Internal Communicators and the Social Media issue.

I was following the hashtags from two conferences in London yesterday, one focused on Intranets and one focused on Internal Communications (IC) with a session on Social Media (SM). The intranet focused conference featured more technical conversations on topic such as UX, algorithms and search within an organisation, but most importantly featured discussion on clarity of objectives, whilst the IC conference looked at softer subject such as adoption and ‘how to get employees using social media’.

What was apparent from the feeds is that Internal Communicators could really do with actually working closer/listening to the Intranet folks to get a better understanding of what they are dealing with and to better define their goals. To my mind, very few practitioners actually understanding why they are actually talking about social media, they know they should be talking about it, but they are not sure why.

I think the crux of the problem is that organisations are embedding social technologies across the entire business, using it for different purposes. A few years ago SM was seen a communications tool alone, which is why PR as an industry adopted it so readily, naturally where PR leads IC follows.

The problem is that at the time Internal Communicators picked up the SM baton when talk was about SM as a collaboration tool was a really hot topic (still is), which is where the confusion lies. Internal Communicators don’t actually know, what they should be focusing on, should they be focusing on more efficient ways of messaging and sharing messages, enabling fluid social channels for feedback, or should they also be focused on enabling collaboration tools (my thinking is that they are stakeholders in this area, not owners). Now social customer service is upon us, does the IC team feel the need get involved in that because it’s Social?

How this can be address;

Stop using Social Media as one umbrella concept – define what the Internal need is and set the appropriate objective.

From the defining the objective, focus on what you are the about is clearer feedback channels through the organisation, is it an awareness campaign for the news strategy, If it’s collaboration or community building, set up a working group, don’t for second think this is just an IC issue,whatever is let’s not call it a SM campaign

I’m pretty sure if Communicators took as step back to define what they really need from social media, then we would move past the stage which Internal Communications seems to be stuck at right now.

If you would like me to help you define your social objectives please get in touch @kev_mcdougall or viahttp://fr.linkedin.com/in/kevinmcdougall

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10 tips on how to drive adoption on your social intranet

  1. Identify the purpose of the platform against a business need. Drill down what the platform is actually for and structure your strategy accordingly
  2. Plan content on the basis of the business need/goal. Plan relevant content and link it to what is going on in the business at that time. This gives users ideal discussion topics
  3. Plan how you are are going to curate content – give feedback to authors early on their posts and make sure standards are clearly explained
  4. Write guidelines and as much support material as possible. Think of the lowest denominator when doing so
  5. Identify early adopters within the audience and start the dialogue early. Gather feedback from them and listen to what they say
  6. Identify Champions/Maverns and Rock stars, engage them and work with them to build a community around them
  7. But don’t forget the little guy. Ensure communications and adoption techniques are reaching everyone
  8. Reward and incentivise  emerging users and promote great content from users
  9. Make sure the content is delivered through words, visuals, video and podcast – everyone is different and everyone chooses to process information in different ways
  10. Use ‘nudge’ techniques encourage leaders to comment on articles and engage in what is being shared.

Related article

How to build a social intranet

10 tips on how to build a social intranet

  1. Every decision has to aim to improve two things 1) Connectivity between users 2) Quality and relevancy of content
  2. Don’t plan on your own – use focus groups and online research tools to find out what the USERS want and HOW they want it
  3. Don’t plan as an Editor – plan as a facilitator
  4. Employ an external consultant to add to the development/steering team. You need an objective sounding board and someone who does not have an internal agenda to be involved from the start. Plus, there is always someone who knows more than you
  5. Identify influencers and key users early. These are not always the same as the users you spoke to in the focus groups
  6. Communicate frequently with the intended users…and invite feedback at every stage
  7. Create a plethora of guides and information on the What, Why’s and How’s of the tool – from everything from uploading content to all the relevant personnel behind the tool
  8. Get the leadership team involved in the online discussions early (if that’s key to your objective)
  9. Reward and offer incentives for early users
  10. Ensure search, taxonomies and measurement tools are relevant and well maintained.

Tagging content within an organisation

My last post looked at the importance of search as the main function of an organisational intranet. Search capabilities on any platform rely on the correct tagging and categorisation of the data added onto the platform. So how does an organisation ensure the correct tagging and categorisation of content? Whilst there will always be an element of human error, there are simple ways to minimise the risk of erroneous content tagging.

The easiest way is to predefine and predict what content is going to be uploaded and offer predetermined tags and meta data for content editors to use. This is by far the simplest way, but it is pretty basic in terms of the variety and the creation of new tags and new categories.

There are more refined options available. Firstly the emergence of intelligent platforms, which suggest tags and relevant categories based on the core content within the data. This is a great way of correctly tagging content based on actual content. The issue here is that the suggested tags have to be predefined otherwise there could be an infinite amount of tags and categories.
The third option, which develops on the previous two points is to ‘crowdsource’ the correct tags and let the users decide how the content should be tagged and categorised. Again I’d offer recommended master tags but then it would be over to the audience to choose the most relevant tags. This works as the audience actually engages in the content as they have an interest in the task they are doing. This also keeps the tags current and relevant to the audience.

The importance of tagging is essential to the success of any contemporary intranet. These are a few of the methods used in encouraging correct content tagging and categorisation. There are more sophisticated methods of data categorisation in which platforms use both intelligent suggestions based on the data and crowdsourcing but the above methods are the fundamental methods used across all platforms.