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Social Media - Human Capital Matters - Issue 1, 2014

Editor’s Note to Readers

Welcome to the first edition of Human Capital Matters for 2014—the digest for leaders and practitioners with an interest in human capital and organisational capability. This edition focuses on Social Media. Human Capital Matters last examined Social Media in September 2012.

In line with the Government’s new E-Government and the Digital Economy Policy Social Media continues to be an important area of focus for the public service. The Department of Finance will be implementing a number of social media “league tables” in the coming months including online engagement, open data publishing, platform agnostic service delivery and customer satisfaction. It is understood that there will be some discussions in the Cross Agency Social Media Forum to facilitate discussions about determining useful performance metrics across the APS.

Human Capital Matters seeks to provide APS leaders and practitioners with easy access to the issues of contemporary importance in public and private sector human capital and organisational capability. It has been designed to provide interested readers with a monthly guide to the national and international ideas that are shaping human capital thinking and practice.

Thank you to those who took the time to provide feedback on earlier editions of Human Capital Matters. Comments, suggestions or questions regarding this publication are always welcome and should be addressed to: humancapitalmatters [at] apsc.gov.au. Readers can also subscribe to the mailing list through this email address.

Contents

Commonwealth Department of Finance, Online Engagement Courses-Final Report, 10 July 2013

This edition commences with the final report of the pilot sessions of two online engagement courses run by the Department of Finance in mid last year. The hyperlink to the full report includes links to the basic courseware as well as some additional reading. This is a good starting point for people who wish to become more familiar with the use of online engagement.

Wendling, C., J. Radisch and S. Jacobzone (2013), “The Use of Social Media in Risk and Crisis Communication”, OECD Working Papers on Public Governance, No. 25, OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5k3v01fskp9s-en

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has also been doing some work on developing guiding principles in relation to the use of social media for risk and crisis communication in emergency services. The working paper highlighted in this edition of Human Capital Matters draws on the outcome of the discussions held at a workshop organised jointly by the OECD and the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC), in Geneva (Switzerland), on 29 June 2012 on the theme of ''Risk and crisis communication: the challenges of social media''.

Moor, A & Aakus, M, “It's the Conversation, Stupid!” Social Media Systems Design in J.E. Lundström et al. (eds.), Managing Open Innovation Technologies, Springer, Berlin 2013. ISBN 978-3-642-31649-4

In the third article Aldo de Moor and Mark Aakhus elaborate on the role of conversation for successful open innovation. This highlights that social media in itself is a tool for collaboration however, just providing access to social media and information systems is not sufficient for successful communities and collaboration to emerge.

Cockerill, C. H. (2013). Exploring social media obstacles and opportunities within public agencies: Lessons from the Ohio Division of Wildlife. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 4(2)

The fourth article examines the implementation of using social media in the Ohio Division of Wildlife to connect and interact with constituents. Concerns associated with the adoption of social media applications within public agencies were found to be mostly unwarranted.

Huy, Q and Shipilov, A. The Key to Social Media Success Within Organizations, MIT Sloan Management Review, 18 September 2012

The fifth article examines how the use of social media in the workplace can build emotional capital. The researchers developed a theory about the relationship between emotional capital and social media usage by using comparative case studies and tested this theory by a survey method.

Manyika, J, Chui, M, and Sarrazin H, Social Media's Productivity Payoff, Harvard Business Review Blog Network, 21 August 2012

The sixth article refers to a blog about research undertaken by the McKinsey Global Institute that has found that companies are beginning to discover that social technology platforms provide an efficient way of communicating and collaborating. It also finds that productivity can only be achieved if there is widespread participation in the new technology by employees. It emphasises the role of leaders in the adoption of social media technology.

Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Toolkit, Managing and Leveraging Workplace Use of Social Media 12 May 2012

The seventh article provides an overview of the use of social media by employers and their employees. Topics include common business applications of social networking sites, employee use of social media at work and potential risks of social media in the workplace. The article covers the role of human resources, policy development, and emerging legal and regulatory issues. The article does not cover marketing-related applications of social media.


Australian Government Department of Finance, Online Engagement Courses-Final Report, 10 July 2013

In May and June 2013, the Australian Government Department of Finance ran some pilot sessions of two online engagement courses for the Australian Public Service (APS), one focused on individual public servants using social media, and one for agencies looking for how to use social media strategically. Over 130 public servants from 30 agencies attended one or both of the courses held over 5 days during May and June 2013. The Final Report of the courses has been made available on the Finance website in the form of a blog. The department has made course documentation available under Creative Commons License.

The documentation outlines basic principles for applying social media to a specific purpose. These include:

  1. Identify what you are trying to achieve
  2. Identify what success looks like
  3. Identify who your audience is, where they are, how to reach them, and what they can (broadly) contribute
  4. Identify the best one-to-many tools for your community
  5. Ensure you have a team with the right skills
  6. Be as transparent and open as possible, even going so far as to say you are interested in feedback to the process and how you can improve. People respond well to feeling listened to
  7. Put yourself in the shoes of a participant and make it as great an experience for them as you possibly can
  8. Ensure your outcomes are meaningful, that you recognise the contributions of individuals (internal and external) and that you take an iterative approach to build upon the learning as you go
  9. Establish a strong presence over time.

Of interest, it highlights the twenty official government twitter accounts active as of July 2013 based on the number of followers. (Twitter is primarily used for public discussion.)

Top (by followers) APS Twitter Accounts from 1 July 2013
Ranking Account No. of Followers
1 @Australia 48,679
2 @CSIROnews 17,668
3 @2011Census 17,481
4 @dfat 15,590
5 @RBAInfo 15,342
6 @auscouncilarts 15,088
7 @TourismAus 15,059
8 @artsculturegov 14,250
9 @ato_gov_au 13,820
10 @NatGalleryAus 12,715
11 @AusAid 12,604
12 @AboutTheHouse 12,271
13 @AusHumanRights 12,152
14 @nlagovau 11,764
15 @ABSStats 11,275
16 @ScreenAustralia 10,511
17 @HealthAgeingAU 10,104
18 @business_gov_au 9,439
19 @AustralianArmy 8,956
20 @AuSenate 7,913

The Australian Government Department of Finance provides strategic advice, guidance and service provision for the productive application of new and existing information and communication technologies to government operations.

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Wendling C, Radisch J and Jacobzone S (2013), “The Use of Social Media in Risk and Crisis Communication”, OECD Working Papers on Public Governance, No. 25, OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5k3v01fskp9s-en

The objective of this report is to contribute to the identification of guiding principles for risk and crisis communication, and in particular as regards to the uses of social media in emergency services. It addresses risk and crisis communications, a core policy area for the OECD High Level Risk Forum. It draws on the outcome of the discussions held at a workshop organized jointly by the OECD and the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC), in Geneva (Switzerland), on 29 June 2012 on the theme of ''Risk and crisis communication: the challenges of social media''. This workshop gathered participants from 12 OECD countries, think tanks, academia, the private sector and international organizations to discuss the challenges that emergency services and public relations managers confront in relation to the emergence of social media.

The report highlights the changing landscape of risk and crisis communications and in particular how social media can be a beneficial tool, but also how it can create challenges for crisis managers. It proposes a framework for monitoring the development of practices among countries in the use of social media for risk and crisis communications. The three step process spans passive to dynamic use of social media, and provides governments with a self-assessment tool to monitor and track progress in the uptake of effective use of social media by emergency services or crisis managers.

The report concludes that the use of social media in risk and crisis communication remains in its infancy. Tools are emerging to aggregate more and more data, so that meaning can be drawn from the flow of information exchange via the Web 2.0 during a crisis. Crowd sourcing risk and crisis relevant information from social media streams is a key area where technological innovation can be valuable for emergency services and authorities in charge. An increasing number of emergency officers, volunteer organisations, etc. are active online to enhance the resilience of their communities when a disaster strikes. While social media has enabled informal partnerships that enhance dialog capacity among various stakeholders, major challenges have been identified. Emergency services must clearly state to their audience what they can expect to receive through social media in terms of risk and crisis communication.

Moving towards greater government use of social media has implications, not only for external communication, but also working practices and changes in organisational culture, and organisational structure, etc. The use of social media can alter a user’s perception of lines between persons, functions and institutions, and impart a false sense of access to each that raises expectations. This needs to be taken into account when deciding to use social media in risk and crisis communication, with a need for adapting practice to meet expectations that are reasonable for the organisation to handle. Change management might be needed to develop its use.

Greater uptake of social media in risk and crisis communication is not only a strategic decision, but also has to be done according to the means and resources available to an organisation.

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Moor, A & Aakus, M, “It's the Conversation, Stupid!” Social Media Systems Design in J.E. Lundström et al. (eds.), Managing Open Innovation Technologies, Springer, Berlin 2013. ISBN 978-3-642-31649-4

Aldo de Moor and Mark Aakhus elaborate on the role of conversation for successful open innovation. More specifically, they provide a framework based on linguistics and language philosophy and use this to propose a social media tool system that could be used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to improve their interaction with stakeholders. However, they provide a useful set of advice for anybody aiming to approach the social media space to engage with the crowd in product and service innovation.

The authors focus on the uses of social media to create networked synergies in/across collaborative communities. They argue that conversations are the lifeblood of communities, building the common ground of shared meanings, beliefs, interests, norms, goals, trust and social capital. The authors contend that a fundamental challenge for open innovation lies in the successful crafting of the social media systems supporting the community conversations. Innovation communities (which are not limited to business interests but also include public and civic organizations and communities) therefore need to continuously make sense of the conversation context of the tools they use. The chapter they have written provides a conceptual lens with which to examine this socio-technical conversation context. It illustrates the use of this lens with a scenario of open innovation in the societal stakeholder networks around climate change research.

The authors make the observation that collaborative communities these days make use of an ever growing palette of online tools: social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, Twitter, wikis, blogs, and so on. However, typically the adoption of these tools happens ad hoc and without much reflection. This results in undesired effects like collaborative fragmentation, unclear responsibilities, and privacy. The authors propose a systematic systems design approach that can help think through these issues systematically. The focus is on conversation, since this defines and fosters communities.

Just providing access to social media and information systems is not sufficient for successful communities and collaboration to emerge. Equally needed for collaborative communities, such as open innovation communities, to become successful, is for them to continuously reflect in a focused way on how to effectively match their collaborative needs with the functionalities to which they have access - that is, how to craft conversation.

Aldo de Moor is owner of the Community Sense research consultancy company, founded in 2007. He earned his Ph.D. in Information Management from Tilburg University in the Netherlands in 1999. From 1999 to 2004, he worked as an assistant professor at the Department of Information Systems and Management at Tilburg University. From 2005 to 2006, he was a senior researcher at the Semantics Technology and Applications Research Laboratory (STARLab) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium.

Mark Aakhus is Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in Communication with an emphasis in Management Information Systems and an MA from the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University. He investigates the role of communication in managing complex situations through close examination of language, argument and social interaction in professional practice, organisational processes and information systems.

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Cockerill, C. H. (2013). Exploring social media obstacles and opportunities within public agencies: Lessons from the Ohio Division of Wildlife. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 4(2)

The article argues barriers to the implementation of social media applications within the public sector, thathave included the inability to keep up with changing technologies, lack of funds, lack of human resources to manage such applications, and concerns about security threats connected to information technology systems. However, as is the case with the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW), for those agencies that have removed the barriers to adoption, the use of social media applications has demonstrated real potential to connect and interact with constituents. Because many state agencies provide public services, connecting with the public in a virtual one-on-one basis is essential to understanding shifts and changes in public perception and public need. This article presents a case example of a US state agency’s adoption of social media applications in an effort to facilitate greater interaction among and between constituents.

In July of 2010, the DOW launched an initiative to engage social media technologies for the purposes of enhancing customer service and facilitating media relations. Although much of the early efforts of the Social Media Team (SMT) emphasized responding to public inquiries, the agency did report engaging in some advance content planning. Within the first six months of social media implementation, the agency reported having to add support staff to the SMT in order to respond to the increase in web-based queries. An intern and two “emergency” back-up staff were given social media support responsibilities as needed.

With the added human resources, and prior to the one-year advent of social media adoption, the DOW began to focus more on relationship and trust building within and among their social media audience. The priority shifted from responding to the public to engaging with the public.

Pressure to add support staff to social media efforts forced the SMT to face questions from agency administrators regarding the return on investment. In other words, administrators questioned whether the gains (e.g. improved relationships, increased trust in the agency, and enhanced customer reach) could be quantified.

Concerns associated with the adoption of social media applications within public agencies were found to be mostly unwarranted. One year out from initial implementation of Facebook and Twitter, the agency reported no security breaches or threats brought on through the use of social media. With regard to whether the agency’s existing human and capital resources were sufficient to handle the demands of social media management, the agency did identify several valid concerns. The agency’s initial management approach involving two full-time employees already working in other roles was not sufficient to handle the capacity of inquiries from both social media applications. Ultimately, additional staff had to be assigned to the SMT to meet the human resource demands of social media management.

Dr Corey Cockerill is an associate professor of communication arts at Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio.

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Huy, Q and Shipilov, A. The Key to Social Media Success Within Organizations, MIT Sloan Management Review, 18 September 2012

Many organizations have started using social media (a.k.a. Enterprise 2.0) tools internally to interact with their employees.

In 2010 the authors conducted a survey of 1,060 global executives. Only about 50% said that their companies had adopted social media initiatives within their organizations; of those, about 60% reported that social media had positive effects on their company’s internal communications.

The researchers developed a theory about the relationship between emotional capital and social media usage by using comparative case studies and tested this theory by a survey method. In the case studies, they established causality by asking multiple respondents about the history of social media deployment in their organizations, the evolving nature of emotional capital as a result of social media deployment and the outcomes. The researchers argue that the results of this study should be widely generalizable and are not likely to be biased by the focus on specific industry, geographical region or company size.

The authors note that social media can help emotionally attuned executives see where their company needs nurturing. It reduces the power distance and helps executives build and maintain human bonds with a large group of employees more efficiently. It allows employees to identify themselves more readily with an organization and can provide them with varied non-financial rewards. Employees join communities to experience authenticity, pride, attachment and fun, and social media tools can help executives build these pillars of emotional capital more effectively. On the flip side, internal social media use can also relentlessly expose the shortcomings of a company culture and sometimes even magnify them.

The paper indicates that the reason social media tools work well within one company and are ineffective in another can be seen both from the survey results and by looking at the experience of two different companies—a technology company and the northern European branch of Tupperware.

Executives whose social media initiatives had increased emotional capital for their company reported that social media made it easier to communicate both across hierarchical levels (vertical communication) and functional units (horizontal communication). However, companies where social media had not increased emotional capital found that social media had little impact on the ease of communication in the company and in some cases even aggravated existing problems.

The results of the survey suggested that the usage of social networking tools, such as internal Facebook-type applications, could harm vertical and horizontal communication if used unreflectively. When an organization introduced social networking that did not increase emotional capital, ease of communication inside the company actually declined. Internal communication improved only when organizations introduced social media tools that increased emotional capital.

Quy Huy is an associate professor of strategy at INSEAD, Singapore. Andrew Shipilov is an associate professor of strategy at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France.

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Manyika, J, Chui, M, and Sarrazin H, Social Media's Productivity Payoff, Harvard Business Review Blog Network, 21 August 2012

Research by the McKinsey Global Institute has found that companies are beginning to discover that social technology platforms provide an efficient way of communicating and collaborating.

The authors estimate that “interaction workers,” (managers, professionals, sales people, and others whose work requires frequent interpersonal interactions, independent judgment, and access to knowledge) spend 28% of their workdays answering, writing, or responding to email. They also spend another 19% of the time trying to track down information (including searching through their own e-mail files) and 14% collaborating with co-workers.

The authors suggest that these activities could potentially be done much more efficiently and effectively using social technologies.

It is argued that to capture this value, companies will have to do a lot more than buy some enterprise social technology. To get the improvement in knowledge worker productivity, organizations need robust and widespread participation by all sorts of employees. Participation, in turn, depends on having an environment of openness, information sharing, and trust. The authors assert for this to happen, leaders must take the lead. Leaders will have to role model the use of these technologies, explain how to use them to drive value, observe success stories and help them to scale up to the rest of the enterprise. At the same time, these technologies are only as effective as the degree to which individuals participate, so lessons from consumer social applications can be applied in the enterprise.

James Manyika is the San Francisco based director of the McKinsey Global Institute, where Michael Chui is a principal and senior fellow. Hugo Sarrazin is a Director in McKinsey's Business Technology and Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Practice.

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Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Toolkit, Managing and Leveraging Workplace Use of Social Media , 12 May 2012

This article provides an overview of the use of social media by employers and their employees. Topics include common business applications of social networking sites, employee use of social media at work and potential risks of social media in the workplace. The article covers the role of human resources, policy development, and emerging legal and regulatory issues. The article does not cover marketing-related applications of social media.

This article discusses frequently used business applications for social media, including recruiting, building employee engagement and communication, strategic real-time listening tools for business intelligence, and expanding learning opportunities among employees. Another vital application of social media by employers is as a knowledge-sharing platform, with employees at all levels using blogs, microblogs (similar to Twitter), expert directories and communities of practice. These tools and groups turn social media into collaborative tools to improve work product and workflow.

SHRM argues that employees tend to feel more engaged in the workplace if they feel informed and if they believe their opinions are heard. Social media can give employers a way to spread the word as well as a way to channel employee comments.

Some organisations use a corporate Facebook page to communicate new programs or policies to their employees. A key benefit is that employees can react to announcements immediately with comments or questions. Other employers use a corporate blog or video sharing to keep employees around the world engaged in regular meetings. Social media can be an excellent tool for quickly disseminating information on the state of the organization and have everyone feel involved, making them feel more connected and more a part of the organization and its mission.

Founded in 1948, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR membership organisation devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 275,000 members in over 160 countries, the Society is the leading provider of resources to serve the needs of HR professionals and advance the professional practice of human resource management.

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