Social Media as Chaos

I have a social media habit. But it’s not the kind of habit you might think. It doesn’t encompass my every waking hour. I engage once in the morning and then pretty much leave it alone after that. Here’s what I generally do every day.

First, I start with Facebook. I scroll through to find anything interesting, especially posts from my three kids. Then I check out LinkedIn. Who’s invited me to connect? Who’s endorsed me? Who’s looked at my profile? I check out an article or a random post.

social-media-as-chaosI don’t muck much with Twitter except to search on #stcorg and #stc13 . After looking at these two searches, I usually just close it. I might check out Instagram, but usually only because one of my children has posted there. Next, I check out the ST C Board of Directors site to read any new posts. And I check my iPhone to see if there is any pushed content I find interesting.

One morning, though, things were particularly active. I kept getting new posts all over the place. Bing here, ping there, bop over there. (Ok, not audibly; metaphorically, but you get the idea.) I could barely keep up. For some reason that I didn’t totally fathom, I wanted to check them all out. It quickly became took much, moving back and forth, forth and back, that it all became, well … chaotic!

When that thought hit me, it just brought everything to a halt. Is social media just chaos, and we’ve all been sucked in to the flurry? While my computer and smart phone kept pinging and popping, I began to wonder. What if social media is a manifestation of the chaos theory? Well, that just might explain a lot.

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A Communication Audit Helps You Communicate Better

Whether you are growing, changing, or introducing new business technologies, a communication audit is helpful, if not essential

A Communication Audit. This is a comprehensive, systematic evaluation and analysis of your company’s communication. A communication audit unveils what is guava-tree-fieldtruly happening as opposed to what is thought to be happening. It:

  • Encompasses the activities conducted in a communication assessment and its resultant findings (although here it is more robust).
  • Identifies the people who create the messages and information being communicated.
  • Evaluates the clarity and value of the communication.
  • Critically looks at the various methods of communication (such as Web sites, newsletters, emails, blogs, videos, and other publications, as well as interpersonal skills and managerial communication), pinpointing problem areas and identifying successes.

A communication audit must be thoughtfully planned and implemented, and the results carefully assessed to achieve the greatest impact.

The Scope of a Communication Audit. You can focus on a number of communication areas to evaluate and analyze. This focus can be the broad-based communication for the entire company or for an individual division or group. It can be a specific communication method (such as interpersonal communication or your internal Web site) or for a specific vehicle (such as your corporate publications).

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Evaluate and Analyze Your Communication with a Comprehensive Assessment

Conduct a Communication Assessment to determine the quality of your communication before spending the time and money required for a more comprehensive Communication Audit.

Since the most successful companies communicate well, understanding how your communication is working and how it might work better is critical to achieving this success. Flawed communication leads to misunderstandings, misinterpretations, mistakes, low morale, higher turnover, decreased sales, and lower market valuation; whereas effective castle-stream-rightcommunication leads to lower turnover, greater contributions, increased total shareholder value, and stronger market valuation of your company.

Communication is a complex process with many potential pitfalls that can be identified and corrected.

There are two methods to determine the quality of your communication; a:

  • Communication Assessment (a short, pointed process)
  • Communication Audit (a comprehensive, far-reaching process that encompasses the activities of a communication assessment)

Both strategically evaluate and analyze your company’s communication; both form the basis for a Communication Plan. A communication assessment is a fixed-cost alternative that quickly gives you a bead on your communication efforts, which helps you determine if you need to spend the time and money necessary to conduct a more comprehensive communication audit.

A Communication Assessment. This closed-end, short-term process focuses on the quality of your communication: how employees at all levels feel about your internal communication, its content, and the distribution vehicles.

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Communication by the Numbers

A numerical perspective on the benefits of effective communication

Employees feel disconnected in companies with poor communication. Why effective communication is needed in a workplace without it:

humphreys-signs40%: Employees who feel disconnected at work.

67%: Workers who do not identify with or are motivated to help the company attain its business goals and objectives.

25%: Employees who show up just to collect a paycheck. (1)

49%: Employees who feel their company is open and honest in its communication.

55%: Employees who feel that senior leadership only talks at them, but doesn’t listen to them.

51%: Employees without a channel to communicate up the corporate organizational chart. (2)

Benefits to companies that communicate better. Company that communicate effectively enjoy these statistical benefits over firms with poor communication:

30: Percent increase in market valuation. (3)

57: Percent higher in total return to share-holders than companies that communicated least effectively.

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Many Reasons for Needing a Communication Plan

Growing, changing companies inevitably experience breakdowns in communication; a well-founded Communication Plan overcomes these impediments

Consider these questions to better determine how well you are communicating.

  • Are your employees at all levels talking to each other?
  • Do your strategic groups know what each other is doing?

wire-pass-stream-bed

  • Is there a breakdown in communication—the information only goes so far, but from that point on, everyone makes it up as they go?
  • Is there animosity over the perception that other groups simply don’t contribute enough to the company’s success?
  • Does your staff know exactly how to proceed, or are there conflicting ideas?
  • Are expectations clear?
  • Are departments duplicating efforts while other tasks are left undone?
  • Was your communication once flawless, but now that you are growing and changing quickly, these communication channels just don’t work anymore or are filled with static?

Communication fails as a company grows and changes. As a company grows—whether through sales or acquisition—communication becomes more of a challenge. What once seemed so intuitive, now seems like such a struggle. The breakdown of communication channels is common. This is not an isolated phenomenon, but rather a pervasive issue with growth and change.

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The Many Benefits of Effective Communication Plans

The resulting discussion leads to continuous improvement and innovation

Successful performance means bringing together the best resources for serving future needs with a company’s capabilities, investing in the these resources, then constantly measuring and managing the results. To best bring these resources together, you must communicate effectively. And for that, you need a plan.

A Communication Plan relates the a company’s brand, image, mission, values, and goals to all employees, informing them of what the company does and for whom; the benefits wire-pass-angled-rocksit offers and the problems it solves. It describes communication channels that facilitate the exchange of information and ideas among your board, executives, management, and staff. It is a strategic discussion about the very core of a company: how it operates, what it stands for, what it delivers. This discussion must be robust enough so that everyone related to the company speaks with one voice, one mind, one purpose: a focused, clear, articulate message.

Creating and implementing a Communication Plan. One way to create and implement a Communication Plan on your behalf is by applying four communication principals: Enlighten, Convince, Motivate, and Align. These four-steps provide the framework for creating and implementing company-wide communication where everyone actively participates.

When creating a Communication Plan, address the particular challenges to communicating effectively in your company. To better evaluate poor or nonexistent internal communication, look for ways to change how you talk about problems, to truly assess and analyze these problems in a new light, and to generate new and innovative solutions.

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A Communication Plan Establishes a Foundation for Success

A thoughtful, thorough plan draws a clear map toward a shared destination

A Communication Plan defines a process for communication among all employees at all levels. It is a strategic method of getting everyone involved in the company, its growth and evolution, and ultimately its continued success.

sedona-rocksA Communication Plan is based on strategic goals, aligned and focused, and results in increased revenue and profitability, more robust innovation, and marked organizational stability. It unites everyone—directors, executives, managers, and employees—in your company toward this strategic goal with a shared purpose.

Specifically, a Communication Plan identifies:

  • The types of communication that most benefit your organization.
  • The people involved in sending, receiving, and contributing to this communication.
  • The best channels—written, audio, video, electronic, verbal, interactive, and others—for creating and transmitting this communication, and an action plan for implementing these channels. These channels allow for clear communication up and down the corporate organization chart (from directors and executives, to managers and employees, and back) and among all divisions, groups, and colleagues.
  • A time table for how often information is communicated. Regular communication is one of the many keys to success.

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The Most Successful Companies Communicate Better

Communicating effectively creates a myriad of benefits, especially increased shareholder return and higher market valuation

Effective communication performs a core corporate role, vital to your company’s financial capacity as well as to your overall success.

boundary-treeThis success encompasses many measurable factors:

  • Increased market valuation.
  • Increased shareholder value.
  • Greater connection and commitment from employees.
  • A more robust and inclusive corporate culture.
  • Proactive involvement that drives corporate change and growth.

In essence, effective communication drives business results that lead to success.

Increased market valuation. Effective communication is one of the leading indicators for financial performance. Research shows that, over the first years of this century, companies with the most effective communication attained a 30 percent increase in market valuation. This is almost 20 percent higher than companies that do not communicate effectively.

This holds true for both publicly-traded as well as privately-held companies.

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Are You Drowning in Social Media?

After spending an inordinate amount of time meeting three deadlines last week, I decided to cruise a bit the next morning and spend some time surfing through the social media sites in which I participate.

I started with Twitter. In the first hour, I received 206 tweets, or one every 18 seconds. I also received almost 150 updates from my LinkedIn connections, about 120 posts by my Facebook “friends,” plus drowning-in-social-mediathe activity from connections on STC’s social network, MySTC. This is on top of 34 email messages. And this doesn’t even count the discussions posted on the several LinkedIn groups to which I belong.

I tried reading them all, but I was simply overwhelmed by the volume. I realized that I could spend the entire day reading, responding, and participating.

I talked to a colleague about this. I smiled at his response. “I spent about an hour the other day reading through my Twitter stream. Lots of interesting stuff, but nothing earth shattering. I could easily waste my entire day on this and not get anything done.” As in “not get anything important done.” Now that’s drowning in social media.

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Cloud Computing Intersects with Social Media

The promise of cloud computing, especially as it relates to social media, is considerable

While cloud computing is a metaphor for the Internet, its breadth and range are much more significant and ground-breaking. Cloud computing is a complex infrastructure of software, hardware, processing, and storage that is available as a service. Cloud computing offers immediate access to large numbers of view-of-molokaithe world’s most sophisticated supercomputers and their corresponding processing power, interconnected at various locations around the world, proffering speed in the tens of trillions computations per second.

All of this is available through a simple Internet connection using a standard browser. Services range from the sublime—financial analysis, medical information and diagnoses, and document creation and collaboration—to the whimsical—computer gaming. Cloud computing is comprised essentially of applications running remotely (in the clouds, so to speak) that typically reside on personal computers and local servers.

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