I was recently contacted by the managing director of a large enterprise asking for advice on what was the most effective way to communicate to his employees.
This was pleasing on two fronts:
- He was starting to question that maybe traditional communication channels, (e.g. email, newsletters etc...), are no longer the most effective way to reach his employees
- This strategic thinking was coming from the top
His assessment of the situation within his organisation was also spot on:
- email and SMS are the most widely used today
- newsletters are no longer read in any great detail
- internal social applications (e.g. Twitter style interface, RSS, social networking etc...) are only used by a small minority of the employees
So applying Forresters' P.O.S.T methodology (People, Objectives, Strategy, Tools) to his situation I began to build up a picture to of what his long term goals were and it was clear that ultimately he needed to be on a social platform.
As the style of communication he wanted to send to his employees was short key announcements highlighting key deals they had just won, changes to his organisation etc... the internal Twitter application seemed the best fit and gave many advantages over email:
- Ability to reach a much wider audience (i.e. people in your network will retweet to others in their network, and so on)
- Ability for users to discuss and comment openly on those announcements
- Ability to send, and for users to receive, the messages through the Corporations' Instant Messenger tool – providing ease of use as majority of people already use Instant Messaging
- Messages are stored centrally and accessible by all employees
- Ability to embed communications onto a portal page / website providing real-time updates with zero admin
But the challenge was how to move the employees from email to this Twitter style application. What was needed was a Social Communications Transitional Strategy.
So this is what I recommended:
- Set a date for the transitional period (say 3 - 6 months) and use both email and the internal Twitter style application to send your messages - this is duplication, but a necessary step in the transitional strategy
- In each email that is sent, highlight that there is an alternative communication channel (i.e. the Twitter style application) that people can choose to receive these announcements other than via email. Also provide links to any training material or step-by-step guides to help them with any setups that are required
- Six weeks prior to the end of your transitional period, clearly highlight in each subsequent email that these announcements via email are about to come to an end. Emphasise that if they want to continue to receive these announcements then they must transition over to the Twitter style application immediately
- At the end of the transitional period, stop sending any announcements via email and use only the Twitter style application
At the end of this transitional period, you will end up with only those employees subscribing to these announcements who find them of value. Those that don't won't subscribe. You have avoided spamming people unnecessarily long term.
So if you are finding it difficult to reach your audience through traditional communication channels, don't be put off by social communications channels just because they are not widely used yet in your organisation. Just use the P.O.S.T method and plan your Social Communications Transitional Strategy.