It would be fair to say that social media has changed the way we communicate and it looks set to continue to create Zuckerberg‘s vision of an open and connected world.
While many people have let social media into the personal areas of their lives I think it is important to embrace the technology and look at how we can utilise it in other areas of our lives in the mission to create this open and connected world.
This is a hot topic at the moment, particularly after Atos announced ambitions of a workplace free of internal email. It is also something I am very interested in personally, being a perfect combination of two of my interests, HR and social media.
Naturally some organisations are hesitant in contemplating giving up some of the technologies they have come to rely upon and adopting social media inspired systems, however there are some obvious benefits in such a change.
There is nothing more frustrating than not knowing about something that affects you and in the workplace this can lead to disgruntled employees. Well designed internal communication systems can ensure that staff are notified of matters concerning them, from job opportunities, to events, to changes in contracts. The nature of social media means that staff are able to have conversations about these matters which can help an organisation understand the opinions of their workforce.
Intranets have been the most popular choice of system for sharing knowledge and while I would not dream of indicating they are redundant, they can certainly be improved by social media tools. For example an organisation could create a wiki style system allowing all employees to submit additions or edits to articles for approval. Alternatively if an employee is struggling to understand a topic or task even after reading an article they could post a question in a forum where anyone in the organisation would be able to offer feedback.
When an organisation is spread across different units nationally or even internationally it can lose its company identity. Social media is able to reinstall this identity. It allows easy communication between teams who may have never even met and allows a constant connection to the heart of the organisation, be that in the Head Office or another unit.
One of the most inspiring men I know is the director of a medium sized organisation. Speaking to him it is impossible not to understand his vision for the organisation and be motivated to achieve better results. Everyone who speaks has a conversation with him respects him and believes in his passion, unfortunately the logistics of the organisation mean that while he is dedicated to his staff team there is not always the opportunity to talk to all of them individually. I believe one solution to this would be for him to write a blog available to all the organisation’s staff, allowing his message to reach and inspire everyone. Social media brings down barriers meaning that he could have conversations with his staff even when he cannot meet his staff.
A very important aspect of social media is monitoring conversation and opinion. Within the workplace this can be used to see reactions to announcements or blog posts. It can be used to see how many staff are accessing company newsletters, or looking at job opportunities. There are many ways an organisation can monitor usage and get an improved understanding of their organisation’s people.
There are also potentially significant financial benefits as demonstrated by this article from Simply-Communicate, these systems return on their investment through saving on costs such as printing and recruitment.
Obviously it is important to be careful when introducing social media into the workplace, a model such as Facebook or Twitter is more likely to cause loss of productivity. It is important that a system based on social media is designed for maximum productivity and minimum distraction.
Social media is not a completely new tool in the internal communication’s toolbox, rather it is a natural progression of the current tools such as internal emails and intranets. I think it is important to look at using the successes of social media to continue the development and effectiveness of internal communications. The possibilities of how we can utilise social media seem endless and with innovation and development we could certainly see some beneficial changes within our internal communications.
Does your organisation use social media in their internal communications strategy?
- Most employees don’t use intranet social media. Here’s how to fix that. (holtz.com)
- Social media still causing problems for employees and bosses (career-advice.monster.co.uk)
- Simply Seminar for Internal Communication (ratioexmachina.wordpress.com)
- Social Media Workplace Expert Speaks in NYC at BrandsConf (prweb.com)
- Social Media versus the Senior HR professional… (payrollworkforcesolutions.wordpress.com)
- A Business Can’t Be Social (socialmediaexplorer.com)
- How Is Social Media Affecting the Way We Communicate? (anadvertisersadvice.wordpress.com)