Twitter on the Inside: Maybe Employees Know Best


My friend and fellow blogger Susan Williams Cellura asks whether or not Twitter or a similar tool can serve a useful purpose in internal communications. She passes along some legitimate concerns and questions that people in her organization are asking. Twitter is so new that we’re still figuring out all its implications.

As I wrote in a comment on her blog, I believe we communication strategists often over-manage the tools at our disposal. There’s nothing wrong with helping our clients figure out how tools might best be used to serve our organizations, but with social media it’s especially necessary to give our stakeholders (including employees) some freedom to figure out how best to use them.

A terrific article in last week’s Time magazine makes the point very well. It examines how Twitter users have applied the tool in ways its creators never imagined. Social media are much more organic than the more traditional communication vehicles, which means social media require a different approach by communicators.

We often lament our clients’ fears when it comes to trying new things. I’m not suggesting we completely hand over the keys to our clients’ communication programs, but maybe this is a case where we need to overcome our fears and trust employees to navigate a bit. Sure, there are security issues and other matters to address — just as there were for e-mail and intranets — but first we need to figure out whether the tool is useful and how it might be used. The answers might surprise us.

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4 Responses

  1. Robert – thank you for continuing the discussion on your blog!

  2. Thanks for the Time article. I just finished reading it and have highlighted the business aspects to take to my boss.

  3. Hi Robert,

    Thanks for commenting on this – and for making the case that sometimes the employee knows best. We are working on presenting a case for a Twitter account so that we can get job leads and bite-sized career advice out to our students in a quick, user-friendly manner. Not every message has to be perfectly scripted and branded – especially when trying to capture the attention of today’s Millennials!

    Keep up the great work!

  4. Michelle, that sounds like a perfect use of Twitter! Real, useful, timely information that doesn’t require more than 140 characters.

    Sometimes I think organizations think they need to incorporate Twitter (or any other vehicle) simply because “everybody’s doing it.” There should be a compelling reason to employ a vehicle — and then it’s vital to understand how audiences use it. It’s no different than the focus groups I ran at a company where I worked to understand how people read the employee newsletter. We learned a lot about what people looked at first, how they navigated the publication and what they did with it when they had to stop reading for a while.

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