The Social Employee

Employee promotion messages are standard practice in many organizations.
But earlier this year, a company saw one in particular spread as a wildfire collecting hundreds of congratulating comments including the CEO.
There was nothing different about this message from thousands of others before. Nor was it used to drive a particular impact or organization change. But it could.

The social tools of everyday are shaping concepts of public broadcast, peer-supported causes and mass mobilization as the default communication. Do you have a problem with a product or service? Tweet about it. Want to find a home for an abandoned puppy somewhere in another continent? Post it in your wall.

The multiplying effect of those networks strengthens the message more than the message itself. It’s not just a chain-reaction – it’s a snowball effect.

So every company does what they should do when finding out that more and more customers are using social tools. Adapt. Monitor. Join the conversation.
Yet there is always one last resource if the conversation coming from the outside doesn’t go so well. Play dead and plan a nice PR comeback.

But what if that conversation is coming from within?
With so many tools and services focused on external social engagement, internal corporate social interactions can exist for a while before a company is even aware of its benefits and risks.

It’s not a surprise then to see that last year’s Gartner survey of CIOs about the top priorities for 2012 – 2015 doesn’t have a single mention of internal social strategy and tools.
It may be because there are other more pressing needs. Or it’s flying under the radar.

The truth is that companies will not be able to ignore this trend much further. Ask a few countries.

Few years ago, a large Fortune 500 company identified that employees were using Yammer as a communication tool. The standard approach was to communicate everyone that such service was not allowed. Corporate policy. The number of users jumped past the thousands.
It was then called an “Unofficial channel”.

The now standard approach of public broadcast, peer-supported causes and mass mobilization for youngest generations will also be found inside companies. Officially or not.

How companies respond to this – or even better, use the strength behind it to engage employees to help shape the organization – should be one of CxOs priorities. After all, it’s a priority for the new social employee.

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