Social media for internal and external communications

Organisations have changed the way they interact with their stakeholders and social media is central to this change.

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Social media for internal communications

The history of social media in organisations is a journey that takes us from forums and bulletin boards, via intranets and portals, to blogs, wikis and internal microblogging.  In law firms, content is a major issue.  They have millions of documents in their systems and SharePoint is the tool of choice.  However, SharePoint does not have great social capacity (as yet) and other tools are being explored to enhance the social communication capacity of law firms.  James Mullan, KM Systems Manager at law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse, described a new generation of tools which are being used to enhance internal communication and encourage business-focused sharing.  Firms are using a ‘best of breed' approach to these tools, picking the right mixture to support collaborative working.  These tools include:

  • Confluence - very popular in law firms, this wiki software is used to supplement the intranet
  • Jive - an interesting collaboration and communication tool
  • Yammer - (which has just been bought by Microsoft) is used by Field Fisher Waterhouse
  • Pulse - an enterprise social networking tool that is similar to Yammer

Lessons learned

  • It's important to focus on your users - and design strategies that will suit them (law firms may be risk averse)
  • Understand what it is that motivates your potential users - how will you get their attention?
  • Have a clear purpose for your tool
  • Be explicit about potential benefits
  • Social media tools should be intuitive - no need for training
  • Have a sponsor
  • Be ready to drop a tool if it is not working

Taking the leap into social media

It's not just law firms that are risk averse.   For the banking industry the importance of managing risk and compliance has meant that staff have often been banned from using social media tools altogether.  And yet, even in this compliance-heavy industry, times are changing.  Morgan Stanley has now said that its 17,000 financial advisers may use social tools to communicate with clients.  This is a radical move (see this Gartner blog story) and one which highlights that social media is now becoming the primary way in which companies maintain communications with their clients - and their own staff.

LIKE Ideas presented a packed, half day programme.  This feature focuses on just two of the presentations.  Others have written about the conference and the conference presentations are available here.

Photograph via Flickr courtesy of cliff1066TM

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