Show 11 in the CIPRSM csuite podcast series discussed the role that Social Media plays within Internal Communications and I was fortunate to have three really engaging guests in the studio with me, which I also added to with two interviews I recorded at the PR Week Internal Communications Europe event I attended in Amsterdam, courtesy of translation experts Conversis, who sponsored the event given the amount of work they do in this particular area.

Nicola Green, Director of Communications and Reputation at O2, kicked off the show by talking about O2 Amp, which is how the organisation gets employees to be brand ambassadors.  Nicola explained that O2 have a list of their top 50 employees who share content and they brief them just as they would journalists so that they can share company content externally, which is one method she uses to communicate with other employees, a theme that certainly cropped up throughout the podcast.

LinkedIn’s Senior Internal Communications Manager for EMEANatasha Gowans then talked through her company’s Bring in your Parents Day, which centred on the fact that, according to LinkedIn’s own research, 1 in 3 parents didn’t know what they ‘grown-up’ children did at work!  They had around 1,800 parents of LinkedIn staff take part, as well as other business getting involved too, but the key outcome was that their employees took to social media to share the initiative externally, which Nicola agreed is a great way to expand the message to a wider audience, resulting in a great positioning for the brand too.

[Download Natasha’s presentation from the PR week event]

My third guest in the studio was Sarah Ogden, who is a Board Director at 3 Monkeys Communications, and reflecting on those initial two case studies, she felt that they showed social media is both a tool for communication and engagement from an internal comms point of view but also it’s a platform for collaboration, where you can bring employees together to build things, whether it’s product ideas, thinking about innovation in the workplace and how as a business you can be better beyond communications.

I asked though, whether embracing social media in the workplace also brings with it some rather difficult challenges, and highlighted the issue HSBC had only earlier that week, when employees posted an incredibly inappropriate on Social Media of a mock ISIS execution, taken at a team building event.  To be fair to HSBC, they’d handled the situation extremely well by sacking the individuals involved immediately.  However, Sarah said that opportunities always bring challenges and that it’s about how it’s managed.  Nicola added that this also comes down to trust and O2 do a lot around educating their employees around the power of social media and the potential issues they could fall into the traps of.

Continuing the theme of creating internal content that is shared externally, in the second of the two interviews I recorded at the PR Week Europe event, Heineken International’s Global Channels Manager for Internal Communications, Holly Bostock talked about their Green Room project, which I recommend taking a look at.  It was Holly that described her team’s role in the project as ‘Curators of the Content’, which I thought was an excellent description.  She explained that from their own research, 78% of their own employees talk to their social circles about Heineken, and 30% share something on social media every month, but rather than just sharing the latest adverts, she thought the project enabled them to share something different, like company CSR stories.

[Download Holly’s presentation from the PR week event]

Sarah said the importance of this kind of comms by the fact that if an individual shares something about a brand or a business it will get much higher levels of engagement than if the business posted it.  Natasha backed this up with the fact that according to LinkedIn’s own research, employee networks are 10 times bigger than the corporate network and seen as more authentic too.

You can keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #ciprcsuite.

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About Russell Goldsmith

Russell Goldsmith is Founder of marketing consultancy, Audere Communications, and is Director of Conversis Corporate, a translation and localisation agency. He had previously spent 16 years as Digital & Social Media Director of broadcast communications specialists, markettiers4dc before leaving in April 2014 to become an independent consultant and trainer. An active member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations' Social Media Panel (CIPRSM) and a Public Relations Consultants Association trainer, he regularly presents at conferences and contributes to industry books and blogs as well as regularly judging industry awards too.

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