I re-read and contributed to Fredrik Wackå's Blog on corporate blogging earlier this week. It has got me thinking:
What are the potential benefits of employee blogs to internal communications? How can encouraging employees to blog add to business success?
In our consulting on Change and Internal Comms, we often struggle as management consultants to convince corporate colleagues of the potential business value of what we do. (Ask me sometime though; I am quite good at it!) Blogs for any/all employees seems an even greater stretch. How can you really quantify the potential business value of allowing all employees to have and run a blog on corporate time? You can certainly imagine the litany of reasons a chief executive could put forward for not doing it. Employees have reason to worry too.
I think I have an answer. Or three.
There are some ways in which employees' blogging can contribute to business success in a more quantifiable way. If one of these conditions looks like an opportunity for your organisation then you should think about blogging. If you have three then 'get on it, man.'
There are many parts of your business with their own story to tell and a broad audience (colleagues, customers, partners, etc.) who will be interested in following developments. Blogging might indirectly cover things like changes to policies, procedures, ways of working, customer reactions, new developments in the marketplace, etc. A local (i.e. divisional, functional, geographic) update might save time and reduce business complexity by going directly to all those interested, through a blog.
You are involved in a business that is spread across different locations, cities or countries. Teams of people need to work together, but do not have many opportunities to physically meet. These blogs would allow people to create links through and around their work, without having to focus purely on tasks. Lots of our clients have people working for them who rarely make it into the corporate centre. Linking those people up through blogs like high-tech penpals, allows people to mentor and answer simple questions in a more efficient way.
An active blog can tell people important information quickly. Think of the number of news reports that are citing information published on blogs. Similarly employee blogs provide insight into what people in the business are thinking. Local issues for larger businesses, functional concerns for a more silo'ed organisation. An active employee blog can be like listening in on the proverbial 'water cooler' conversations. Out of these blogs you can find out what is going right and wrong, long before that information makes its way out of the organisation or back up the business.
Undoubtedly there are overlaps in these three areas. Perhaps the single most important is about business 'stories'. You will know that many successful organisations define themselves by the stories that they tell. Blogs are an excellent way of mining those stories and seeding them back into the business.
I suspect we have only scratched the surface of this one. What do you think?