Social media is a versatile tool. Most businesses use it for promotion and brand-building, but at its heart social media is a peer to peer network, and can be used to strengthen your company from within. Communication between team members is critical to project success. Here are a few ways you can use social media to improve communication and increase team productivity.
Use social media for project communication. Discussing deadlines, extensions, next steps, and current challenges with groups of people is easily done in group chats or on private message boards. Many social media platforms allow the creation of private groups where your messages are only viewable to members of that group, allowing members to speak freely. The level of information security with these platforms may not be sufficient for some projects, but many small businesses are less limited by information security concerns than big tech companies.
Company Suggestion Box
One of the big benefits of social media platforms is that they all have mobile apps, meaning that users have constant access even when away from their computer screen. This is especially useful when it comes to capturing fleeting ideas that may be forgotten before someone can get back to their desk to write it down. Try setting up a Twitter feed or a message group as a sort of company suggestion box where employees can suggest ideas on anything ranging from lunch options to corporate strategy as they occur to them.
Traditional brainstorming sessions usually involve everyone gathering in one room and sitting around a whiteboard, where only one person gets to talk at a time and many voices are never heard. Brainstorming in a group chat window or as a part of a long message chain changes that format significantly. Everyone can have their say, and the privacy of an online discussion will encourage shyer employees to speak their minds along with the usual more extroverted contributors. This encourages participation from all team members and allows you to get the most out of your team.
Building Personal Relationships
You can choose to set a tone in your company’s social media world that allows employees to post things of a personal nature. If employees are allowed to talk about their families, hobbies, and other activities from outside work, then they can get to know each other as people. It has been demonstrated that coworkers that know each other on a personal level are happier, more productive at work, and more likely to keep their current job rather than moving on. They are also less likely to develop conflicts at work if they know each other better.
Some social media platforms are designed for coordinating social events and have built-in methods of doing so. For events planned well in advance, you can create invitations, manage guest lists, allow guests to discuss the event and make plans for transportation. Social media is also great for impromptu events, allowing a team to easily plan a last-minute lunch outing. Social media can also be used to coordinate formal corporate events like retreats and conferences, allowing participants to plan for the event ahead of time and engage in discussions while the event is in progress, sharing ideas and inspiring each other. It can also, of course, be used to publicize events to followers like Hampton Creek did with its first “What would it look like” event.
Keeping in Touch While on Business Travel
Keeping a team connected while some of its members are out of town is difficult if you are just using email and conference calls. Email is too slow, and conference calls are tough if employees are in different time zones. Message boards and group chats are ideal for keeping teammates connected when out of the office. Everyone can post problems, chime in with solutions, and provide updates from their travels, all at times that are convenient for them.
Social media platforms provide an ideal infrastructure to keep your team connected whether they are at their desk in the office or out of the country attending a conference, at both professional and personal levels. The online format encourages participation from more introverted team members who may be more comfortable typing than speaking up in an active meeting, meaning that more voices are heard and more ideas are shared. This improves communication and increases team productivity. Give social media a try with your team.