The way employees interact has undergone a revolution; alongside traditional communication channels such as telephone, email and face-to-face, communication now comes via mobile devices, while forums and tools are now online or in the cloud. Collaboration occurs instantaneously; questions are answered in seconds rather than days.
Organisations need to integrate their traditional communications infrastructure and channels with a broader mix of collaboration tools, including social media.
Here are six steps to integrate social communications into business strategy:
1. Determine which social tools are being used
Look around: Are people in your organisation tweeting? Are they on Facebook? Are they travelling with their tablets, taking sales calls on their Blackberries and Tweeting with colleagues and friends?
2. Assess how work can be done by utilising networks
How can employees be assisted to get work done more efficiently by using their social networks? The key is real-time communication and connectivity. Employees should be able to conduct an ‘expertise search’ based upon people in their networks. Analytics tools commonly found in social networks can help to identify people who should connect and work together on a particular project based upon their knowledge base. The real-time aspect allows users to see who’s available right now, thus eliminating the need for coordinating schedules, meetings and conference calls.
3. Do the tools have seamless integration features?
When deciding which social tools your organisation should use, keep in mind that the most important factors are seamlessness and integration. Ensure you choose social tools that will work with traditional communication channels. Mobile support is especially critical. The various operating systems that support today’s smart phones, tablets, and other devices need to integrate with your social communications strategy.
4. Tread carefully with security and privacy of information
Email and instant messaging come with their own risks such as viruses, spam and phishing attacks. Similarly, social networking opens up its own risk of information leakage. Educate people on how to properly use their social network. Not everything should be posted publicly, and employees must be shown what is and isn’t okay to share in the public domain. Social media apps and tools offer control mechanisms that assist in compliance by allowing some posts to be blocked. Also ensure you have archives so there is a historic record of what’s been said.
5. Hone in on the benefits of social
The best measure of the benefits of social is to look at overall productivity and efficiency. If someone can more easily find another person via social connections then they are more likely to ask for information. The net result is that the task at hand takes less time, but also that important information – such as client proposals – are subject to additional review.
6. Understand the cost savings
There are additional cost savings around managing communications cost. Everything adds up: desktop phones can sit unused if an employee is remote or travels often. The cost of international calls can escalate rapidly, as can data plans for mobile devices. Eliminating these costs produces tangible savings that can be easily quantified.