The Harvard Business Review recently examined the internal use of social media by corporations. Can social media be used internally within an organization to drive increases in revenue? Can it improve employee retention? Increase productivity? This study reveals just what is possible.
We think of social media as a magic set of tools we use to reach the masses to help us promote our wares. But what about using social media as a way to build goodwill within your organization? What if you could retain employees longer? How much money would that save you? How much would it mean to you if you could easily socialize new company policies, products, and best practices throughout your organization? Would it help, just a wee bit, if you could increase revenue simply because your employees were happier?
How does social media help you accomplish this?
Managing director Stein Ove Fenne at global giant Tupperware set out with these goals in mind when he rolled out social media technologies across the company. He focused on what he called "building emotional capital" in driving the social initiative. What the hell does that mean? Building emotional capital means that you are attempting to increase positive feelings about the company, about employees jobs, and about coworkers (as nimrodish as some of your coworkers may be).
The premise is simple. If your employees are happy, they produce more. If instead you are a jerkwad towards your employees, you make them unhappy and they do anything to avoid work.
Tupperware set out to increase the happyness-factor by using social media to communicate four things.
Be authentic with your use of social media
To be authentic, Fenne made sure that what he communicated across social media channels mimicked his attitude and actions in the real world. Now get this - if your social media messages are all happy and fun, but you are a real nimnod to your employees in person, then employees are going to scoff at your social posts. Fenne went so far as to build relationships in real life with the employees to which he was communicating on social channels. Imagine that - building relationships with our followers. Hmmmm, I'm sure I've read that as a best practice somewhere recently....
Use social media to make employees proud of their work at your org
If you want to build pride in your organization, use social media to tout the accomplishments of workers to the rest of the company. If done in a genuinely, a sense of employee pride ensues. Employees proud to work for your company will outproduce the pants off of employees that you instead rule by threats and intimidation. To build pride in the Tupperware organization, Fenne hosts a social-powered radio show to showcase the accomplishments of Tupperware sales teams who have sold tons of their plastic food container thingeys. Listeners to the radio show can post comments to a Facebook wall - everyone gets involved.
You want my employees to talk about non-work stuff at work?
To build community you should encourage your employees to conduct non-business related conversations across the company's social media system. What?!? Is this guy insane?! Now calm down for a second and let me explain. If your employees feel free to talk about non-work related stuff at the office with their coworkers, they build community with each other by finding commonalities. Workers who have things in common with each other are more productive because frankly, they like each other better. Here is the hidden benefit that Tupperware discovered:
If employees talk about non-work related stuff at work, they are more likely to talk about work-related stuff outside of the office.
Having fun is not allowed at work
What? Having fun at work is not supposed to be forbidden. In that vain, Tupperware routinely produces videos that use humor to convey their business objectives. These videos are shared across the internal social media networks. Using humor and sharing the giggles across social networks causes the videos to be watched at a much higher rate. Fenne uses social media to promote humor in what are actually product training videos. Let me ask you a question - do your employees love watching your product training videos?
Social media is not about just reaching people with a message. It's about creating connections between people.
If you can further those connections by incorporating emotions, your success of using social media internally in your organization will go up exponentially.
Other articles by Nate Goodman: Why 1700 CEOs are Wrong about Social Media