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

Disrupt our Hospitals

Due to a family illness I spent the end of last week in a hospital in the UK. I’m still shocked at the communication tools on offer both for staff and for patients, I understand there is no money in the country let alone the NHS to fund such improvements in ”the patient experience, but surely there is enough research into the ‘healing powers’ of community, interaction and engagement for individuals who are suffering and going through a difficult period.

I’ll focus on the patients on the wards I walked through first, these were normal wards you see in every hospital, being in the Cotswolds it probably wasn’t as bad as I’ve seen (Royal Sussex, I’m looking at you), but the level of boredom on the patient’s faces was unbelievable. Not surprising really given that they could only really read the Daily Mail or The Sun or stare at the other patients. Surely it’s in the longer term best interest for everyone to keep these patients occupied and engaged in the outside world whilst they are in the ward. Yes, ok they are supposed to be resting but no-one will force any mass participation of online activity. So what am I suggesting, here goes;

Specially designed Terminals which offer internet access, software which enables the patient to learn about their issues (what is going on and what will need to be done in the future), a sort of opt-in social network enabling patients to find others who have similar issues and start the building or integrating into a support network after they leave the hospital. Even something as basic as finding other patients with similar interests would surely go along way to keep spirits up.

Cost is prohibitive, but I’d really like to see a study on recovery period and interactions and communications over a set period.

The other side is why-oh-why aren’t Nurses and Doctors walking around with ipads continually logged onto patient database which is updated immediately, after every visit, consultation or change in the patient? We endured the nightmare of watching our relative move wards only to find out the Nurses on the second ward didn’t actually know the full extent of her problems. This would not have been the case had the staff been empowered with technology and not tied up carrying clipboards and notes around with them.

Given that the last national NHS digital implementation went something like 11 million over budget and was delivered 2 years late I’m not holding my breath for any change any time soon.

Good news for Facebookers

The new Facebook metric ‘People Talking About This’  is an absolutely gem of a metric allowing  content managers and marketers a true insight into what is working and what is not when they add content on Facebook . The old methods of looking at number of impressions, likes and reach of users is still valid, that, plus the announcment of an Insights API for developers enabling custom metrics shows Facebook are really getting their teeth into understanding core metrics aimed at all the different stakeholders on a brand’s page.

As a content producer I’m looking forward to getting a better understanding of what content is being shared and as importantly by who and where, this will enable me to find tweak content accordingly until I hit the sweet-spot. As a user of Facebook  I’m looking forward to more relevant content comming my way, apart from an enlightened few posts, a lot of my stream was being clogged up with sales announcements etc, I see email as the medium for this. I want engaging content in my social areas.

The only issue I have is that, is that when a comment is made on the post, that is then classified as being shared  (as it will appear in users friends feed) It could often contain negative comments, yet this would still be included. I’m not sure if there are plans to drill down into that?

All the same it’s a positive move in the right direction.

Ten ways to encourage user generated content on your social intranet

  1. Be clear in the goals of the platform from the outset
  2. Define and distribute clear, concise guidelines and reference material
  3. Make sure you use social functions such as share buttons, Like buttons and potentially ratings tools
  4. Use widgets and tools which enable users to share latest comments and view areas of the platform where conversations are taking place
  5. Mix up the content from heavier, serious content to more fun/people focused content
  6. Encourage line managers and leadership to comment and share strong articles published from their reports
  7. Rewards the best contributors publicly – this is different to rewarding the most prolific
  8. Praise and re-share the best articles, comments and discussions in a weekly/monthly roundup of activity
  9. As the manager of the platform create a network in different business units/location through which you can guide and encourage content creation
  10. Create localized editorial committees at the launch and encourage and agree a number of posting per month. This will encourage conversations across different areas of the business on different topic

Happiness and the paperless office

I read this article today on the advancement of the paperless office which got me thinking about the way we work in offices and how tablets and clouds will ultimately free us from desks and enable us to work in a way which is more natural to the individual. I then contributed to this post from Nixon McInnes which got me thinking around the subject of happiness at work.

It struck me the increased mobility of work could create a better understanding of what makes workers happier, er, at work. Management, Internal Communicators, Organisation Designers and Interior Designers can gleam a wealth of data from users of mobile tools which could directly change the performance of the organisation for the better.

My theory is based on a model used by a LSE venture called Mappiness where users of the app receive up to 5 alerts a day asking them about their happiness levels at that point in time. The alerts also ask for data about who the user is with, what activity the user in engaging in and so forth. After a while the app builds up a profile of the user’s happiness levels based on location, activity and company. This is then shared between the LSE and the user, enabling the LSE to build a macro understanding of the happiness levels in the country, whilst the user gets to understand their behaviour through the data.

If this model was transplanted into an enterprise version and added onto the tablets/devices of the newly mobile workforce then the organisation would be able to analyse the data and find out crucial information such as; what time of the day their workforce are more likely to be proactive and productive and base a workflow around that. Employee responsiveness could be measured enabling the best timing for the delivery of communications.

As one would expect a mobile workforce to work in areas where they are most comfortable, the data will enable the organisation to find out what sort of environmental design works best for their workforce. The data could also be used to examine happiness of clusters against outcomes to find out which groups are working well together and which are not.

There is a huge opportunity in this space for a real data capture which can help organisations with achieving the right outcome in important decision making. Firstly, the tablets/devices must be adopted, along with a freeing up of individual workspaces. Individual happiness must also be taken more seriously in organisation. Once these hurdles have been overcome then the happy paperless office can be more than a pipe dream.

 

 

 

 

 

The importance of narrative

I have a friend, a very good friend, we share the same outlook on life, we
both work in the digital industry and we both share a passion for sport,
technology and generally interesting stuff. We get on well. To us, life is
one long conversation, we think nothing of sending an email with nothing
in the subject field and just a URL in the message field, we use iPhones to
send photos and SMSs of interesting things to each other without really
having a set dialogue and we use Skype to connect and share during the
day.

Nothing abnormal there you might think. Perhaps you are right but what
I find interesting is our ability to build a narrative around our everyday
lives through multiple platforms. What I find even more interesting is
how we can actually maintain two different conversations on two different
platforms simultaneously, even if the mood is darker on one platform and
jolly on the other platform.

The ability to build narrative is important nowadays especially for
communicators; audiences and messaging have become so fragmented that
there has to be a story behind the communication, the narrative builds a
sense of inclusion to the audience or in my friends and I’s case both of us.
Most importantly it connects us to the bigger picture – the story behind the
messages.

The story-behind-the-messages. This is ultimate goal for every
communicator, getting the audience to ‘get’ the bigger picture. Using
narrative is a great way to do this – if the narrative is right then every
message should resonate with the reader, if the narrative is wrong,
messages will be misinterpreted and potentially distrusted. Building
the brand narrative takes time and like a personal narrative, takes a lot
of commitment and understanding from both parties. There is no right
or wrong way to getting the right narrative in a corporate context, it’s a
question of building trust and rapport.

I mentioned earlier that my friend and I communicate constantly and
build up narrative through a variety of platforms; Skype, iPhones, etc.
This has enabled us to reach a point of understanding, trust and a sense
of ‘getting it’ as we are now free to communicate anywhere and everywhere.
This is my mind is fundamental to bringing the narrative to life and

bringing it into real-time relevancy. The key here for communicators
is to adopt as many methods as possible to build the storyline, amplify
events, allow senior teams to communicate how they feel most comfortable
and empower everyone with the tools to engage and watch how greater
understanding and more effective communications can take place simply
by having a strong narrative in place.

Further reading: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/03/using_stories_as_a_tool_of_per.html

Looking after the community – how I deal with UG content

As part of the communications strategy for the website I manage we decided that we simply must build a community on Facebook –  from a branding perspective and a social commerce perspective (we have added a commerce plugin to our page) it looks like the ideal channel to build our community and engage with new audiences – easy.

The initial content which we uploaded was fundamentally a bit of broadcast about news products and ranges, mixed in with valuable content such as buying guides and how to guides. I wanted to get to the point where if we posted new material on our Facebook page our ‘Likes’ (ers) will engage in debate and comment to start creating earned media content for us. I essentially wanted our Likes (ers) to be writing our content and creating links for us.

How did we go about this? Simple, I offered an incentive start the ball rolling.  A competition was launched in which the ‘Likers’ (I’m fed up of writing Liker (ers)) post anecdotes about days they wished they had a taken a Duvet day and stayed at home under the duvet. The winning post, chosen by us, would win a duvet – simple. I then promoted the competition using Facebook adverts and via Twitter.

I started to receive posts on ‘Likers’ about spilling coffee over colleagues and such, but I also received posts which I was a little uncomfortable with on our page, posts describing bodily functions etc. I was put in a conundrum; as an advocate of Social Media I wanted to keep the posts live – after all this is what our community want to share and to be honest they weren’t offensive. Or, as a Brand leader to I protect the brand and remove all of this content? I have kept my own counsel on this but have decided to keep the posts up. If I receive complaints or they offend anyone then I’ll review the situation. My rationale is that it would go against I believe is right about Social Media and the move towards open and transparent brand communications. I want to encourage openness and feedback from our customers and our community as well. If I start removing inoffensive content which isn’t ‘On-brand’ and approved I’ll lose any trust from community. I hope most communicators feels the same.

The would be the same if a ‘Liker’ or a customer posted negative content about our products or service. I’d hope that we’d be able to resolve the situation in public and move on, leaving both the user happy with the experience and a public trail of how good our brand is at dealing with complaints and issues.

It might be a good idea to bullet point my thoughts on user-generated content and how to handle the unexpected;

  1. Like a boy scout – be prepared
  2. Have Social Media guidelines ready for everyone
  3. Think be you act on any content – always take a look at all potentials avenues
  4. Engage with the User don’t just delete comment and not find out more about the users motives
  5. Amplify succesful interactions

Most importantly remember if customers fans are not posting negative content about you in your environment, they sure as hell will be in an environment you may not know about.