Aligning Social Media to Organizational Professional Communication
Posted by Chelsea Dowling
(Chelsea’s Test Blog 1)
Prior to beginning my master’s program at UW Stout, one of the initiatives I began in 2014 was researching and proposing the development of an internal blog for our department. At Organic Valley, our Information Technology department is comprised of approximately 79 employees, ranging anywhere in age from 21 to 61-years-old. As a part of my role, three years ago I developed an internal departmental newsletter which I transformed to be accessible via e-mail (condensed version), a full online version, and a supported printed version.
Someone who has previously developed a newsletter might appreciate the work that goes into, but in case you haven’t done a newsletter here is the tedious process I had to endure each month in order to share the recent happenings with our employees.
Needless to say, I missed a few months (since I am the only one who does what I do within my department). In an effort to spread the workload, I begin researching into available options that might not only improve / address the workload that I was dealing with, but to provide an accessible and online platform for our staff to have immediate access to our department and Cooperative news.
Believe it or not but there is actually little research on the use of social media within organizations as a tool to communicate with their own staff (at least it’s not published). So in 2014 I began the effort to have an internal departmental blog established and to have this be an opportunity to develop a new communication channel within our organization and begin moving us away from just communicating via e-mail and an archaic 15-year-old intranet.
Nonetheless, I am sure you can imagine that one of the articles that was tucked away in our Blog Literacy folder on D2L, really grabbed my attention. While The Social Media Release as a Corporate Communications Tool for Bloggers article, written by Pitt, Parent, Steyn, Berthon, and Money, did not specifically articulate this article to be meant for internal communication purposes, there were a number of points that truly resonate with the issues that internal organization often deals with. Pitt et al., found that an increasing number of blogs are becoming a more formalized tool within organizations and, are in fact, being used to keep their stakeholders apprised of the current activities (2011). “Professional business communicators will need to give increased attention to their use of social media release,” (Pitt et al., pg. 7).
As a professional communicator, it is interesting that this became such a natural tendency for me to move towards and begin researching for internal communication purposes. One of the thing we often struggle with, is out do we best manage to spread our information across an organization that reaching almost 1000 employees – especially when face-to-face communication is the most effective way of sending and receiving messages. Notably, this was one point that Pitt et al. addressed in the article in that social media channels are beginning to emulate that face-to-face model (pg. 3), which seemingly matches the growing need for business to use this as a communication tool.
But where is my blog and how is it matching up with this theory of using social media for internal communication purposes? Well… needless to say you will be able to find a number of articles that will give you pointers on writing a great post, how to manage contributors – I even purchased a book called Born to Blog by Mark Schaefer (an excellent read and highly recommended). Unfortunately what these resources don’t tell you is how to maneuver the muddy waters of internal organizational politics to move something along quickly (but that is for the next article).
Let’s just say, when it comes to establishing a brand new “tool”, it’s amazing the amount of push back and stops people go to. Fortunately, as our company is looking at implementing Microsoft SharePoint (which I am told has many blogging capabilities), I am on the road to redemption. Almost. Now the holdup will be the design of the blog, which will lead you to one of my upcoming blog articles on the value of information design.
Pitt, L.F., Parent, M., Steyn, P.G., Berthon, P., and Money, A. (2011). The Social Media Release as a Corporate Communications Tool for Bloggers. IEEE Transactions Professional Communication, 54(2), pp. 1-11.
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