Social media tools such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, videocasts or vlogs, social networks, etc, are proving to be a great way for businesses to spread a corporate message, to improve their branding and to support a myriad of other external communication requirements. But what about their use as internal communication tools? How can the In-House team leverage the benefits of these web 2.0 tools for just an internal audience?
The benefits of an internal blog are easy to see. But first, how do you restrict the readers to just your internal corporate audience? You simply install your blog software of choice on a server behind your corporate firewall. This creates what’s known as a “dark blog,” a blog that’s completely hidden to the outside world. Once installed and secure, your internal teams have the opportunity to share their thoughts, commenting back and forth on whatever topics they need to—product improvements, training, knowledge sharing, cross team communication, etc, without the worry that others can see the conversations. By restricting the task of authoring posts to a core group of individuals, your company can set posting schedules, and more effectively control the message delivered to the internal audience.
Wikis are another powerful tool that can be used as an effective communication tools for internal teams. Simply decide on the features that you want for your project and install a wiki behind your firewall. Once the team starts working with it, you’ll wonder how you managed without it. One of the great uses of a wiki is as an in-house change management system, where every change to any page on the site is saved and logged with a timestamp and user identification (permissions can be set to restrict posting privileges). Whenever there’s a question on a particular project, you can scroll through the different versions of a page until you find the information that you’re looking for. Again, being behind the firewall, whatever your team puts on the wiki is as safe as anything else on your network.
You can even set up a corporate social network, allowing everyone to share thoughts and ideas in their own way. Think of it as an internal mySpace, where various corporate departments have their own presence with their own look and feel, each able to share their message in their own way, using the network to share and collaborate with other departments.
What about podcasts and videocasts? Are they overkill as internal communication tools? Not necessarily, depending on the size of your organization. For large organizations in a multitude of locations, they may be an effective way of transmitting corporate information to all the various organizational nooks and crannies around the world. You also have the option of using these tools as training mechanisms. You may even discover, as Chubb Insurance did in the 1970′s, that your corporate training becomes a core competency, and by having this stock of social media training material you’re easily able to adapt to push out your own Online University to the masses at a later date.
As an added benefit, the next time you want to push an external project using these same tools you’re going to have an internal team that will be used to the concepts, the terminology, and the benefits. It’ll make the job of getting internal buy-in on your social media project a heck of a lot easier.
Simon Heseltine worked as an in-house search marketer for a medium sized Virginia company before moving over to work as Director of Search for RedBoots Consulting. He also organizes the Virginia SEM meetup group. The In House column appears periodically at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.