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Don't Over Invest in Internal Social Media

Internal social media is a popular tool, but only among select groups of employees; the key, then, is to invest wisely

Communicators have multiple platforms and channels at their fingertips when it comes to passing important messages on to employees.

Yet that luxury of choice has made it paradoxically more difficult to engage employees because, just like everyone else, they are filtering out information both consciously and sub-consciously in an attempt to cope with information overload.

This makes the choice of channel far more important that it once was. Comms teams should allocate their scarce resources to the best channels. And the best channels are not those with the most traffic, or those that employees say they prefer – the best channels are the ones that employees use to learn information and make peer connections that, ultimately, will help them do their jobs better.

Despite being newer than many of the other channels at communicators’ disposal, internal social media is particularly popular among certain groups of employees, just as it is outside of the workplace. In fact, out of 12 major channels available to comms teams – including email, intranets, leadership blog posts and briefings, and digital signage – internal social media is the fifth most popular, according to CEB data.

Why Internal Social Media is Powerful

Internal social media is an important channel for helping employees understand strategy and how their work connects to it, giving them access to information, tools, and people that can help them do their jobs, and expanding their peer networks and connections – all things that have been proven to increase performance.

But it’s only some groups of employees that use it. The reach of social media is below average across the 12 channels in CEB’s dataset – i.e., many employees don’t use it – but that the employee rating is above average – i.e. people who do use it really like it.

So social media has great potential to boost employee performance but, right now at least, only for a limited employee segment.

Given the reach of, and affinity for, the channel, corp comms teams should focus on satisfying target users’ needs, instead of trying to reach everyone. And key to this is deciding on the right level of investment that doesn’t waste resources but encourages use among the “right” group of employees.

Banking on Good Targeting

The comms team at TD Bank Group in CEB’s network of communicators took a targeted approach to increasing employee use of their internal social media platform, with great success. They considered two factors when targeting employee groups: the communication needs of the team and the team’s receptivity to using social capabilities.

For teams that scored highly on both, Communications provides information and training to help them understand how TD’s internal social media platform could help their day-to-day work.


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