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Building a collaborative culture: seven internal social media tactics

by Randall Craig on October 9, 2015

Filed in: Blog, Engagement, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Social Media

Tagged as: , , ,

With so much focus on public social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc), many are now questioning how these same social media concepts might be used within the organization.

The fact is that most organizations function exceptionally well precisely because of the real-world social networks that have always existed.  The difference is the name: water cooler conversations, going for a coffee or lunch, meetings, and collaboration.

When technology made its appearance several decades ago, collaboration was improved (or not?) through email and “reply all” on one hand, and by archival intranets on the other.

Today, most organizations strive to improve collaboration, both in real-time and asynchronously.  This is powered equally by increased user fluency with external social networks, increased competitive and economic pressures, and alternative working arrangements (primarily work-from-home).  It is also powered by “network” corporate structures where contractors, partners, and others have long-term collaborative requirements: they may not be employees, but they are definitely insiders.

Unfortunately, in many organizations the desire to improve collaboration is left up to individuals.  As a result, one of four things happens:

  • Staff don’t collaborate efficiently (or at all).
  • Staff use the insecure public social networks to collaborate.
  • Staff set up their own “systems” for their group using public software-as-a-service offerings.
  • Secure internal social media capability is set up, driven collaboratively by IT, HR, and Communications.

Clearly this last option is the most desirable, but what does it really mean?  Here are seven practical internal social media tactics that can get you started:

  1. Internal Chat functionality.
  2. Discussion forums.
  3. The move from internal newsletters, to an internal blog approach.
  4. Collaborative document creation (Google Apps or Office 365).
  5. Ability to Like any particular content on the intranet.
  6. Ability to Comment on any particular intranet content.
  7. Display of most viewed, most liked, featured documents or pages on the intranet.

Yet even if the organization invests in the infrastructure, and even if the pent-up demand for collaboration is huge (it often isn’t), most internal social media efforts are doomed to failure. Success requires two key activities: active senior management engagement, and a formalized launch, training, and support plan.

This week’s action plan: To develop a collaborative culture you will need to start somewhere. This week, inventory your progress based on the ideas in this tipsheet, then select the most pressing obstacle for potential action.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)




Randall has been advising on Digital Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of eight books, including Digital Transformation for Associations, the Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business, and Social Media for Business. He speaks and advises on Digital Transformation, Digital Trust, and Social Media. More at

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