Thursday, December 26, 2013

How Social Media Impacted the 2014 Indian Elections

This year, Election Day in India (for the legislative assembly elections in which the Indian electorate choose Vidhan Sabha (or Legislative/State Assembly) fell on a weekday (December 4th). The first thought I had – and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone – was, ”Thank goodness, we get a day off from work!” Isn’t it? After all, what’s better than a mid-week day off?!

But a day off work – even if it’s for something as important as exercising our franchise – can tend to blur our focus. Our priority becomes how we’ll spend that day off with family and friends, rather than the importance of the elections and choosing the right candidate and the right party to govern our country.

Image:  via Google, CC 4.0

Most of us get laid back rather than step out of our homes to vote.
This year, social media played a very important role in encouraging the citizens of India to vote. A few months ago, I wrote about how Indian Politicians were using Google+ Hangouts to reach out to Indian youth and a wider audience to connect with them.

The efforts Indian politicians have been making to reach their audience through social media was clearly reflected in this season’s election results. For years, India has seen only two parties realistically compete: the BJP and the Congress Party. This time around, a third party was formed and became a viable competitor: the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). [Ed: "aam aadmi" translates to "common man."]

While the BJP and Congress have been in the political system for an eternity (at least, it feels like it!), the new party, AAP, and its founder Arvind Kejriwal brought a breath of fresh air to the whole political scene in the country. Not unlike President Obama in the U.S., Kejriwal did what so many politicians dream of doing: he enthused the youth of the country to vote.

I have never before felt so strongly about the elections and my personal ability to effect change in our country.

And while social media has certainly changed the face of political campaigns, it has not replaced other traditional forms of communication. That said, the issue of funding often poses problems for smaller campaigns or new candidates. After all, it takes money – a significant amount – to produce and run expensive television or radio ads, which are still key in reaching audiences.

But that’s when a smart social media campaign comes into play.

AAP did not restrict itself to Facebook and Twitter, but used Google+ and Linkedln in a big way; in fact,  the latter proved to be a major source of donations. Mr. Kejriwal didn’t just use Google+ Hangouts to expound his philosophy; he actually used them to raise funds. Using G+, AAP reached people not only here in India, but the Indian diaspora in the U.S., Canada, and Hong Kong, answering their questions, gaining their support, and raising clean (i.e. not illicit) funds.

AAP’s use of social media was not just integrated, it was fascinating. It urged NRIs (Non-Resident Indians, a critical audience and source of investments in India) to leave video messages of support for the party on YouTubeQuora too had a lot of threads where people spoke about AAP, and the party ensured that these threads were kept updated. The supporters of the party were very active on Twitter, making sure to provide answers if anyone had any questions or needed clarification.

Interestingly, when the party wanted people to stop donating money for the elections, they announced it on Twitter.

According to an article in Business Standard, “… the campaign raised approximately Rs. 20 crore [Ed: ~$4.6M] through marketing, and most of that money was raised through online marketing. Mind you, it wasn’t email marketing in the form of a daily blast to millions of faceless Indians, it was digital marketing, tested and clearly targeted.”
That’s a lot of money!

Engagement and amplification

While politicians believe that in-person support lends credibility to their campaigns, the same holds true for social media campaigns. It’s about more than having a lot of followers. It’s about getting them to amplify the campaign’s message as well.

On Election Day, I saw my Facebook timeline swell with pictures of people in my network with ink on their finger (the sign of participating in the elections). A few of them updated their status to inspire people to go out and vote. This surely showed the sense of pride that each felt after voting. 

The AAP is clearly the first political beneficiary of the social media revolution in India. Today (as of December 10thwe have a hung assembly (in a two-party parliamentary system of government, a hung parliament occurs when neither major political party – or bloc of allied parties – has an absolute majority of seats in the parliament, i.e. legislature).

There is no clear winner, but AAP has managed to emerge as a strong and respected opposition party to the BJP.

Building such credibility among Indians in such a short span of time and beating Congress is praise worthy.

Interestingly, Rahul Gandhi (VP of the Congress party) has zero social media presence. He is neither on Twitter nor Facebook. In this plugged-in era of engaging in social conversations, sharing opinions and stories online, and building connections virtually, a politician’s strong showing in social media does tend to have a positive impact on votes. This is exactly what the election results showed, with the AAP blowing the Congress party out of the political race!

More and more young Indians are getting on the social media bandwagon, and this will increase with time. According to a recent report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International, the number of Internet users in India has reached 205 million in October this year. And by June 2014, India will have 243 million internet users, at which point of time, it is expected to overtake the U.S. as the second-largest Internet base in the world.

These data indicate that even for “the rest of us,” social media, online sites, and live streaming are now a new way of life. While it may have a long way to go, Indian politics has come a long way, and social media is a large part of that. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

What do you think? Have you seen social media impact government and politics where you live? If you voted in the Indian election, did social media play a part in getting your vote out? Do share, I’d love to know!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

With fall of Media and Advertising, will India see a rise in Digital PR?

61! Yes, the rupee is 61 against the dollar (as of September 20, 2013). It looks like the dollar is
on an escalator and the rupee is on a ventilator!

The falling rupee has indeed hit the citizens of the country professionally and it seems to have caught up with the Indian media in the past few months. Apart from the usual layoffs, cost reduction and restructuring, we have observed newspapers and magazines getting thinner, TV channels cutting back on programming and several publications and channels are on the block. Due to tight marketing spend, even advertisers are shortening their commercials while maintaining or increasing the number of times they are aired to ensure maximum spread for their ad spends.

That said, few examples below will help understand the changes that the Indian media industry has been going through in the past few months:
  • In May, NDTV Profit cut back on all non-market-hour programming which meant the channel only needed a handful of anchors and reporters.
  • In August, the TV 18 group laid off around 500 employees including many people responsible for its features programming.
  • In July, Outlook Publishing (India) Pvt. Ltd discontinued the publication of three foreign titles, Marie Claire, Geo, and People—around 130 people were laid off—and also converted its personal finance magazine from a fortnightly into a monthly.
  • Business Standard sold its motoring magazine to Delhi Press.
  • Bloomberg India TV laid off 30-40 people.
  • HT Business  and HT Shine (Supplements of The Hindustan Times) discontinued and became a part of the main paper – The Hindustan Times
  • Bengal Post paper in Kolkata discontinued and all employees were laid off
  • Business World was sold to exchange4media
  • CRN, UBM Channel Unit was sold to Management
  • In September, Mint announced that they will be reducing the number of pages, from 28 to 24, four days a week, Tuesdays through Fridays. The Monday and Saturday papers will remain unaffected.

It is rightly said that PR and journalism are interdependent. With the economic slowdown, we are observing slight difficulty in traditional PR activities along with the rate at which newspapers/magazines are shutting down, number of pages getting reduced and broadcast channels cutting back on the hours of programs/news.

With the ever increasing competitive eco-system and never ending client demands, traditional PR is surely set to face challenge in India.

However, I believe that the PR agencies should take this as an opportunity than a challenge. With such alterations in the media industry, the PR agencies get a window to get more creative and embrace newer avenues. It gives an opportunity for both the clients and traditional PR agencies to explore social media platforms more aggressively than before. India now has nearly 74 million Internet users, according to ComScore report and it’s time for the next big leap in the way PR agencies work in India.

Getting Digitally Evolved

The current alterations in the media industry can surely mean a faster move into the digital domain in the Indian marketplace. Sooner than expected, many media houses have started looking at digital as their next step. Kasturi and Sons Ltd, publisher of The Hindu, has, in the last six months, launched iPad and mobile apps for its general and financial newspapers.

In the past one decade, there has been a steep fall in the number of those who prefer thumbing through the newspaper with the sip of morning tea. Now, checking news feeds on smart phones, scrolling through one’s tweeter handle, checking updates on blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other online networks have become part of the urban lifestyle.

Interesting statistics from Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) states that:
  • The size of the digital advertising market in the current fiscal year is estimated at Rs.2,260 crore and is expected to touch Rs.2,938 crore by the end of the next year
  • Ad spending on social media has shot up from Rs.94 crore in FY2012 to Rs.300 crore in FY2013
Also, estimates by media buyers states that video advertising on the Internet has been growing at a rapid 40% over the past one year and is expected to speed up further to 60% in the next few months.
Considering all these statistics, we surely are seeing a faster shift to the digital platforms and are expecting digital PR to catch up the trend sooner than expected.

PR evolution in India

Persuading and pitching to journalists via phone calls, e-mails, and SMSes for publishing stories in newspapers are not the only way of building brands anymore. Holding events both online and offline is now part of media management. Debate/Discussions on Hangouts and live chat on Facebook or Twitter have become a new promotional trend.
But what will be interesting to see in the coming months is how many brands are really willing to jump on the digital bandwagon and dedicate proper marketing budgets to it. Today, getting the news release online is of not much value to the clients compared to a good spread of print coverage. However, with the changing media landscape, it will be fascinating to see if the clients start to value the online promotional mediums as much as they value the print medium. What are your thoughts on it?

This post was first published at

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Elevator Pitch or Twitter Pitch?

PR professionals are usually seen as the facilitators of news and stories. With changing technology and the
advent of social media, the way we  communicate with the media has also changed to some extent.

Image: Rhinowrites via Google, CC 3.0

While I believe most journalists these days are using Twitter, the PR industry, at least in India, is still catching up to that platform. From what I have observed since I started working in this industry, practitioners and agency heads still place more emphasis on traditional methods of communicating and facilitating news and story ideas to the media.

There are some common myths about PR professionals, regardless of where they’re based, that include:
  • We love calling journalists after disseminating a press release.
  • We love following up with them after pitching an interview/story idea.
  • We love doing things the journalist may hate us for, such as call, text, follow-up, and chase them constantly.
How about we stop doing all this, and maybe engage with them differently, keeping both the media and PR professionals happy?

An intense debate

Recently at my workplace (I work at a PR agency in India), I gave a presentation on the importance of social media for our work. This statement led to an intense debate.

I said, “Often PR professionals are heard talking about the ‘elevator pitch’ – a short summary of the story we are trying to sell the media that we can describe in a span of a few seconds.

“Now that we have social media, how about replacing that with a Twitter pitch?”

With the increasing use of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, communications professionals like us can also explore pitching stories to the media on Twitter in 140 characters, right?

No longer a matter of choice

However, PR agencies in India are still not ready to manage an increasing shift towards online influencers aka digital journalists. Most agencies in the country tend to focus heavily on media relations and do not understand how to engage with an online community. And while sharing offline pitches/briefs with the media has been the approach by the PR agencies in India, I believe hybrid briefs will soon start making their way in.

During the presentation, my co-workers pointed out that most of them are still not comfortable with the idea of pitching media on social networks. They are afraid of being exposed online, much more so than offline.

One of said, “A bad pitch can make the journalist slam the phone down on us! However, the equivalent of the same on a social media platform can be much more embarrassing for a PR practitioner.”
We all have seen the good, bad, and the ugly sides of social media. Some of us have seen journalists exposing PR agencies and professionals who have not dealt with them well or have irritated them so much that, ultimately, they have badmouthed them on Twitter, Facebook or other such social platforms.

Therefore, what we say and how we communicate a message to the media is very important – be it online or offline.

Going digital is no longer a matter of choice for PR professionals. Just a few years ago, we did not have all these platforms to communicate on; the only way we could keep in touch was through telephones or personal meetings. However, now that we have various platforms to communicate online, why shouldn’t we capitalize on them?

On the media side of things

A while back, I was scanning a few newspapers at work, and saw that in one such outlet, the journalist’s byline was followed by his/her Twitter handle. It’s not too far of a stretch to assume that for the employees/journalists working at that publication, being active on Twitter might be compulsory.

In my opinion, journalists in India are open to a change in way the PR community reaches out to them. However, the PR industry in India is still undergoing its own digital shift, and will take its own sweet time to accept this change completely.

In my opinion, forward-thinking Indian PR leaders will encourage their peers and protégés to engage with the media as much online as offline. And who knows, after laying the foundation for a firm relationship, we might be able to make those Twitter pitches to them more easily.

What do you think about pitching to journalists via social media? Yay or nay… and why? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Monday, May 6, 2013

How social media is aiding mobility and not the other way around

A lot has been written about social media, mobility and their relationship to one another. In this piece I want to make the argument that social media's power is that it enables mobilization.

In his famous paper, "The Strength of Weak Ties," Stanford sociologist Mark Granovetter discusses how weak ties (contacts of your closer friends) may be more useful to a job search than your closer circle of friends. This paper is commonly cited in articles about social media, and is often referred to as "weak tie theory." Another famous researcher, Oxford evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar, proposed that 150 social connections is the maximum number of people that we can maintain stable relationships with. This is often referred to as "Dunbar's Number," (and is the premise of upstart social network Path).

The reason I mention Granovetter and Dunbar is that their combined work gives a glimpse into the increased mobility and reach that social media provides its users. Consider that the average number of friends on Facebook is about 245. If we use Dunbar's number and say that 150 of those people are "close ties," and each of those people  have 150 Friends who are now "weak ties" to you - your extended network would be greater than 20,000 people (although with duplication it's probably more in the range of 10,000) plus another 100 weak tie connections that you personally maintain.  If you are active on Google Plus or LinkedIn, the extent of your effective network increases further. This network of people may have theoretically been in place before, but it was effectively unreachable. Social media has enabled our "weak tie" networks on a historically unprecedented scale.

But that's not all. For each of us (at least so far as Facebook goes), our network is typically divided into four clusters of no more than 100 people each. So, our weak tie networks could easily extend our effective reach into two or three social communities that we're not acquainted with. And up until about age fifty, our Facebook networks consist primarily of people of similar age.

For a typical user, social media has enabled a "weak-tie" network of at least 10,000 people of similar age but varying social circles. But how many connections would we otherwise have? The New York Times just wrote a piece estimating that each person knows about 600 people. Assuming that number is correct for pre-social media times (it probably isn't), that means that social media has given us access to thousands more people than we would have had before.

Consider Granovetter's example of a job search. When he wrote his "weak-tie" paper, each person may have known 600 people. But if I was looking for a job, I probably couldn't mobilize all 600 people that I knew and rely on them to mobilize another 600. Now, I can go into LinkedIn, find a job that I want and see exactly who I know that can introduce me to the hiring manager. Or I can search for a hiring manager using Facebook's Graph Search and see who in my network may know them. Thanks to social media, I can effectively utilize a network of ten-thousand with a few clicks.

The benefit of social media isn't realized by an increase in mobility. The benefit of social media is the accessibility to that pre-existing network of weak-tie connections.

What do you think? Am I understating the power of personal networks prior to social media? Overstating them now? Does mobility enable social media, or do you agree with me that social media perpetuates mobility?

About the author: 
Jim Dougherty is a writer at 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Post Publish Optimization SEO Case Study - Tweet After Death

Blog posts are tricky. Sometimes, writing a well-optimized post will land you views for many years down the
road. But occasionally, even a very well thought out blog post can be knocked down the rankings long term.

In June of last year, I wrote a post on how to schedule tweets after death. I was really happy with it. The picture was custom-designed by the honorable Steven Rosenbaum of SR-Graphics. The topic was fresh. 

The post was well-written. Livefyre’s interns shared it in their own feed. Death with Dignity had me as a guest for their live Twitter chat. And best of all, I got to share thoughts with interesting people about an interesting topic: what social media can do to help us communicate and what that means for our mortality and experience.

Out of curiosity, I Googled “tweet after death” last week to see where it came up. Articles from CBC, CNN, ANC, CBS, RT and a wealth of other media with strong sites essentially wrote the same story and knocked my article to page 2. (To be fair, one of them had quoted me).

I was grumpy about it. Here I had this innovative idea months before any major media and I was getting shoved to page two. I wanted to climb back onto the first page and stay there.

So I started sending out tweets with the post. I circulated it again in Google+, Facebook and chat boxes. I sent it on to colleagues, hoping that a little traffic would help push the thing up. And it did.

Exactly two ranks. Yay!

I realized that what I was doing was the last element of SEO for blog posts. While most people optimize their post before publishing, very few people optimize down the road and see if they still have their spot in the search rankings. Everyone PRE Publish Optimizes, but nobody POST Publish Optimizes (PoPO).

Here was an opportunity, and not just for regular monthly SEO campaigns, but for true strong outreach for a new concept. PoPO is a chance for SEO firms to rerun old blog posts in a chance to boost them in the rankings and retake ground in strategic fashion so as to own concepts in the mind of the blogosphere.

And when a post becomes too old to be relevant, the internet will have seen an era when old posts become less relevant and algorithms knock them down a peg or two. Then, PoPO will become even more essential, as the only way to control key SEO ground will be to swim through a sea of content and prove the relevance of your own over others.

From here, the water remains murky. How do traffic bumps and links to previous posts affect the long-term search rankings? This is the first mystery of PoPO. Without any data, it’s hard to know how you can help or hurt your blog and by how much with each action.

And, even more importantly, the Google algorithm is subject to updates that rearrange search rankings. To that end, PoPO’s future is uncertain. On the other hand, what is fairly certain is that reminding people of past posts as a way to keep traffic stored up may be an effective way to boost visibility.

What I like best about the concept is what I like best about most effective, worthwhile business tactics: finding resources others aren't using and capitalizing on them. PoPO is a chance for you to get amazing results while leaving your competitors in the dust. 

About the author: 
Daniel J. Cohen is the Founder and Lead Writer at RedShift Writers, a Houston-based content writing firm. RedShift Writers prides itself on creating content that is friendly for both search engines and customers. They offer a wide variety of message strategies and content writing services and specialize in web writing for product launches and energy companies.

To find out more about PoPO and how you can get the sharpest PoPO tacticians working on your SEO strategy, email RedShift Writers today.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How Indian Politicians are Using Google+ Hangouts

“Would you like to hang out with me this evening?”   

Indeed, all of you may have been asked this question by your friends and family. But Google has completely changed the way we “hang out” with our near and dear ones.

With the advent of Google+ (G+) multi-party video chats or Hangouts, not only can we now hang out with our friends and family, but, if we like, with the Prime Minister, Finance Minister, or the President of the country.

Image: SatishAcharya via Google, CC 3.0

Interesting, isn’t it?

It seems governments and their agencies and organizations have understood how powerful social media can be (Facebook, Twitter, G+) for engaging with citizens, seeking feedback, creating awareness on different initiatives, and creating a participatory model of governance.

Some of the world figures who have used G+ Hangouts include U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and South African President Jacob Zuma.
And Indian politicians aren’t being left behind.

Hanging out with India’s Finance Minister

Making full use of the power of social media and understanding the importance of getting real time feedback from the citizens of the country, Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram decided to “Hangout” with the “netizens.”

Every year, when the country’s budget is announced, everyone is glued to the television to follow the FM’s speech. PR professionals like us are usually busy chasing our clients to get quotes to send to the media, and as a result, follow most of the announcements either through Twitter or via the news online.  It is indeed a crazy day for media and communications professionals.

Yet after all the announcements have been made, we all still have questions, and there is no one around to address them. I’m sure there were people who wished they could speak to the FM themselves and get their answers.

And then it happened.

Following the budget announcement, P. Chidambaram responded to citizens’ questions about the budget, and discussed the state of the Indian economy with a panel of thought leaders as well as citizens through G+ Hangout.

Check out the video below to see how the FM addressed the various questions he received via G+ hangout:

Before the Hangout, citizens could submit their questions to Chidambaram either by uploading a video, commenting on the YouTube channel, or through the Google India Page by tagging text or a video with the hashtag #askthefm.

G+ and the Indian Government

According to an article in the Financial Express, there were over 38,200 online views on YouTube for the 62-minute Hangout. The event was covered live by most major English and Hindi news channels, taking the combined reach to over 5 million in real time.

But that’s not all.

Last year, Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, was the first Indian public figure to use Hangout to reach out to his audience (August 2012). According to his website, Modi’s one-hour Hangout attracted over four million viewers, including online and television, as it was beamed on many channels, and over 20,000 questions were asked.

Other interesting facts from Modi’s G+ hangout were:

  • About 1,66,000 clicks were generated on Narendra Modi’s website on the day of the Hangout
  • Over 70,000 tweets poured in from all over while the Hangout was in progress
  • #ModiHangout remained the top trending topic on Twitter and all cities Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad
  • It was witnessed by people from 116 countries all across the world!
In my opinion, the government of India has been much faster in adopting Google+ Hangouts than many corporations and MNCs, and are doing a pretty good job of reaching out to their audience and engaging with them. Perhaps this is one area in which India’s corporate citizens could take lessons from the government, instead of the other way around.

Considering the power and reach of Google Hangouts, do you think they will become the next best alternative for PR professionals? Would you get your client and the media to hangout on G+ and interact with each other? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Starbucks – It’s Time to Brew Some Tweets

Caffeine. There is no way I can start my day without a cup of coffee. (I’m sure most of you reading this  post have an addiction to either coffee or tea.)

For all the coffee lovers in Delhi, Starbucks comes toIndia! I’m glad that at last I’ll get to drink the “Starbucks” coffee. The sinful coffee that I’ve heard so about from my friends and family, but haven’t had a chance to taste.

Considering how active we all are on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter,  when Starbucks opens its Delhi location, I’m sure I’ll be among the first customers to visit them, and of course check-in at Foursquare/Facebook and tweet about it too!

Will it be unrequited?

While I know I will definitely tweet about my experience at Starbucks, should I be expecting any response from them? Ideally, as a customer, I would love to engage with the brand through social media. However, recent stats show big brands do not bother to engage with their customers on social media.

According to an experiment conducted by Customer ServiceInvestigator (CSI), well-known brands like Starbucks, Visa, Walmart, and Apple do not bother to respond to their customers on Twitter.

The experiment was conducted by sending 280 tweets over a span of 26 days to 14 of the biggest brands in the world. The brands were measured against two parameters:

  •        The average time it took for brands to respond to the tweets; and
  •        The response rate based on the total number of replies relative to total tweets sent.

It’s ironic that as more and more people are turning to Twitter to engage with each other, the value of engaging people digitally has still not been realized by some of the most popular brands across the world.

To quote some insights from a report by Ethinos DigitalMarketing 2012:
  • There are 65 million, 33 million, and 17 million Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn users in India  respective;
  • India has more Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn users than the UK;
  •  60% of Indians who are social media users are open to being approached by brands; and
  •  67% of Indians who are on the web use online reviews to help them make purchases.

Keeping the above statistics in mind, there is a need for brands to tap into online resources and engage consumers more through social media platforms such as Twitter. While there is a need to engage consumers through online platforms, it is equally important for brands to respond to the customers as well in real-time. As you can tell from the CSI experiment, the speed with which one responds is a major factor in the perception people have of the brand.

Global reach means global tweets

Considering that Starbucks is expanding its outlets across the globe and has now ventured into India, it will be interesting to see how well the company manages to engage with Indian consumers online.  It is also fascinating to see that the Starbucks India Facebook page already has more than 14,000 (and counting) likes, and their India-specific Twitter page has more than 800 (and counting) followers.

I’m sure Starbucks will create a huge stir when it enters Delhi  just as it did when it entered the Mumbai market. However, unlike the US, UK, and Australia, where Starbucks is synonymous with the word “coffee,” India is a completely different ball game.

You see, most of the Indian urban population is already used to the coffee culture at places like Café Coffee Day, Café Turtle, CostaCoffee, Barista and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to name just a few! And that’s not even mentioning the non-urban population that has imbibed traditional Indian coffee the old-fashioned way, such as Kerala coffee, or Mysore coffee, for generations.

I believe that after a period of excitement, there will be a lull, and Starbucks might become just another coffee shop in the country. Given the demographics of the Indian market, it won’t hurt if Starbucks tries to engage a bit more with Indian coffee lovers.

In fact, Starbucks should do what it does best; brew not only coffee, but a few tweets as well.

Do you think the key to success for any brand is to constantly engage with the customers through all possible platforms? Or do you feel a popular brand like Starbucks can do away with social media platforms like Twitter?  Is there a need for Starbucks to brew some Tweets? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Facebook: Improving Employee Communications?

Whether you want to go for coffee, meet a friend or keep yourself posted on your friends’ birthdays, Facebook is where today’s generation updates each other by sharing the minutest details of their lives on the platform.

Today, though, Facebook isn’t so much about friends, family or clients who are trying to connect with today’s generation.

Today, even employers are making a move to connect with their younger workers through the platform.

Case in point: me

I was surprised to get a Facebook request from my company (Six Degrees PR) to join its Page named “Six Degrees PR bunker.”  I never thought that any company would step up to connect and engage with its employees through a private Facebook Page – this was quite a surprise to me.

What fascinated me the most about the Page was that barring the Managers and the Directors, all the Account Coordinators, Executives and Senior Account Executives were invited to join the Page.

I believe that the idea behind creating this Page was to get the employees under one platform to engage with them and understand their needs and concerns. While the Managers and Directors can’t access the page, it is accessible by the Owner and Co-Founder of the company, so that they can listen, engage and act.

Listen, engage and act is the mantra for successful campaigns, successful leaders and successful organizations!

An organization’s strength lies in its people. And if an organization listens to its people, it will always be successful!

This initiative by my company has helped break down barriers between team members in different cities. Everyone seemed to be engaging with each other through the Six Degrees PR bunker page.

Here’s a sneak peek into the Bunker family:

And not only does it help different teams engage with each other, but it also provides a platform to connect and engage with top management directly.

A bridge too far?

However, while I felt the initiative was great, I also noticed that employees were reluctant to share all their concerns on the Facebook Page, since top management had access to all the content.

Of course, this is why organizations often use platforms such as Yammer for employee engagement, creating internal or private social networks, as it were.

I just find it ironic that what is currently the world’s largest social network can successfully connect strangers across the globe… but not employees of the same organization.

What do you think: will Facebook ever successfully bridge the gap between employers and employees? Please share your thoughts, I’d love to know.