Social internal communications

I’ve done some switching around in my time on the old internal / external communications front.

I started out as a journalist, became and intranet manager and now sit (sometimes uncomfortably) on the fence as an all purpose online communications officer. My role covers both our external and internal sites and I am beyond fascinated (nearing the city limits of Obsession sometimes) with how the social web can drive them both for communication and engagement.

This session on social internal comms was the second of the day for me at UK GovCamp and it was as interesting as I’d hoped to hear examples of how people are already using social internally as well as discussion around problems facing internal comms.

There was some good talk around the pilot Carl Haggerty and Martin Howitt had run in Devon. Not only did Carl share the way the project had worked but also the ways the idea had gained senior buy-in – from the language used to describe it (business network not social network) to the ways different employees had got involved and the savings it had made / could make for the authority.

The way internal communications was managed got some traction, particularly on the back channel, around whether for online internal and external should be looked after by different posts, different teams or lumped in together. The fear with the latter, as Sharon O’Dea expressed, is that internal becomes the eternal poor relation as energy and resource is favourably directed at the shop window of external sites.

The talk was fast-paced in this, like every session, and it felt like it could have gone on a lot longer. The idea of a barcamp specifically for internal communications was suggested and this is now well underway to becoming a reality.

One point that really got my pulse racing was the idea that social is what an intranet should always have been.That is ecactly the thought I’ve been trying to pin down for a while!

Internal is the perfect environment for social to thrive as communication, collaboration, employee engagement and empowerment environment. While staff get the benefits so does the organisation. I’ve been interested for a while in how much power and knowledge (and efficiency) an organisation could gain from allowing all staff to feed in and create a hive mind, an internal serendipity engine.

But that sort of talk is too much to really explore at the end of one session – exactly why a barcamp for internal comms is a great idea!

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One thought on “Social internal communications

  1. Interesting comment about “social media being what the intranet was originally supposed to be about.” Funny thing you should mention that–about 6-7 years ago, I was pushing for conversation mapping and the use of social network analysis software in organizations–which effectively would have given organizations clear pictures of influence and focus and interest within their communities.

    The response, generally, was one of aggressive disinterest, with people claiming such tools would amount to an ‘organizational autopsy’ and provide unwanted confirmation about the demise of top-down-one-size-fits-all communication. So, in rejecting social network applications, organizations sealed the fate of intranets as yet another top-down, largely one-way channel, consuming resources in excess of their impact in many cases.

    The advent of social media–in effect–doesn’t necessarily include mapping, but it allows the relationships behind those maps and connections to be more visible, the best connections most easily engaged, and organizational defense of top-down-one-size-fits-all to be weakened, but not necessarily fully overcome.

    Mike Klein–The Intersection, Brussels
    http://intersectionblog.wordpress.com

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