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The Importance of Internal Communication

Communication is the heart of any organization. More than presenting products and services, it’s how a business shares its voice, its brand and its story with the world. Significant time, thought and money is invested in external communication, influencing public perception and controlling public voice, but what is frequently overlooked or sidelined is internal communication, even though it is just as important.

Internal communication encompasses everything from functional items like official processes, guidelines and procedures — getting employees the information they need to do their jobs — to inspirational items like mission statements, company values, and voice guidelines — getting employees the information they need to participate as part of the team.

It is important that organizations foster an atmosphere of openness and create systems that will lead to the free and effective flow of information, ideas, various resources and even feelings to promote a sense of shared purpose. An excellent internal communication strategy can unite and inspire members at all levels of an organization. This comes with many advantages, such as employees who are:

 

pro

  • Informed – Having complete, timely information makes everyone more effective and efficient.
  • Confident – Knowledge is power, and being properly informed will empower employees to succeed.
  • Inspired – When all members of an organization understand and believe in the mission and values, they are inspired to do better and work harder.
  • Team players – Giving people at all levels and from all departments access to the same information encourages teamwork.
  • Sharing a common vision – Feeling like you and your colleagues are working toward a common goal leads to greater investment in and fulfillment from the work you do.
  • On message – Organizations should have a unified voice and message that they present to the public. This message will be much more effective and powerful if every employee is trained to use it and inspired to be an advocate.
  • Supported – Employees will be able to work with confidence and creativity if they trust that their colleagues — especially their superiors — believe in them and support their decisions.
  • Given useful feedback – Providing feedback is an important aspect of internal communications because the ability to improve and adapt — both as individuals and as a company — is vital to growth.
  • Respected and respectful – Having care and consideration for how you communicate with fellow employees is an excellent way to show respect and gain respect in turn.
  • Willing to take ownership – The more an employee understands about their company, the more they feel inspired and encouraged to take ownership of its growth and success.
  • Responsive to change – Change on an organizational level can be hard. Investing resources to make sure everyone is aware and buys into the need for change will help smooth the process.

Left to chance, internal communication becomes irregular and inconsistent. The consequences of neglecting these efforts have debilitating effects, including:

 

con

  • Gossip and speculation – Just because communication is not managed doesn’t mean it will not happen. People will fill in the blanks for themselves, often with worst-case scenarios, which leads to…
  • Stress and fear – Even small changes in routine can cause stress if employees don’t understand why they happen. Or worse, if the change comes as a complete surprise. Large changes that aren’t communicated properly can easily lead to job insecurity.
  • Territorialism – If information is rationed out in meager portions, people are much more likely to guard their share.
  • Confusion – If a message is delivered inconsistently among employees or departments, the results can be chaotic with everyone working toward different goals with different expectations.
  • Ineffectiveness – Members who don’t believe in the mission of an organization will be unlikely to see it through, just as employees who don’t understand the goal of a project will be unable to adequately complete it.
  • Inefficiency – If a team begins a project without having all the information they need, time is wasted and trust is squandered.
  • Lack of ownership – Having incomplete information cripples one’s ability to take ownership both of individual projects and of the mission of a company as a whole.
  • Off-message members – If members of an organization do not understand its voice and are not trained to use it, the message they present to the public will be confusing and ineffective.
  • Isolation – People work better as part of a team, but if communication is poor between departments and individuals, teamwork will be hindered and suspicions and resentment could develop.
  • Resistance to change – Did I mention that change can be hard? New work processes, company reorganizations, rebranding, new software implementations. All these things and more are a normal part of an evolving business, but if proper investment isn’t made in communicating these things to employees, the results can be chaotic and even catastrophic.

Here at GO2, we understand the importance of internal communication, and it’s one of our goals to help clients improve theirs. As an example, we recently created a comprehensive Intranet site for Comcast Business sales representatives. Housing an asset management and search tool, educational materials, product and customer strategies and an offer lookup tool, the Intranet, dubbed Nucleus, provides one solid place for crucial information. We performed research to determine everything for the site — environmental context, user personas, task and process flow, site organization and user interface. And we didn’t stop there. We were sure to include training tactics and engagement elements, including plans for pre-launch, launch and post-launch.

Taking it a step further, GO2 created a site called VITL for Sherwin-Williams. We created VITL for representatives who rely entirely on iPhones, iPads or laptops as they work remotely. The site houses sell sheets and data sheets, which representatives need to access on a daily basis. Before VITL, these sheets were scattered across various Sherwin-Williams sites, and now the representatives can access them in one location in less than three clicks.

As you can see, internal communication strategies, especially within a large organization, have many aspects and can become pretty complex. GO2 can help bring order to chaos, getting employees the information they need in a way that’s understandable, inspirational and supportive of your organization’s mission.

Optimizing SEO on Your WordPress Site

WordPress powers approximately 25% of all websites in the world that use a content management system (CMS).1 It dominates the CMS market and continues to grow at a phenomenal pace. Everybody from individuals to corporate giants, including Time Magazine, the NFL and MLB, all use their platform.

That’s because WordPress makes it easy to build a site, customize it and get it up and running in no time. But what about traffic? Rankings? The world falling in love with your new site?

With any CMS site, SEO does not take care of itself. No CMS site – even one from WordPress – is search engine optimized, even though many CMS firms claim that they are.

Sure, WordPress is search engine friendly. However, you or your agency is responsible for maximizing search engine visibility. So where do you begin?

First, load time is a crucial search factor. WordPress can sometimes be slow loading. Using cache plugins greatly accelerates site loading. You can also look for a fast-loading theme with streamlined code. Additionally, most of the new themes are HTML5, which are best for SEO.

Next, make your URLs more search friendly. Out-of-the-box WordPress sites have default permalink settings. These are not optimized and must be adjusted.

You also need to create an XML sitemap to help optimize search.

If all of this sounds a bit daunting, turn these tasks over to a developer. However, there is plenty that you can do to help optimize your site if you live by these three words:

Content is king.

Creating high-quality content is crucial to your site’s success. Plugins were mentioned earlier. These enable you to do SEO by making it easier to customize your site. However, a plugin might claim to optimize meta descriptions, but you still have to write them.

Once you’ve created content for every page of your site, create more content. That means Evergreen content, blogs, guides, tutorials and even videos. Create as much of this as you can. Also, be sure that your Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ profiles are complete and connected to your site.

Remember, a top-ranked site doesn’t just happen. It’s up to you to create a truly optimized site. Even with WordPress, you need to enhance its optimization.

If you’re not sure if you’re up to the task, consider an SEO consultant like GO2 Advertising to handle the complexities of maximizing your WordPress site’s SEO. We can develop and optimize your site to attract visitors, turn them into buyers and build your business.

1 http://www.techtimes.com/articles/104519/20151109/wordpress-is-so-big-25-percent-of-all-websites-in-the-world-run-on-it.htm

Creativity Outside of Creative Roles

If you work in an ad agency, you hear it all the time: “think creatively.” Within an agency’s creative department, this seems obvious. But it’s important to encourage the extension of creativity beyond that department. In fact, creative thinking is an essential element of success not only for every department of an ad agency, but for any business in general.

Adobe and Forrester Consulting performed a study on creativity’s impact on business and found that 82 percent of companies believe there is a strong connection between creativity and business results. The study actually showed that those companies that were encouraging creativity in the workplace outperformed competitors in revenue growth, market share and competitive leadership.

It’s clear that your business can benefit from more creative thinking. So, how exactly can you foster more creativity?

Reshape your company’s culture.

cultureCompany culture has such an immense impact on business, especially when it comes to creativity. Employees need an environment where they are free to be creative: where they are confident enough to take a chance and suggest new ideas and where they strive to produce better work with each project.

To achieve this, leadership has to make an effort to reduce fear and maintain an open environment where employees aren’t afraid to be curious. Encouraging curiosity and questions will promote exploration and experimentation. Peer support and collaboration should also be ingrained in the culture. It should be to the point where it becomes one for all and all for one, helping one another and pushing each other beyond the standards.

This will lead to a culture where excellence is not only what everyone strives for, but it’s expected because there are no boundaries to limit employees.

Constantly think of more than one solution.

morewaysThis can be done in any role. Though it may take some extra effort to come up with two or three additional solutions, it can pay off with better options and major time savings. At GO2, we often give our clients numerous ideas, thinking creatively to give them what they wish they’d asked for and providing a second option, showing we anticipate our clients’ needs.

Don’t wait for the opportunity to be creative.

creativeIt’s the classic “proactive vs. reactive” attitude. Training employees not to wait for a request to be creative is essential. If they understand the product/service deeply, we should be encouraging constant thought about the next step. At GO2, we don’t wait until the brainstorm or creative brief, no matter if we’re the one putting it together, approving it or reading it to start a project. If our creative team comes up with an idea, they take it to the account team to get their thoughts and possibly even present it to the client. If our account team has an idea, they run it by the creative team for input and then decide how to approach the client with the new idea.

Regardless of workplace, leadership should encourage all employees to start thinking sooner, with the ultimate goal of proactivity. The clients will appreciate this, and it could potentially save both parties a great deal of time.

Shy away from normal.

normalWhen you step away from normal, new ideas are more likely to spark. Spending time outside of your normal routine stimulates your brain with new surroundings and situations, which can lead you past the dead ends with ideas. So try it – go outside your normal sphere of colleagues, resources, environments, expertise, etc. Network with others in your industry and in other industries. Talk to them about their processes and how they foster creativity. And when you’re networking, try different activities for meetings other than sitting in boardrooms. For example, in a recent networking trend dubbed “sweat working,” meetings are held over a physical activity or exercise.

Everyone has the capacity for creativity, and when we take advantage of it, all parties have the potential to thrive. So no matter the industry, department or position, creativity should be encouraged in every aspect of business. What are your recommendations for fostering creativity in the workplace?

Sources:
Business News Daily — Creativity Business Success
Business News Daily — How to Teach Creativity
Harvard Business Review — How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity
Robert Half — Creativity Lessons from Five Top In-House Creative Teams
Creative Something — How to Create an Environment for Creativity at Work

Social Media Buzzwords

Social media is a full-fledged, living and breathing industry. As such, there are commonly used buzzwords that can cause some confusion for the less-than-savvy social media users out there. In this blog we will be highlighting some commonly used terms that should help clear up the confusion in your next encounter with your social media team.

Reach: How many social media users are seeing your posts.

Engagement: How many social media users are interacting with your posts. Clicks, likes, shares and comments all count towards engagement. In most cases, the higher your engagement is, the better your overall reach.

calltoactionCall to Action (CTA): A way to encourage social media users to take some action such as registering for a service, clicking a link, following your profile, purchasing your product, etc.

SEO: An acronym for Search Engine Optimization. Incorporating keywords, hashtags, links, etc., increases SEO for any given post. The easier you make something to find online, the better the SEO.

RSS: An acronym for Really Simple Syndication. It’s an XML-based format that has become the preferred option for syndication content online, particularly for blogs.

Organic vs. Paid: There is a BIG difference between organic and paid posts. Simply put, organic is non-paid content and paid is a post with some type of boost or ad tied to it.

Vanity URL: A URL with a unique address that is branded for marketing purposes. Vanity URLs are important for 2 reasons – they’re shorter in character length, and they look much nicer than a long link of various numbers and letters.

influencerInfluencers: These are people like celebrities, endorsers, bloggers and sharers who engage and promote your content. These types of users are invaluable to a brand and can directly impact all other aspects of social media.

Content Marketing: This type of content is generally lifestyle driven and typically highlights product uses/applications. The immediate goal of this type of marketing is not necessarily a sale, but a way to spread the word about a product or service.

Boost: This term is Facebook only and refers to Boosting a post to increase reach. A Boost on Facebook is slightly different than a traditional ad, as it has more limited targeting, but is a fast way to capitalize on a successful post.

Promoted: Most often seen on Twitter, a Promoted tweet is an ad that aims to increase reach and engagement.

The deeper you dive into the social sphere, the more industry-specific terms you will encounter. The buzzwords provided above are a strong foundation and should keep you better informed when dealing with your social media team. Even if you’re not directly involved in social media work, these terms are helpful to know and may prove useful in your personal or professional social media life. Whether your brand is just beginning to establish a social presence, or you’re in need of a stronger strategy, GO2 can help you reach your goals on any social network.