I recently had the pleasure of both speaking and participating at the Ragan Social Intranet Conference this last week in San Diego. The Ragan Social Intranet conference brought together some of the best minds in communications and technology to discuss best practices to creating a successful social intranet strategy to form the foundation of your communication and employee engagement corporate strategy.
The lineup of speakers was superb as can be expected with Ragan events. With keynotes by Steve Crescenzo, (Crescenzo Communications), Jim Ylisela, (Duff Media Partners) and William Amurgis (NetJets Inc.) it really was a great event to be a part of this event. I had the pleasure of speaking on behalf of ElevatePoint on how to communication teams can effectively work together with IT to create a sustainable, scalable employee engagement platform build in SharePoint.
While all of the speakers at the conference deserve their own blog about their specific topics, one speaker that really stood out was Steve Crescenzo. If you don’t know Steve, it is time you do! Steve is a regular speaker for both Ragan and the IABC and speaks on topics ranging from social media, writing and editing, executive communications and more. This week Steve shared some great wisdom on how to build leadership on your social intranet and coach executives to lead the right way along with best practices on how to engage your employees through inspiring communications. I was so impressed by Steve’s speech on Employee Communications 3.0 that I wanted to share a few key takeaways from his session with our readers.
Best New Way to Communicate: Humanize Your Company
Paraphrasing Steve, one of the best ways to engage and communication with your employees and external customers is through relatable, real life stories that pull at the heart strings of your readers. It is not always about the perfect tone, perfect pitch or perfect marketing campaign. Often what makes a video go viral or a story create buzz are the human stories and spotlights about a company’s most precious resource: its employees.
Storytelling is an important aspect of this, as is focusing on building relationships between your employees and customers. Steve guided the audience to understand the value in breaking down long standing walls between internal and external audiences. To truly humanize your company you need to open the communication channels and allow for authentic interactions between your employees and customers.
Let Employees Speak to Customers through Social Media
Steve’s point is spot on whether you are referring to external customers or internal employees. In business we often forget that business don’t interact with each other – people interact with each other. Human interaction is core to our ability to take pleasure and pride in our work and our lives as a whole. Steve really spoke about the importance of breaking down long held walls between customers and employees. Social media has given us a channel to communicate like never before and companies can use this technology to break down the silos. Empower you employees to communicate with your customer through social media and an internal social intranet. Don’t over-regulate and let the natural interactions inspire both your customers and employees.
Talk About the Interesting Roles in Your Company
Again, whether internal or external, share the cool roles in your company. People are interested to know what other people are doing to help deliver to the vision of the company. Again, the people are a huge part of what make each and every organization unique! A great example of someone doing this very well is our partners Green House Data. Their recent blog about roles in a data center shined real insight into what goes in in a data center and how each employee contributes to organizational success. This article inspires both the customers and the employees themselves!
The original viral communication started from the ground up. As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Don’t be afraid to integrate one on one communication as a core part of your communication strategy. Whether talking with internal employees or external customers, company leaders saying thanks and rewarding the efforts at the grassroots level can have a huge impact. Steve’s story on a Manager at GM buying a customer’s lunch because they drove a Chevy was a great example of such grassroots communication.
A picture is worth a thousand words. That was years ago before social media and social intranets. Now with likes, comments and shares, a picture or video a picture is worth exponentially more than a thousand words. People love sharing videos, talking about pictures – especially those which show the human element. Humanizing your business can be as easy as putting a flip phone in your employees hand and letting them capture inspiring things around the business. Share this with your employees and with your customers and you will be surprised how fast authentic videos can spread!
Make the Most out of Your Intranet
As Steve alluded to, corporate intranets are only as good as the information contained and the employees engaged. To achieve a highly adopted, highly engaged social intranet it is important to do more than just spread top down communication about corporate events and HR policies. Creating a multi-media engaged experience can help your employees get over the anxiety of SharePoint and other foundational platforms and begin interacting with corporate information centers as they do with social medians in their personal lives – focusing less on the platform and more on the experience.
Steve talked a lot about how multi-media sidebars on a social intranet can be a very powerful and often used with his clients. These sidebars are usually filled with pictures, video, activity streams and other fun information to engage with to create a personal feel to the corporate social intranet experience.
It was a real pleasure to co-present and listen to some of the best minds in corporate communication and employee engagement this last week. I am proud to be part of a community which is pushing the limits on how we work together to create a more human, rewarding work experience. Technology is changing the way we can achieve these goals and we applaud this conferences desire to embrace technology to find new and exciting ways to interact with one another.
We want to thank Ragan for the opportunity to present and share a bit about ElevatePoint and our ElevatePoint products designed to extend and customize your social intranet to better empower employee engagement for communicators yet maintain control for IT professionals. We hope to see you at our next conference – the Strategic Corporate Communication Leadership Summit in Washington DC, April 10-11.