Social media is the new way to communicate. In the digital age people are leaving behind traditional media in favour of the social media revolution. People are now accessing opinion informing news via Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, MySpace, and Blogging sites.

The popularity of social media is a big business in the commercial world. The monetary value of Facebook, Twitter and You Tube is a testament to the power of reach that you can achieve with online communities. Facebook now has over 500 million users, Twitter has 200 million.

Engaging with social media has become a part of modern day popular culture; and in the workplace, there is a real opportunity to take the concept and use it to communicate your business narrative.

There is still a fear in some businesses that if you embrace social media it can have a negative impact as you begin to lose control over the message. By using social media to interact with your employees you are opening up employee opinion and feedback to your internal audience.

I am a real advocate of using social media in a business environment. I passionately believe that if a business has ambitions to be a leader it has to grasp the initiative in empowering people to communicate more effectively. Communications do not stand still; a critical factor in successful internal communications is creating a two way conversation between the ‘business’ and its ‘people’.

An online community in a business environment is a powerful tool in sharing information. Each employee having a page to talk about skills and experience, interests and to post thoughts on business topics encourages innovation and knowledge sharing. Within SharePoint you have an out of the box solution with ‘My Site’ which can be tailored to build individual pages. By building individual pages into your overall social media strategy you are empowering your people to interact; taking the relevant concepts of a tool such as Facebook into the work environment.

Blogging is also a very relevant way to communicate, especially from a Leadership perspective. There are two core styles of blogging that both have a place in a business environment. By building a Directors blog into your social media strategy you are providing a platform for your Leaders to share regular interactive updates on business direction and strategy. These regular updates give people a real insight into decision making; and when communicating change is a really useful channel for explaining rationale.

Twitter style blogging can also open up opportunities for managing the perception of your Leadership team. This can be a more informal tool where short updates can be posted at regular intervals. People want to know and trust Leaders; and social media can act as a gateway for Leaders to get closer to the business.

The other concept I find incredibly useful in a business environment is films and webcasts. By using a film you are giving your message more credibility and personality than by a traditional broadcast email. It takes the concept of face2face into the digital environment.

These social media solutions are very much taking the concepts that I have drawn from Facebook, Word Press, Twitter, and You Tube into the business environment. There is a real place for social media to add value to any Internal Communications strategy. Each solution will need to be tailored to cultural ambition, but it is a powerful tool in building that conversation in a business.

There is also a cost benefit; by bringing social media into your business to replace costly channels such as printed magazines and expensive events you can add further value.

There is still a place for the more traditional channels such as newsletters in a business environment; but the way in which people are accessing information is rapidly evolving. Now is the time to grasp the social media revolution; there is huge worth attached to social media as it is a driver behind engaging people. It is also a concept that will engage employees if embraced by businesses.

Related blog: Is SharePoint a good Intranet platform?

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