Friday, 6 June 2008

More thoughts on employee communication (part 2)

3. Trust your people and use social media

Presenters gave some great examples to show that organisations have lost control of the conversation. Employees are going online to join interactive conversations about our companies – we need to enable this.

The best web based communication combines web 2.0, the research web by giving people access to data; web 2.0 - the social web by giving access to tools, and what Steve Crescenzo termed web 3.0 - the multimedia web by entertaining people.

We saw some great examples of web 2.0 in organisations including (as well as IBM), Microsoft, BT and ebay. It’s a shame these are e all technology companies but as Marc Wright pointed out, we’re still at a very early stage in the development of social media – things will be very different in five years time. So it’s important not to codify approaches and to keep aware of trends and changes.

But we’re not going to be able to put the genie back in the bottle. People are using social media in their personal lives and are increasingly going to expect to be able to do so at work as well.

So how do you get your organisation interested? Mark recommended searching out the people with both power and enthusiasm and through this approach, seeking senior level endorsement. Don’t force people who are resisting the technology to say no – once they do they won’t say yes.

A couple of presenters recommended down playing the new aspects of the technology (“sneak it out”) – for example by talking about allowing people to publish and comment, rather than using the word ‘blog’. (However, this isn’t the approach used by Microsoft and I’ll post on this separately).

4. Measurement

I didn’t get much out of Susan Walker’s formal presentation on measurement but Ethan McCarthy from IBM; Paolo Tosolini from Microsoft and Richard Dennison from BT all talked intelligently about it.

Paolo explained how Microsoft measure their Academy Mobile system (their “enterprise you tube”) using reach and awareness (downloads, reach) and operations (number of podcasts on Academy Mobile, number of podcasts produced, number of profiles).

However, he emphasized, supporting Ethan's perspective that it is very difficult to calculate a ROI so they, like IBM, focus on the use of testimonials which are sent to the CEO. He believes it’s about belief rather than a hard business case: they need to “go for it because we believe in 2.0 / social media”.

Richard’s perspectives on measurement are included on his blog. Readers of my HCM blog may recognise some of these points from some of my previous posts.

For further perspectives on the conference, check out: