Employees and Web 2.0

May 21, 2007 at 12:52 pm | Posted in Reading | 2 Comments

The timing on this couldn’t have been better.  I’ve been engaged in a conversation with my boss about the very flat nature of our news center website and the need to give it more of a social media look for reporters and others.  After all, reporters in print media are moving to blogs on a pretty regular basis.

More importantly, I noted – and my boss agreed – that the employee comm group was adding some zip to their communications – not full-on social media – but at least, from a design point of view, getting it more user-friendly.

I think both articles make a couple of points that have been running around in my mind – and likely obvious to all of us in 586 – that companies need to consider.

First, millenial employees are coming into the workplace expecting to interact in the same ways they do on their own time – through social media.   Last Thursday I was on a call for a briefing by a company called Fast Pitch.   Essentially, it was bringing a powerful set of social media tools to small businesses and individuals who wanted to be more part of a referral network, rather than just using Plaxo or LinkedIn for addressbook contacts or resume sharing.

The important part of the network and the presentation I participated in is that it provides full integration of social media for the members.  Of course, there is a cost to this, but that isn’t what caught my attention.   I began to think both for internal and external communication purposes that Verizon needs to begin to give its employees and customers some ability to interact with a number of different Web 2.0 options.

As was pointed out in Naked Conversations, Scoble’s development of Channel 9 at Microsoft (vlogging) began to humanize the company at a time it needed it.  It showed employees in their daily work, captured their opinions and discussions about the work for the outside world to see.

IBM, likewise, moved early on to encourage blogging among its employees and now has taken the next step – formalizing it in corporate communications.  The end game for this strategy at IBM from a certain point of view may be to encourage new ideas – innovation; it also may improve employees job satisfaction.

Friday, I was at a PRSA conference in San Francisco and heard from a number of speakers, including the director of corporate communications from Hewlett-Packard who focused primarily on the fallout that he was dealing with daily during the HP board leak scandal.  However, he also mentioned that the employees – HP encourages blogging, too – weren’t focused on what the outside world was concerned about but rather on working.   Their high level of trust and faith in the company may have been engendered by its history, as well as its employee-friendly communications.

In fact, their principal concern during this period of time, was what kind of discount they could get on the new line of notebook PCs coming out.  Of course, there was an integrated employee communication update that followed what was occurring in the outside news media.

The point here is simply that – as noted in the one article – blogging may be good for your employees, as might other social media, but you have to think about this in the context of your own company. 

Sure, things can go wrong with new media, just like they do with rumours started in the elevator or at the water cooler.  Most employee communications programs in companies where management communication to the troops is perceived to be untrustworthy in the past might have dealt with so-called ‘pirate’ publications, i.e., ones not sanctioned by official employee communication channels before the advent of e-mail and the blogosphere.

QUESTIONS

1.   Will blogs and wikis replace traditional print, electronic and related media as the principal vehicle for employee communications in 5 years?

2.  Does the flattening of an organization via technology impose a greater responsibility on each employee to participate and take ownership of projects and ‘official’ communication about them?

3.  Does the adoption of social media tools change the business organization model itself?

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2 Comments »

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  1. Your second question really has got me thinking. I sense that as long employees are engaged by the work they are doing and as long as they feel the company is heartfelt in promoting of the social media, they will participate and take ownership of projects.

    Employees are pretty savvy and if they even catch a whiff that their company is using the social media disingenuously, I think they will kiss it off faster than you can say Web 2.0.

    I hope that doesn’t happen for a while. I think this has some great possibilities for engaging employees and creating transparency. Would that this could come to our government.

  2. […] Kevin […]


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