Tips and Best Practices Using Social Media to Support Change

By Staff Report

Jan. 27, 2010

Employers ignore social media at their own peril, especially during times of change. Social media comes with risks but also with great reward. Here are six best practices for using social media in change management.

Tips and Best Practices: Using Social Media to Support Change

1. Accept that social media happens—whether you like it or not. Get ahead of the wave and plan for it.Companies with highly effective communication programs are far more likely to have a documented social media policy and build executive and legal support in advance of change.
2. Have a clear purpose for your social media tools—use the right media in the right situation. Are you looking for feedback and ideas, and hoping to build collaboration around a change?

Without clear scope or intent, the audience can commandeer media for different purposes. Test or do a pilot of social media methods on small groups first to shape a successful program.
3. Segment your audiences. But don’t make the mistake of thinking social media is “just for kids.”
In the U.S., the average worker age is 41, and almost one-third of “Facebookers” are 35 to 49; almost a quarter are over 50. Statistics are similar worldwide.

While younger generations have high expectations for work technology, many veteran employees are surprisingly open to new approaches.

Be aware of pockets of employees who could use a little extra coaching to be as comfortable as possible with social media.
4. Assess audience impact to focus your resources on the stakeholders you need to actively support change.
In any change, there are critical stakeholder groups in the organization that can be your change leaders. Determine whether building a “social” community within those groups would help them embrace change and lead the way.
5. Plan, prioritize, pilot. Then monitor and facilitate. As with any effective change program, you need to have a strategy before you launch. Using social media will give you more immediate feedback, so plan to be flexible. Monitor the conversation and be part of it where appropriate.
6. Measure.

Not everyone will “talk,” but many will participate, even if they are just observers. Be sure to measure your efforts to capture both active and passive social media voices.

Organizations with highly effective communication programs use measurement to assess not only activity but also awareness, understanding and ultimately behavior change.

Sources: Watson Wyatt 2009/2010 Communication ROI Study Report; 2009 Forrester Research Study

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