Can Internal Social Media Power Your Organization to Better Results?

Social Media Concept

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Do you factor workplace access to social media into your career decisions?

A number of young professionals do. Cisco’s second annual Connected World Technology Report surveyed college students and workers under 30 in 14 countries. Reflecting their status as digital natives, participants said the ability to access social media, mobile devices and the Internet at work would at times trump a job offer with higher pay but without the technology benefits. 

But even when you broaden your research, you will find that the value placed on connectivity crosses workplace demographics.

A power tool for your business
Agencies Gagen MacDonald and APCO Worldwide recently shared some insights from their 3rd annual employee communications survey, titled Unleashing the Power of Social Media within Your Organization.

The December 2011 report focuses on the use of internal social media (ISM) in companies with at least 500 employees. Interviewees represented a cross-section with respect to company size, industry, job responsibility, tenure, gender and age.

Although the agencies’ study doesn’t align social media with pay preferences, they do  cover social media as an engagement tool. The report highlights ISM and also covers some broader internal findings that any leader or business owner will find useful.

The agencies’ report
In a finding I found lower than expected given the many social media tools available, just over half of participants — or 51 percent — said their company employs internal social networking tools. Among tools reported were intranets, blogs, wikis, Facebook-like sites, discussion boards, Twitter-like sites, LinkedIn, podcasts and YouTube.

With experts predicting that two-thirds of employees will seek to change employers when the economy recovers, I found one insight particularly notable: Employees who say they work at a company that does a good job with ISM are more likely to stay and recommend it as a good place for others to work.

Your brand ambassadors
Another insight that resonated: ISM supports active employee advocacy to uphold brand and reputation. As the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer shows, customers are increasingly placing their trust in “someone like them.” This gives employees’ role as brand ambassadors more prominence and their priority as an audience more urgency.

The good news from the agency study is that 89 percent of employees at companies doing a good job with ISM would recommend their company’s products or services to friends and others.

When it comes to ISM, employees overall rank the quality of content first, followed by engagement and dialogue, and, finally, optimization. The study found some differences as it segmented audiences. For example, content is king among manufacturing employees — forms, manuals, specifications — but professional services employees rank engagement and dialogue highest.

See and be seen
The study also pulls back to a 360 degree view to highlight broader aspects of internal communications. Perhaps not surprisingly, participants report that executives can have a strong influence on their engagement.

The findings:

  • At 75 percent, executive leadership is most important. Employees want an executive team that lives the company’s values, clearly explains the company’s direction and engages in transparent communications.
  • At 22 percent, ISM is a beneficial internal communication element.
  • At 3 percent, two-way dialogue ranked in third place.

Now it’s your turn. Is your organization among those realizing the benefits of internal social media?  Do the Gagen MacDonald and APCO findings track with your workplace experiences?

You might also enjoy How They Do It: Socializing Business with Strategist Linda Zimmer 

About creativeconsiderations

Christine Sullivan is a communications strategist with expertise in communications planning, writing and content development, and executive communications. She can be reached at
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3 Responses to Can Internal Social Media Power Your Organization to Better Results?

  1. rsj8000 says:

    Another thing internal social media does for marketers/PR people is show the benefits of your work. I work in the PR dept. at a university, and the faculty was always complaining that we did nothing to promote them, so we started an internal e-newsletter that showcases all of the media placements that faculty were in.

    People often confuse “I haven’t seen any stories about us in the news” with “you aren’t getting any stories in the news.” Internal PR helps people see that there are things going on beyond their scope of vision.

  2. This is a great point and terrific example, Ryan. Internal social media can break down silos and let employees see the ongoing activity of various departments other than their own. Sharing placements (results) shows the hard work of pitching going on behind the scenes.

  3. Pingback: Management by radical transparency | ReStreaming

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