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Seven Social Media Trends for Engaging the Workforce

Fleishman-Hillard recently conducted a webinar on Seven Social Media Trends for Engaging the Workforce. The material covered emerging trends in the use of social media for internal communications and used examples from best-in-class brands to show how social media is being used behind the firewall to improve employee communication and drive business results.

TREND 1: Mobile Tools

Mobile Messaging

AT&T ExecTxt

  • Short-code system sends text messages to employees’ mobile phones
  • Opt-in, voluntary
  • Employees subscribe to executives/lists of their choice
  • Alerts employees to urgent, time-sensitive news and big announcements
  • Reaches the distributed workforce

Mobile Videos and Podcasts


  • Product line and branding training for mobile sales force
  • Gliddent paint reps review  handheld videos with Home Depot reps


  • Kraft Casts from CEO/executives
  • Keeps workfroce connected and aligned on the go

Specialized Apps

Trek Apps for Training and Sales

  • Trains sales associates on latest products
  • Sales floor selling tool

AT&T 2009 Officers Conference App

  • App supports conference content
  • Agendas, calendar, maps, videos and messaging

TREND 2: Townhalls

Interactive Town Hall

  • Used to hold company-wide town halls
  • Avatar-based, interactive meeting system
  • Employee-generated profile pages and avatars
  • Live, moderated, real-time
  • Submitter’s questions and answers are converted to a computerized voice that reads them out loud

Advanced Virtual Meetings


  • More companies are using Skype and other custom solutions to collaborate across offices
  • File-sharing and instant messaging optimizes collaboration


  • Advanced telepresence technologies simulate in-person meetings with high interactivity and richness

TREND 3: Social Learning

Digital Self-Development

The Starbucks Partner Café

  • Unites more than 136,000 partners to training resources ad each other
  • Encourages easy exchange of knowledge and collaboration
  • Dialogue is tied to business unit objectives
  • Offers a more private, yet collaborative, solution for teams to knowledge-share

Social, Collaborative Training Platforms

Best Buy’s Learning Lounge

  • Rank/rate training modules and can recommend to others
  • Supports multiple learning-styles
  • Employees submit content for training
  • Quick adoption – 100 employees submitted ideas for training in first 60 days
  • Creates a “results-only learning environment”

TREND 4: Social Portals

Internal Social Networking

AT&T Social Collaboration Portal

  • Serves 300K employees
  • More than 120,000 unique users hit the site daily
  • Social media elements: page customization, commenting, ranking, polls
  • Newest features: tReader, RSS and Twitter news feed

Booz Allen Hamilton’s

  • Allows employees to self-manage their employee directory information in a LinkedIn-like environment
  • Creates more robust employee data – interests, experience
  • Strengthens “weak” connections to aid networking and collaboration

IBM’s beehive

  • Internal, secure, customized community looks and feels like Facebook
  • Allows employees to connect, track each others’ activities, share lists, post photos and schedule events
  • Gives communicators constant pulse on what employees are talking about
  • High employee adoption rate: 35K+ registered users, 280K+ employee connections

External Communities (via Ning)

Coca-Cola’s Employee Community

  • Community managers verify membership
  • Customizable platform for building your own employee social network
  • Provides chat, blogging, forums, groups and photo/video sharing
  • Ning has over 1.2 million unique social networks and 27 million users

TREND 5: Digitizing the Frontline

Crew Communities for Employees in the Field

McDonald’s StationM

  • Connects geographically dispersed franchise crew employees
  • Integrates video/photo sharing with Flickr, YouTube
  • Features blogs by nominated employees
  • Builds employee connections and shared cultural understanding
  • Multilingual, serving over 1 million crew members in the U.S. and Canada

Best Buy’s Blue Shirt Nation Remixed

  • 2.0 version of its touted Blue Shirt Nation
  • Blends social community and micro-blogging functionality
  • Employees interact and share business-related content
  • Accessible via SMS, Web or e-mail
  • Allows senior management to “mix” with retail employees

TREND 6: Crowdsourced Innovation

Innovation and Idea Generation

3M InnovationLive

  • Live, virtual sessions solicit ideas, comments and ratings
  • Fosters global product and service collaboration
  • Post-session review necessary to identify viable ideas

Dell EmployeeStorm

  • 10,000 ideas submitted
  • 45,000 site users
  • 48,000 votes in first 60 days
  • 200 ideas implemented

My Starbucks Idea / Ideas in Action Blog

  • 70,000 ideas submitted
  • 160,000 site users
  • 658,000 votes
  • 25 ideas implemented

Collaborative Games and Simulations

Boehringer Ingelheim’s “BI Collaboratory”

  • Month-long virtual, team-based collaboration
  • 144 teams developed a concept to bring value to BI’s customers and patients in new ways
  • Teams post presentations of their concepts to the site for peer voting
  • Winning ideas earn reward and recognition
  • 98 percent participation

TREND 7: Employees as Digital Ambassadors

Employee Word of Mouth Blogs

  • AT&T’s Calm, cool & Connected Parent Blog

Employee-Generated Videos

Deloitte Employee Film Festival: What’s Your Deloitte?

  • 2,000 employees participated
  • 400 submissions received
  • Posted internally for peer voting
  • Winning videos shared on YouTube

Best Buy’s Twelpforce

  • Employees respond to customer questions and offer tech advice

2 thoughts on “Seven Social Media Trends for Engaging the Workforce”

  1. Elizabeth, thanks for blogging about our webinar presentation. I’m thrilled you found the content interesting. I co-presented an updated version of this content last week at IABC’s Social Media Conference in NYC. Wanted to share the link with you – we added a section on developing a listening plan and the importance of trust in the success of social media communications strategies.

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