Internal Social Media Use is on the Rise, but is it High Enough?

katieschrank    May 29, 2013

I have tried and failed to launch an internal CEO blog. I provided information on what it could do for the organization as we went through change, how it could humanize the CEO and make him or her more accessible, but when the CEO would only sign on if I ghostwrote the blog, I knew he/she didn’t get it.

But the ones who do get it are starting to outweigh the ones who don’t. In a study done by Towers Watson released in May 2013, they reveal that 56 per cent of 290 employers surveyed are using social media internally. Just over half may seem like a small number, but I was shocked at how high it was given my previous experience. Unfortunately, the numbers go down considerably when employees rated the effectiveness (only 30-40 per cent) and the cost effective nature of the technology (40 per cent).

So how do you create an internal social network that is effective? According to Adi Gaskell’s article Why Are So Few Internal Social Networks Deemed A Success? on Social Business News, you define your purpose, make it easy to use and make sure you have internal buy-in. Seems simple enough, right? Ok, maybe not that last part. More than the communications department has to be on board. It isn’t enough for a single communicator to champion an internal network. What if that person leaves the company? The whole system could fall apart and you’re back at square one.

When I come across case studies of companies that are doing it right, like Nokia (which has a significant internal and external social media presence and encourage employees to participate in both), I realize it can be done. I think the difference between the Nokia’s of the world and other companies, is the willingness to put in the time and effort needed to start up and sustain an online community. It can’t all be put on one person to maintain and support, it has to be a company-wide priority like Gaskell said.

In the end it’s really about the shared experience between employer and employee and whether or not employers are interested in offering the tools and if employees are interested in using them. A company like Nokia sees the value and, in turn, their employees take advantage of what’s offered to them. And with members of leadership being active participants in the internal online community at Nokia, it’s probably safe to say no one would be asking me to ghostwrite a leadership blog there.

Web references
Towers Watson study media release
Towers Watson 2013 Change and Communication ROI Study Infographic
Why are so few internal social networks deemed a success? – by Adi Gaskell
Nokia case study on – by Kelly Kass

Submitted by:
Katie Schrank – SMBP Student, University of Waterloo
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