How to manage when going social?

With a social intranet, communications department gets a brand new role. Comms people become consultants. At first, you need to figure out how internal communications should be arranged in the new world of social. When thinking of this, it may come in handy to separate corporate-wide centralized internal communication from the everyday work related communication.

What stays under communications department is the responsibility for planning and executing the corporate wide communication. In this kind of communication, the topics rise from the decisions, visions and strategic goals of the company. However, there’s a whole lot more going on in your organisation and the question is, who will be in charge of making it visible?

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Networking helps and comms can benefit from it

My answer is that with a social intranet everyone becomes a communicator. So how do you communicate your intranet concept and communication guidelines in a way that everyone can adopt them? And how can you reach everyone who needs guidance and best practices?

Internal networking can help you with getting everyone onboard. Make a good use of the  designated comms people within your organisation. Piggyback on your community managers. Utilize your super users. In every organisation there are influential people such as managers who can help you to get your message through and don’t forget to include the assistants and secretaries to the process. Remember also that there are always those strong opinionated personalities who are excellent at bringing their flavor to the soup. The opinionated employees often ask the most important questions during your social intranet project, so remember to listen to them with an open mind.

Line management is also communications

Managing organisation units and teams is, for the most part, communication. That too must be planned and executed in your new social intranet. When workdays are busy, communication is often the last thing that is taken care of. Even though efficient communication could make the workdays easier and the work itself more meaningful.

To make everyday communication easier, it might be handy to gather up employees from different departments to outline the communicational goals and practises for each unit. Setting up best practises together with your departments makes the ways of working consistent and ensures that the working methods are in line with your Intranet concept.

With common guidelines, the work of community managers becomes easier. When the best practises are clearly communicated, every employee knows how to act in each community within your social intranet. Community managers have an understanding of the intranet concept as a whole and have tools to guide and advise people when it comes to using the new communication tools the way they are meant to be used. And that’s how a new, more social, organisation culture starts to form.

What to keep in mind when thinking of going social

When thinking of how to organize your work in a social intranet take a look at how you work in social media. You probably have a community where you publish content. Analyse your social intranet content from the perspective of how would it fit into a social media platform?

Do you publish bulletin points or press releases internally? Make sure that the headlines and introductions are interesting enough to make people click. Think of the visual side of your posts. Are the pictures captivating enough? What is the smartest place in your social intranet to publish news? Can people easily search for the news and find them? When posting links to the community, how should the posts be structured - when to use bold text, how much space should there be in between the headline and the introduction text?

What other kinds of content do you have? Should different types of posts have a different kind of a structure? Besides the content, think of how to govern your social intranet. How do you moderate your community, what are the guidelines? Can everybody publish? If so, on what topics? What to do if someone posts something unsuitable to your community? How to keep up with the possible questions and discussion?

As you see, the questions are quite similar than the ones you should think of when setting up and working with a social media channel. Find the social media gurus inside your organisation and consult with them when setting up guidelines for your social intranet.

Talk, support and listen to your community managers

How about the community managers. How should you make sure they’ll know what’s their role in your social intranet? Make sure that they are up to their task and, very importantly, have enough time to manage their community and its users. They are the ones who are in contact with all your employees and know how the work is done in your organisation. They are the ones who, in the long run, identify the stumbling blocks in your social intranet and help people to overcome them.

Talk to your community managers  Support them. Listen to them. When your intranet concept is implemented, I bet there will be a thing or two that doesn’t go the way you figured it would go. Community managers are the ones that know if something is not easy to adopt or is frustrating to your employees. With their help you can find the pain points and figure out how to fix them.

To summarize, a social intranet is not just a task for communications department. It’s a new way of working for the whole organisation that makes everyone communicators. Network, find your social intranet champions and get everyone onboard to make the change.

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