Like many internal communications professionals, I am on a mission to get the people I work with to put some thought and planning into their communications. It drives me mad when someone comes to me and says ‘I need an e-newsletter’ but they have no idea what they’re trying to achieve or who will read it! Anyone I work with regularly now knows how important it is to consider the ‘why’ and the ‘who’ of their communication before they choose their channel. By and large, the channel will more or less choose itself if you plan first.
But there’s a new channel on the block………. social media (OK, OK, I know it’s not really that new anymore!). It is, however, fairly new to a lot of internal comms people. For some time, I’ve had that niggling, twitching of the nose feeling that there is something going on here. Companies and organisations are getting more sophisticated with their use of social media for external communication and marketing. But what about using social media to communicate internally, with staff, volunteers, members and so on?
I recently attended some training to fill in the answers to that ‘what about..?’ question. And you know what dawned on me during the day? Social media isn’t about technology, it’s about people. More specifically, social media is about giving communities of people with a common interest a new way to share information and opnions, to bond with each other. And a community that shares an interest and a bond will want to help each other out, learn more and share more. They might motivate and enthuse each other. They might even, dare I say it, be an engaged community.
So if you’re looking for an internal communications channel to develop a motivated and engaged community, social media might just be the answer. Or at least part of the answer.
We need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water, of course – there is still a place for our more traditional internal comms channels, for certain audiences and certain objectives. And that brings us right back to where we started – communications planning!
I’d love to hear about organisations that are using social media well to communicate internally with their staff and volunteers, so please use the comments to tell me about the ones you know.
Until next time