Companies are not using social media just to interact better with their customers or clients. They are increasingly doing it to engage with their own staff, according to research released last week by Melcrum, the internal communications research and training company.
In the article Research reveals widespread adoption of social media within the firewall, the study shows that
“The business benefits of investment in social media highlighted included improved levels of employee engagement (21%), better communication with remote workers (16%), knowledge management and collaboration (25%), improving employee feedback (20%) and making business leaders more visible and accessible (14%).”
Melcrum’s study adds to a growing body of research about the benefits of social media to companies. Social media platform Wetpaint and digital consulting firm Altimeter Group’s research published in Media Post over six months ago. It found that companies with high levels of social media activity increased revenues by 18% in the last 12 months on average, while the least active saw sales drop 6% over that period.
When I Tweeted out a link to Media Post at the time, I was reTweeted several times. So it got me thinking. Beside revenue, how many other reasons are there for companies to embrace social media? I came up with five more, one of which (no. 4) neatly overlaps with Melcrum’s new research. But how many can you think of?
1. Social media gets colleagues addicted to the web
For most regular employees, getting involved in their company’s website is most unlikely. Even journalists are often put off by antiquated content management systems. So it is difficult to see the relationship between their labour and success on the web. Social media activity changes all that. Just set up a Twitter (no six-month new-build programme), Tweet out some content (no news desks or PR departments to deal with) and see how people come to you.
2. Educate your teams as to the value of a social media strategy
Is social media the right strategy to deliver your business goals? You certainly should be asking yourself that question. If you are looking to build communities, for example, would it be best to set up a LinkedIn group? Should it be open or closed? What if you actually want to get you message out, should you use Twitter or set up a Facebook group? Can your colleagues or you really answer that question without having experimented with some sort of social media activity? And if you commission an outside consultant, can you brief that company without some exposure already?
3. Attract the best and most creative employees
The best and brightest of employees want to work with those companies that are the most forward-thinking and acting. A media company that fails to recognise the importance of social media is not going to come across as offering its employees – old or new – much exposure to the skills required in the future. How can a bright spark find out if a potential employer is on the ball? Simple. Google the top management and see how well they are represented.
4. Better communication within a company
A company that encourages communication between its employees is always going to operate more effectively than one that does not do so. Social media would seem the ideal vehicle to increase the exchange of information on so many levels. Many of my senior colleagues have opened up their Facebook feeds to their colleagues, the interaction playing a role in keeping teams together. And if your company then introduces a Wiki, colleagues will already be sufficiently skilled in networking to use it. I’ve written about this on These Digital Times in a post called “Three ways to cultivate your community at work”.
5. Escaping the silo
And, finally, in these tough times, what could better than for any sales, marketing or editorial person to be able to escape from their traditional silo of contacts? Social networking per se is about extending and discovering new networks. What better way to find that new customer or client in these tough times?
Photo credit: boorman818