hashtag.JPGDo you know how much Twitter has to offer HR professionals?

And if you’re one of the growing number of HR professionals already on Twitter, are you making the most of the key HR Twitter hashtags to tap into the wealth of HR-related content Twitter users are sharing on a daily basis?

Here we provide an introduction to the power of the hashtag, present a list of five highly recommended HR hashtags, and invite you to submit your own favourite HR hashtags.

The benefits of Twitter and of building a social network
The benefits of Twitter and of social media to HR were recently spelt out in an excellent blog post from US HR blogger Christine Assa. In this post, Christine describes her delight at getting a “simple HR-related question” answered immediately and comprehensively by posing it to her social media network. She says:

To think that I’ve spent hundreds if not thousands in educational books, and even more on classes, to try to know all this information and none of them ever said… build a social network.

What is a Twitter hashtag?
So what is a Twitter hashtag?

* At its simplest, adding a # symbol before any word on Twitter makes that word into a hashtag – which means that the word becomes clickable.

Clicking on the hashtag takes you to a list of all recent tweets using that particular hashtag.

* One great use of hashtags is therefore to group together and access recent tweets on specific topics.

* Another great use of hashtags is to group tweets among a community of people.

‘Hashtags are strange things’

Leading UK employment law blogger Laurie Anstis offers an excellent definition of what hashtags are all about (and the rest of Laurie’s post on Getting the most out of Twitter – finding your community is also essential reading). Here’s Laurie’s take on what hashtags have to offer:

Hashtags are strange things. They are words with a “#” in front of them, and are pretty much unique to Twitter. No one controls or governs them, and they can be used in whatever way people choose. Sometimes they are used as an ironic commentary on a tweet, sometimes to denote a response to a particular internet meme or fad, or sometimes to denote a particular topic. The one thing that hashtags do help with is they make it easier to do a specific search, particularly when someone is using them to denote a particular topic. There is no way to get used to hashtags without actually using Twitter and seeing how they are used.

#SHRM12 & #NotAtSHRM12: The power of the hashtag
A specific example of the power of hashtags comes from the recent SHRM 2012 conference, which took place last month in Atlanta, Georgia:

* The #SHRM12 hashtag was used by attendees at the conference to generate literally thousands of tweets about the conference.

* A #NotAtSHRM12 hashtag also came into use, for individuals (such as myself) who could not make it to Atlanta for the conference, but nonetheless wished to tap into the very wide range of discussions emanating from SHRM 2012.

* I used these hashtags as my first port of call for researching and writing XpertHR’s social media overview of SHRM 2012.

Five great hashtags for HR
Here’s my pick of five excellent HR-related hashtags (click on each one to access the latest list of recent tweets using each respective hashtag):

* #HR A simple, catch-all hashtag for all things HR.
* #HRblogs Click on this hashtag to access the latest blog posts (and related discussions about the issues they raise)

written by HR bloggers from all around the world. I started this particular hashtag off back in March 2010 to tie in with XpertHR’s HR blogs and blogging habits series, and which has subsequently taken on a life of its own).

* #HRdata The effective use of data is an increasingly essential requirement of the work of many HR practitioners in the 21st century. Click on this hashtag to access blog posts, datasets and debates on data issues of direct relevance to HR.

* #HR247 This is the hashtag of the HR 24/7 community on Twitter – a place where HR professionals can tap into their very own “conversation that never sleeps,” devoted to what we might call “the profession that never sleeps!” The idea of HR 24/7 occurred to me back in February 2012, following a Twitter exchange with US HR VP Jay Kuhns (who is also the author of the highly-recommended No Excuses HR blog). Jay tweeted that he was “heading into the hospital” where he works in the wee small hours of the morning “to surprise a night shift RN [Registered Nurse] with an award. Good stuff!” In my reply to Jay, I made up a new Twitter hashtag: #HR247 (i.e. “HR 24/7”). I’m very pleased to report that – as sometimes happens on Twitter – a growing number of people have picked up on this hashtag and started using it.

* #UKemplaw If you have even a passing interest in UK employment law issues, then this hashtag will quickly prove absolutely essential. As you can see from Professional Seminars’ July 2012 list of the Top 30 #UKemplaw Tweeters (which very kindly includes mentions of my colleagues on @TribunalWatch and me), this hashtag is used by a mix of legal professionals, journalist and bloggers. The #UKemplaw hashtag has firmly established itself as the go-to place for breaking news and informed debate on UK employment law issues.