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Mary Ellen Slayter, senior editor of SmartBrief, led a panel discussion titled "Taking the Social Media Leap" at People Report's Summer Camp Workforce Symposium in Dallas last week. Panelists talked about their experiences with intranets, social media policy and viral recruitment channels, including YouTube.
James Fripp, senior director of diversity and inclusion for YUM! Brands, addressed the difficulties associated with traditionally conservative organizations embracing the diversities of thoughts, experiences and capabilities of a younger generation of workers.
"These folks that are coming up, and have those diverse skills, are what's going to move our business forward," Fripp said. "But what occurs is the senior leadership, in a lot of cases, will say 'Hey look, we're not ready to go there yet, and oh, by the way, you don't know enough to be dangerous yet.'"
Fripp pointed out that organizations are wary when it comes to social media and have a strong tendency to filter the messages heavily, which lacks an element of transparency and authenticity that is usually evident to users.
"We're really working on getting folks' minds wrapped around embracing that diversity, and that plays to the business in the context of the broader diversity conversation, which is around gender and race and experiences," Fripp said.
To answer the question posed about how to facilitate this within the workplace and connect it to business goals, Fripp said members of an organization need to find someone to champion the cause that could effectively influence senior management.
"The challenge we're dealing with is 'How much transparency do we want to have?' So, what we have to do is show our organizations how that transparency produces a ROI; whether it's a tangible or cultural ROI," Fripp said.
Avery Block, social engagement and brand champion for Taco Bell, discussed Taco Bell's dip into the social media pool, which externally has been handled by the marketing department. Currently, the company is venturing into some internal social media initiatives.
"We at Taco Bell have reached, what we call, a very healthy dissatisfaction with the status quo," Block said. "We've realized that times are changing, the job market is changing, and we're now looking for ways to truly differentiate ourselves."
Taco Bell, for example, has incorporated social media into its recruiting and brand marketing. Field recruiters were required to begin using Twitter accounts to connect with their demographic within their community. Block said it has been a useful tool for finding talent. Taco Bell also started a Facebook Careers page and YouTube channel that focuses solely on employment opportunities.
An internal social networking platform for Taco Bell employees is also in its infancy stage. Similar to Facebook, employees can create profiles, upload videos, photos and use a chat function and a forum.
"The main point is for us to have a vehicle that enables us to communicate with our team members. We want to engage them, and we think it's important for them to be able to engage each other," Block said. "The thing they all have in common is that they all work for Taco Bell."
Block said having more than 6,000 restaurants presents a challenge when it comes to communication, but the internal social media platform helps get the brand message out to employees.
"We're at a point where our consumer and employee demographic is the same, so we're really trying to align our brand message because our consumers are potential employees," Block said.
When asked how an organization should go about creating a social media policy, Block said it should be a team sport and involve all the pertinent departments.
Jessica Miller Merrell, CEO of XCeptional HR and blogger, advised HR professionals and marketers who haven't dipped into social media to take a risk and get involved because the effects and benefits are far-reaching.
"This industry really sets the bar for the rest of us. People should be watching you because in five years other employers are going to be dealing with the employees you have now that have gotten a little older and didn't stick around in the restaurant industry," Merrell said.