How To Make Social Media Truly Work for Internal Collaboration
Many organizations recognize that internal social media channels such as Yammer, Chatter and the new Facebook at Work can help promote collaboration. In fact, such tools can be particularly useful for multinational companies with colleagues needing to interact across distances, business units and functions. Internal social media can help break down organizational silos.
The challenge most companies face, however, is getting colleagues to actually use social media internally. Barriers include:
1. Language Barriers: Here in Europe, colleagues commonly speak different languages and may not feel comfortable having to express their opinion in English or in another language other than their mother tongue. Especially not in written format for all of their peers to see…
2. Anonymity Versus Identification: While there is an argument that anonymity leads to more honest expression, it can also lead to trolling and a tendency to express more negative sentiments than positive ones. As seen on the Internet, when comments are anonymous, the conversation can go downhill quick. Associating comments to colleagues has its own challenges, as employees can be more timid about being forthright and leaving such a public digital footprint.
3. Time Constraints: Employees have only so many hours of the day to spend consuming information from internal channels such as email, Intranet or social media, as well as from external ones. If they have to access these channels from multiple, disparate access points (for example their Intranet in one location, their internal social media in another application and their email in yet another), they simply won’t do it.
Taking the Leap
1. Overcome the language challenge by embedding a machine translation widget such as Google Translate or any range of custom widgets on the market, to enable automated language translation. Anyone familiar with Facebook will recognize the benefits of this small, unobtrusive tool, which permits everyone to communicate in their native tongue and allows readers to get a “quick and dirty” translation for general comprehension.
2. Integrate your social feed into the Intranet homepage. Again, think like Facebook. Companies can mix the newsfeed: corporate news articles intermingled with status updates and event notifications. And yes, you can implement a way to make the CEO’s message sticky at the top for a period of time!
3. Keep the social barrier-to-entry low by allowing people to ‘Like’ and use emojis to react to what they read. A thumbs-up is understood in all languages…
4. Foster a culture of transparency and openness. If colleagues are afraid to express their opinions, there’s a bigger cultural issue – one that will impede your company’s ability to innovate, collaborate and advance. To move ahead, you just might need to move out of the way and allow collegial connections to manifest naturally.
If you need help designing your internal communication strategy contact Taunya, and we’d be happy to hear your challenge and work with you to design a solution fit for purpose!
By Taunya Renson-Martin, Managing Partner