I don’t know the exact number of organisations that have experimented with social software or social media for internal communications, but from those that we’ve connected with and listened to it’s clear there are a large number of them that didn’t get the results they wanted because they didn’t know where to start or were unsure of how to build adoption. So if you fall into one of these categories, here are a few pointers that you may find useful.
More than just push messaging tool
First off, social tools (wikis, forums, tagging etc), and more importantly social networking behaviours, can be deployed to help information flow more freely, enhance knowledge sharing and internal collaboration, activate deeper employee engagement, and even has proven results in achieving staff retention. They shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as a replacement for those things you are already doing, and they should be seen as something more wide-reaching that simply a communication tool versed with message pushing!
Command and control no longer
The days of command & control are numbered as social tools place greater emphasis on people at all levels by providing everyone with a voice, whether they choose to exercise it or not. Therefore, their is no such thing as ownership – it is owned by everyone, and more so by those with a hunger, passion and willing to participate and contribute. This is heightened by the fact that there are less rules than before – but guidelines are vitally important nonetheless, as leaders seek to engender adoption.
Social networks are a solution, not a problem
There are a lot of organisations and business leaders out there banning the likes of Facebook and other social networking sites from the workplace as they see it as a threat to productivity. I question, is technology the reason that people want to do something other than what they are paid for within the workplace? Perhaps job satisfaction should be studied very carefully, as should the behaviours that are now commonplace among staff in their private lives, for it is this which needs to be harnessed in the workplace.
Host the conversation, it’s taking place anyway!
Business also fears that their workers will talk negatively about a range of work-related issues. To this I say embrace it, listen carefully, and if it becomes such a problem then let the community themselves report it and deal with it in a way they deem relevant. By offering these controls, you will find such negativity rare indeed! What’s more, these conversation are taking place elsewhere, so better to be able to gather them and respond to them in the best way possible.
Don’t be afraid to experiment (and fail)
When considering the use of social tools within the workplace, don’t be afraid to experiment, and we advocate starting small. Invite a number of people whom you believe will be early adopters, and allow them to spread the word. Make them champions within the business, and they will help culture the guidelines and behaviours that can achieve your goals. Social tools are by their very nature flexible and cost-effective, so create a playground, sit back, watch and learn.
A range of business applications and solutions
And finally, developing social tools for internal communications isn’t an initiative that should be led or driven by your IT department. Why? Simply put, they exist to implement now out-moded command and control systems, and are much more focussed on the ‘tech’ rather than the all important behaviours.
Wrapping up, social tools can help you with a plethora of business cases, including the following;
- Internal collaboration
- Knowledge sharing
- Business networking
- Internal communications
- Resource management
- Sweating knowledge capital
- Sales support
- Customer service
If you’re asking yourself how you can achieve some of these points, and want to learn more how social tools can benefit your organisation on the inside then drop me a line, I’d be happy to help, advise, guide and get my hands dirty.