Communications in large Corporates is undergoing massive change due to an ever increasing amount of ways to communicate in the online space.
2016 will be a big year. I predict we’ll see a surge in companies building in-house content production engines, more akin to media companies than traditional Corporates. We’ll also witness the continued growth of internal social networks - and with that a realisation of the importance of great community management.
Here are my 6 predictions for Corporate Communications in 2016...
In 2016 we’re going to see a continuation of a trend that is long overdue: the joining up of internal and external communications efforts. Many businesses have traditionally kept internal and external comms separate, or within the same organisation bucket, but to all intent and purpose pretty much left to their own devices. 2016 will see a radical shift in many Corporates to a more joined up approach, where both groups create a coherent plan. The benefits are clear: inside goes out, outside comes in. I witnessed a wonderful example of this at SABMiller where a story about a retired brewer by the name of Don Fausto that started out as an internal post on their internal social network ended up across all their external media channels, becoming one of their hit stories for the year.
Many Corporate Communication teams are realising that content is king and are setting up their own in-house content production engines (that straddle internal and external comms – see above). Where Corporate news has historically been somewhat dry, focused largely on financial performance, Corporates are realising to get any degree of cut through, they need to create content that counts. Content that resonates with people and has impact – more similar to how media outlets work rather than Corporates. Smart measurement will be used to ascertain what has worked and what hasn’t. Long gone are the days of throwing stuff at the wall, irrespective of what sticks or what doesn’t. In 2016 we’ll see a focus on Corporates understanding their audience and serving them accordingly.
In 2016 we’ll see a surge of companies who are willing to publish on third party channels (such as Medium or LinkedIn Pulse) rather than solely on channels owned by them (i.e. their website). Corporate Communication teams are often cautious about publishing on any platform that is not strictly part of their digital ‘real estate’. However, with the push to create content that counts which serves their audiences better (see point 2 above) corporates will share their content on a range of emerging new channels. Their owned platforms will serve as a home for their content, serving for reference and continuity, but the content will often be shared over a wider array of channels – to serve their audiences where they happen to be, rather than dragging eyeballs to their website.
The integration of enterprise social networks into how businesses operate will continue to gain traction into 2016 with Facebook at Work joining the ESN fold, as well as more companies adopting Microsoft’s latest Office iteration (with Yammer baked in already) called Office365. Leaders will increasingly realise social networks are a great way to demonstrate leadership, while many late adopters will realise social networking inside the business is actually fruitful and even dare I say it, fun! With the increase, there’ll be greater visibility at senior level of the network, greater chance that leadership will get involved (a good thing), and with that interest will come greater scrutiny of how the network is performing at board level (another good thing).
Digital literacy will finally get the boost it needs. Many employees at large organisations are in a state of denial when it comes to their own lack of digital savviness, preferring to tout the familiar line ‘I’ve no idea when it comes to computers’. We’ll see a tide of digital literacy programs that address this gap, offering people training and skills development to get their ‘digital passport’ in topics such as how to build your online profile, how to self-publish, and how to build thought leadership on the web. These programmes will often be spearheading by Corporate Communication teams.
In 2016 we’ll see an upwards spike in Corporates seeking to understand and implement best in class community management for internal social networks. With the rise in internal social networks (see point 4 above) the role of the community manager will become defined within companies, with the realisation that good community management underpins good social networks. Similarly Corporate Communication professionals will need to add community management to their arsernal of skills.