The dirtiest little secret of all about social media

December 2, 2014
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After constructing literally hundreds of social media campaigns for some of the largest companies in the world, I have a confession to make. There’s often an overlooked and unseen benefit to creating an integrated communications strategy — one that leverages the power of corporate-created content with the distribution capabilities of social channels. That’s because for years — ever since first connecting with MyspaceTom — the general consensus has been that social media provides the means to externally drive a company’s storytelling, connecting with external audiences and creating a digital path to purchase, engagement, and value.

But recently, after conducting a number of year-end interviews with client’s CEOs, I’ve realized one additional, but no less valuable, benefit to social engagement — internal communications. Oh, I have heard rumbling about the internal transformational value of social media, mostly ad hoc and piecemeal. From the C-Suite where someone would mention how information was flowing back to corporate from the field, information that could only have been learned through external social channels. There was a story here and there about how sales teams seemed to be better informed. How attitudes were changed. How new approaches were being tested and tried. All thanks to data, information, and stories employees where gleaning through the company’s external social channels. But this year’s end-of-year interviews made a definitive statement on how social has now displaced other internal tools as the number one way employees are connecting, learning, and improving their game by aligning with corporate direction and storytelling.

Consider this from the CEO of a major financial services player…

“Initially, we viewed social as market-facing. But over the course of 2014, we saw that employees carefully follow our social streams, making them incredibly valuable tools for informing, educating, and enlightening the entire corporate base.”

Or this…

“Our greatest learning has been about our sale force’s use of social media to adjust their sales and marketing efforts to align with corporate initiatives. Through consistently self-publishing case studies and success stories socially, we are not only connecting with new clients, we’re also educating and setting a tone that the entire sales team can follow and emulate.”

Or this…

“When we originated our social program, we thought it would be impossible to gain participation and get our people to submit content. But once our employees saw their peers gaining exposure and recognition, more and more got involved, until now we have to limit the number of bloggers and posters participating in the program.”

The lesson is simple: employees want information and they want unique insights that can help them be more productive and successful in their careers. As they gain competencies in using social tools in their personal lives, they naturally begin to value their employer’s social streams as a more convenient and authentic way to stay abreast, ahead, and in tune with the direction and vision of their employer. And that is the dirty little secret that has yet to be fully optimized in corporate communications.

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