Comms pros gather and SMILE

On Monday 23 September around 150 internal comms professionals attended Social Media Inside the Large Enterprise (SMILE) that was hosted by simply-communicate at Prospero House in London, which was a great start to Social Media Week.

smilespeakersI presented the findings from the research I undertook with the simply-communicate team to open the event and enjoyed hearing the stories shared by people working in communications of their experiences when it comes to all things internal communication related.

The room was full of comms pros at all stages of their forays into using social media inside their organisations, and as the day unfolded and the packed agenda got underway, the crescendo of conversations increased.

It was great to see lots of familiar faces and to meet some new ones who I recognised from their online profiles but hadn’t met in person before.

It was a packed agenda, with the overarching aim of looking at how to connect employees and equip and empower them to help organisations respond quickly and communicate effectively.

When polled, a live survey revealed 87% of people in the room were in companies using internal social media.

I fully expect to see future events examining how you can move from launch and pilot stage, to fully embedding. (The research I presented revealed that only 6% felt their social media efforts are fully embedded in their organisations).

It was refreshing to hear repeatedly that social tools are not the solution to communication problems, and that in order to be successful, companies have to dedicate time, money, resources and effort to determine what they want to achieve and then make it happen.

(Writing that out, it strikes me that it’s such common sense, but it feels like people get caught up in a bubble and forget the basics – the same rules of communication apply! If you’ve ever seen me present you’ll know I’m a strong advocate for making smart decisions that fit the culture of businesses and talk about how social media is not always the answer, I also wrote about this in Share This).

Recommended read: See Jeremy Waite’s article that was published on The Drum this week. In it he highlights how 2013 “is not just conversations about a particular channel or a platform – it’s also about where social fits in above-the-line spend.”

Jeremy is Head of Social Strategy at Adobe EMEA and is on Twitter @jeremywaite. If you’ve not come across his 80 rules of social media before, I recommend checking them out. I’ve tweeted about them a number of times and love the content as they make me chuckle and nod my head throughout when reading.

A question of adoption

Back to SMILE…. As an example re: adoption, Wells Fargo talked about 80% adoption of their internal social media as a result of their training roadshows – highlighting the continued importance of face-to-face communication.

I’m often asked by IC pros about the time it takes to introduce a platform into an organisation. PWC revealed that they researched, planned and implemented their site Spark (Jive-based) in three 90-day stints. Impressive, particularly bearing in mind they have a workforce of 180,000 risk mitigating accountants (their words).

PWC also spoke about how they produced a short 10-point guideline for the launch of Spark and said they found it to be “more than enough” to steer their workforce through what was expected. You can see 300+ examples of social media guidelines here.

Recommend read: Want to know more about Spark? You can read more about it via simply-communicate.

Go mobile or go home

Kelli Carlson-Jagersma VP of Internal Collaboration at Wells Fargo, delivered one of my favourite presentations of the day. She said “not to even bother with building an internal social media programme unless it’s fully mobile optimised” – in order words ‘Go Mobile or Go Home’.

I missed the final session of the day, but have heard good reports about Beem, who presented on their ’employee engagement platform’ that only works on mobiles.

I like this quote from Matthew Walko who wrote about the event: “The key takeaway here is creating new behaviour is a challenge – so make it as simple as possible. That does include building ‘mobile-first’, but also remaining diligent at remove all barriers of entry, make the experience gorgeous, and ensure that the programme aligns and amplifies the already existing culture.”


One of the most popular vendor stalls of the day was Foldable.Me. I was fortunate enough to have the little lady on this page waiting for me when I went to visit the stand, as the team had created characters of all the speakers.

I have asked the Foldable.Me team to share some more information with me about what they are doing and how their creations are being used for internal comms. I will be bringing you that story as a case study very soon.

The social CEO

Paolo Cederle, CEO of UniCredit spoke about how he ‘turned the bank social’ and it was excellent to hear first-hand from a CEO about his role.

He spoke about leading by example and how it began to take off at the bank when he and his management team began to share personally. This seemed to be the key to making it work for them. Employees responded to the personal touch and the stories that they shared, which sat alongside the strategic  objectives and corporate comms. They created “a culture of openness” which in turn led to better conversations internally and more transparency and trust.

One idea that Paolo mentioned was around how to use ideas from employees and embed them into their systems. Simply, ‘I have an idea’ or ‘I need an idea’ conversation starters, that have seen the employees be rewarded for and input into crowd-sourced smart thinking across the organisation. No silos here by the sound of it.

I shared this video the other day, but in case you missed it, here is Andrew Grill, CEO of Kred, Marie Wallace, Analytics Strategist, IBM Social Business Division and Andrew O’Shaughnessy, CEO, Newsweaver in their SMILE session. You can see other videos from the day via simply-communicate:

A number of Vines were taken on the day including:

Well done to the team at simply-communicate for a great day and useful event.

Did you go to SMILE? What did you think of it? The next one is on 27 November.

If you want to know what is coming up for people working in comms to attend, don’t forget all the events I’m aware of are listed in the comms calendar from @theICcrowd.

Post author: Rachel Miller


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