How can employees most effectively use internal social media tools?

The best organizations know that internal use of social media can provide more efficient communications across multiple departments, offices, and geographies.

The best organizations know that internal use of social media can provide more efficient communications across multiple departments, offices, and geographies. It can also enable training and development programs to be delivered virtually, and provide a platform for shining the spotlight on best practices and sharing lessons learned. And, it can help you stand out from the crowd.

Best Buy is a great example. The retail chain recently harnessed the computer skills of its Millennial workers, who volunteered to work together and create a new employee intranet. In a 12-week span, six volunteers created Best Buy Employee News, a Web 2.0-packed site that connects managers and employees and focuses everyone on the business. It stands out as a mutually beneficial project: The employees who created the site are now superstars in management's eyes, and Best Buy saved a bundle on vendor fees and had its intranet created by the very employees who will be using it.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is another example. It's making its students the focal point of recruiting efforts. MIT decided to pay undergraduates $10 an hour to post blogs about their campus experiences, and share news and observations that would be of interest to prospective students. The student blogs are posted on the school's Web site and comments from prospects are allowed to be published in an unfiltered environment.

Employees can leverage digital tools to shine in a business-to-business workplace as well. Wilbur-Ellis, a leading international marketer and distributor of agricultural products, animal feed, and specialty chemicals and ingredients, has created an employee intranet called WEconnect.  Its goals are to share business practices, as well as to strengthen bonds among employees while communicating progress and success.

Social media is also a great avenue for finding work. At Peppercom, we hired one University of Vermont graduate as a direct result of his back-and-forth conversation with me on www.repmanblog.com. More recently, a college student began interacting with another firm blog entitled www.PRiscope.com. Her posts were so well done that she established a rapport with key decisionmakers. She now works as a full-time intern.

Social media is a rock star in the communications universe. Using it wisely within the confines of your organization can make you a star as well.

Steven Cody is managing partner of Peppercom.

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