The seven golden Rules for using Social Media in Internal Communications

Companies are more and more trying to introduce internal social media to seize the creative potential and the far reaching expertise of its individual employees and also engage them for changes in the company, allowing their employees to share their minds and let the company grow with them. However, these attempts often end due to employees’ neglect and lack of participation. By following some simple rules for the implementation and management of social media, companies can avoid that their attempts to introduce social media tools will end as “intranet deserts”.

  1. Listen. Social Media starts with listening: Find out what people are talking about and whether there is the need for social media at all. Choose the nature of the tool according to the specific change process and the resulting communications need of the employees, e.g. discussion or knowledge exchange tools.
  2. Commit. It’s hard to encourage employees to fill in a company facebook personal profile or keep a blog running if your boss sneers at it. Also important: If their boss takes time during work to engage in social media, employees see it’s ok for them to do so, too.
  3. Monitor and Adapt. Avoid standstill and continuously adapt your social media to keep the information flow running. Don’t neglect your responsibility as host and listen to feedback carefully. Keep track on which offerings are used the most and develop them further while bury what is not frequently used. Distinguish whether there is need for change in your social media platform or whether users simply need encouragement or assistance.
  4. Find allies. Identify colleagues who are ambassadors of the change and have fun with using this way of communication, make them excited about the new tools and enthuse them to regularly contribute with new content.
  5. Demonstrate the benefits. Ask yourself the “Quid pro quo” question. People will do something if there is something in it for them. Communicate the benefits that people and your company will have during the change when contributing to the social media tools through messages which go like “Thanks to our social media, we were able to…”
  6. Avoid restrictions and censorship. Define a clear netiquette beforehand with clear rules, then let loose. People will accept even strict rules but no ongoing harassment with new directives.
  7. Keep it simple. Don’t overburden your employees with too many complicated tools or functions. To be successful, social media must be easy to understand and easy to use.

Related Literature:

  • W. Buhse/ S. Stamer (Hg): “Die Kunst, loszulassen – Enterprise 2.0” (2008)
  • F. M. Hein (Hg.): „Elektronische Unternehmenskommunikation“ (2008)
  • J. Klewes/ R. Langen: „Change 2.0 – Beyond Organisational Transformation“ (2008)
  • Melcrum Study: “How to use social media to engage employees” (2009)

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