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Public Affairs Insights from the Centre

20 Oct 2011

Engaging employees through social media

George Onisiforou

The Centre held a professional development module on social media and internal communications this week in Sydney. During the module, Australian public affairs practitioners had an opportunity to discuss the challenges and share experiences about engaging their internal audiences through social media.

Practitioners acknowledged that taking advantage of social media technologies to communicate and engage with internal audiences remains an evolving practice for most businesses — despite them already embracing social media as commercial or marketing tools for existing or potential customers.

In most companies, a number of management teams — including Human Resources, Marketing, Corporate Communications, IT, and Legal — are responsible for how social media is strategically utilised with internal and external audiences. The Internal Communications team can be absent in these efforts, essentially missing on social media’s potential and opportunities for employee engagement.

A few practitioners suggested it is crucial that Internal Communications teams step up to ‘own’ more of this space.

A good start involves drafting a social media strategy for internal audiences (This is different from a social media policy that dictates or provides recommendations about how employees can use social media during work). Best practice social media strategies take into consideration the company’s DNA, which dictates the scope, mode, and tone of social media efforts. There is no universal single approach or recommended channel for such efforts — each business must consider the most appropriate, effective, and valuable options based on its own circumstances.

Finally, practitioners highlighted the importance of maintaining a business case for continued social media involvement in internal communications efforts. Measuring, assessing performance and reporting the value of such efforts are crucial for maintaining senior management support.

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