One of the key challenges facing all businesses, including insurers, is ensuring that critical business information doesn’t disappear into a silo somewhere within the business. It’s a common occurrence where one team develops a new way of working but somehow that’s not communicated to other teams. The business benefits, which could have been dramatic, are minimized rather than maximized.
How Could Social Media Help?
As organizations grow, communication naturally degrades, it becomes harder and harder for information to pass freely around. That’s a consequence of size. In a small business a new idea, that’s shared with the room, reaches everyone. As your company gets larger, you add more rooms and more people and sooner or later you reach a size where someone saying something in one room no longer percolates to other rooms.
Internal social networking might be the solution to this problem. Instead of your employees communicating on Facebook you could put a company-wide social network in place. This offers a great deal more flexibility and collaborative power than the old company intranet ever did.
When someone has an idea in one workgroup they can share it with the whole company. Introduce a “like” system and you can spot trends where other employees identify valuable tools and ideas and begin to promote them.
Where Would We Find a Social Media Platform?
There are plenty of social media platforms available that can be installed off-the-shelf. There are WordPress plug-ins like Symposium and BuddyPress, there’s Elgg (an open source solution), there’s Diaspora (another open source choice), then there’s Yammer (whose similarity to Facebook hasn’t gone unnoticed by users) which is a licensed option, etc.
How Would We Manage Internal Social Media?
The good news is that most of these social media networks aren’t hard work to put into place. In the case of Yammer, a few hours of your IT department’s time and you’ll be ready to roll. For the Open Source options it might take a couple of days to get your configuration right but it won’t take very long either.
Then really all you need is someone to moderate discussions and weed out the nonsense that invariably creeps onto social media – even when the intention is very clearly work oriented. That could be managed by someone who manages your external channels or shared between department heads.
How Do We Get the Most Value from Internal Social Media?
The best way to get the most value from this form of social media is to set rules and guidelines for use before you roll the platform out. Make it clear that you want to see helpful suggestions, calls for assistance on thorny problems, etc. You also need to make it clear that the platform’s not there for sharing the latest Miley Cyrus video on YouTube.
The beauty of internal social media is that it allows for high-levels of informal collaboration between your people. It allows information to break free of the silo and reach the other parts of your organization that can benefit from it. As long as you manage the solution well – the benefits are potentially limitless. Just wait for the ideas to flower.