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New Social Media Wine For Old Corporate Bottles?

photo from flickr/Kate_A

I have helped craft communications strategies for companies around Europe for two decades.  To me, the number one issue for communications success has always been whether or not your employees are on board.  In other words, your number one audience is not the consumers OUTSIDE your company, but those INSIDE the company–your employees.

It is only logical therefore that social media is not limited to consumer conversations but starts first at home-with your employees.

Sue Chairman-Anderson provides us with an excellent insight into the danger of corporations ignoring social media in their company communications  in her recent post entitled Business Will Learn To Regret Their Social Media Ignorance.

While I can’t give justice to her whole post (do read it in any event), here are the highlights:

1. The popularity of social media has skyrocketed. According to a recent Nielson survey, 67% of people going online spend time on social networks and blogs.

2. In a presentation at the recent South by Southwest conference, it was argued convincingly that social media–tools like Facebook, Yammer, Twitter and Friendfeed–are replacing the veritable grand dame of the internet–e-mail.

3. Getting to grips with social media is therefore no longer a ‘nice to have’ for your internal corporate communications but a necessity.

4. The fact that your employees are universally embracing social media tools should also be seen as a rejection of the tired, traditional way of corporate communications.

5. In other words, people are bypassing e-mail by using social media. This has many negative consequences for you including the fact that a concise record of your employees’ communications is no longer under your control but flung across the internet.

6. The answer is not to go back to the Stone Ages and simply prohibit the use of the likes of Twitter and Facebook.

6. The answer instead is to provide your employees with social media tools of their own. In other words, to ensure that your staff doesn’t resort to discussing corporate policy/decisions on Twitter, you must install Web 2.0 capacities yourself.

7. At a minimum, you should provide your employees with a wiki, instant messenger, Twitter-esque microconversation, and RSS readers

8. Learn how to understand these tools, figure out what is good and bad about them and encourage their adoption by your employees so they use your Web 2.0 tools rather than publicly available ones.

9. Implementing social media tools into your company is not risky but RISK-ADVERSE. If you don’t do this, the risks are far too great that company secrets and information will be splashed across the internet and you will be left with a mess to clean up.

10. Go with the tide, not against it. Get to grips with the tools people actually WANT to use to communicate. Don’t stick your head in the sand and shrug Web 2.0 as something which is good for other companies. If you do, you will live to regret it.