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Social Media…it’s not just for your public brand

Note: This post is of my own personal opinion and is not endorsed or supported by any local, state, or federal government agency.

An article over at The Experience Blog really draws focus to a topic that isn’t covered as much which is the idea of using social media tools within your organization to foster internal communications, build morale, and encourage employee development and participation.

Internal communications, within government more specifically, is typically not focused on as much as the external communications…and I’m not sure why that is. It’s possible the belief is that why should we “market” to our own employees when they already know what’s going on? I mean, they work for the organization…shouldn’t they know everything going on already from our “all employee” e-mails and TPS memos? The fact is that just because you WORK for an organization doesn’t mean you KNOW the organization. Internal communications is what you need to turn that unknown into a know-about.

Well, how exactly do you go about doing that? Besides all the costs, staffing, policies, yadda yadda yadda…how do you foster employee communications? How do you make employees feel like they’re a part of the organization and have say in the processes that run the business?

Using social media tools, and social networking tools, is one way of doing that…and usually “on the cheap!” First thing is take all of those damn memos that you fill up employee inboxes with and put them all into a “news blog.” Then you have a simple way for anyone on your communications staff, or even upper management, to type in their memo or announcement in quick and easy way. Then once it goes live, employees can read and comment on the news item. As more employees realize they can chime in, and managers occasionally respond to that feedback (as a comment or in another post), employees will start to feel as if they’re talking directly with managers and have some sort of say in what’s happening around the organization. At the same time they’re communicating with employees that they might not otherwise talk to regularly.

That’s just one example…there’s a ton of other approaches you can take. The point is that if you give employees the ability to communicate internally amongst themselves and to leadership, as well providing them with information and updates on what the organization is doing, where, when, why, and how then you’ll be creating a more positive working environment. That sort of thing goes a long way with recruitment when your employees are bragging to their friends how great it is to work for “Company X” because we can do “a, b, c, and z.”

Chime in! What other internal communications tools (coming from social media) do you think would be useful to foster positive feedback within the organization from employees?

(cross-posted from: http://justagovy.blogspot.com/2008/08/social-mediaits-not-just-for-your.html)

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Profile Photo Teri Centner

I’ve always imagined that some companies must take advantage of Facebook’s company network feature; only people with company-issued email addresses are allowed to join so it could be used to foster internal employee communications. I’ve never been able to put the idea in to practice in my own “company” however. Facebook is blocked by the entire DoD.

Another thing I think would be interesting is for senior leadership of a government agency to Twitter so their employees would know what’s on their mind from day to day. I know a lot of times us “worker bees” feel like we’re so far from the decision makers that we’re not really sure where we fit in to the big picture. Perhaps if the boss had a twitter stream we might get a clue…

Profile Photo Scott Horvath

Actually, I remember reading somewhere that there was a CMS type product that actually allowed a corporate intranet within the Facebook site, secured, and only available to a specific network (like a regular intranet). There’s also this article that talks about Alfresco integrating with Facebook, and a few other things are out there as well. But from a gov’t viewpoint…even corporate…it’s just a little on “shady” side. I don’t know of a gov’t organization that would integrate their intranet with Facebook…although, you would find many willing to do it with Google. Could be a brand thing, but either way it’s still integrating internal content with a third-party which is always an iffy thing.

I don’t believe all DOD is blocked from Facebook though. I’m aware of a few people in DOD agencies that use Facebook. Might be an exception though that you have to apply for. But you do have NKO and AKO, right…and of course some have the infamous NMCI šŸ™‚ Not exactly Facebook-type apps available there though, I’m sure.

I do like your Twitter idea. A few Congressional members have been doing that and even streaming video from the floor using Qik. But you mind find better luck by getting your internal developers and server admin to install WordPress on your Intranet. It’s locally installed, behind your firewall, and secured. Over at USGS, we actually have several instances of WP running and use it quite heavily for our internal leadership messages, organizational news items, and even a couple blogs that individual Directors are using. People seem to like the fact that they can communicate and comment on things posted internally and seeing leadership and employees comment back.

It’s a great tool. You might think about going that route and try to get one or two of your leadership to blog internally.