The latest internal marketing technology
- 14 September 2018
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Internal communications technology is transforming the way marketers manage strategic content and brand messaging within organisations. While some advocate using consumer platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp, a host of dedicated services can be utilised.
Internal communications have come a long way from the days of archaic company intranets and round-robin emails. From consumer communications platforms such as WhatsApp, to dedicated apps like Slack, a world of technology now exists for marketers tasked with managing the internal message. But using such technology inside a company is not without its risks.
Consumer platforms at work
The ubiquity of personal social apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, is such that people are rarely disconnected from them – even inside the office. To counter the rise of these so-called shadow IT systems, several big tech firms have made a bid to go ‘legit’, in business terms, by releasing versions tailored for the corporate market.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp is a highly popular platform for personal communications, and can be turned into a corporate tool relatively easily. Since the platform has upped its max group size to 256, small and medium-sized businesses will be able to use it. Once one person sets up a group and begins to add individuals, your teams can all contribute to chats in the familiar fashion. It’s also now possible to send newsletters on the platform.
Mobile apps such as WhatsApp help marketers to raise their comms messages above the noise of emails clogging up staff inboxes, which can lead to their being deleted immediately without being read. However, some employees may object to the ingress of work onto their private device, which can be viewed as a private space. If each employee has a work phone, however, this is less of an issue.
After a few years of development in beta, Workplace by Facebook was unveiled to great fanfare. The promise of Facebook’s familiar apps and interface, retooled for a mobile-first, corporate comms package, was an exciting prospect. This is unsurprising considering that one of the key hurdles for internal communications technology is adoption; you can deploy a sparkling platform, with huge functionality – but it’s worthless if no-one learns how to use it.
Workplace by Facebook
In terms of pricing, Workplace by Facebook is $3 per user per month, but is free for registered charities and educational institutions.
However, before marketers rush to deploy either platform internally, it’s worth sounding a note of caution regarding privacy. Facebook has been hauled over the coals in a very public fashion in 2018 due to the Cambridge Analytica data breach. It’s worth remembering that on either app, the tech giant would essentially handle all your business messaging data. Although it has asserted that end-to-end encryption prevents it from reading the messages, some experts have called this into question. Either way, the idea of placing your company secrets in the hands of another business to such an extent may be alarming.
Dedicated internal platforms
An outgrowth of the booming consumer app market has been a vast improvement in the internal comms platforms now available, in terms of functionality, design, and ease-of-use. A wide of range of services are available, and some have proved more popular than others.
Slack is a workplace ‘collaboration hub’ that promises to connect all the pieces and people of your business in one online location. Users access the service via an interface similar to Tweetdeck, which serves as the dashboard. From here, users can join various teams, receive group chat messages, and submit direct messages to colleagues. Some have found the constant update notifications to be slightly distracting. However, this can be controlled in the preferences section.
One key benefit of this type of app, is that ‘channels’ can be set up for almost any project, client or topic. It’s easy to imagine how much more efficient this is than group emails. From an internal comms perspective, marketers could set up a channel – or establish hashtags – for company-wide messages, to ensure this is integrated into the general conversation.
Equally, BlogIn, a simple internal blog solution, allows organisations to collate valuable information in one place. This is a straightforward way of keeping your team members informed and up-to-date, and forms a central repository of expertise and knowledge. Marketers can encourage members of various teams, such as finance, sales or development, to post blogs that illustrate their day-to-day roles, thereby tackling the problem of departmental silos, and increasing the opportunities for collaboration.
In many respects, marketers are spoilt for choice in terms of the tools at their disposal to optimise internal communications. As with all aspects of marketing, it’s important to decide what you want to achieve before investing. Consider whether your objectives are to increase productivity, to achieve ease of uptake (in the case of the consumer platforms) or maintain security. Whatever the choice, organisations should recognise the crucial role that an internal communications platform can play in engaging employees, which is an increasing priority for marketers across the industry.
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