Interviewer’s Note: Sharlyn Lauby, SPHR is author of the blog HR Bartender and president of ITM Group Inc. Her company focuses on developing training solutions that engage and retain talent in the workplace. She’s a regular contributor to Mashable, the largest independent news source dedicated to digital culture, social media and technology. Her goal in life is to find the best cheeseburger on the planet.
Hello Sharlyn, welcome to the Pluggio Blog! Besides your cheeseburger quest, how do you describe your work?
I write and deliver employee training programs. Primarily in the areas of leadership, management and customer service.
How did you get started as a consultant?
I’ve been a human resources professional for over 20 years. My last corporate position was vice president of human resources for a global organizational consulting firm.
My father-in-law always said, “Live where you want to live, then go find a job there.” So I quit my corporate job and started my consulting firm – ITM Group. We’re celebrating our ten-year anniversary this year.
What role does Twitter play in your work?
I started blogging about five years ago as a way to converse with current and prospective customers. I wanted something more dynamic than an electronic newsletter. Right about the time I started blogging, I read a story about Twitter and decided to check it out. It was obvious from the article that Twitter was a powerful medium.
For a long time, Twitter was a primary driver of traffic to my blog. Even today, it’s still one of the best. I have to tell you, lots of people laughed at me when I started my blog. And even more when I started using Twitter. A colleague told me later, “If we had only listened to you…” For as much growth as Twitter as achieved, there’s still a bit of mystery to it. It takes a while to figure it out. But well worth the time investment.
I was checking out your blog and reading about some of the trends happening in today’s volatile market: employees being hired just for a quarter, then let go, among other things. How is the relationship between HR and employees changing in the post-recession era?
I believe the employee-employer relationship is being redefined. It was happening prior to the Great Recession. The recession accelerated it.
The idea of loyalty really doesn’t exist anymore. But that doesn’t mean employees have to be disengaged from their work. In addition, employees are being asked to share responsibility for their own career development. I think human resources will be focused on helping employees take on the responsibility of managing their own career…because it’s not really something people learn in school.
What impact or change have you seen due to Twitter/social marketing?
From a work standpoint, I believe companies are realizing that their employees are going to use social media whether they like it or not. Organizations have to figure out how to create an environment where employees use social media responsibly. Because if they do, everyone wins.
Are there any of your accomplishments with social marketing that you are particularly proud of?
I’m proud of HR Bartender and the awards and recognition it’s been given. I didn’t start writing the blog for that reason, but it’s gratifying to be acknowledged for the hard work. I also Tweet under two different accounts – @Sharlyn_Lauby and @HRBartender, which was named a top account to follow by Monster.com.
How did you build your following? What kinds of people/businesses are they?
Building a Twitter following takes time. I work on it a little bit every day. You can search for people in the same industry or geographic area. I also pay attention to recommendations – both from people I follow and from Twitter.
It can be a boost to your account when someone recommends you to their followers. A few months ago, I conducted a training program where someone in the session recommended me to their followers. I didn’t realize they have over 200,000 followers…needless to say, that resulted in a lot of activity on my account.
Obviously, I follow people and businesses related to my work. But I also follow people in South Florida – where I live. And I follow accounts that are interesting. For example, I enjoy playing Fantasy Football and like reading @NFLfantasy’s Tweets.
How will you choose who you will follow? What do you look for in a follower?
I look for people who appear to be engaged with Twitter. I’m cool with setting up automated Tweets, etc. We can’t sit around on Twitter all day. But it shouldn’t look like your account is on auto-pilot.
If you could go back to when you first began using social media, what is one thing you would have done differently?
Since I have two Twitter accounts, I wonder what it would have been like if I only had one…but that ship has already sailed…so no use in worrying about it.
What does Twitter do for you that nothing else can do?
I’m a news junkie and Twitter is a great place to curate news. It allows me to keep a pulse on what’s happening in my profession. I haven’t found anything to replace it.
What lessons have you learned about Twitter and online marketing?
You have to repeat your message. In traditional marketing, you do not run one ad and call it a day. You have to send out your message multiple times to reach different audiences. I read somewhere that a Tweet only lasts about 1-2 hours. Users should keep that in mind when they are marketing via Twitter.
The other thing is do what works for you. There are lots of what I would call Twitter curmudgeons, who complain “don’t do this” and “don’t do that”. Try new things and experiment. Monitor the results. Figure out what helps you achieve your goals.
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