Social Media Tools on Internal Collaboration

This is a guest post by Sonsoles Lumbreras, a Journalist and Communications Consultant. Connect with her on twitter.

Since I conducted a piece of research for my Masters’ dissertation about the role and value of social media in the process of communicating organisational changes, I’ve been fascinated by this subject. Though the use of social technologies is widely extended nowadays, many organisations seem to see only its value when using it for external communications but not for internal communications.

As a result of my dissertation’s research, I could realize that many multinational companies are still at an early stage when applying the use of social media to internal communications, though most of my interviewees knew the advantages these media could provide to the workplace.

The increase of interaction and collaboration among employees was one of the main benefits perceived by my interviewees. In some way, these new media help to engage employees, encouraging their participation, as well as boosting the knowledge sharing within the company. Other advantages mentioned by my interviewees was that the use of social media for internal communications makes managers more approachable and authentic, as well as contributes to have a more transparent communication within organisations.

After conducting this piece of research, I was highly motivated to find out more about how companies are implementing social media tools for internal communications, so I attended many conferences and seminars regarding this subject, where I learnt about many interesting case studies of organisations working in this area.

BT is one of the good examples to explain how the use of social media tools at the workplace can boost internal collaboration. This organisation has implemented many social media tools on its Intranet, such as blogs, podcasts, an internal social network, videos and wikis. Without any doubt, the most successful tool has been the BTpedia, created as an internal Wikipedia, but without any restriction about what kind of information should be uploaded.

Thus, people can post any interesting information that can be useful for any BT employee or can make corrections in a wiki already posted. The BTpedia has shown its effectiveness to share all kind of information, such as what is the best mean of transport to get the BT head office or contextual information about employee recognition.

Another great example that I came across is the O2 Fanclub, an internal social networking site where people are able to nominate their colleagues for the O2 annual awards. This internal rewards recognition scheme also allows employees to thank their peers for a job well done all year around, according to the fulfilment of customer promise objectives.

Since its launching, Fanclub has got an impressive engagement level, with 95% of employees being active users. O2 also celebrates an award ceremony called ‘Superfans’, where the most recognized employees receive their awards publicly every year.

The Health Insurance Company BUPA, whose Internal Communications manager, Del Green, will participate at the Social Workplace conference, is also using social media tools successfully for internal communications. Its social media platform, Bupa Live, encourages employees’ collaboration and knowledge sharing.

With 90% of users talking about content related, this platform has got the leadership support with the CEO’s participation, allowing interaction with employees. Another key to their social collaboration was to enable social learning through a Business Forum, where employees can share ideas and comment them, empowering also innovation.

So these are only a few examples of how social media can boost employees’ collaboration within organisations, but you will be able to learn more about the applications of social software for Internal Communications and workforce collaboration, at the Social Workplace conference, that will be held on the 24th of May 2012 in London.