Remember when using the internet while at work was restricted? You know, the dark days when you only had a few sites you could go to that were "allowed" in your organization and any attempt to educate the Internet Warden (boss) was a disaster that ended up backfiring in some ridiculous way that you never saw coming. I'm not talking about porn sites here, but the new "social networking" fad that everyone thought was a flash in the pan going under the names: Facebook, MySpace, BlogSpot, Tagged, Bebo, etc.
Now social networking/media has turned business on its head and those same people that tried everything they could to banish social networking from our work laptops are the people that are scrambling to figure it out. I get a lot of questions on this as well - how to Tweet properly or what to post on Facebook to get the response that you're looking for - and the truth is there is no exact science to it other than just to do it.
Think of the Internet as a very busy street corner where everyone's talking and networking together but there is a clear distinction in who's hanging around with whom. There are pockets, sub pockets and pockets in the sub pockets of people that all gravitate around a leader or a subject matter in which interests them. This isn't new to anyone that has a TV and has channel surfed before... But the soap box is yours and anyone can listen to what you have to say - if you say stuff. So step up to the plate.
So if you're a hiring manager, an HR person or an impassioned employee that likes where they work, it's your job to make your company shine online. Make it attractive, make it honest and be engaging with people that circle around in your pocket and it will function much like a job board that follows you around wherever you go. It's not just your company's brand, but you're own brand.
No matter what you do, you should know that using social media allows you to expand your network but if you're in HR or a Hiring Manager you're no exception. Management can be a lonely profession. One minute you’re at the holiday party and the next you’re terminating someone’s employment. Having the ability to interact with colleagues in your industry or profession, former employees, future prospects around the world about the challenges facing your profession or industry is priceless.
So the next time you're hiring for a new position, check out your competitors and the company's that are also hiring the same skills sets; measure your image against theirs and make a sound judgement as to what you could be doing better. It's no longer a passing fad that people think is a waste of time and will eventually go away, it's essentially becoming the difference maker in what separates innovative companies from the companies that will become a passing fad themselves.