How internal comms pros use social media

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How internal comms pros use social media

Nearly 90% of internal communications professionals say they are expected to have a ‘good understanding’ of social media and 93% think their professional use of social media will increase, according to research I’m publishing today.

How internal comms professionals use social media was a survey that ran between 18 and 26 October 2012 via Diary of an internal communicator and Twitter. Of the 84 internal communications (IC) professionals who answered over the eight days, 55% felt people expect them to have a good understanding of social media and an additional 33% felt they are expected to ‘know all about’ social media.

Today I shared the survey results with delegates at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Inside Internal Comms conference in London and am making the information available here for them and you to use and refer to.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to give their views and to Sequel Group who created an infographic based on the results (the image opens up larger). This means they are in a format you can use, and you’re welcome to do so. Please note that some of the questions allowed multiple choices, so they will total more than 100 per cent as participants chose more than one answer.

Why am I releasing this research?
Having information to hand helps comms professionals benchmark against each other and have informed discussions in their teams and with their businesses. I’ve released this research to provide you with a snapshot view of how internal comms pros use social media to equip you with data to help you make decisions that are right for your team and organisation.

The number of IC professionals without an internal social network was 37%. Of those who do, Yammer was the most popular (35%) followed by SharePoint (30%), Lync (14%), Other (10%), Custom made (9%), Chatter/Salesforce (5%), Newsgator (2%) and with 1% each, Snapcomms and Socialcast.

Introducing an internal social network
Communications teams are most likely to introduce internal social networks in organisations (29%) followed by IT (24%). However 11% of internal comms professionals say they don’t know where the internal social network in their company came from. Through models like Yammer, employees are able to sign up using a company email address. This means that internal communications professionals often have to play ‘catch-up’ as they suddenly discover there is an internal social network within their company.

Defining success
Measurement is key in any area of communication, and according to the research, 47% of internal social networks launched without defining what they were aiming to achieve.

In order to measure effectively, it’s commonplace within internal communications to clearly define what you’re striving to do, in order to know when you’ve achieved it.

However, according to these results, internal social media appear to follow different rules as many launched without this step. By contrast, 20% of internal comms professionals said that they did define what they wanted their internal social network to achieve before it launched.

Personal vs professional use of social media by IC professionals
Internal communications professionals were asked to select which social networks they use in their personal life: Facebook and Twitter came top (94% each), followed by LinkedIn (91%), Instagram (42%), Pinterest (33%), personal blog (31%), Google+ (25%), other (6%), MySpace (4%).

When asked what they use in their professional life, e.g. managing or writing on behalf of their company, the results were: Twitter (69%), LinkedIn (40%), Facebook (39%), blog (35%), enterprise social network (23%), none (20%), Google+ (11%), Pinterest (7%), Instagram (5%), other (2%).

Social media in the future
Looking ahead, 59% of internal communications professionals expect their use of social media in their personal life to increase, 39% expect it to stay the same and 2% expect it to decrease.

In terms of professional use of social media (e.g. writing or managing on behalf of their organisation), 93% expect it to increase, 6% think it will stay the same and 1% decrease.

How internal comms pros learn about social media
The professional use demonstrates the projected future of social media for internal communications. I expected that figure to be high so asked how internal communications professionals learn about using social media for IC. As with other questions, this allowed multiple choices in recognition of the fact there is more than one way to learn and I wanted to capture the range and take-up of the various options.

Blogs came top at 86%, followed by talking with colleagues or people within their network at 81%. I regularly ask for feedback from internal communications professionals to help me constantly improve my blog and consistently the number one topic they ask me to write more about is how to use social media inside organisations.

To discover that blogs are the number one choice by quite some way was a surprise. However, when viewed in the context of information that is available for IC pros to read and use without needing to be paid for, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Particularly given the evidence above that IC pros feel they need to know all about social media, yet more often than not, money isn’t made available to them for this purpose. I’m proud to have a blog that is helping to fill that void and provide information for the profession to use.

Additional methods of learning about using social media for internal communications are: LinkedIn groups (58%), Conferences (47%), Comms magazines (39%), Professional membership e.g. CIPR, IoIC (37%), Industry journals (27%), Other (21%), Training courses (19%), Books (11%), Studying for professional qualifications (10%) and I don’t (2%).

‘Other’ included learning from agencies, webinars, searching the web for answers themselves, via Twitter including @theICcrowd community and ‘trial and error’.

In conclusion, internal communications professionals are using social media at work and home and educate themselves by gleaning information where they can. They feel that they are expected to have a good knowledge and are managing social media accounts across various networks on behalf of their companies. They use Facebook and Twitter in their personal life, and Twitter and LinkedIn professionally.

Your feedback
Thank you again to everyone who participated in this survey and to Sequel Group for creating the infographic. What do you think of the results? Does anything surprise you or does it back up your instinct? As ever, I welcome your feedback so do please comment below, tweet me @AllthingsIC and feel free to share this information, including the infographic, but do please link it back to www.rachmiller.com so we can keep the conversation and communication going, thank you, Rachel

Post author: Rachel Miller

 

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5  responses on How internal comms pros use social media

Excellent insight Rachel – but quite scary in how much we seem to be making it up as we go along in terms of integrating social media into IC.

I suspect it will be very different in the future as the generation who’ve grown up in digital will be demanding social media in their working lives rather than it being something new and different.

For those of us in IC for whom twitter, facebook and the like are simply what we do each and every day, evolving our communication strategy won’t be too much of a problem. Where I find the problem is that comms has not evolved in the same way across many of the organisations I work with: IC are still the evangelists breaking down the barriers across e-mail driven departments, culturally-cautious functions and more culturally-deferential geographies. And many IC practitioners are still much more comfortable with emails, newsletters and the traditional cascades.

There’s also a sense that organisations are being put off by some social media activists who bring a whiff of ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ with them, and are a bit too shouty about the potential of social media to replace everything that’s gone before rather than augment it.

Social media is big and will only get bigger. The trick for organisations is to recognise where it will add value, harness its benefits and use it to evolve communication culture – that’s tricky without models to refer to.

However, I’m already seeing more and more of a convergence around Sharepoint and perhaps it’s through the usage of this platform that we’ll develop the first wave of IC social media models.

Thanks for commenting Mark. I think you’re right when it comes to Emperor’s New Clothes mentality. Social media has huge potential when it comes to internal comms, but casting aside comms channels that deliver what they need to and replacing with shiny whizzy ones that may not actually fit the culture of an organisation is a dangerous trap – and it’s one that is too easy to fall into.

We’re seeing more social media research emerge over time and chunkier stats and figures to back up theories and instinct, I think it’s an exciting time to be involved with both IC and SM, Rachel

Great stats Rachel and thanks for sharing. The biggest challenge I’m finding at the moment is to encourage people to talk to each other without needing internal comms pros to prompt them. People seem to wait for communication to happen to them instead of realising that they can find some things out for themselves. I think that social media has huge potential to make employees less passive and invites them to start up conversations themselves. Obviously, these channels would need to be nurtured by IC but wouldn’t it be great if employees owned the channel and felt free enough to define how/why it was used?

Thank you for your comment Jessica. I think you’re right when it comes to equipping employees to take action and be ‘less passive’. Sounds like you’ve got an interesting chalenge and I like your approach of nurturing, Rachel

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