Should we be using social media to communicate to other departments within the company? This is a question I asked myself late last year as the company I was with went through a significant change. Our target customer was changing, the product lines were changing and the customer problem we were solving was changing. That is a lot to communicate to your internal teams. Ultimately blogging and wikis became the most flexible and timely method of communication from the marketing dept to other internal groups. Here are a couple of the things we are able to accomplish.
Give a voice to members of the company
The blog was setup so that anyone could create blog entires. This didn’t mean everyone did, but the marketing and sales depts participated as did a few members of the engineering group. Entries in blogs stimulated discussion both through the blog itself and in hallway discussions. If you are in marketing or product management, thi sis an extremly valuable tool accomplish your goals.
Highlight our customers and what problems we are solving
This is probably one of the biggest advantages that social media has over traditional media like white papers and case studies. We were hearing back customers on a somewhat rapid pace and considering the new direction of the company, were still trying to figure out what problems were solving. I would have engineers ask me on a daily basis about how our products were being used by customers. This is a valuable lesson I learned. Never assume your employees know why a customer buys your product, what the customer experience is or what problem the product solves. That is a lesson that stands regardless of company size or situation.
Blogs were a way of immediately getting these customer stories back to the rest of the organization. Once we started to collect these customer stories, we actually had a nice little database that consisted of customers, usage scenarios, buying behaviors and deployment environments. From this we were able to create more traditional material like case studies. We were also able to pull information form these customer stories to help define the product roadmap.
Why not use e-mail to communcate this information?
Of course e-mail is another method to get the same information back into the company, but I have always found two problems with email. First, it is not a usable method of turning data into historical reference to look back on days, weeks or months from now. Second, having discussions through e-mail can often lead to multple threads being commented on in parallel, resulting in unnecessary confusion. How many times have you received comments from a version of an e-mail that was two days old after the thread had died off? Too many to count I am sure.
There are probably a ton of additional benefits or applications for social media within the company. What benefits have you seen?
Photo Credit: Brower Hatcher