The problem of the internal story

Yesterday Edelman organized a breakfast event together with The Centre for which they had Steve Rubel as guest speaker as well as Patrick Bosteels and Ramon Suarez as specialists at the table for further discussion. Steve’s presentation was interesting (as usual), there’s a good write up about it on Steve’s Posterous.

What struck me most however during the discussion afterwards is how all businesses are struggling with social media, in particular how they were struggling to make it work on an organizational level. A recurring problem that I’ve also noticed plenty of times with some of our own clients. What happens today is that many in the communications department have discovered social media and wish to make use of it. Be it thanks to agency advice, because of their own interest, due to pressure from above, … whatever the reason you see there’s an ask for building solid presence on social media.

In many cases this presence will include telling real stories from real people inside the company, no better way to show authenticity right? And that’s where lies the problem in my opinion. The communication department sees the opportunity of becoming more social, realizes that it cannot do it by themselves for 2 reasons:

  1. It involves the whole company, or at least most departments in the company. Make social media 1% of 100 people’s job instead of 100% of 1 man’s job – dixit Steve.
  2. The real stories are not with the communication department, they are with the people building the products, selling the services, meeting the clients, …

And although they are interlinked, I believe that most of what we’re trying to do today is trying to fix the first problem. I do believe the challenge with the second problem is bigger though, it’s more difficult to tackle.

Steve talked about the necessity to look at what motivates people in the organization to get them involved. Is it money, internal recognition, reviews, … Which button to push to get people to participate. I think that’s very true, but wonder if it can help with that second challenge. I’ve experienced with some small to very large enterprises that and the gap between the comms department who recognized the opportunity and realizes there’s plenty of content within company to be used to actually surfacing that content in a way that is sustainable is too big to overcome.

So how do you overcome that gap? How do you surface the internal stories that matter to your company? What’s your take?

What the blog?!

Love/Hate. That’s the relationship I have with my blog these days. I still ‘write’ plenty of blogposts in my head, just don’t get to writing them down for real when I have the time to do it. And that annoys me a little to be honest. Although the blog is not the only part of my online presence anymore since there are also Posterous, Flickr, Twitter and numerous other initiatives it still is sort of central to all initiatives and I’m not ready to turn it off yet.

I still believe strongly in having a central landing page, for people and for brands, around which all the other initiatives gravitate so to say. I don’t agree with Steve Rubel’s view on the concept of the siteless web for that matter. It’s clear that sole focus on your own website is a bit short-sighted today, so extending one’s web presence in social for instance is crucial. What I don’t want to do is put the center of my presence on a service that gives me only limited control, that I don’t own 100%.  But hey that’s me.

So enough stuff to share, I’ll be making time again to write them down. Cheers.