Tuesday Oct 09, 2012

Is Your Company Social on the Inside?

water coolerAs we talk about the extension of social from an outbound-facing marketing tool to a platform that will reach across the entire enterprise, servicing multiple functions of that enterprise, it might be time to take a look at how social can be effectively employed for internal communications.

Remember the printed company newsletter? Yeah, nobody reads it.

Remember the emailed company newsletter? Yeah, nobody reads it.

Why not? Shouldn’t your employees care about the company more than anything else in life and be voraciously hungry for any information related to it?

The more realistic prospect is that a company’s employees don’t behave much differently at work where information is concerned than they do in their personal lives. They “tune in” to information that’s immediately relevant to them, that peaks their interest, and/or that’s presented in a visually engaging way.

That currently makes an internal social platform the most ideal way to communicate within the organization. It not only facilitates more immediate, more targeted (and thus more relevant) messaging from the company out to employees, it sets a stage for employees to communicate with each other and efficiently get answers to questions from peers. It’s a collaboration tool on steroids.

cocktailsIf you build such an internal social portal and you do it right, will employees use it? Considering social media has officially been declared more addictive than cigarettes, booze and sex…probably.

But what does it mean to do an internal social platform “right”? The bar has been set pretty high. Your employees are used to Twitter and Facebook, and would roll their eyes at anything less simple or harder to navigate than those. All the Facebook best practices would apply to your internal social as well, including the importance of managing posting frequency, using photos and video, moderation & response, etc.

And don’t worry, you won’t be the first to jump in. WPP's global digital agency Possible has its own social network called Colab. Nestle has “The Nest.” Red Robin’s got one. I myself got an in-depth look at McGraw-Hill’s internal social platform at Blogwell NYC.

Some of these companies are building their own platforms, others are buying them off the shelf or customizing readymade solutions.

But you won’t be the last either. Prescient Digital Media and the IABC learned 39% of companies don’t offer employees any social tools. Not a social network, not discussion forums, not even IM. And a great many continue to ban the use of Facebook and Twitter on the premises.

That’s pretty astonishing since social has become as essential a modern day communications tool as the telephone. But such holdouts will pay a big price for being mired in fear while competitors exploit social connections unchallenged.

Fish where the fish are. If social has become the way people communicate and take in information, let that be the way communication is trafficked in the organization.

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