Facebook for Corporate Communications?

Paul Levy, President and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess, told a great story in his blog last week about how Facebook is seeing use in his organization as an internal communications tool.  I had an opportunity to see Paul speak last year and he’s a passionate advocate for the potential of social media tools.  While I’m not quite ready to endorse Facebook as a core management communications tool as he suggests, I do think there are some excellent lessons in his story.

  • As the top dog in a very big organization, he had a channel by which anyone in the organization could contact him directly.
  • He checks that channel, as does his management team.  They take it seriously and they respond.
  • People who work in the organization know that this channel exists.
  • More importantly, he’s developed a culture in which it’s okay for a third-shift maintenance guy to shoot the President a message.  Now THAT’s an open-door policy.

I see the fact that Facebook was the channel as secondary (although I admit that the PR value of the CEO having a Facebook page may have been a factor in making employees aware that this existed).  It could easily have been an internal communications tool used to accomplish the same thing.  I hope that they do have such a tool.  I don’t know that the same maintenance worker would have felt comfortable posting to Facebook if the stakes were higher (a patient safety issue, for instance).  Still, it’s fun to see how the Web is changing the world around us.

 

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This entry was posted in Best Practices, Industry Trends by Ben Dillon. Bookmark the permalink.
Ben Dillon

About Ben Dillon

Ben’s a big picture type of guy. He loves sharing new ideas in digital marketing, keeping a watchful eye on healthcare industry trends and seeing how it all intersects. A sought-after speaker, writer, blogger and current SHSMD board member, Ben’s an influential voice in healthcare marketing, helping organizations across the country embrace online strategies to engage health consumers. Combine his industry savvy with his background in software development and you can see why he’s also an important member of Geonetric’s software team, ensuring our content management system stays a step ahead of market needs. Ben holds a master’s degree in eBusiness and strategic management from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan. When he’s not traveling and evangelizing, Ben enjoys cooking with his family and playing the Big House with the University of Michigan Alumni marching band.

3 thoughts on “Facebook for Corporate Communications?

  1. I tend to agree with you, Ben, that Facebook might not be the most appropriate core management communications tool. But I’m curious about whether you think there are existing social media tools that make sense to use in a work context, whether they’re a core tool or something peripheral. At Geo, we do have an awfully strong open-door policy, so I think there’s more face-to-face connection and less need for such a tool, but what about at a larger organization? Would you recommend an in-house, proprietary tool, or something that’s already existing in the larger marketplace?

  2. I think internal tools are a great answer. Proprietary? Hosted? Outsourced? I’m not sure, from that side of things, that it matters that much so long as there is a toolset in place that employees are aware of and use that provides meaningful conversation.

    Looking at the way that intranets develop, collaboration begins to appear as they get more sophisticated. This takes the form of more formal collaboration, such as communities of interest (a patient safety community or infection control community, for example) or a less formal structure, Facebook style.

    The difference today is the privacy and security of conversation that doesn’t exist in Facebook today. It is worth considering that Facebook is evolving and appears to be making a push towards becoming a serious tool. In 6-12 months, it may be a perfectly appropriate tool for this. Today, however, I think it would be hard for a serious “whistle-blower” issue to be communicated in the way that this case presents.

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