I owe Kevin Ruck a bit of an apology...
A few weeks back he commented on this blog about Social Media in which I said that communicators were mainly standing back and waiting for the hype to clear before diving in.
And I rather missed half the point he was making.
His view is, partly, that far too much of the debate about internal social media (ISM) is dominated by the tools and the technology but I chose to react to a different aspect of his post.
But my colleague Susie Hunt has been doing some trawling around in recent weeks looking for some practical case studies to share with a client and has noticed some interesting trends in how people talk about social media.
She trawled 50 recent articles from a variety of sources in the communications field and found some striking things.
Firstly there is big issue with definition.
For example, one US study found that 70% of comms people were really getting a lot out of ISM. Really?
Actualy when you dig a little deeper they were being asked about their intranets or broadcast email practices. It's just that the researcher managed to rename these tools as ISM. I'm not about to offer a definition just yet, but if I were, I doubt it would include one-way channels even if they did have the facility for the recipents to respond a bit.
When you're a teenager you're convinced everyone is having more fun than you are - perhaps these sorts of reports are the cause of quite a lot of digital envy. In short, there are a lot of people who use the terms digital and social interchangibly; I don't think that is very helpful.
Then Susie saw that of her sample over half were focused on the technical side of things - covering the IT infrastructure, tools and software. She was looking for easy, 'this is what you have to do to get started' articles and struggled to find any.
She classified 54% as sales pitches for a product, conference, consultancy or someone's next job. Quite a few, trumpet breathlessly the amazing benefits of ISM without actually saying how the magic happens - or where it happens.
Of course there are interesting examples out there - Sylvia Cambie alerted me to a study on Simply Communicate - but so many seem to be making the same unsupported claims about what actually happens, trying to upcycle the employee directory on the intranet or asking us to believe that rebranding the email from the CEO as a blog somehow makes them ISM mavens.
What seems to be happening - and I have scant evidence for this - is that organisations who are interested in the benefits of collaboration, rapid knowledge sharing and innovation AND have a techie mindset seem to be dabbling but the rest of us?
However, I think there is no need to despair if you don't know your HTML from your SEO but want your people to collaborate/innovate/be engaged. If you have leaders who are up for it we still have things like AI, World Cafe or just doing the old face to face stuff?
So Kevin, thanks for your comments - I owe you a beer and thank you for not getting the hump - at least you didn't resort to writing anonymous letters in green ink or sending me drunken emails at 1130 on a friday night!