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How to Get All Employees Using Internal Social Media

Collaboration tools like internal social media can make a big difference to employees' work but only if enough people use the tools consistently; three steps will help with this

Spending time and money on improving the way employees collaborate with one another – whether in the same office or on opposite sides of the world – is almost always a good use of resources. Making it easier for people to get their work done makes them more efficient and happier in their job.

And so companies across the globe have happily been investing money in social-media type technology to help with collaboration. This is good news for those who have been advocating the use of this kind of tech, but what’s less encouraging is that many employees aren’t particularly enthusiastic. And this is a big problem because firms will only see real benefits from their investment if the tools are used by all employees. In fact, the impact of internal collaboration systems more than doubles when employees start to use them on a large scale, according to CEB analysis.

It often falls to corporate comms teams to get people using this internal social media and, if they fail, they tend to do so for two reasons. First, some employee segments are better suited than others to social media, but comms teams typically allocate equal resources to encouraging different employee groups to take-up the tools. This wastes money and doesn’t help achieve the necessary scale.

Second, comms teams tend to over-emphasize the tech itself and underplay what it does. Employees are much more likely to use a new platform or tool if they are shown how it can help them achieve their business goals.

Three Steps to Persuade Employees onto Internal Social Media

Corporate communications teams should take three steps to encourage the take-up of internal social media.

  1. Identify the target audience: Focus your promotion efforts on the employee segment that depends heavily on collaboration in its daily work and is likely to use the platform. Speak to their managers to identify their top priorities, and focus social media resources on those priorities that the tools can help with.

    For example, if the customer service team’s top business priority is to improve their brand reputation by providing exemplary customer service, identify a connection tool (such as Chatter or Wikis) that can help customer service reps easily locate and access functional experts/information to resolve complicated customer queries.

  2. Build or refine social media capabilities: Speak to the target employees to identify work challenges that social media capabilities can resolve. Understand what functionalities the employees require and that can help with day-to-day work. Share these needs with IT while also assessing the ability of existing capabilities to meet them. Weigh-up the pros and cons of investing in new capabilities and identify those that can fill the gaps in the existing technology.

    Finally, build a prototype and test it with select employees from the target segment. Gather their feedback and use it to refine the platform before rolling it out to a wider audience.

  3. Drive and sustain adoption: Monitor commonly used measures of adoption of the tool, such as percentage of active network members, growth rate of organic content, and average social reach, before launching adoption efforts. Once the platform is rolled out to the entire target segment, educate your employees on its value by conducting workshops and sharing how-to videos and interactive quizzes. Avoid getting mired in the technological functionalities of the platform, and focus instead on enabling self-discovery of how the platform can meet their business needs.

    It’s also important to monitor, from the very beginning, behavioral barriers that may be preventing particular employee groups or geographies from using the social media platform. For example, employees may not be comfortable sharing files on social networks, or managers may be discouraging their employees from spending too much time on social media. Come up with ways to remove these barriers as soon as they arise rather than waiting for more definitive data.

    Beyond these initial promotion activities, also plan ongoing ones, such as sharing exclusive content on social media and promoting success stories of novel uses of the social media, to ensure continued employee use of the platform.

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