social media

Dear Senior Manager – please play nicely in our social channels #internalcomms #intranet #socialmedia

If I had to give a senior manager a bit of advice about how to be successful in using social channels on our intranet, it would be something like this:

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The critical success factor for engaging in a social channel as a senior manager is getting the tone of your engagement right. You need to ensure that you maintain the right balance between being authoritative as a senior manager and being an individual engaging in a conversation with another individual. Influence in social channels is something you earn over time by engaging in the right way and not something automatically conferred upon you because of your role in the organisation.

 Influence comes from being part of the conversation, not part of the establishment.

 It is also important to accept that your people need to collaborate in social channels to be effective in their jobs – they need to trust that you endorse this activity and that they are not being judged negatively for being active participants. Your early interactions, as a senior manager, will be critical to the health of social collaboration by your people going forward. 

The following points should help you find the right tone in your responses. When responding to an individual in a social channel, you should never

  • preach at them or talk down to them
  • hide behind quotes from company literature or use management speak as a surrogate for authentic engagement
  • use jargon, abbreviations and marketing/business language
  • throw your weight around and act in a heavy handed manner because of your position in the company.

You should always:

  •  listen first
  • be honest, open and authentic in all your responses – which includes owning up to mistakes as quickly as possible
  • deal with negative sentiment head on – ignoring negative sentiment inevitably results in it spiralling out of control – remember … negative sentiment almost always comes from an un-met need which you can probably meet
  • stick around and follow-up on comments you might make in a given conversation – making a comment and then leaving is not engaging in a conversation.

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Back from blog black hole …

It’s been a bit quiet around here recently … sorry about that. Inspiration has eluded me … smothered by the thick woolly blanket of work! We’re *still* in the midst of an intranet migration to SharePoint 2010 … which actually means we haven’t really started yet but have done the ground work – the only small nut to crack now is how to get tens of thousands of pages out of existing content management systems into SharePoint 2010 while causing everyone – users and publishers alike – the least amount of pain possible … answers on a postcard, please! 🙂 I’ll probably share more about this over the coming weeks … The impact of social media on internal communications seems finally to be creating some buzz about the place … which is great news. On that note, I recently made a small contribution to a free eBook about how internal comms is changing in the modern workplace – it’s a light read and I think worth a browse. I’m also speaking at the annual conference of the Institute of Internal Communications (May 23-25) which I’m really looking forward to … although I seem to be the last speaker of the whole event just before lunch on Friday … not sure what to make of that! If you’re going, please say hello … Anyway – just thought I’d pop-up for air to reassure myself that I still exist … more soon … promise … maybe … add to del.icio.usDigg itStumble It!Add to Blinkslistadd to furladd to ma.gnoliaadd to simpyseed the vineTailRank

In conversation: social media and corporate culture

The fourth in the series of in conversation with Red Sky Vision talking about social media and corporate culture. It’s quite long (6 mins: 53 sec) but I think it’s quite interesting (I would wouldn’t I 🙂 ).

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In conversation: the importance of social media in a business context

Following the great feedback received for Red Sky Vision’s fantastic Social Media @ Work video, I was looking through the interview footage of me which didn’t make it into the final film (there was quite a lot of it because when you get me started on social media it’s impossible to shut me up!) … and wondered if it might be possible to make these cuttings into a series of short videos – it seemed a shame to waste them and recycling is so important these days!

So, Red Sky worked their magic and the result is six short films entitled: In conversation with … in which I get to stand atop my soapbox and spew forth on various topics. The films vary in length and, because they are swept up from the cutting room floor, they are a bit bitty at times. Nonetheless, I hope you find time to watch and enjoy them … 🙂

The first video is some of my random views on the importance of social media in a business context.

In conversation with Richard Dennison – Why is social media important in a business context from Red Sky Vision on Vimeo.

[If for any reason you can’t see the embedded video above, you can view it on the Vimeo site]

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Thoughts on SharePoint governance

Nothing seems to attract attention more these days to a blog post than sticking the words SharePoint and governance in the title … without wishing to jump on the bandwagon – actually, jumping firmly on the bandwagon with a double backwards flip and triple salco thrown in – here are my thoughts to add to the cascade of information on the subject.

[To be honest, what follows is not specific to SharePoint but you’ve got to grab attention where you can! 🙂 ]

Anyway … it seems to me that when people talk about intranet governance they seem to view the intranet as a single amorphous blob which needs to be governed (read controlled) in one way. To me, this misses a whole spectrum of nuances around user needs and normally results in an overly restrictive governance regime designed for top-end, formal content being imposed across all content types and all user needs (see previous posts on the subject of differing content types: Changing nature of intranet content; and Content types should complement not compete).

To take account of different content types and user needs, you really need different governance models running in parallel with differing levels of control along a spectrum – a kind of controlometer if you like … at one end: total control; and at the other: the opposite of total control … whatever that is … anarchy; chaos; trust – you choose!

So, below is an attempt to illustrate the above in diagrammatic form.

As an aside, there’s one content type I’ve listed which might surprise people – the under-web. It strikes me that in the drive for control of intranet content over the last few years – fuelled by sound business reasons – we’ve stifled innovation and creativity and decoupled experimentation from core intranet platforms driving it under desks where it is extremely difficult to benefit from the great things which go on in these spaces. We should always legislate for experimentation in our governance models.

A final point, content types shouldn’t be kept apart in a kind of quarantine from each other … there should be exposure and cross fertilisation of different content types both to the left and right of the spectrum to generate valuable context.

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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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