Integrating social media into internal communications

Comms campaign check list

How not to do it!

Having been part of a social media panel at this week’s Melcrum Strategic Communication Management Summit, I was moved to write this post about how to integrate social channels into an internal comms campaign. 

As a recipient of internal comms stuff, it can sometimes feel like internal comms has become a check-list activity … someone from the business comes up to you and says: “I need to communicate something” … and you launch off on auto-pilot with a menu of channel offerings. And, when new channels come along, they get added to the bottom of the list to amplify the noise. I get the feeling that social media is often just being added to the bottom of the list.

So, for what it’s worth, here are some thoughts on the subject. Social media should never be handled as a standalone item or activity … this is true if you’re writing comms strategy, preparing a business case, writing a comms plan or trying to justify ROI. The power of social media is in its integration with other stuff … as a standalone activity, it has limited value as a comms enabler.

The way to integrate social channels into an internal comms campaign effectively is to do the following:
  1. Define very clearly what your desired business outcomes are. As an aside, I don’t think that either pride or awareness are valid business outcomes! There is nothing inherently useful in a business context in feeling proud or in knowing something … it’s what people DO as a result of that feeling or with that knowledge which should be your desired outcome. All too often we don’t press the business to say exactly what they want to be different as a result of an act of communication … if we don’t know this, how can we decide if we should do it at all, or what channels to use to do it effectively?
  2. Once you’ve agreed a set of tangible outcomes, you need to agree how you’re going to measure those outcomes to know if you’ve been successful.
  3. With this knowledge, you can then begin to define the activities which you need to undertake to deliver the outcomes … one or more of these activities may well be social media related in nature.
  4. You’ve then got enough information for normal comms planning to kick in …

In adopting this approach, you not only create a context for social channels and social content, but you also create a mechanism for measuring their value – as part of a group of comms activities, rather than on their own. By positioning social channels alongside the more traditional, and accepted, methods of communication, it also gives them gravitas in the business which often regards them as toys.

I apologise if this sounds like teaching grandma to suck eggs … but sometimes we could all do with a bit of egg sucking! 🙂

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Everything you ever wanted to know about social media

Hazardous substances warning sign

 PUBLIC SAFETY WARNING: readers affected by bright, flashing cynicism are advised to wear safety glasses while reading this post (p.s. this post was processed in an office containing nuts) 

Tin of white paint


Reading social media blogs has become a bit like buying white paint … there are countless variations on the theme of white but, essentially, they’re all white. 

So, in the spirit of saving readers valuable time and endless amounts of frustration, below is my white-with-a-hint-of-white, one-size-fits-all, vanilla, all-purpose guide to social media blog posts … the SharePoint 2010 of blog posts, if you will (i.e. it promises everything but you know it’ll fall short): 

  • Why your company does/does not <<delete as appropriate>> need a social media strategy – it doesn’t; except when it does
  • Can you calculate the ROI of social media? – you can’t; except when you can … but I have no idea how, despite the fact that I’m writing my sixteenth blog post on the subject
  • Can you use Facebook as a company intranet? – of course not … it’s an absurd suggestion
  • Why companies which ban employees from accessing Facebook and social sites from work are idiots – because they’re idiots
  • Do companies need social media guidelines for employees? – yes
  • <<insert word>> <<insert word>> <<insert word>> Facebook <<insert word>> <<insert word>> Twitter? – no; or maybe yes
  • …. continue ad nauseam – no!

So there you have it … you can now relax and get back to work happy in the knowledge that you’re fully up-to-speed with the latest social media thinking … 🙂 

[p.p.s sorry for not blogging more frequently, but I find I’ve got nothing to say … now where did I put my medication?!] 

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You can’t run and you can’t hide … from Sharepoint 2010

It’s true … you can’t run, and you can’t hide. The inexorable roll out of Sharepoint 2010 (SP2010) is about to begin in earnest. From my brief and unscientific poking around on our trial instance, it looks like SP2010 answers many of the niggling questions I had about SP2007 – particularly in the user-generated content (UGC) space. The enhancements Microsoft has made to the social functionality compared with SP2007 are significant – better blogs, better wiki functionality, beefed-up personal profile and social networking-type functionality (within the constraints of the SP environment of course) all integrated into one platform … good stuff.

As it looks increasingly inevitable that SP2010 will power a significant portion of our intranet going forward – including our social media functionality – I should be excited … and I am … sort of … and sort of not.

I’m not sure why, but the prospect of SP2010 powering our social content leaves me feeling slightly depressed. It may just be that I’ll be sad to see all the lovely social tools I so lovingly helped to nurse into the business being replaced by the SP monolith … or it may be something deeper … more intuitive. I can’t help feeling that we’re going to lose something fundamental by institutionalising … or even corporatizing … our social tools in this way. While I always wanted our social and collaborative content to be fully integrated into the mainstream way of working inside our organisation, this wasn’t how I had imagined it would happen – it appears you just can’t please some people.

On the other hand, this could be the best thing to happen to corporate social content since its conception … and I may just be an old social media dinosaur … I guess only time will tell.

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What goes around, comes around …


After careful consideration, I’ve decided to breathe new life into my lovely little blog … a kind of sad one-hit-wonder-comeback-type-thing – I’m sure my therapist would have a term for it. 🙂

Anyway, it seems ages since my last post and I’ve increasingly found myself thinking and finding stuff of interest which I would like to share in more than 140 characters but no longer have an appropriate vehicle to do it. I’m also amazed at the number of people who still drop by here everyday and can’t help feeling I’m doing them a disservice by not blathering on about stuff. So … I’m back.

As I’ve aged and wisened (… is that a word?), I’ve decided that I can afford to be a bit more relaxed in the style of my posts which will still be about social media and internal communications … plus some other stuff as it crops up. I’ve also changed the design to mark the new start …

Please drop in for a chat when you’ve got a spare moment …
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