We live in an era where many organizations are banning the use of sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, for fear that they are a security risk, or at the very least a distraction and a drain on productivity. We have taken the opposite approach. As a digital marketing agency, we need to be ahead of the curve in terms of disruptive or innovative technologies.
In fact, we not only encourage our team to be actively engaged in their social circles, but have gone a step further and created our own internal social network called Chatter (we named ours before Salesforce came out with their product).
The social evolution at Klick Health is built upon our corporate intranet called Genome because it encodes our corporate culture and allows us to grow in a controlled, predictable way. Unlike anything else in the world, our homegrown intranet is the core system, which manages virtually every aspect of our business. Embedded directly into virtually every page of our intranet is our social pane, Chatter, a sample of which is shown to the right.
The channel is built using industry best practices and is easy to use, encourages open communication, and creates a social “stream of consciousness” of the organization. By all accounts the channel has been a runaway success.
On Chatter anyone can initiate a conversation, engage in an existing conversation, and promote a conversation that is relevant, provided they are wiling to follow one critical rule – there are no rules on Chatter, it is essentially self-policing.
We expected great things form Chatter. We expected a greater sense of “connectedness” as we found new friends that share our interests, supporters that share our frustrations and we expected to establish knowledge leaders from all ranks of the organization. The results surpassed any and all expectations.
Chatter now sees over 7400 interactions per month, including new posts, likes and comments. For a company of just over 300 people, that is truly remarkable. To put that into perspective, that’s approximately 40% of the comparable traffic seen on Facebook, per user.
Conversations kicked off about emerging technologies, obscure bands, sports franchises, great places to go for lunch, politics and so much more. Pictures were posted of new babies, co-workers that had spilled coffee on their shirt, and our pitch teams preparing for a big presentation while offsite – all of which were met with enthusiastic support from the community. Suddenly an organization that has been growing at an incredible pace and was struggling with maintaining a true sense of self, became small and intimate again. We essentially became a startup all over again. A group of entrepreneurs – invested in each other, willing to go to bat for each other, and always promoting one another’s successes.
Learning from the channel
The fact is that whether we like it or not, conversations are happening around the water cooler and in the elevator. We can choose to turn a blind eye to them and broadcast a neutered, “corporate speak” message from the top down, or we can actively engage those that want to engage with us, create a dialog and create meaningful changes in the organization.
Does that sound a little bit utopian? Perhaps, a tangible example will make it more real. Not long after we launched Klick Chatter, the unregulated stream of consciousness of the organization, our COO posted a message to the organization about the importance of accurately tracking billable time. The post, intended to serve as a reminder to be diligent and accurate, actually created a heated discussion, producing 44 responses, comments and rebuttals within the first day of being posted, and many more after that, citing specific reasons why that level of accuracy could not be met.
A traditional organization might frown upon a direct challenge to the COO and those publicly criticizing a policy could be flagged as troublemakers who aren’t willing to toe the party line. The conversation about it would have been hushed into the background where it would fester. Instead, we were able to engage with those most adamant about the issue and work out a solution within three days of the original post.
The moral of the story is that those types of conversations are happening in your organization right now. Employees want nothing more than to be successful and are frustrated when they encounter an obstacle that they feel they can’t overcome. It is up to the organization to decide if they want to pretend those conversations aren’t happening, or truly open up the lines of communication and collaborate on solutions.