How internal comms pros use social media – the results

Eighty five per cent of internal communication professionals say they are expected to have a ‘good understanding’ of social media and 89% think their professional use of social media will increase, according to research I’m publishing today.

Last year I had four theories about how IC pros use social media:

• Internal social networks often ‘just appear’ within organisations
• Internal comms pros are expected to have a good understanding of social media
• Social networks are put in place without understanding why
• Internal comms pros learn about social media via blogs and colleagues

I ran a survey called How internal comms professionals use social media and it confirmed my thoughts above. This year I decided to run the survey again. The questions were circulated throughout October via my All Things IC blog and social networks.

I asked 10 questions in total, nine you can see below and the last one was seeking views about my blog to help me constantly improve. I’m going to be introducing some new sections to my website in future based on that feedback.

Thank you to the 101 comms pros who took the time to answer this survey and to Ben Strawbridge and Sally Longstaff at Sequel Group who created an infographic based on the results, which is at the foot of this page. This means they are in a format you can use, and you’re welcome to do so.

Please note that some of the questions allowed multiple choice, so they will total more than 100 per cent as participants chose more than one answer. By the nature of the survey and how it was communicated, it’s unsurprising that the IC pros who answered use social media, and a variety of networks.

Looking at the figures and comparing them, I can see there was a 6.4% raise in internal social networks being introduced by a company’s comms team, as opposed to HR or IT, however only 18% of comms pros defined what they wanted their network to achieve before its launch.

Why am I releasing this research?
Having information to hand helps comms professionals benchmark against each other and have informed discussions in their teams and with their businesses. I’ve released this research to provide you with a snapshot view of how internal comms pros use social media to equip you with data to help you make decisions that are right for your team and organisation.

I’ve found it interesting to compare the results from 2012 and note the differences. Last year’s survey has since been shared in PR lectures, social media and internal communication training courses and academic schedules, it’s pinned in a variety of places on Pinterest and is even being featured in a PR text-book in Australia that’s coming out before the end of this year.

Let’s start at the beginning…
Question oneWhen asked if you have an internal social network in your organisation, the number of IC professionals without one is 10%, compared to 37% last year.

Of those who do, Yammer is the most popular at 41% (35% last year), Snapcomms at 37% (1% in 2012), SharePoint 26% (30% in 2012) followed by Lync 15% (up 1%).

Custom made internal social networks were down 5.5% from 2012.

Further reading: I have collated 250 case studies and articles of who is using what for internal social media (including 22 Snapcomms case studies) and you can see them here.

Introducing an internal social network
Communication teams are most likely to introduce internal social networks in organisations 35% (up 6.4% on last year) followed by IT (18% – down 6% on 2012). However 8% of internal comms professionals say they don’t know where the internal social network in their company came from.

How is that possible? Well, through models like Yammer, employees are able to sign up using a company email address. This means that internal communication professionals often have to play ‘catch-up’ as they suddenly discover there is an internal social network within their company. Is that your experience?

Further reading: I’ve collated 68 Yammer case studies on my blog to date. You can read them all in one place here.

Defining success
Measurement is key in any area of communication, and according to the research, 47% of internal social networks launched without defining what they were aiming to achieve, which is exactly the same figure as last year.

In order to measure effectively, it’s commonplace to clearly define what you’re striving to do, in order to know when you’ve achieved it. However, according to these results, internal social media appear to follow different rules as many launched without this step. By contrast, 18% of internal comms professionals said they did define what they wanted their internal social network to achieve before it launched.

If you have an internal social network, did you define what you wanted it to achieve before launching?

Personal vs professional use of social media by IC professionals
I asked IC pros what social networks they use in their professional and personal lives.

Question four All Things ICPersonal life: LinkedIn and Twitter came top at 91% each, then Facebook 88%, Instagram 43% (up 37%, which is unsurprising given its rise in popularity during the past year).

Pinterest was identical to 2012 at 33%. Google+ was down slightly at 23% and I was surprised to see personal blogs were down 9% on last year.

Vine was a new addition for 2013, with 11% use in personal life and 3.1% in professional life. I’d love to see examples of how people are using Vine. Do please let me know if you have a story to share.

Professional life (writing or managing on behalf of an organisation): top three are Twitter 65%, LinkedIn 48%, Facebook 35% – the same order as 2012. Enterprise social networks came next at 32.7%, then blogs at 32%.

Social media in the future
Looking ahead, 53% of internal communications professionals expect their use of social media in their personal life to increase, this compares to 59% last year, 43% think it will stay the same (39% in 2012) and 4% think it will decrease (2% in 2012).

In terms of professional use of social media (e.g. writing or managing on behalf of their organisation), 89% expect it to increase (compared to 93%), 10% think it will stay the same (up 4% on last year) and 1% think it will decrease.

How internal comms pros learn about social media
The professional use demonstrates the projected future of social media for internal communication. Particularly given last year’s results, I expected that figure to be high, so asked how internal communication professionals learn about using social media for IC. As with other questions, this allowed multiple choice in recognition of the fact there is more than one way to learn and I wanted to capture the range and take-up of the various options.

In 2012 blogs came top (86%) and I was unsurprised to find it was the case again this year at 72.4%. In fact, the results are pretty consistent with how they were 12 months ago – talking with colleagues or people in network was second again 67.3%, followed by LinkedIn groups at 53.1%, Conferences 50%, Comms magazines 38.8%, professional membership e.g belonging to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations or Institute of Internal Communications was 32.7%.

Question 8To discover that blogs are the number one choice by quite some way again is unsurprising because they have information at your fingertips that typically doesn’t have to be paid for.

I’m proud to have a blog that is helping to fill that void of people looking for advice and guidance on this subject by providing information for IC pros to access.

Feedback on question 10 certainly highlighted this fact as I’ve been asked to feature even more articles on this topic. If you would like to write a guest article and share information about how you are using social media for internal communication in your organisation, I’d love to hear from you. You can Tweet me @AllthingsIC, comment below or get in touch via my contact form.

In conclusion, IC pros are constantly communicating and choosing the most appropriate channels to suit their requirements both at home and work. They are educating themselves by gleaning information where they can and feel they’re expected to have good knowledge of social media use.

They’re multi-tasking and managing social media accounts across various networks on behalf of their companies. They use LinkedIn and Twitter in their personal life, and Twitter and LinkedIn professionally.

If you’re looking for other IC pros on Twitter, see The IC Crowd network I co-founded with my friends and fellow comms pros Jenni Wheller and Dana Leeson. You can find us on Twitter @theICcrowd.

Further reading: How do you use LinkedIn? If you’re looking for groups to join, there are some listed on my Rachel’s Resources page.

Your feedback
Thank you again to everyone who participated in this survey and to Sequel Group for creating the infographic. What do you think of the results? Does anything surprise you or does it back up your instincts and gut feel?

As ever, I welcome your feedback so do please comment below, tweet me @AllthingsIC and feel free to share this information, including the infographic that was created by Sequel Group, but do please link it back to so we can keep the conversation and communication going.

You can also find it pinned on my internal comms and social media boards on Pinterest and via Slideshare:

Thank you for stopping by,


P.s. Want to read about collaboration in organisations? You’re in the right place to find out more.

Post author: Rachel Miller


All Things IC infographic



  1. Darryl Mead says:

    Good research and insights Rachel. Thanks for sharing.
    It’s an interesting arena for us comms professionals and a constantly changing online landscape.
    I’ve posted some of my views on employee social tools on my (reasonably new) blog.

    Keep up the great work,

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