Social media and its impact on reputation stewardship is a hotly discussed topic in any organisation. But a digital frontier little explored is the area of social media and internal communications.
Just as organisations must establish their own social media strategy or risk becoming part of some else’s, an internal social media strategy can reduce the office rumour-mill risk that all practitioners dread.
Social media is not a trend it is a forced evolution, and it is changing habits and behaviours, and importantly, expectations for message delivery. With an increasing blur of the lines between the general public, stakeholders, media and citizen journalists, employees have become the biggest advocate or representative of an organisation.
There are a lot of pros for utilising social media platforms for employee communications; social media can reduce communications costs, increase access to information and breakdown the tyranny of hierarchy within an organisation. It eradicates the formal tone of email – the default communications tool within most organisations – and can elevate hidden expertise within a company. The rise of the mobile workforce almost demands it.
There are of course cons to consider before rushing off and hiring a digital specialist, including the impact on employees who are not social media savvy, the potential drain on company resources and the risks associated with leaving a digital footprint.
If well researched, planned and implemented, a social media strategy can make the world of difference for an organisation. Some tips to consider:
- Question why you are using social media for internal communication. Does the platform meet the needs of the organisation?
- Uncover the goals of the organisation and marry business goals to social media objectives.
- Link social media strategy with the organisation’s internal communications strategy.
- Establish a Social Media Council consisting of all business units in the organisation. This will ensure wide-ranging input into the strategy and will enhance buy-in during the implementation phase.
- Engage management from the start and invite managers to become social media ‘champions’.
- Know your employees; audience segmentation is as important for internal audiences as it is for external audiences.
- Assign roles and encourage ownership of pages and platforms.
- Promote a self moderating environment.
- Manage expectations internally; ensure colleagues are realistic of what social media can achieve.
- Report, report, report.