Last month I asked readers of my blog to vote on whether internal communicators should use social media in their toolkit if they don’t use them outside of work.
62% of you said that you believed we shouldn’t use the tool if we don’t use social media outside the workplace and I have to say that I think I’m also in this camp.
Steve Murgatroyd commented “Selling Social Media to senior managers is a difficult job at the best of times, even when you have a real passion for it. If you don’t, then you’ve already lost the battle because you don’t believe in the channel.” I think this is a great point. I have recently introduced a social intranet and didn’t mention social media. However, I am a big fan of the tools outside of work so when I talk to senior managers about how you can embed it into business, the benefits it brings etc. there is a natural credibility that I think others without first hand knowledge would lack.
But if we say you should be using this tool, does the same apply for all the other, more traditional tools we use? Mark Curtis commented “I believe you should look to use the channels an audience uses regardless of whether you use social media out of work. I think the magazine example is apt. There are a multiple of skills needed to craft, edit and print a magazine – none of which I probably use in my personal life. But the audience wants the product so I adapt my working skills to provide.” A valid point, but when talking about more traditional media, does a communicator need the same understanding of offline tools as we do online? Are the two just so different or are business just in need of encouragement that can only come from someone with experience and knowledge?
Susan Rink added “I belive that unless you actually use a tool you will never understand the many possibilities it offers” and this for me is the fundamental difference knowledge can make. We can all talk about the need for collaboration, the great benefits to social media but unless you use it and understand how it works, how it grows, how it can bring people together I’m not sure you would ever be able to strategically view the tool . It’s just a tactical answer to a bigger challenge.
I’m also a massive advocate for the challenge/audience first, tool later approach. With all tools in the toolkit we must understand the need for the first. You would never pick up a hammer and then decide what to build, you choose the right tool for the job. It’s easy for companies to fall into the traps of using tools because they are ‘in’ or because they heard a success story elsewhere, but unless there is a need for it… and not a need to make our lives easier… it just won’t fit into the strategy for the business.
This is a conversation I feel is only just starting, and in the last two years I have certainly seen more internal comms people using Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn – it’s about time we all got a bit more social!