Social Media in Internal Communications

photo credit: Krishna DeInternal communication is the function responsible for effective communication or trade among participants within an organization (source: Wikipedia).

Lee Hopkins in his blog define internal communication as “a subset of effective business communication, which is built around this simple foundation: communication is a dialogue, not a monologue… Internal Communication, in a business context, is the dialogic process between employees and employer, and employees and employees.” (Source: Lee Hopkins “What is Internal Communication”)

Principles of internal communication in B2B and B2C environment are pretty the same; the complexity of the topic is the only difference. B2C companies are building both on their brand and the image of their products, while B2B companies are more about their brand and reputation (compare the hotness of such communication topics as steam turbine service vs. super car service).

photo credit: Krishna De (cc)

Nowadays numerous tools and techniques exist for internal communicators, which can be divided into five large groups based upon utilized channels:

  • Face-to-face (round tables, conferences, internal events, CEO fireside chats, etc.)
  • Workspace (LCD screens, working place environment, notice boards, etc.)
  • Print (employee magazine, posters, leaflets, brochures, roll-ups, stickers, etc.)
  • Digital (screensavers, web chats, intranet, newsletters, corporate videos, interactive games, etc.)
  • Social Media (internal corporate media and collaboration platforms)

Although corporate social media channels emerged only several years ago, different companies already adopted them to use in their internal communication and the number of these companies grows every day (however, it is important to understand that the level of the implementation of internal social media platforms can be different from country to country, depending on numerous factors, such as cultural restrictions, low level of trust in company and society as a whole, legal restrictions, etc.)

McKinsey research of February, 2009 reveals the benefits of adoption of these new tools for corporate environment. According to this study, 69% of companies have gained measurable benefits after implementing Web 2.0 techniques in the corporate environment.

Harri Lakkala’s interpretation of their graph shows the opportunities for companies:

slide-98-728

However, in July 2012 study on the same topic, McKinsey research team states that in order “to reap the full benefit of social technologies, organizations must transform their structures, processes, and cultures: they will need to become more open and nonhierarchical and to create a culture of trust. Ultimately, the power of social technologies hinges on the full and enthusiastic participation of employees who are not afraid to share their thoughts and trust that their contributions will be respected. Creating these conditions will be far more challenging than implementing the technologies themselves.” (Source: McKinsey Global Institute “The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies”)

“According to research on the use of internal social networks by recruiting company Hyphen, there is a clear opportunity for social media to be used more for internal communications and organizational development programs. In a survey of more than 1,500 people, they found that employees wanted to engage more with senior teams via social media channels: 42% would be happy to talk with their line manager or team leader over Facebook, and a fifth would even be content tweeting the head of department or chief executive. Likewise, nearly 40% of managers would be happy to reciprocate.” – writes Paul McGarrity, Director of Octave Online Communications.

“Companies who have invested in using internal social media networks find they benefit from listening and learning from what employees are saying about internal issues and learn from the issues they raise. They also find that a social based communications networks help them facilitate a more mobile workforce as employees can access the internal communications network from different sites via mobile devices in order to post real-time updates from various locations.  Internal social networks are also private within a company and are not visible by the general public. All employees don’t get to see everything on the network as secure private groups to discuss certain topics and share files etc.” (source: Paul McGarrity “Companies improve internal communications with social networks”)

Social media principles for Internal communications are: (source: Joey Shepp “Social Media for Internal Company communication”)

  1. Start with Listening
  2. Beyond Employees to Community
  3. Collaboration
  4. Transparency
  5. Many to Many
  6. Accountability
  7. Real Time
  8. Interaction is the Goal
  9. Personalized
  10. Virtual is Real

Social Media Tools for Internal Communication:

Blogs:

–       Blogger
–       WordPress

Social Networks:

–       Yammer
–       Socialcast
–       Ning

Wiki:
–       Mediawiki
–       Socialtext

Other tools:
–       Mindmeister
–       Teambox
–       Groupsite
–       Chatter

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