Six ways to use social visual media for internal communications2013-10-08
(c) Can Stock PhotoDigital content consumption is going heavily visual. The uptake of services like Instagram and Vine, Tumblr and Pinterest has been nothing short of spectacular. It’s not just the number of people using these sites, or how often or how long they visit. The engagement levels are also through the roof.
Since most online trends seem eventually to find their way to the enterprise, the surge in image-as-message is undoubtedly coming. But why wait? Your company’s employees are among those already sharing photos and creating six-second videos. Here are six ways you can tap into the trend to enhance your employee communication efforts.
1. Set up a private Instagram account
It’s easy to restrict who sees Instagram images. Set one up for Internal Communications and invite employees to follow it. When they request permission, you’ll have to grant it; you can’t just upload a spreadsheet and automatically grant everyone access. But now you can share images in real-time from the events you’re covering, like town hall meetings.
2. Create a closed Facebook group
Closed Facebook groups are getting more and more popular for organizations. Several of the companies I’ve worked with have either found unsanctioned groups or they have established them as a formal means of facilitating communication. Facebook is already a primary venue for images; roughly half of any newsfeed is made up of photos and graphics. In a closed group, employee communications could share a wide range of images, create albums (like all those photos from the town hall meeting that never got published on the intranet) and encourage employees to share.
3. Produce more infograhics and infoposters
As employees find themselves as time-challenged as anyone else, getting information across visually instead of as text-driven narrative could encourage more employees to consume more information. Especially as workers turn increasingly to smartphones and tablets for their day-to-day online activities, giving them content they can absorb in the two minutes before the meeting starts—taking advantage of those previously unusable moments—can lead to greater awareness of company news and information.
4. Curate hashtags
If the general public adopts a hashtag that would be of interest to your employees (or a subset of employees—salespeople, for instance), you can begin sharing the best images shared using the hashtag. These could be product-related or around a theme that’s close to the company’s heart. For example, if the organization is launching a sustainability effort, some of the best sustainability-tagged images from outside the organization could serve to inform employees of how the issue is perceived and shared by customers. (They’re more likely to scroll through these images than they are to read lengthy articles.)
5. Share images through internal social networks
There’s Yammer, Chatter and now Cotap. These tools—and others—enable employees to share their knowledge, ask questions, and stay on top of what’s going on with the organization and their co-workers. Following individuals on a Yammer-like tool also lets you see what has been uploaded by someone you follow. Employee Communications can set up a dedicated account for images or infuse an existing account with more standalone graphics. If your content is interesting, employees will choose to follow the account and will see the images. Since research indicates people are more inclined to interact with images, these updates will get more likes and comments, raising their visibility to all employees.
6. Behind-the-scenes Pinterest boards
Brands on Pinterest often include a board dedicated to “Our People” or “Behind the Scenes.” These images humanize the organization, which serves both marketing (people like to do business with other people), recruiting (who wouldn’t want to work with these folks?) and other communication goals. Since most employees have phones, invite them to shoot images behind the scenes in their own departments and work locations. How these images are shared depends on the company and its policies. If you trust your employees enough—which requires well-communicated policies—you can invite them to post directly to the pinboard. If you (or your lawyers) are worried that they might make mistakes like showing proprietary manufacturing processes, for example, or a product still in development, they can submit their pictures internally for you to review, uploading the ones that don’t violate any guidelines. Be sure to invite employees to meet their colleagues on the pinboard.
These are just six ideas. As images become a primary communication method, internal social software will undoubtedly accommodate more uses of photos, graphics, and extremely-short-form video. How are you using images to communicate in your company?