Social media has come a long way in the last five years. Once used to kill time and stay entertained, the social web is now deeply ingrained in the day-to-day operations of businesses large and small. Communications is no exception – in fact, it’s one of the premier uses of social media in the corporate environment. Instead of relying on outdated bulletin boards and impersonal memos, tech-savvy executives are now using online tools to communicate more quickly, more personally and more effectively.
Here are seven strategies for implementing social media communication in your company:
Establish Clear Ownership
One of the biggest problems companies have when implementing social media at the corporate level is that no one department has clear ownership of it. Who’s responsible? Is it marketing, HR, senior management, or perhaps a newly anointed person/department? There is no one “right” answer, but the old saying applies: when it’s everyone’s responsibility, it’s no one’s responsibility.
When a company’s social presence is run by different departments, it invariably falls short of its full potential. Each week sees the birth of new “initiatives” and experiments, rather than the continuation of one solid direction or approach. As a result, social media fails to become the rich communication channel it has the potential to be. Pick one person (or department) to be in charge and give them authority over the channel.
Protected Twitter Accounts
One of the quickest ways to immediately leverage social media for corporate communications is Twitter. But there’s a twist: established businesses shouldn’t sign up for the same public Twitter accounts that individuals use. Rather, executives will want to use what’s known as a “protected” Twitter account (explained here.)
Basically, a protected Twitter account is one where only approved followers (employees and colleagues in this case) can see your Tweets. Once established, your protected Twitter account can be used to share anything of company importance: memos, reminders, event invitations, etc. You can even go a step further and establish protected Twitter accounts for each department. This way, everyone gets tweets that are very pointed and relevant to their job duties without getting overwhelmed by things outside of their purview.
Corporate RSS Feeds
RSS feeds offer another way to rapidly disseminate information across the company. RSS (which literally stands for “really simple syndication”) enables executives to create “feeds” that employees and co-workers subscribe to via tools like Google Reader. What can you syndicate using RSS? Actually, just about anything you wish.
Today’s RSS technologies permit you to syndicate text, videos, audio files and virtually anything else you can send along in an e-mail or instant message. The benefit of using RSS instead is that you can create the content once (say, a reminder or memo) and effortlessly blast it out to everyone in a completely streamlined and trackable format.
Internal Company Blog
If you aren’t ready to experiment with Twitter and RSS yet (or even if you are) a much simpler way to bring social media into your communications program is just to set up an internal company blog. This is distinct from any customer-facing blog you might have. Rather than publishing PR stories about the company, your internal blog is meant to convey information that’s meaningful to employees and executives.
A major plus of having an internal blog is allowing employees to comment on each post and paying attention to what they say. This is a priceless form of feedback – encourage people to freely and candidly share their thoughts on company blog posts. Furthermore, use these responses to drive new initiatives or employee programs based on what you learned.
More strategies in Part 2. Stay tuned.