The HR Community globally, and in India in particular, is no stranger to the power of social media. Tweetchats, virtual conferences and hangouts are regularly hosted by platforms created by HR professionals addressing specific subjects on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. A tweetchat typically lasts for about an hour, bringing together professionals, subject matter experts, and learners from across firms and industries. In a typical tweetchat, stories are shared, opinions put forth, research is cited and expertise is lapped up, all in a matter of 60 minutes. Participants are likely to be in a state of flow, thoroughly enjoying the exchange of ideas in synchronized harmony. To an outsider glancing at a live tweetchat on a laptop/tablet/smartphone screen, this may well seem like a tangle of random words wobbling on plasma. But the immersed participants understand that the idea-exchange requires 100% attention and deep focus.
1. Concise by design
Verbosity goes out the window. Tweeple (users of twitter) are restricted by Twitter’s 140 character message length, and they need to make an impression within this boundary. Crisp messages are delivered to a wide audience and these are re-tweeted, modified, replied, discussed, dissected and shared at a scale that can be mind-boggling at times.
2. A level-playing (discussion) field
Twitter creates a level playing field where what you say matters more than who you are. No one person is in charge of judging the merit of any discussion or comment. Great inputs are celebrated, added to, modified and broadcast through twitter by its participants. Open communication is not elusive or hypocritical anymore; rather, it is real-time, orchestrated by real people and revolves around real issues. Some twitter chat rooms also allow participants to vote-up comments that generate most impact.
3. Community-driven learning
For many participants, listening in to tweetchats is as, if not more, important than speaking up. Twitter serves as a great platform to learn from and network with industry professionals who may share similar/different views. Social learning is a given and tweeple usually share their opinions based on past experience and/or subject-matter expertise.
4. Discussion starters
As a participant in a tweetchat, you are presented with a unique opportunity to test the validity of your ideas among a curious audience. You could post a query, validate your thoughts or question assumptions. A self-differentiated participant is likely to have a better time in a tweetchat than someone who may take comments personally.
5. Alternative to conferences?
Web-conferences and webinars hosted by HR Professionals are now a reality and the Google+ hangout is a great tool to bring together experts under one virtual roof, geographical boundaries notwithstanding. A 60-minute tweetchat that runs in parallel to a live virtual web-conference is similar to a brick-and-mortar conference. The difference is that the audience need not wait till the end of the conference to put forth their views – this happens in real-time through the tweetchat.
6. A Storified summary
Most HR tweetchats are ‘storified‘ at the end – summarized in a crisp, story format for future reference. This helps participants go back and check on important information that they might want to dig deeper into. It also serves as a ready reference for a wider audience that may have missed participating in the action.
HR Professionals are signing up on twitter, participating in, and hosting tweetchats at a pace that is unprecedented. Can this environment be replicated by HR professionals at an enterprise level? Yes. Hosting enterprise-wide tweetchats for employees within your organization may not be a bad idea after all. First movers are likely to gain an advantage in propagating a culture of open communication.