Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Social Software and Internal Communications - A Perfect Match!

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It recently came to my attention an article that was posted on how IBM Internal communications at shifting from creation to curation. The article describes how IBM employees have adopted social software inside the firewall (blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, file-sharing, etc) and overwhelm the content created by the professional communicators.

As you may know, IBM has taken a de-centralized approach for participation in external social media. That's why you don't see a single @IBM account over at Twitter, instead there are thousands of employees tweeting on IBM's behalf and driving the conversations. As mentioned in the IBM Social Computing Guidelines, this model is not about mass communications, but rather masses of communicators. And this model works according to this article from the Social Media Examiner.

This de-centralized model is also used inside the firewall. IBM's internal communications staff leverages the content produced in IBM's internal social software platform (which happens to be Lotus Connections). And this has brought the company closer together -- more connected. Metrics show that general articles intended for companywide consumption get little traffic because they lack relevance. And who knows what's relevant? The employees, of course. That's one reason traffic is up on IBM's intranet thanks to all the employee-created content.

Here's a video that shows IBM's Vice President of Digital Strategy and Development, Ben Edwards, on this topic. I did find it interesting that they showcase the majority of intranets as putting people last... the anti-social intranet, if you will:

Hear more from Ben Edwards on IBM's intranet and the role of content curation.

So if you manage your company's intranet, have you thought of socializing it to drive more traffic to it? As I work with various customers in all types of industries, I hear often that they've spent a lot of money in building an intranet, but are having tons of challenges getting employees to visit the intranet. CEMEX, for example, had that problem and they recently decided to socialize their intranet and provoke a shift in their employee culture.

When I talk to customers I also hear that the concept of socializing the intranet, however, often brings a fear to the internal communicators of losing control... or even losing importance. As a person who manages the intranet, you may fear your job becomes less important, less significant. I like and agree how Ben Edwards think it's the contrary. Your job shifts into becoming the adviser to others, the go-to SME (subject matter expert). You also become a sort of museum curator where you pick the best of the best. And this is huge, because employees could be overwhelmed with all the content that's being created. The internal communications professional can curate the content and pick the content that would be most relevant to others, thereby significantly adding value to the intranet.

Do you agree?

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