Social Media has become an integral part of the way we live our lives. We connect with our friends and family more than ever, we view the latest videos and news within seconds of their postings and we can determine the sentiment of brands we love and engage immediately. But where does social media fit in at work? How do companies effectively utilize and implement internal social media systems?
The job of internal communications is to distribute important information like health benefits, wellness programs and company news, while making every attempt to get employees collaborating and communicating. With the help of social media, companies now have further reach and influence among their employees.
Social media can be a great tool for communication and engagement, replacing the old style suggestion box with a more interactive process. Companies can filter large chunks of information, bringing attention to the relevant information they want their employees to focus on. They can share short messages across their organization without compromising privacy and diffuse fast spreading rumors, quickly. They can also promote communication, recognition and innovation among employees in one or multiple locations around the world.
When employees feel connected to their company and peers, they feel more engaged and tend to work more effectively. Employees feel they have more involvement in decision-making and feel their voices are being heard. They have a transparent view between employee and company performance and can clearly see that their company is concerned for their health and wellbeing.
So all of this is great, but how do companies go about implementing an effective internal social media system?
The first step is to create a vision and strategy of what the company’s internal communications should be. Is the vision to share success stories, recognize achievements, share internal news or post training videos? Maybe discuss health benefits and wellness program, tips to a healthier lifestyle or provide health tools and calculators? What else? In what form or forms does it make sense to use social media? Internal newsletter or Website? Maybe a message board? A blog, video channel, a private Twitter or Yammer account and/or a closed or secret Facebook group? Determining what the best and most strategic vision is, that will work for the company overall, is key.
The next step is to clearly document the company’s social media policy. Companies are struggling with how social media may impact the workplace and may be concerned about the distractions during work hours, privacy issues, internal or even external bullying and harassment. Having an internal mode of social media can refocus some of this struggle and help alleviate these concerns. Design a policy framework, which requires education of employees and stakeholders on how to use it in a meaningful and moral way, while ensuring privacy and trust from both sides. It’s also very important for companies to put measurement tools in place to determine social media success and buy in.
The last step is to communicate the company’s vision and gain support from the top down. Those in leadership roles, who use social media to communicate with employees, are generally more respected and responded to by employees. Also, be sure to give employees an inviting environment where they feel comfortable commenting, contributing and exchanging ideas. A good internal social media strategy promotes 2-way communication, allowing employees to access information on their own terms and is carefully managed to keep the integrity and values of the company as a whole. Providing room for safe feedback is also important. If employees are worried about repercussions, their engagement won’t be genuine and employee engagement will falter.
Done well, social media can help companies communicate with their employees, as they communicate with each other, while giving a transparent, internal view of the company as a whole. Bottom line: if companies strategize efficiently, implement effectively and engage accordingly they can have real-time, authentic conversations with their employees utilizing an internal social media system.