The best Enterprise Social Media (ESM) strategy is guided by the same principles that govern the most effective internal communications. Just because you turn on a social media tool does not mean you can turn off these principles of effective communications.
In fact, in our experience, Enterprise Social Media benefits most from the 6 following guiding principles:
1. Nothing is more important than building trust.
In the best communication environments, two-way channels that welcome deliberation and authentic dialogue offer a powerful way to build trust. And trust is a big risk mitigator: if employees feel trusted by their employers, they are more likely to be brand advocates, they feel more connected to the mission of the organization, they feel more accountable to the success of the company, and they are less likely to engage in behavior that could undermine its success.
2. Responsiveness counts.
Good information flow and a powerful communications infrastructure are key for any communications to “stick.” When there are gaps in the organization’s frequency or reliability of communications—what communicators call our “cadence”—there’s a risk that employees will fill a vacuum with their own assumptions, fears and speculation, particularly during times of change.
3. Online conversations can’t replace in-person exchanges, leadership outreach, and the voice of managers.
In the same way that newsletters are not a one-to-one replacement for more direct means of outreach from managers and peers, ESM cannot take the place of in-person exchanges.
4. Digital conversations should be humanizing.
It may sound like an oxymoron, but ESM is at its best when employees feel like it’s supporting honest to goodness human interaction. Just as employees can sense when a leader is disengaged or avoiding a difficult topic, they can sniff out ESM conversations that appear inauthentic or robotic.
5. Don’t let conversations become generic.
In some companies—particularly those in highly-regulated industries—there’s a temptation to over regulate internal conversations through an elaborate comment approval process. Though some moderation is necessary, over regulation tends to undermine employees’ sense that their company trusts them to communicate.
6. Understand your whole communications system.
For any communications vehicle to succeed, it has to complement what exists and what’s working in your current communications environment. If a new tool is meant to help people find information quickly or exchange ideas more efficiently, the last thing you want to do is introduce a tool that becomes Yet Another Thing To Do.
Which of the 6 guiding principles do you do well; which one can you do even better?
Click below to download—Enterprise Social Media: 5 Ways to Maximize Trust and Master Social Media on the Inside—and get 5 lessons that offer ways to deploy Enterprise Social Media in a way that resonates with employees and leaders alike.