% of HR pros use social media tools for information-sharing, 21% for networking and 20% for information delivery.

During her session, Ruettimann broke down often used, but just as often misunderstood, tech terms like SMS, SaaS, RSS and “in the cloud,” and discussed how practitioners could apply them toward making their jobs more effective. She also offered attendees some technology “mentors” after whom they could model their social media use and overall technology efforts: billionaire philanthropist Warren Buffet, rapper Ludacris and Gates.

Calling Buffet a “genius” and Ludacris a “very cool man,” Ruettimann called Gates, “one of the biggest d**ks in America. Seriously, he’s well-known for being a ginormous jerk.  But,” she continued, “he’s also realized that technology is only as good as how much people will use it. So, he’s committed to making technology fun and using its power to change the world. So, model Bill Gates — don’t be a d**k — but think about the power of technology” in terms of user adoption.

In addition to not emulating Gates’ personality, Ruettimann offered two other warnings:

1. “Don’t go back to your execs and start talking about social media, because they will roll their eyes. You have to use evidence-based HR models to give them examples” of how and why a social media strategy works and what makes it relevant to your organization.

2. “They are a bunch of vendors on the [SHRM exhibit] floor who want to sell you social media technology. Don’t buy a g**d**n thing. Do not hire a vendor to put together a social media strategy for you — it’s the biggest rip off.”

And as much as she encouraged HR/benefits pros to understand and apply social media tools, Ruettimann emphasized, “You’re never going to be a Facebook expert or Twitter expert—nor should you be. It’s not a strategic imperative for you. The strategic imperative for you is making good hires, treating people well and when they leave, offboarding them in a way that they won’t sue you.”

What do you think? How are you using social media within your company? Do you agree with Ruettimann that while important, SM isn’t a “strategic imperative?” Share your thoughts in the comments.

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