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Three Ways to Get Social Media Benefits Face-to-Face

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By Mike Wellman

In retrospect, it seems pretty funny that social media’s permanence was debated in the not-so-distant past.  (“It’s a trend.” “This will all blow over.” “Make it stop.” Etc.)  It’s clear today that social media has created a paradigm shift in how people communicate—and consequently businesses as well. It’s important for Communications to evolve with the times, of course, and CEC has seen quite a few members make fantastic use of blogs, video, Twitter and wikis both internally and externally.  That said, I’m personally fascinated by the notion that communication behaviors originating in social media can create a ripple effect on in-person communication.  So why not get creative in adapting our in-person employee communications to better tap into the same motivators that draw people to social media?

In that spirit, here are 3 social media features that can be re-imagined for the “real world” of any employee—wired or not:

1.) The Retweet
Why do people retweet? From our recent research on what motivates people to share content (CEC members: check out our work in progress), one powerful factor is intrinsic motivation—feeling like the information matters and that other people should know about it.

Take it “live”: Managers can write down and display praise for employees for things they’ve said or done as a way of encouraging others to emulate that good behavior. They can also make a habit of delivering short compliments (“verbal retweeting”) as a standing agenda item at group meetings.  If there’s anything we’ve learned from TD Bank, it’s that making positive feedback public is a powerful social motivator.

2.) The Poke
Why do people send pokes?  To attract attention, say hello to someone, etc. It’s a way for peers to stay in touch in a fun, light way.

Take it “live”: Before your legal department breaks down my door, don’t actually encourage people to poke each other at your office.  But in the spirit of helping people connect and maintain relationships, consider ways that you could facilitate low-tech “poking.” For example, you could dedicate a section of your newsletter to call-outs and connections.  Similar to the retweet example, making it visible will help encourage others to join in.

3.) The Virtual Gift
Why do people give virtual gifts? They can be a great excuse to reach out and make someone feel special. Many companies also find them effective at encouraging advocates to share branded goods and messages. (Check out how Wendy’s emphasizes its strength in bacon.)

Take it “live”: Okay, unless you’re interested in developing and branding a secret company handshake, you’d probably have to create something for employees to share with each other.  Consider ways that you could facilitate the sharing of tiny tokens of appreciation—eg, in the form of compliment certificates or Schrute Bucks that can be given by employees to employees at any time.

The Bottom Line:
Regardless of whether it’s in-person or online, we should be focusing on energizing our advocates, connecting employees across an organization, and encouraging peer-to-peer support.  It’s a no-brainer.

Communicators, what are your thoughts?  What other social media features would you add to this list?

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