The essential value of social media channels in the workplace is two-way conversation.
Beyond the strictured medium of the employee (engagement) survey, social media channels allow the corporate communicator to listen in new ways, keeping an ear to the ground and driving engagement. Using tools like Digg we can learn which messages resonate most with employees, providing a means for employees to vote or “like” internal news posts and have this information flow to a ranking on the intranet home page.
What’s not understood, is the ability to leverage this dialogue and data feedback to deliver customized corporate messages—the ability to insert strategic corporate messages into existing employee conversation.
In journalism, it’s called finding the local angle for a news story. The budget in Albany has been cut drastically. How is that going to affect you in New York City? There will be fewer police officers on the street, for example.
The hidden gem here is the value of communicating from the bottom up— beginning from the local angle, and then laddering up to the corporate message. This is another game-changer created by social media and the polar opposite of what we’ve seen in traditional corporate communication; namely, corporate speak, or top-down cascaded messaging with corporate communicators trotting out the latest C-suite command-and-control message.
This was driven home to me this week after viewing the innovative communication practices of WalMart, featured on the CCM blog that covered the goings-on at their annual conference in Philadelphia: Walmart connects 1.4 million associates with social media. Take a moment and view the video if you find this subject intriguing.
Want to provide a corporate message on the environmental impact of reusable bags? Walmart finds employee conversations on the intranet about customers using reusable bags and then inserts/ladders up to the corporate message from there. This is because they’ve learned that employees think about their own interactions first, and then how things affect their store, before they think of the impact of messages on the wider global company.
Lessons learned: Insert your corporate message into existing employee dialogue, find a local angle—and in WalMart’s case a local (store) champion—and ladder up to the corporate message based on how the employee thinks about it locally.
Nice customized grass-roots approach. Very impressive. Takes a lot more work, to be sure, but it’s well worth it.
Or we can continue to load up employee inboxes with e-mails they’ll never read…how’s that working out for you?
Photo Credit: id-iom’s photostream