The Social Workplace Conference in a nutshell

Following on my series of reports from recent conferences and events, I’m pleased to introduce Adam Britten, Community Manager at Crexia.  Adam is a Master of Digital Marketing student at Hult International Business School and has written a guest post for Diary of an internal communicator on the recent Social Workplace Conference. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBritten and you can keep up with the #swconf discussion by following @swconf.

The Social Workplace Conference took place in London on 1 November, 2011. It discussed the impact of social media and social software on employee communications and workforce collaborations. Executives from companies across Europe and the US in the fields of Communications, Intranet Management, HR, IT etc. came to present and hear new ideas.

Here are the three key takeaways that I think resonated with the audience:

Everyone dislikes email, but we can’t avoid it
There was one thing that everyone in the room could agree on: we all get too much email. Throughout the day, different speakers offered different ways to reduce the level of messages in our inbox. Jon Mell presented an idea about building employee “walls” similar to those of Facebook for companies to use internally. He claimed that this strategy offers a better end product.

Participants can see what was already discussed and build on it, which you can’t do with email because it is typically 1-1 communication (unless you CC everyone, but that only adds endless amounts of emails to our inbox.) Employee walls crowdsource the best answer to a problem instead of forcing the original person to choose the best response from a group of incoming emails.

Teach someone, don’t tell them
Benjamin Ellis presented a session about social software. Benjamin compared different social tools that companies can implement, like Sharepoint or enterprise versions of Quora that can be used to enhance corporate communication and knowledge management. One thing that resonated well with the crowd from his discussion was the following quote: “There are three ways to communicate: Tell someone three times, show them twice, or
let them do it once.”

You need to get buy-in

David Christopher’s session was about having a socially connected enterprise. He offered many tips for building a company that uses social strategy in order to enhance the quality of the end product as well as the process. He stressed that the first step in this is to get senior executive buy-in. During the Q&A phase, someone asked David “what happens between being ready to go and actual implementation?” David’s response was that you must have a sponsor within the team above the “social” leader so that change can happen.

He recommended having two hour sessions for five days with higher-ups from many teams in order to help them set goals and build roadmaps for what they want to accomplish, and then show them how social tools can help them get there.

Bonus takeaways
The discussion from #swconf extended beyond the conference that day. Participants flocked to Twitter and blogs to discuss what they had learned and shared more insights. Helen Magnay recently posted a comment on this post regarding Internal Community Management. She suggested that internal communications will develop to a point where it is about enabling communication instead of initiating it.

Below is a video featuring Jenni Wheller, Internal Communications Manager at SSP UK, who was a speaker at the conference.

Post author: Adam Britten.

Thank you for your article Adam, certainly sounds like an interesting event and glad to hear it went well. Have you been to a conference or training course recently and think other professional communicators would be interested to read what happened, who spoke and what they missed? Contact me: wtih your proposed article. Thanks as ever for stopping by.

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