How HR professionals can get the best from Twitter

by HCA25 Jun 2012

There is certainly a level of fear in the HR community about using Twitter professionally – nearly every week a corporate or celebrity social media blunder hits the headlines. Tweeting something that was ill-thought or could be misconstrued is a frontline concern. Yet when social media is used properly, it can promote your personal brand and foster innovative ideas.

It comes as little surprise that tech companies and Gen-Y tech savvy employees have been quick to recognise the benefits of social media. One such company is Atlassian, a fast-growing Australian software company which is quickly making a name for itself in the tech world, and also becoming known for innovative HR practices. Talent and HR head at Atlassian, Joris Luijke told HC that using Twitter is an integral aspect of his social media presence. Luijke has amassed a following during his four years on the social media platform, and refrains from tweeting details related to his personal life.“Mostly, what I do on Twitter is research…I follow people who have a lot of great ideas, they are my gateway to new ideas,” he said. Luijke follows HR people at ‘forward-thinking organisations’ and those who write about HR management, leadership, and coaching. He attributes many of the policies and initiatives that he has implemented at Atlassian to leads “borne from the ideas from the community knowledge that lives on Twitter”.

Harvard Business Review (@harvardbiz), the Management Innovation eXchange (MIX - @hackmanagement), HR Tech blogger Steve Boese (@steveboese) and Q & A site Quora (@quora), all rate on Luijke’s ‘follow’ list.

From an organisational perspective, other advantages of Twitter are easy to see. Atlassian has doubled its headcount in the last two years, and with it the recruitment challenge of finding world-class software developers from across the globe. “We generally, as a company, see recruitment as being not just limited to HR – we get the entire organisation involved,” Luijke said. When a campaign is being initiated, as most of the staff at Atlassian have Twitter accounts or blogs, those who wish to participate are asked to “spread the message as far and as wide as they possibly can”. Atlassian encourages referrals by offering incentive schemes such as free flights and holidays.

The company encourages staff to be creative in the way they spread the word, and Luijke said the interesting, quirky messages are always more likely to go viral on social media.

Another avid HR tech expert, blogger and tweeter, Steve Boese (almost 10,000 followers) sees Twitter as an important tool for HR managers. “Twitter is fast becoming an important resource for recruiters, particularly those recruiting in technical and graphical design fields”, he wrote on his blog, Steve Boese’s HR Technology. However, he does caution that ‘tweeting’ does take some getting used to. “After about a month or 100 updates (Tweets), the student starts to 'get it'. It becomes obvious the value of these conversations and connections, and many become firmly entrenched in the fabric of their Twitter community”, he said.

The Harvard Business Review says some top tips on what not to do include:

  • Me now. If a tweet answers the question, “What are you doing right now?” don’t send it. Unless you’re a celebrity, people don’t care about your every move.
  • Whining. Don’t complain about something unless you’re also giving useful advice. Just like in person, people on Twitter don’t like to listen to moaning.
  • Presence maintenance. Don’t send a tweet for the sake of making your presence known. Instead of typing “Good morning, world” wait until you have something insightful or useful to share.

-Patrick Durrant


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