A discussion with a student about social media and internal communication prompted me to write this blog. The use of social media is becoming more and more popular in the field of internal communication. Huib Koelemans, one of Holland’s specialists on internal communication just published the book Twitteren op je werk. His slideshow on this theme has been downloaded more that 2300 times in three months, his book is becoming quite popular. And when you start looking around you find a webinar on the theme by Channelship, an article on social media and enhancing engagement etc. etc. Too much to mention.
But it made me wonder, is this trend positive? Will social media really help us to get better internal communications? Or are we just implementing new media into the internal communications mix and forgetting what it really is about?
Yes, social media are fantastic if you talk about sharing knowledge and information. If you have a question the chance that you find an answer if you use your networks is near to 100% and you will get the answer fast. Great!
But internal communications? What is it really about? It’s about engaging people with the goals of your company, about the culture you have (or want to have), its about alignment, it’s about motivating people, its about taking care that people have the information they need to do their jobs. And how is that done? The most effective way is still face to face line communication. And are we good at that? No, unfortunately often we are not and our (middle) managers are not. So what do we do? We (in this case communication ‘experts’) ad an other tool to our toolbox and hope tat this will do the trick.
But what it really does, I’m afraid, is divert our attention from what should be done: telling our managers that they should communicate (in the old fashioned face to face way) and help them to do this effectively. Taking care that line communication is being used optimally and supporting that. Helping our middle managers with their communication task, which is huge and immensely important but often neglected because of lack of priority or a wrong emphasis on parallel tools that will inform our employees. The direct manager is still the most trusted source of information for our employees. But do we make optimal use of this important source for internal communication? No, we create new tools and hope they will do the work.
Well my friends, I don’t think social media will do the trick, I am afraid they will turn out be yet an other diversion. The tools are great, but do we use them in the right way?I doubt it!