Rik will be speaking at EuroComm18
On 9 and 10 April, EuroComm18 will take place in Copenhagen. It's a conference about communication, technology and participation, organized by the International Association of Business Communicators and hosted by København University. I've been invited as a speaker and I'm taking this opportunity to explain how to avoid the pitfalls of social media in internal communications.
Internal social media should connect people. For example by facilitating cooperation between departments, by stimulating knowledge sharing or by increasing the involvement of different branches within an organization. In my opinion, the pitfalls that obstruct the connecting power of internal social media are homophily, fragmentation and information overload.
Ethan Zuckerman, director of the MIT Center for Civic Media, already used the term homophily in 2008 to describe his disappointment with the internet. Instead of connecting people all around the world, the internet has become a place where people lock themselves up in their own bubble. This has become a widespread phenomenon on social media, of all places! It's important to prevent this from happening on your organization's internal social media, because homophily reinforces the silo effect organizations are trying to put a halt to (also see The Silo Effect by Gillian Tett).
”Our homophily is obstructing us: our strong tendency to associate with similar individuals, and with individuals who hold similar views.”
Ethan Zuckerman, director of the MIT Center for Civic Media
Fragmentation is a related issue: employees form their own communication bubble, and communications within this bubble occur on a tool chosen by the respective employees - such as WhatsApp, SharePoint, Slack or Skype. These tools are incompatible, thus further contributing to fragmented communications.
Another important pitfall: information overload. People already find it difficult enough to keep up with updates from their own projects and teams, let alone from the rest of the organization and its surroundings.
A final notion to bear in mind: corporate communication tools are often closed to external collaborators (partners, freelancers, stakeholders). To deny these parties access to essential conversations and information surely doesn't make working together any easier. These 'fire walls' keep organizations inward-looking and private bubbles intact.
At EuroComm18, I will explain how you can avoid these social-media pitfalls in internal communication by means of community management, by opening up your organization and by providing colleagues with the right tools. Care for some Danish hygge, and for two days of interesting sessions? Get your EuroComm18 ticket here. Use the following promotional code for a 10% discount: EC18Speaker.
If you can't attend EuroComm18, of course you can still find out how to avoid these dreaded pitfalls. I will share my advice afterward in a blog!