7 Companies Utilizing Social Media to Improve Communication and Engagement

In the face of change at work, 55% of employees report wanting more digital and social engagement from employers, whereas only 42% request more face-to-face time. This shift is no surprise to the many companies trying to balance millennial mores with the traditional spin of senior staffers. Today, social media plays a large role in improving communication and engagement for companies, and its effects can be witnessed at big brands across the nation. Here are just seven of the companies that have successfully harnessed social media for improved communication and engagement.


A company with 90 global businesses, Bunzl wanted a new intranet that would instill in all of their disparate companies a single corporate culture and operational style. The different companies couldn’t be defined as a single brand because they lacked a culture and didn’t share information, so Bunzl introduced Jive to foster collaboration and a shared identity.


Jive was immediately adopted by the board and senior management, which helped with buy-in on lower levels of leadership. Bunzl intentionally blended the fun aspects of social media with work to encourage adoption, and have ensured the system is easy for users to navigate and utilize.


Only 21% of employees who have experienced change at work feel like their employers value their insights. In the face of a changing leadership as longtime CEO John Chambers stepped down, Cisco decided to utilize Jive to invite employee input on suggestions for the new CEO, Chuck Robbins.


Together with a ‘thank you’ thread to the former CEO, the thread asking for suggestions for Robbins received over 1,000 comments and 20,000 views. Jive crowdsourcing has also been utilized to realign company values for IBM and to brainstorm for cost-saving measures at BASF. At Cisco, the tool empowered employees to take a role in shaping their future.

Grant Thornton

In 2012 Grant Thornton decided to revolutionize their internal communication techniques by integrating social media. This required a huge overhaul of their social media policy and best practices, which had previously been deterrent and forbidding. CIO Greg Swift reported, “We wanted to change our brand – not just our logo, but the way our people interacted internally and with clients.” With the help of top leadership, Grant Thornton created an “enabling culture” with simplified guidelines and practical rules.


By creating the enabling culture I encouraged in my last blog, Grant Thornton was able to launch the new platform, Jam. Jam includes everything from the CEO’s weekly blog to 80 average daily pieces of employee user-generated content. Jam also boasts 3,500 self-enrolled participants at Grant Thornton and 2,009 average daily visits. In spite of their old concerns that team members would misuse social media causing embarrassment and legal woes, Jam saw immediate uptake in self-policing, which is believed to be due to senior leadership involvement. In a pulse survey, Grant Thornton found:

  • 59% of employees agree Jam helps them to feel more connected to one another.
  • 67% feel more connected to the business.
  • 70% agree that Jam allows them to express opinions and ideas.
  • 80% feel they are better able to communicate about their work with others.


During a major restructuring effort in 2007, Pfizer turned to ten employees to share their perspectives on the changes publicly in order to encourage discourse. Each of the ten shared stories from different roles within the organization, creating a vignette of the overall change that was taking place.


The video diary YouTube series became a big hit and the ten employees became internal celebrities at Pfizer. Pulse surveys were utilized to track employees’ understanding and confidence in the changes so that Pfizer could adjust course as necessary. The transparency about the ups and downs of internal change made the entire team feel understood and heard by leadership.


CEO Tobi Lütke realized that his team members were often working on similar projects unknowingly and that they weren’t sharing their successes with one another. In response, Shopify developed UNICORN to redefine the way their teams communicated, collaborated, and were compensated.


Once cash incentives drew employees to UNICORN, the Twitter-like platform started breaking down internal silos at Shopify and creating collaboration and loyalty. In addition to cash incentives, employees can earn points based on experience that can then be used to stylize their UNICORN avatars with moustaches and other symbols of company accomplishments and experience.


Symantec needed to consolidate and refresh their culture after a merger, so they partnered with Globoforce to roll out a social recognition platform called Applause to engage their people in the change.


Applause helped Symantec to align their various legacy cultures into one shared vision for the future and clearly-defined set of values. Within just five months, 40% of Symantec employees had been recognized on Applause, resulting in a 16% rise in employee satisfaction. Similar outcomes can be obtained by highlighting employees on social sites who embrace company change, revolutionize processes and procedures, or demonstrate exceptional customer service.


In light of layoffs for 8% of the Zappos workforce, CEO Tony Hsieh released an internal email followed shortly by an external blog. While only 17% of team members who experience workplace changes rate leadership highly for communication skills, in this instance, Tony Hsieh had gone against the grain to handle the issue for his team.


Employees genuinely appreciated the open communication and opportunity for engagement with their CEO. According to the Social CEOs study, 72% of employees believe the open communication helps the CEO to stay in touch with company happenings as well as allowing team members to reach leadership directly. In the case of Zappos, team members were able to help one another find future employment and settle their unresolved feelings about the layoffs.

If you’ve read these examples and want to get started shifting your company’s internal communication, then here are a few tips to consider.

4 Tips For Successful Adoption

1. Align Your Leadership

Get started by aligning your leadership: low leader engagement is the number one reason why internal social platforms fail. People want to read your CEO’s insights and engage with their thought leaders. As SAP President Mike Ettling stated in a 2015 interview, “As leaders, you’ve got to embrace these tools and use them selectively, because they both create significant engagement with your own people and your community. Social media is probably 60-70% of how we drive thought leadership and awareness in the HR industry today. …Good leaders today are using a total multimedia approach to engage and communicate with their people.”

2. Go to Them

Research platforms that your team members are already using and go to them if possible. Otherwise, consider cloud-based tools like Slack, Google Hangout, Jostle, or eXo.

3. Diversify Your Message

To use the old cliché, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Continue to reach out to your team one-on-one, through in-the-field coaching, emails, and daily huddles. Although a 2015 Harvard Business Review study found that 88% of employees use at least one social site at home, companies still have to reach the remaining 12%.

4. Support the Strategy

Provide support for that last 12% so that they can access CEO blogs, newsletters, and company information. One way to achieve this is to ask your socially savvy junior team members to mentor the more experienced senior team members: the mentorship will create more internal synapses of collaboration.

For more information or support on this topic, contact SGEi: our team is happy to direct you to the tools and resources that can benefit your company’s strategy.

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