If you can’t beat email, make it social.
It surprises me how many still view email as a static, one-way channel. The technology is now there to create much more dynamic designs, with powerful metrics to boot. We can even transform email into a powerful social communication channel.
That’s exactly what we did at Cable & Wireless Worldwide (CWW) when I first came across Newsweaver in 2011.
Within a few weeks of launching our new newsletter, dozens of employees were interacting with our communications every week. Ideas were shared. New connections were made. We even saved the business cash after one comment thread led to the discovery of duplicated projects.
For us, email was the best way to start these conversations.
Since joining Newsweaver, I’ve worked closely with a range of customers that have transformed email into a social channel. Not everyone does it the same way. Some use email to signpost to discussions taking place on other social networks or their intranet. Others want everything to take place in the inbox itself. The key thing is that each of them have transformed the way they use email in a way that best suits their own audience.
So if you’re still using email as a static channel, maybe it’s time you launched your own revolution in the inbox. Here’s a few tips to help get you started…
Technology is key
Dedicated email communication software is packed with social features. Ratings, Likes, Surveys, Polls and Comments provide ways for your audience to interact with your messages that are near impossible to replicate via traditional email.
Devices are another key consideration. If you want to start a conversation that everyone can contribute to, then they’ve got to be able to access it. Many intranets still suffer from a poor user experience in this area. Email software on the other hand ensures everyone can be involved.
Get management buy-in before launch
Before launching at CWW, we explained to management that we wanted to use email to facilitate discussions and gain instant feedback. They bought into it. Our CEO even posted a simple ‘well done’ beneath a customer success story in our launch issue. It not only gave that team a boost, but also sent a powerful message to employees that this was a way for them to share ideas with management.
Get employees on-board too
Plan a major communications campaign to ensure employees know what’s changing, and how they can help make it a success. Explain that this is a platform for them to share their knowledge and ideas, and to have their voice heard. This will help to create an environment where people are comfortable sharing and asking challenging questions.
Include content employees can engage with
Not everyone feels comfortable commenting on the new strategic direction. Regularly include content that people can easily connect with. I recently worked with a customer that ran a competition asking employees to share the business buzzwords that they wished they could ban. It was brilliant, and the engagement with that message was fantastic to see.
Break the ice
Some don’t want to be the first person to comment under an article. Make it easy for them by seeding comments. Ask people you work closely with across the business to add questions as soon as your communication goes out. Or try holding back an anecdote from an article and get the content owner to add that as a comment. If we see someone breaking the ice, the rest of us will be far more likely to take the plunge ourselves.
Finally, respond to comments!
All your hard work will go down the drain if people think that no one is listening. Try to respond to comments as quickly as possible. If a challenging question comes in, post a comment saying that you’re chasing a response. Showcase comments and their responses in your next communication. If your audience see that your communication is a way to be heard, they’ll find their voice in no time.