On 1 December a Social Media seminar for Internal Communicators took place in London, I saw on Twitter that Sonsoles Lumbreras was attending and asked her to write an article for Diary of an internal communicator to share what happened with readers of my blog. You can see some of the discussions from the day via Twitter.

Don’t forget that I’m always on the lookout for guest writers who are communications professionals to contribute to this site, so if you attend a training course, seminar or Internal Comms event that you think other IC pros would enjoy reading about, do get in touch with me: rach@rachmiller.com with your idea.

Sonsoles is a communications professional with 10 years of work experience in Spain as a journalist and as a communications consultant, having worked at several communication agencies for clients from the public and private sector. In the last year she studied a Masters in Corporate Communication at Kingston University in London, which is how we got to know each other as I helped Sonsoles with her research for her dissertation about the use of social media in the process of communicating organisational change. Now she’s keen to work in Internal Communications, which she says she’s passionate about, particularly in the use of social media to communicate with employees.

Over to you Sonsoles…

The Social Media seminar for Internal Communicators, organised by Simply-Communicate discussed the way to set up a Social Media strategy within companies. It looked at how to engage employees and overcome all the possible pitfalls that arise during that process. Communications professionals from companies across Europe, such as Lloyds, Unilever, Diageo and Deutsche Bank attended the event.

The day started with Mark Wright’s presentation. He is editor of the Gower Handbook of Internal Communication and an expert in social media. Wright pointed out that Communications professionals should no longer manage communications but help everybody to communicate better within their organisations. He said it is the simple fact that people are going where conversations are, which is now on social media platforms, which is why companies cannot afford to avoid the adoption of these media to communicate with employees.

“You should create an environment where people love your channels”, said Wright. I found it interesting to see the various display of different social media on the Twitter triangle (which you can see on this page). An easy way to explain the different uses of social media platforms within companies is:

  • YouTube/Blogs/Wikis to tell information about issues happening in the organisation
  • Twitter/ Yammer to promote this content and respond to people’s comments
  • The community part of Facebook/Sharepoint/LinkedIn allows you to have relationships and build trust in your tweets and other signposts

During the debate, everyone in the room agreed that money is not an issue to implement social media inside the workplace, but the real challenge is to make the business understand its use and educate people about how to use it.

We also discussed how it is important to change people’s behaviours. We saw interesting examples of social media being used for external comms, Wright showed us how it is easier for a company to avoid reputation damage if they are using social media to respond to customers’ complaints or comments. The same can happen using these communications platforms within an organisation.

Recipe for success
Wright also applied the SUCCESS techniques, from the Made To Stick book on the use of social media for Internal Communications.

Keep it:

  • Simple
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credible
  • Emotional and
  • tell Stories.

During the debate, a general feeling shown among delegates was that email is overused nowadays within companies. Do we need to get rid of emails then? Well, maybe only use them for what they are useful.

“Emails are not good for collaboration, but social media are”, pointed out Wright. A good example is that Atos (a leading technological company) is on its way to ban the use of email within its organisation.

It was also surprising to learn that there is a UPS internet forum created by employees but not monitored by the organisation. In my view this is a really bad practice that any company should avoid. As Wright stated: “Your work is to be where conversations are.”

Silvia Cambié, who has been internationally awarded for her work building social media networks, talked about important tips to take into account when creating social media communities within an organisation.

She said that co-creation, crowdsourcing and stories are the three main topics to animate communities on social media. So everyone should collaborate when creating the content, should be taken into account to give ideas and helping to solve problems and it is fundamental to tell stories, with a human component, to encourage people to participate on social media platforms.

Two other ideas were interesting from Cambié’s presentation: the use of social media within an organisation should be linked to a business need, so it is fundamental to turn social media participation into value for the organisation, and in order to measure participation it is important to look at the quality of interaction behind the number of participants. And “what type of social media personality do you have?”, Cambié asked the audience. There are the sharers, the readers, the mavens, the commenters, the word-of-mouthers and the power holders. And it is necessary to think about the different groups you can have into an organisation before designing a social media strategy.

Other important ideas pointed out by Cambié were that Comms professionals should always be involved in the social media strategy from the start (of course!), the off-line component should be kept together with the online, it is important to use different devices (such as mobile ones) to encourage everyone to contribute to the conversation and companies should look for local solutions when developing their global social media strategies.

Spotting talent
It was also very inspirational to listen to some delegates who are already implementing social media strategies within their companies. For example, UniCredit has created an internal platform to spot talent, with communities talking about different areas of interest. Or the creation of Fanclub by O2, an internal social networking site where people could nominate their colleagues for the O2 annual awards.

Lee Stevens was in charge of explaining the advantages of Share Point 2010, one of the social media tools more used by companies. Stevens stressed that the first problem for its adoption is that people do not get trained.

Finally, Lawrence Clarke, from Sift Groups, took to the floor to talk about how to create internal communities on social media within organisations, based on learning & development, projects, events and social interests, leading to collaboration among employees and skills/knowledge sharing.

A summary of the impressions gathered could be the answer to this question asked during the seminar: “How do you avoid negative reactions or opposition to the use of social media within the company”. Conversations are happening anyway out there, but when they are taking place on social media you can see who is commenting and answer to people, and employees themselves can respond to other colleagues negative comments.

If you want to know more about what happened on the Simply Social Seminar, check out this link to view their storify feed.

Thanks again Sonsoles, sounds like you found it a really useful day and came away with lots of interesting facts and case studies.

Post author: Sonsoles Lumbreras