Social Media for Internal CommunicationsBy Eleanor Pierce

I’m about to make a not-very-earth-shattering statement: When you want to communicate with a group of people, social media can be exceedingly useful.

That’s largely why large companies often seek to want to look to enterprise social networks for solutions to their internal communications struggles.

But like with other problems, social media isn’t a fix-all.

In fact, it’s far too easy to fail when it comes to these enterprise social tools.

But of course just because something can be hard to pull off (especially at an enterprise level), that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile.

In fact, the solution can sometimes be pretty simple.

Here at Arment Dietrich, we use a simple (and free) tool: A private Facebook group.

But before you look to social to answer your internal communications struggles, you’re first going to have to answer the question: Is using social media for internal communications a waste of time?

When Geography’s a Problem for Internal Communications

The answer is: “It depends.”

But I’d argue that the benefits can pile up—especially when you’re talking about a company with some geographic barriers to collaboration.

One example that jumps to mind (for obvious reasons, if you know how Arment Dietrich works) is that of virtual offices.

Even if you’re constantly Skyping, doing Google Hangouts, and texting each other, as we on the Spin Sucks team tend to do, it’s still pretty easy to miss out on quite a bit of interaction when you can’t overhear phone calls and conversations or lean across your desk to chat with your coworker.

In our Arment Dietrich Facebook group, we chat, joke around with each other, share news from our personal lives, and talk shop.

This can be useful even if you don’t have an all-virtual office.

The same benefits apply for businesses with multiple campuses or business at which one or more employees work outside the office, either occasionally or full-time.

Ditching Internal Spray-and-Pray

Beyond breaking down geographic barriers, there are many other business benefits.

As Rachel Miller said in her talk at a Google Atmosphere event in London in April, the old methods of internal communications often relied on “spray and pray” techniques.

And each communications campaign was also often led by one organizational silo, whether that was HR, marketing, or IT.

But using social media to communicate with employees replaces that old school technique with people focused, two-way conversation.

Another point Rachel made in her talk: Companies often waste a lot of time trying to figure out who within their organization has an answer to a problem.

With social media as an internal communications tool, it becomes much easier to come up with a solution when you’re wringing your hands thinking, “We must have done this before,” or, “Someone must know this.”

So, what are some of the best ways to make use of social media for internal communications?

Here are just a few.

Idea Generation

In our internal Facebook group, we crowdsource ideas all the time.

For interviews, for blog posts, for pitches.

It’s much easier to throw a message out onto a social network for anyone who has time to answer than it is to start an email chain that can clog up everyone’s inboxes.

Non-Urgent Information for the Team/News

This is an easy place to share news and info for the team—not just announcements, but even news stories relevant to your industry.

Show the Open-Door Policy of Higher Ups in a Less-Threatening Environment

In almost every job I’ve ever had, my orientation at some point involved meeting the head of the company or division.

And inevitably, El Jefe would say something along the lines of “my door is always open.”

But really, how often do people at all levels of an organization feel comfortable dropping by on the big boss?

A social network used for internal communications offers a very real and very non-threatening way for leadership to make themselves available.

Build Camaraderie and Have Fun

You don’t want your workplace to be boring, do you?

What’s great about using social media to connect your team is that it appeals to different personality types—the fact is, not everyone is going to enjoy group happy hour or those awkward break room birthday cake celebrations (please tell me I’m not alone here …).

Social networks can be excellent outlets for both the extroverts and the introverts on your team to show their personalities and have fun with their co-workers without the pressure of in-person (and often artificial) team-building.

This is just a start.

What do you see as the biggest benefits of using social for internal communications?

Eleanor Pierce

Eleanor Pierce is a recovering journalist who can't decide which part of the country to call home. She's happiest when she's reading, though she also really likes writing, baking, dogs, and sarcasm. No, seriously.

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