How HSBC is using social media for IC

How do you share stories about your organisation? Do you communicate them among your workforce using social media? Are you looking internally and using platforms like Yammer, Jive and Chatter or are you making the most of external channels too?

This week I discovered information online from HSBC, who appear to be exploring using external channels for their internal communication. I’ve written numerous times about the blurring of lines between internal and external comms and this is another example.

Called HSBC NOW, it describes itself as being “about the people who work at HSBC. These are our stories: the passions that drive us, the challenges we set ourselves and our lives inside and outside work. Stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”

So what are they doing?

HSBC Now HSBC NOW is on Twitter @HSBC_Now and has its own YouTube channel. Both look like they went live within the past week and they include stories by and from employees, with 12 videos currently available to watch.

For example one employee – Mark Gilding from HSBC’s Global Marketing Centre in London – features in a short video about his dramatic weight loss. He started at 33 stone 13lb and and has lost an incredible 18 stone. The video shows Mark discussing what he’s done and includes positive comments from his colleagues who have watched his transformation and hard work.

Effective communication is examined through Marcos Souza’s video about sign language and how they set up sign language classes internally for employees.

There’s also a video on diversity and inclusion from Antonio Simoes, CEO UK Bank and Head of RBWM Europe who says: “I’m lucky that I work for a company that allows me to be honest – about being gay, being Portuguese and being bald.”

Antonio talks about the importance of an “inclusive culture where people can be the best” and the footage shows him meeting employees face-to-face and discussing meritocracy – the idea of being recognised for your hard work and input, regardless of race, gender etc. He talks about what it’s like to be openly gay and how HSBC is a diverse organisation.

Why is HSBC doing this?

We all know the power of an effective story and the way they can resonate and get passed on.

I think these stories from HSBC are straddling internal and external comms. From an internal perspective, it’s highlighting employee success and certainly ticks many of the boxes when it comes to the four enablers of employee engagement as defined by Engage for Success:

  • Visible, empowering leadership providing a strong strategic narrative about the organisation, where it’s come from and where it’s going
  • Engaging managers who focus their people and give them scope, treat their people as individuals and coach and stretch them
  • Employee voice throughout the organisation, reinforcing and challenging views, between functions and externally. Employees seen as central to the solution
  • Organisational integrity – values on the wall are reflected in day-to-day behaviours. There is no ‘say – do’ gap.

(To read more about this topic, see my articles on employee engagement).

If you think about employees and internal communication, we’ve never purely been ‘internal’ – as I wrote in Share This Too: More Social Media Solutions for PR Professionals (Wiley, 2013):

Corporate communication is a broad term. Underneath it can sit internal communication (with employees, stakeholders and interested parties such as shareholders), external communication (with customers and media), public and government affairs, corporate social responsibility, sponsorship, brand, events and more. These disciplines often overlap and each one requires unique skill sets and dedication. An effective corporate communication function and team recognises and celebrates this and aligns effort, content and timings to benefit the business and its customers.

The lines between internal and external communication continue to blur. You’re only a forwarded email/status or misplaced employee magazine away from headlines. Assuming that all information will stay purely internal is foolhardy. In heavily unionised workforces or in times of change such as mergers and acquisitions, the criticality of your communication’s accuracy and mindfulness of audience cannot be underestimated.”

The benefits and background

Who benefits from outwardly facing channels like HSBC NOW? Employees certainly as I imagine there’s a sense of pride being part of a Global brand and having your story chosen to form part of their external communications, but it’s also of use for potential employees, students, journalists and interested parties – the list is endless.

Watching and reading internal stories gives you a sense of the culture of the organisation – “the way things are done around here” – and also provides richness to campaigns such as recruitment.

I did a bit of digging online and discovered a number of things – firstly, HSBC NOW has actually been around for a couple of years, although these external channels are brand new.

They won a CIPR Inside award earlier this year for Best International Programme, and according to a job advert that is currently on LinkedIn, are seeking an Assistant Producer for HSBC NOW. It states: “First piloted in November 2011, HSBC NOW is a multi-award winning video news programme that is broadcast globally to employees across Asia, Middle East & Africa, Europe, North America and Latin America.

“The purpose of the programme is to help drive strategy, business transformation and engage employees globally. The programme will be launching on YouTube in Q3 2013 (aha- Rachel). The roleholder is responsible for supporting four Producers and the Senior Editor in developing compelling programming comparable to the highest external video and news standards for the flagship global video news programme, HSBC NOW. The focus of the role will be to work closely with the team to help develop story leads into compelling TV storytelling for both internal and external platforms.”

So who’s reading and watching?

The HSBC Twitter account currently has 210 followers and scanning through the list there are lots of HSBC employees in there. In terms of the 40 people they are following back, the first three are internal communication related, which makes me suspect it’s an internal communication-led initiative rather than external. Proof yet again of those blurred lines.

They have 221 subscribers on YouTube so far and have had 6,581 views of their 12 videos.

Update: @Commsokeeffe has just Tweeted me to say: “@AllthingsIC plays into the requirement for financial institutions to have a more ‘human’ image. They’re using the content on @LinkedIn too”

You can read more on LinkedIn here.

If anyone from HSBC would like to add any further information to this article and share the story behind what you’re hoping to achieve with HSBC NOW and how it fits into your comms channel mix, feel free to get in touch by commenting below, my contact form or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.

I’ll leave you with their overview video on YouTube that introduces the channel and am interested to know what you think. Would this work for your organisation? Do you think there’s value in sharing these sorts of stories? If you have your own story to share, do please get in touch.

Thanks as ever for stopping by,




  1. HSBC staff believe it also has a policy of discouraging employees from having a LinkedIn profile.

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