Using social media to improve internal communications

By Jo Stratmann

It’s no secret that social media is transforming the way people communicate in the workplace.

As more and more companies are realising the value of engaging their employees online, social media is quickly becoming a preferred way of increasing knowledge sharing, encouraging teamwork and collaboration and adding value to the employee experience.To this effect, many businesses and organisations are using social media tools, like forums, blogs and social networks, to enable their staff and stakeholders to converse, collaborate and connect.

Using social media as part of your internal communications plan has a number of benefits. For one, companies are able to have real-time, authentic conversations with employees. Plus the very nature of social media means that anyone can participate in discussions, allowing communication to flow from the top down, bottom up, and even from side to side. If you are part of a global company it also means you can connect with people all over the world on a more involved level than just email and phone, thanks to the picture, profile and forum features available on tools like Facebook and MySpace.

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Case study: Vets Now.

Vets Now is a provider of out-of-hours veterinary care for veterinary practices across the UK. The goal was to engage internal stakeholders through social media.

Vets Now is the type of business where employees work not only alone, but also unsociable hours. By using social media, Vets Now hoped to increase communication and engagement amongst employees who don’t get the opportunity to interact with each other in person, let alone with anyone else.

Vets Now also hoped that increasing interaction among internal staff and stakeholders would help with knowledge sharing that would, in turn, help regulate and improve clinical standards and best practice across the industry. By doing this the aim was to position themselves as global experts in veterinary Emergency & Critical Care (ECC).

As Vets Now also wanted to use social media to help sell their internal training courses and to recruit staff, FreshNetworks felt that the best solution for them was to build an online community for their internal stakeholders.

The first stage was to help Vets Now pin down their objectives for the project so that the content - and the way the community was developed - helped to achieve their key aims. As Vets Now already had an intranet site, the community was integrated within that site so that all internal web-based communication tools were aligned and located in one place.

Using FreshNetworks’ social media software platform, an online community called VETECC (the “ECC” stands for “Emergency Critical Care”) was created. The community is managed by an experienced veterinary practitioner to ensure that all information and content is accurate and informative. The site has been up and running for over three months now and it has already achieved some of its primary objectives.

Traffic stats

The community currently has 924 members. 60% of Vets Now internal staff are signing on to VETECC at least once a day. More impressively, over 95% of the internal team are visiting the site at least once per week, proving that the community has successfully encouraged internal stakeholders to engage with each other and Vets Now itself.

The community also has a low bounce rate of just 20% and the average time each user spends on the site is 9 minutes, which means that people are taking time to absorb content and interact with other members online.

Recruitment and training

VETECC.com has also been the source of 10 different direct job applications in just 3 months. In real terms, 10 applicants equal approximately 3 recruits, which is a projected ROI of £5250 in the first 3 months. So projected ROI from recruitment alone is £21,000 per year. Further more, Vets Now previously sent out a monthly printed newsletter with information about their events, training and news from the profession. Since the launch of the Vets Now community,  a weekly e-news, hosted on the community platform, has replaced the monthly printed newsletter and Vets Now are saving around £14,500 per year in printing costs.

VETECC has also become a training resource for employees, linking to adverts about educational workshops and other events. Most importantly, the community has become a best practice platform, enabling vets to talk to each other and offer advice about medical cases in a private space that belongs solely to them.

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About Jo Stratmann

Jo Stratmann is Head of Marketing at FreshNetworks, a social media agency which helps organisations connect with their customers using social media and online communities.

With over 15 years experience of building online communities, we focus on delivering sustainable results from social media.

Our services include social media strategy, online community design and build, and online reputation management.