Corporate Communication 2.0 – Why we need to build internal social networks

Internal corporate social network? Today this does not stand for social exchange with our network of colleagues at the coffee machine. “A “social network” is a dedicated website or other application that enables users to communicate with each other by posting information, comments, messages, images, etc.” That´s the definition found on Wikipedia – in a way a social network itself.

Social Networks have become the prevailing exchange medium for every day communication. If Facebook were a country with 1.44 billion members, it would have overtaken China as the world’s most populous country in 2015. People follow topics they are interested in on Twitter, discussions take place in internet forums, information is accessed via digital knowledge database. At the same time the use of social media becomes more and more intuitive and can be easily integrated in one’s everyday life – at any time from everywhere, accessible via app on your smartphone or tablet.

An increasing number of cooperations use social networks and media, however, predominantly when it comes to external communication. Companies find suitable candidates for open positions via LinkedIn. Commercials posted on YouTube and Facebook reach a much higher number of views than TV commercials – at a global level without additional effort or expense. Opinions users blog about a brand or product influence the corporate image as people trust the “customer experience” of peers much more than advertisement.

It’s time to use these concepts for internal corporate communication as well! More and more corporate social networks are being developed to ensure exactly this for the employees within a company: The feeling of being part of a global online-community, an equal amongst peers at every hour of the day.

But why is this important? And why is traditional communication through e-mail or via bulletin board simply not enough anymore?

Social networks build on mutuality and exchange. Essential for that is the development and maintenance of relationships between companies and their employees as well as amongst the latter. Through online-communities, we break traditional hierarchies, everyone is equally important, everyone has a say. This strengthens the feeling of belonging, the corporate identity.

Social networks foster cooperation and collaboration and encourage peer-learning. No expert in the office? No problem! The corporate chat allows exchange with colleagues in China, Brazil or the conference building next door. Through integrated forums we are able to post open questions that reach all employees – hidden expertise, that individuals have so far kept to themselves, comes to light. The collective intelligence of a company is activated as employees solve problems together.

Social networks save and secure information in a sustainable manner. A new dimension of knowledge management evolves. Instead of replying to e-mails with the same question over and over again, the expert posts his answer via internal blog or on the corporate Wiki. This saves time and capacity and preserves information over time. Thus new employees can access the information even when the expert leaves the company. Further, employees can deepen knowledge according to their needs by following additional links, videos or podcasts posted on the network. As a result the self-management of every individual is enhanced.

Social networks are up-to-date, intuitive and globally applicable. And: Generation Y and Z already consider the times of e-mail passé!

Have a look at why that is not necessarily a change for the worst in this video on “E-mail trees”Video E-mail trees

In addition, this video by Erik Qualman, the bestselling author of Socialnomics, as well as Digital Leader and What Happens in Vegas stays on YouTube, provides more interesting facts on social media and social networkingVideo Social Media Revolution