Social Media is an evolving part of workplace culture and can be an asset to business leaders in storytelling and managing profile. The real benefit of social media is increased collaboration in business; so it is a tool that has more tangible benefit from the ‘bottom up’ rather than a ‘top down’ communication channel.

Social media opens up opportunity to build two way conversations. It can add credibility to a message and bridge the communication gap between employees and leaders.

The key success factor behind social media is maintaining its authenticity. This is where developing a social media plan for business leaders can become more challenging. Unless leaders are willing to embrace social media; any attempt to use it has a risk that employees will see it is a corporate gimmick rather than a credible message.

Social media as a communications channel

In this article I look at the differences between collaboration and communication; social media actually falls between the two and it is important that you do not dilute organic collaboration by trying to use social media channels such as Yammer as part of your corporate communications toolkit.

This is where the real challenge is for Internal Communication; it is important that IC retains a holistic view of conversation in business and guides and facilitates it towards an overarching narrative and direction.

The success of social media externally has been fairly organic; e.g. conversations and communities have grown from the ‘bottom up’ rather than the ‘top down’. So when trying to find a place for business leaders in the social media landscape you have to define what is ‘collaborative’ social media and what social media can be adapted to use as a communications channel.

There is a wide range of social media that leaders can use to communicate and engage with employees; this article on the future of Internal Communication channels is my view on elements of social media that can be used by business leaders.

Leaders and collaboration

The key benefit of social media is the opportunities it creates in initiating the right conversations. This is the same either externally with a tool like Twitter or internally with a tool like Yammer.

When you look at the external landscape Twitter has completely changed the face of journalism and news cycle. The single, biggest advantage of a tool like Twitter is making people accessible. Whether it is a journalist, celebrity, or sportsperson Twitter facilitates conversations. It makes being a journalist more difficult as it means opinion can be challenged.

Whilst Twitter has its challenges the concept of two way conversation is at the very heart of a good Internal Communications strategy. So it makes sense to look at the tool and how it is used to find business benefit.

As I have previously said, a tool like Yammer can provide business with the same kind of mechanism as Twitter. Having the mechanism in place is all well and good, but how do business leaders make the most out of it?

The key to social media for me is retaining the authenticity of conversation, and providing accessibility to people. That is why social media as a collaboration tool is something that cannot be managed as a communications tool.

Keeping conversation authentic

If a CEO or a senior director is keen to engage in Yammer or a social tool, it is important to make the case that they initiate and manage their own conversations.

If you’re CEO or business leader is regularly engaging in topics via Yammer or another social tool it will add real value to credibility and trust. It helps to build up a profile of the person as well as the leader; and gives an insight into style. It also helps build a perception that leaders want to listen and engage with employees.

The social media solution for business leaders

The guiding principles when developing a social media strategy for your business leaders is to define what is ‘communication’ and what is ‘collaboration’. It is important to propose solutions that are authentic, and will provide leaders with channels that are aligned to the social revolution, but also opportunities for conversation that social tools can provide outside of the communications sphere.

It is getting the right mix; and the more business leaders embrace social media the better and more valuable the conversations will be.

Find me on Twitter.

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