Yesterday, July 19, 2011 I had the pleasure of interacting and sharing perspectives on internal communication and social media trends and opportunities with about 100 students and communication professionals from leading organizations in Bangalore.
Organized by COMMITs (a Bangalore based institute for journalism and mass communication) and COMMIT (Communicators in IT, a group of communication executives in the country) the program aimed to connect students to the changing social media landscape as well as understand the implications it had on internal communications in India.
Personally it helped me get a closer understanding of the expectations students had vis-à-vis what the industry prescribes. It helped to have senior communication professionals from COMMIT to add insights from their experiences and I believe it made the discussions even more fruitful.
I began with a quiz based on research demonstrating how globally internal communicators perceive their ability to grasp social media and make inroads. I noticed surprised faces when the statistics showed that over 2/3rd of internal communicators ranked their team’s social media prowess as low. The biggest barrier in using social media was loss of control and reputational damage while the biggest benefit they gained was in terms of innovation and idea exchange.
The range and quality of questions the students raised impressed me. Some were plain curious. For example, how does one build a network internally as well as externally? Others discussed various elements of social media and their impact. Such as – ‘Can organizations truly prevent information to leak from within to the cyber world? A few sought information on careers and the options available in the corporate communication domain. Overall, I gauged a genuine interest in appreciating this new phenomenon.
I gathered quickly that social media is indeed a rage! It may seem obvious considering the group is a part of Generation Y and ones contributing immensely to the growing trend. In my offline discussions with students social media did feature on their minds and in their project work.
However what became evident is a lack of understanding of what it takes to grapple with the subject. There seemed to be a hesitancy to seek out answers, go to the source and engage with the tools to play a leading role in shaping the future.
A few key insights I shared with the audience were:
- Ignoring the evolving social media and internal communication trends can mean missing out on meaningful opportunities
- We owe it to ourselves to immerse, engage and contribute to the growing body of knowledge shaping our world
- Since social media is quite nascent there aren’t clear answers and nor are there many who can claim expertise ; which again is a huge opportunity
- Knowing your strengths is crucial to understanding where you want to go in your career
- Lastly, there are no shortcuts to building careers and growing your reputation in the industry. It requires clear goals and perseverance
Overall, a great opportunity to delve into the minds of future communicators and learn so much more about their aspirations.