Hashtags and handles: is it time social media became the go-to internal communications channel?

‘Just setting up my twttr’.

This unassuming, seemingly mundane little sentence might not seem like much at all upon first glance. You may even be wondering why something so apparently insignificant has been used to open this blog post.

But remove the veil of banality, and you’ll find that this unique, deceptive phrase actually sits atop the mantel of historical firsts – as it holds the spot of the first tweet ever posted on Twitter, by the platform’s founder Jack Dorsey, on the 21st March 2006.

Since that landmark first tweet almost 11 years ago, the process of ‘just setting up my twttr’ has been undertaken by no less than a whopping 317 million people across the world. And those 317 million people are sharing, on average, 6000 tweets a second. It’s no wonder Twitter poses such an engrossing distraction.

But Twitter is only one part of the social media story. It’s by no means the largest social network. That trophy well and truly goes to – you guessed it – the social media behemoth Facebook, with 1.87 billion active users to its name.

These numbers demonstrate the sheer omnipresence of social media, and the communicative power it’s capable of. But Twitter isn’t just full of tweets about what various people might be eating right now; nor does Facebook only consist of envy-inducing holiday snaps. Social media represents a more connected, global world – of people who want to engage, interact with, and most importantly, talk to each other.

And isn’t that exactly what the majority of employees desire in the workplace? It’s the job of internal communications professionals to encourage interaction and connection among employees to foster greater engagement and fulfilment – so it would be a mistake to ignore the potential benefits social media could bring to workplace communication.

But what exactly are those benefits?

  1. It promotes, and encourages, interaction

A key driver of employee engagement is giving employees a voice. Leaders can’t align their employees with the organisation’s mission and values and expect them to remain silent from then on. If we’re attached to something, we’re going to want to contribute towards its prosperity – and that means voicing our ideas. With social media, organisations can build a constructive two-way dialogue at the tap of a button – far easier than they can with other platforms and channels.

  1. It can build organisational community

You’re probably familiar with the NHS email fiasco of November 2016, when an unsuspecting employee caused chaos by accidentally sending a seemingly harmless email message to 840,000 of their colleagues – only for those colleagues to clog the system by endlessly replying to it, unaware of the mishap. If this employee had used social media, they could have prevented the resulting hubbub. Unlike email, which is primarily for one-to-one communication, social media is, naturally, ‘social’; essentially an online community. Not only can this forge greater connections between employees, but it’s also more open, visible, and inclusive, reducing potential NHS-style confusion.

  1. It’s instantaneous

Many of us are left with very little spare time during our working hours, since our to-do lists are always full to the brim with endless tasks, meetings, and appointments. Needless to say, if we could shave some time off a certain process, the majority of us would leap at the opportunity. Social media could just scratch that itch. Its instantaneous, user-friendly nature means we don’t have to spend time fishing for email contacts, or creating and delivering complex print materials – saving us precious time we can instead devote to other nagging tasks.

  1. It’s easily accessible

Modern-day working practices are changing, and more people are using flexiworking than ever before. Communicating with employees outside the office can seem like a challenging conundrum. But the rise of mobile technology has made it welcomingly simple, meaning remote employees can access and engage with information anytime, anywhere. Social media is incredibly mobile-friendly, and information hosted on social media sites is easily accessible – encouraging greater engagement, and removing geographical barriers.

  1. It breaks down regional walls

Speaking of removing geographical barriers, that’s a benefit of social media use in itself. Many organisations are spread far and wide, recruiting employees from all across the world. So just how can one company communicate with so many employees in so many different, far-reaching locations? Email would be time-consuming and impractical. Print communications would be costly. But as we’ve already mentioned, social media is an online community – which can transcend regional barriers, and connect people regardless of their location. Giving one, collective voice to every employee.

The best workplace communications are social: they’re open, inclusive, and forge meaningful and fulfilling connections. So why wouldn’t internal communicators consider using social media? Perhaps it’s time to resurrect that historic, immortal tweet – and for the new internal communications buzzwords to become ‘just setting up my twttr’.

PRINT® can help people be more social in the workplace by identifying the unique Unconscious Motivators®, behaviours, and Triggers of each employee, as well as their personal communication styles and preferences – allowing for a greater knowledge of how productive relationships and connections can be built, and maintained, for maximum engagement.

PRINT® offers leadership development programmes to help you really get the best out of your employees. If you’d like to discover your Unconscious Motivators or find out more about how PRINT® could engage your employees, email hello@discoveryourprint.co.uk, visit our website and social media (Facebook: @discoveryourprint, Twitter: @Discover_Print, LinkedIn: Print Profile Ltd) or sign up to our mailing list. If you’d like to bring PRINT’s benefits to organisations and businesses, we offer Accreditation courses enabling in-house coaches and learning & development professionals to become certified PRINT® coaches.