Outside-in social media skills

Posted on October 18, 2010. Filed under: communications, corporate communications, internal communications, intranet, organisational culture, social intranet, social media, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 | Tags: , , , , , , , |

With the continued growth in both volume and influence of social content inside organisations, how should internal comms managers respond?

How can an internal comms manager keep up with the buzz in social channels inside their organisation?

You can try to use technology to monitor the buzz, but the only really effective way to keep up with what’s going on is to be in the thick of it yourself … connected to those with the greatest influence and to those who comment about the bits of the business for which you have responsibility. Internal comms managers need to be the super-networkers inside an organisation … the alternative is to become out-of-touch and irrelevant.

Social content is a rich seam of intelligence for the internal comms professional … for example: it offers real-time feedback (no need for any more employee surveys!); provides the seeds for future campaigns and messaging; allows you to see the REAL impact of what you communicate; and makes you accountable for what you communicate … in real time. Why wouldn’t you want to have access to all this …?

How should an internal comms manager engage with employees in social spaces?

I believe we should adopt the same tactics being played out on the internet by marketing and PR people representing brands in public social spaces.  As an internal comms manager, you are effectively a spokesperson for your organisation … inside your organisation. The same basic rules apply whether you represent your company to external stakeholders or internal stakeholders … i.e. employees.

There are loads of great case studies on the internet for how to do social stakeholder engagement well … and an equal number illustrating vividly the dangers of getting it wrong. While these case studies might not be exactly transferable inside an organisation, the underlying principles are identical:

  1. set goals
  2. target the influential – get connected
  3. monitor what is being said and by whom
  4. do some experimental engagement adopting an appropriate tone and see what happens
  5. review
  6. repeat!

My top-tip for becoming a super-networker is get in early. As soon as a social channel appears on your intranet, get involved as a user straight away … get connected to as many people as you can (you can tidy up your connections later) … build up trust and a strong personal brand as quickly as you can.

In social channels, influence comes from being part of the conversation … not part of the establishment!

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13 Responses to “Outside-in social media skills”

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Good post Richard.

“Get in early” that’s more or less what I keep telling people when they ask questions about how social media works – you need to be a part of it before you can tell if it will be of any value to you.

Intranets and other internal communcation platforms adopt more and more features from the www which is another factor underlining your point that you need to act in more or less the same way in your internal communication as you do externally.

It doesn’t matter whether you are communicating to customers or employees – they have one very important thing in common: They are all people! :-)

Thanks Martin – you’re absolutely right …

Outside-in social media skills – Richard Dennison…

This article has been submitted to IntranetLounge, a website with a collection of links to the best articles about intranets…

What if the the Knowledge Management and Communication department actively shuts down or hobbles not-invented-here communication facilities owing to policy conformance?

This can mean that emerging communication channels will seek to remain underground, avoid the engagement from comms managers.

As a by-product of these two influences, innovative new communication channels can’t benefit from the scale which would underpin their value.

Thanks for the comment Cefn – in a corporate organisational context there is always a balance between managing risk which might stifle free-flowing communication and allowing innovation at the edges which can be both hugely beneficial and high risk at the same time.

The real danger is that comms people don’t get engaged in innovative channels and consequently don’t really understand the benefits and fail to support them when the arguments around risk/benefit happen … and good stuff gets closed through lack of understanding and awareness.

Personal branding is on the upswing for intranet managers. Great news. More later in my report to be published soon!
Good post Richard. You have your finger on the pulse.

Thanks Jane.

Nice post, Richard! I agree. What I also advise is to see if there already are social media enthusiasts in the organization you can connect to and learn from. Find them, work with and learn from them. Furthermore, if the step to the outside world of social media (on the internet) is too scary now, start with social media internally.

I agree – good advice Samuel.

the key problem is when TPTB start wondering if something “is suitable for” a channel. This brings the stultification of fear, and puts people off. You’ll kill engagement and folk will abandon *your* channel. Conversation builds the relationship, which builds the trust, which builds the sharing… which delivers the benefit.

Steve – I don’t really like the word ‘channel’ as a descripion of social spaces as it sends out the wrong message … i.e. there needs to be ‘management’ (which often means ‘control’); and there needs to be a lot of top-down stuff going on for it to be successful.

Hello, I am a senior high school student on a speech team that is working on a program for competition. I’m working on a poetry piece and I came across your poem titled “Master Race” and really enjoyed it. Your poem fits my theme of the human condition very well and I would like to know if it is published and if it was possible that you would give me permission to use it in competition. If it is not ok, I understand and I thank you for your time. If yes, I will also need the ISBN number to send in. I look forward to hear back from you soon. Thank you and have a great day.

Scott – I’ve dropped you an e-mail separately about my poem …


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