Socially Savvy Internal Communications: If you can’t convince your own workforce, who can you convince?


How do you perceive the use of social media within your workplace?

social media + employees (in the workplace²) = risk


social media + employees (in the workplace²) = opportunity

Regardless of your personal view on social media, the reality is your workforce are using social media as part of their working day. If you are socially silent, your workforce is using social media without you and about you.

Internal and external social interactions are constantly  happening in your workplace. The question you need to consider is:

Are these socially based transactions benefiting your enterprise, competing with it or worse still – opposing it?

Sticking your head in the social-sand isn’t an option. CEO of The Social Executive Dionne Lew explains:

Right now, there are more devices connected to the web than people on earth. Eight new users come online every second – 91% of whom are using social media regularly.
Not only that, 70% of these adults are shopping online and buying from brands they follow.
Currently consumers are spending almost US$300,000 a minute, or US$391,680,000 a day, online and the figure growing fast.
According to Goldman Sachs, online will contribute almost $1 trillion to the global economy by 2013.
But these awe-inspiring numbers are just the beginning of what is projected to be a steep trajectory.
Boston Consulting Group says that by 2016, online sales will contribute $4.2 trillion to the GDP of G20 nations, making it the equivalent of the 5th biggest economy worldwide.
It’s a pretty compelling reason to sit down and suss out the world of social media, don’t you think?


Risks vs. Opportunities

The majority of organisations and businesses are focused on external communications – for profit, lead generation, brand loyalty and eventual market share. This outbound view of communications is now, more than ever, an approach devoid of smart strategy: the dynamics of workplace interactions has shifted away from monologues to dialogues. There is no longer a distinct divide between the client, the customer and the product. People want to have a conversation and feel part of a brand’s story, not be on the receiving end of endless outbound communiqués and relentless superficial advertising.

If you can’t successfully sell your idea, product, service or concept to your internal workforce, your ability to sell it to an external audience is negligible at best.

Social media, as an internal communications tool, is a savvy investment because it organically lends itself to outbound marketing through the natural lifecycle of communication – starting from within and expanding outwards to your target audience.

The advent of Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) such as Salesforce’s Chatter and Microsoft’s Yammer have changed the fundamental mechanics of internal communications within the workplace. Not only do they allow seamless collaboration with colleagues, clients and stakeholders around the globe simultaneously; you are also able to gather, analyse and share customer data sets to ensure your advertising and marketing spend is targeted to current (external) and local social trends. The ability to monitor your company’s social and digital interactions with that of your clients (or competitors) en-mass is revolutionary.

In this way, internal use of social media presents more than opportunity.

It represents a cultural change in the way people collaborate. Sales, marketing, accounting and administrative teams no longer work in isolation of each other – collaborative social productivity is the way socially savvy and profitable organisations and businesses are built.

If an organisation is socially silent internally, unlike external social media engagement where if you are socially silent your competitors fill the void; social silence with your internal stakeholders leaves a void that people will innately fill of their own disjointed accord.

The fundamental human desire to be ‘part-of’ a collective – to collaborate – is why social media works so well. In the workplace, your employees will seek to fill the void of internal communications with their own solutions: whether this is via multiple newsletters from segmented divisions of the business or the emergence of groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

The end result is incoherent internal communications you have no control or influence over, and often no knowledge of until something goes awry and your organisation becomes vicariously liable for it’s content, conduct and ramifications.

Socially Savvy Internal Communications

The key to socially savvy internal communications is simple: Communicate!

Provide your workforce with social conduits for productive collaboration and blend this holistically into your existing processes and culture.  You don’t need to reinvent the wheel but you do need to learn how to spin it several different ways.

Cannibalise your existing internal processes with social ingenuity:

  • Is your customer service methodology out of touch in comparison with your competitors? Now is the time to move your customer service and teams to the social networks used by your audience.
  • Is your C-Suite socially savvy or socially silent? Is your leadership team’s digital footprint well rounded and engaging? Are they well trained to capitalise on social media or are they winging it? Simply having a webpage is no longer enough to establish your brand and it’s personalities as leaders in your market.
  • How do your teams collaborate across multi-locations? Consider closed (private) Yammer, Facebook or LinkedIn Groups to enable online collaboration.
  • Once you have established your ESN, ensure you have a communications strategy ready to implement in support of your internal corporate messaging.
  • Consider holding multi-site meetings via Google Hangout or conduct training via webinar.
  • If your clients, competitors or stakeholders are active on social media; encourage collaborative team monitoring and analysis of social strategy: what is working for them? What isn’t? What lessons can be learned via observation? And what ideas and concepts can be tailored for your workplace?

Establish and maintain your social infrastructure:

  • Establish a social presence and lock down your privacy settings.
  • Establish a clear set of workplace rules about social interactions (including what can be discussed, what can’t, and what behaviours are inappropriate).
  • Invest in your infrastructure – Ensure your IT network can cope with additional web traffic with reasonable speed (including video streaming capabilities).
  • Establish clear governance mechanisms and set achievable social objectives – engaging an experienced social strategic consultant is a good way to build a solid social base that you can then build upon under guidance.

Engage your workforce:

  • Let them know what your social plans are. Encourage them to contribute to the conceptualisation and building phases of your ESN rollout (you may be pleasantly surprised with how much social talent you already possess!)
  • Rollout out your internal communications ESN with as much fanfare as a new product or service: really ‘selling’ your internal audience on your new way of collaborative working shows you are committed to investing in them and their future, with technology that is contemporary and innovative.
  • Survey your workforce before, during and post ESN rollout – iron out those gremlins and be reactive to feedback to build a strong, collaborative social space.
  • Once you have successfully transitioned your workforce to internal social collaboration, you can promote your success externally.

Are you ready to take your workforce into the social sphere?

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