Internal Social Networks on the Rise

Internal social networks are becoming more prevalent, a recent survey concludes, even though they sometimes just pop up without a clear reason why.Social media networks are assuming an increasing role in internal communications, even though sites sometimes spring up spontaneously without a clear justification or explanation.

Rachel Miller of AllThingsIC conducted a follow-up survey in October of 101 internal communications professionals that paralleled a survey she conducted last year. Writing in her blog, Miller said survey results confirmed some of her assumptions, including the use of social media being on the rise in internal communications.

Of those who said their organizations have enterprise social media sites, 41 percent use Yammer, up from 35 percent last year. Snapcomms was close on its heels with 37 percent, a dramatic increase from just 1 percent the previous year. SharePoint's usage dropped from 30 percent in 2012 to 26 percent this year. Reliance on custom-made internal social networks dropped 5.5 percent.

Nearly 10 percent of internal social networks have unknown, or at least unofficial, origins. Communications teams are the most likely source of their introduction, followed by IT departments.

Somewhat incredibly, 47 percent of internal social networks were launched without clear objectives, Miller says. That percentage didn't change from the original survey in 2012.

Internal communications professionals say they are expected to understand the use of social media. And while some of these professionals appear to be cooling off on their personal use of social media, they largely agree internal social networks will see a sharp increase in the near future.

The learning tree for social media seems to be rooted in blogs, but internal communications professionals also glean knowledge and practical tips from conferences and talking to peers.

CFM installed Yammer several years ago to enable staff members in different locations and working on disparate projects to stay in touch in real time and leverage each other's knowledge. As use of the internal social network has matured and evolved, CFM staff members now also employ the site to share timely, useful information and internally produced documents.

CFM also has a Facebook page, which serves as the firm's family room. That's where you can find out about a CFMer's involvement in a bike race, a birthday celebration or a special staff event. Its purpose is to show the human side of the professionals who work in the firm.