Social media and internal communications – conflicting or complementing functions? As most things in life … it depends. What do you want to achieve?
Social media is generally used as an extension of external marketing. In the last few years, social media has become more and valuable to marketing teams as it allows them to engage directly with customers. Even more so, in a sociable way.
At first, companies took a formal sales approach to social media (let me sell you my products). In the past few years, that relationship has changed. Companies realized that if they truly want to connect to their audience, they need to provide value. After all, no one likes a barrage of adverts of their personal timelines.
Many branded accounts began with their tone of voice. Instead of working as a formal voice box of the brand, the accounts started taking on personalities. If you have been on Twitter the last few years you would have undoubtedly met a “quirky brand” – an account that engages with its audience tongue-in-the-cheek.
Marketing, a field often marred by glossy adverts and spotless press releases, finally found an avenue where real, genuine, and transparent engagement thrived and to an extent changed the industry for a better.
Social media works extremely well for marketing, as its golden rule is to be where your target market is. The rule also applies to internal communications. So, can these two mediums operate together, and if so, how?
Social media and employees
Content shared by employees on LinkedIn sees an increased reach of 30%. Employee advocacy is a powerful tool to increase company efforts on social media.
Even though people use social media for personal reasons (commenting, sharing, and engaging in a personal capacity) these engagements are public. This means all online engagements are essentially representative of the organizations to which people are connected. Regardless of your communication goals, it’s essential for companies to guide employees through what could potentially be a social media minefield.
This is where social media guidelines and policies step in.
The difference between social media guidelines and a social media policy is that the policy lays out the rules and repercussions, and the guidelines are instructive. Although not covered in this article, don’t forget to invest some time into creating a social media policy, it can save your company from great risks.
Social media guidelines
Social media guidelines are the bridge between internal communications and social media. It’s not a document that lists “what to do” and “what to avoid” but rather information on the larger social media strategy. The goal of social media guidelines for employees is not to inhibit their use of platforms, but to empower them to use them effectively and ultimately become brand ambassadors.
When staff know what you are trying to achieve in the bigger picture, they will be able to see how and where they can add to the effort from their personal accounts.
With social media guidelines you can:
- Educate employees on social media best practices
- Share your social media strategy
- Encourage your employees to engage with your accounts
- Explain how employees can help your social media efforts from their personal accounts
- Protect your employees from online harassment and potentially damaging situations
Different organizations will have different guidelines. The goal should be to start a conversation with employees around social media and let it evolve to fit your needs.
Whether you are talking to an internal or external audience, you need to keep your story straight.
You have decided you want to build brand equity on your social media channels by positioning yourself as a sought-after employer. You develop an in-depth campaign that speaks about your employee engagement efforts – how employees are truly heard and helped in your organization.
If you don’t have employee engagement campaigns running internally, or employees aren’t given an opportunity to provide feedback – you have a split narrative.
If you don’t practice what you preach, you won’t see favorable retention rates for new hires. Morale may also take a dip if you’re positioning yourself to the public rather than your internal audience.
One audience is not more important than another, both make their mark on the business. Keep it consistent on social media and internal communications. When one supports the other you will see increased engagement, reach and traction both internally and externally.
Aligning internal communication and social media
There are many ways internal communication and social media can be aligned. This is largely dependent on your internal communication and social media strategies. A good place to start is to create a channel audit. This will help you identify opportunities where the two functions overlap.
Here are some resources to help: