12 Nov 2007

Social networking strategy

Corporate communicators are like kids at Christmas when it comes to social media. In a survey by communications research firm Melcrum, the top two benefits nominated by internal communicators were improved employee engagement (71%) and improved internal collaboration (59%).

But in the lemming-like rush to incorporate social media, it’s important to look before you leap.

One key lesson learnt from organizations that have adopted social media is the importance of analyzing whether it is a workable approach given the broader organizational culture.

Regardless of how flat an organizational structure is, the fact remains that organizations and corporate communications are overwhelmingly hierarchical. There is typically a boss (or an appointed leader) plus “lieutenants” (or middle management). The introduction of social media tools pretty much creates a level playing field for sharing information. This is a radical departure from traditional top-down corporate communications. Not everyone is comfortable with this new paradigm. The Melcrum report warns that only those organizations willing to embrace a different model of communication will gain traction with social media.

Once an organization jumps the first hurdle – deciding to adopt social media – it’s not simply a matter of throwing open the doors. The industry sector, workplace culture, and employee needs and preferences are key influencers for organizations considering social media. Above all, strategic communicators must have a clear idea about what they expect these tools to achieve.

Facebook is already being deemed passé by some. Corporate communicators are not going to embrace social media tools just based on hype. These tools should have a clear, identifiable business purpose relevant to an individual organization, and be underpinned by mechanisms that support the uptake and longevity of these tools.

1 comment:

CJG blog team said...

Ah, I see what Melcrum is suggesting - a Facebook that only the Soviets could love. "Vi know who vriendz are".