Social Media for Internal Collaboration

This Thursday is aimWest’s first annual Social Media ConFab at the JW Marriott, at which I will be a panel moderator.  According to my source, the numbers of attendees were still creeping up this week (she’s still hoping for 300) and yesterday’s GR Press story might help reach that goal!

The panel I’m moderating is about how social media is helping (or can help) internal collaboration within companies and organizations. The panelists will be Melissa Chiaramonti of Meijer and Harrison Withers of Media 1.  Most often in the past I’ve spoken on web reputation, with social media being an important aspect that companies and organizations need to monitor and manage.  Too many people don’t actively monitor what people are saying about their companies and brands online and, as a result, suffer reputational damage that could have been neutralized earlier just by becoming part of the conversation.

I am less of an “expert” on social media as a collaboration tool.  Or am I?  I used and participated in sharepoint sites while at Amway, which is the first thing that came to my mind on this topic.  Thinking more broadly, with Independent Business Owners (IBOs) an extended part of Amway’s “internal” communications, I blogged for five or six years in ways to educate and seek the support and engagement of that key audience.  I created content for the Web, including leading the “Interns Expose Amway” project that got our younger staff involved.  Even the way we obtained approvals for communications was a form of social media.  I was even part of the first (and probably last) virtual meeting held by Amway employees in Second Life.

I spent some time the past few days researching the topic of “internal collaboration” and, amazingly, I didn’t find a lot that really excited me.

To me, the biggest barrier to the success of social media as an internal collaborative tool for a working team is the weakest link.  The one who just doesn’t get how to use social media tools or the one who needs to see the actual facial expression accompanying the real-time feedback they get from a peer. 

I’m not one that would like to see an end to meetings because I do think they can contribute to quick collaboration and ensure the entire group is clear on direction or certain agreements.  But these days, with far-flung teams, business travel and so many other meetings competing for everyone’s time, the use of social media can keep collaborative conversations alive that might have been stymied otherwise.  And, after awhile,  you get to know others’ writing styles and understand their tone of voice and those “facial expressions” aren’t even necessary anymore.

Author: Robin

Communications professional with more than 25 years' expertise in PR, crisis communications, social media, community relations, marketing communications and more!

3 thoughts on “Social Media for Internal Collaboration”

  1. Corporations, generally speaking, don’t do ‘social media’ very well, they nit pick and quiver and worry and put out bland comments and run “damage control”, when needed. (Exceptions? LL Bean. They responded within two minutes to a Twitter comment I made, months ago. Positively.)

    Check to see just how far American corporate customer service has improved, even with social media.

    Internal collaboration? I was using SameTime (intranet IM service) six years ago and it was dubiously , and rarely, beneficial. Social Media is not going to save companies, internally. There have been internal collaboration products on the market for years – if you haven’t figured out collaboration by now, Twitter is a lost cause. Not to mention the corporate IT controls and “user policies”.

    Here’s a question you can ask, though: If you’re excited about using ‘social media’ for internal collaboration, are you willing to let your employees telecommute? Why not let them work from home and use Social Media to stay connected?

    Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. But any company that pins its hopes on the latest WhizBang We’re People, Too! fad gizmo has a problem with their fundamentals. Or a fundamental problem. Unless that company is Facebook or Twitter and then, well… that’s a whole different kettle of LOLCats, isn’t it?

  2. Agreed, Scott. There are those reflecting best practices and those in the stone age. And, let’s face it, corporate needs to do public social media efforts vary depending on the type of business and the amount of public dialog about their business.

    The session I’m moderating on Thursday will focus on internal use by companies to increase productivity and collaboration. On this front, I think there might be fewer examples of true success stories. There probably are great examples of internal teams using sharepoint sites or wikis to share ideas and documents. There probably are some good examples of companies that have created internal versions of Facebook (or, better yet, just used Facebook) to create community for their employee audiences.

    But some of the presentations I’ve viewed online from very respected and well-known companies seemed to miss the mark of how Social Media can help. I am looking forward to a good session with robust conversation on Thursday!

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