The new and improved Communication Specialist (now with Twitter!)

Yesterday I referenced a blog post and commented on the emergence of internal workplace social networks. However, I have to revisit the post again because another point really struck a cord in me. Below is another exert from “Will 2011 be a big year for recruiters and social media?”:

“Yes, I know some people might say that the tie between Social Media Manager and Corporate Communications Manager might be weak – but not necessarily. Who is to say that Corporate Communications Managers can’t/don’t use SocialtextYammerConfluence,DrupalJiveNovell Vibe or Salesforce Chatter to push corporate communications? Many already do!”

What resonated with me the most is the relationship, or supposed lack thereof,  between Communication Specialists and Social Media Managers. My opinion is that Social Media Manager’s are going to become another branch in the gigantic, crazy tree that is organization communication, if they aren’t considered so already. I believe this because the skill set is essentially the same, with some added techy credentials. Good communicators know how to craft a message, the best ways to deliver it and who to address it to. They know how to interact with stakeholders and keep things consistent with the mission and values of their brand. A good Social Media Manager is going to be able to deliver the same messages, except on different platforms.

When I imagine the progression of Communication Specialist to Social Media Manager I automatically think of “The Evolution of the Histper 2000-2010”, that was featured in Paste Magazine. Out with plugging in work anniversaries and birth announcements into the same old template for the company newsletter and in with managing company blogs and wiki’s. Out with drafting the standard response to customer complaints and in with engaging consumers on Twitter. See where I’m going with this?

I desperately wanted to do a directed study my last semester of grad school on the subject but was shut down by the director because I didn’t apply in time. Now I only wish I would have pushed harder.

Sidenote: If you’re interested here’s my denied proposal for a directed study. Damn the man!

Proposal for Directed Study

Social media has not only taken over our social lives, but is in the beginning stages of invading organizations. IBM recently unveiled software that gives organizations a framework to create their own internal SMN, or social media networks, while the blogosphere is bursting with new information on all aspects of social media in organization. Subjects range from growth of the field, developments in software and opinions on organizations who have begun utilizing social media.

The following proposal is intended to justify the benefit of completing a directed study focusing on organizations incorporation of internal social media. The learning objectives, learning outcomes, design of instruction and citations will provide sufficient evidence that the proposed directed study will not only be a structured to meet program requirements, but will be a rich addition to the collection of subjects I have studied during my education at Emerson College.


The idea of pursuing a directed study that focuses on social media in the organization was formed after I completed my capstone project, an applied research project on employee branding tactics. Expert interviews with human resource practitioners and employee branding consultants showed that the future of employee branding is in social media. A writer on says:

“I don’t know of a single major enterprise that isn’t experimenting with social computing behind the firewall. Every one of those organizations is also surely trying to figure out the best way to obtain business value at a time when “Enterprise 2.0 best practices” seem very circumstantial” (Byrne, 2009).

This quote highlights the growing need for knowledge concerning social media in organizations. Additionally, a writer for Forbes discussed the growing importance of organizations embracing social media and said:

“It’s well known that the increasing emergence and popularity of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook have made listening to what’s going on in consumer communities easier and more efficient. While many organizations make sure their employees are privy to, if not integral to these conversations, many also support development of their own internal social media programs to create the same sense of community” (Adamson, 2009).

One of the difficulties of this subject is that academic research is non-existent. This is likely due to the newness of social media, specifically in terms of internal social media sites. However, a search of blogs and online news shows that social media in organizations is not only a hot topic, but is changing the organizational set-up of organizations with the addition of new departments and titles.

An example of an organization that is a leader in the field is IBM. In 2007 the company launched an internal SMN called Beehive. Beehive is similar to other SMNs in that users can edit their own profiles, befriend other users to create a network and can upload video and pictures. To put this case into perspective here are the current statistics[1]:

  • 400,000 employees
  • 60,000 active users on Beehive
  • 17,000 internal blogs
  • 1,000,000 daily views to IBM’s internal Wiki
  • 3,000 IBM employees on Twitter
  • 52,000 IBM users on Facebook
  • 138,000 IBM users on LinkedIn

IBM recently used information gained from Beehive and launched Lotus Connections, SMN software for organizations. The software helps organizations to create their own Beehive by providing a platform to create communities, personal-file services, an internal Wiki and individual blogs. IBM has also developed online and classroom training for administrators.

Finally, I have a great interest in entering this specific field after graduation but have realized that my knowledge is limited to the social media sites that I have a presence on. My brief research on the subject has shown that there are many aspects of social media that I am unfamiliar with, though they are rapidly increasing in popularity.

Learning Objectives

The areas of study that I would like to focus on are all types of social media – including established sites such as Facebook and new software like Lotus Connections; how organizations are using social media – for instance internal wikis and employee blogs; and how social media can be successfully adopted by an organization. Incorporating these three areas of focus will help my knowledge of social media in organizations be both current and diverse.

Due to the lack of academic research available, the majority of my research will draw from online sources and contacting sources for informative interviews. Online sources may include recognized tech blogs, the actual social media sites (if available for public view) and news articles. Informative interviews with sources that currently work in the field will likely provide rich information, while leading to new concepts.

Learning Outcomes

The goal of completing the proposed directed study is to broaden my knowledge of SMNs. While I am well versed in the use of social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, I would also like to gain the technical knowledge involved in managing an internal social media network, as well as be able to identify and make appropriate recommendations to organizations that want to create such a site for their employees. I also hope to learn the affects, both negative and positive, that the integration of social media is having on organizations.

Design of Instruction

The semester will be broken into areas of study, each totaling about four weeks. I will meet with Professor Gallant on either a weekly or bi-weekly basis, depending on my own comfort level with the material. Every four weeks I will turn in a paper that details both the methods of study and the findings. I will end the semester with a paper that is cumulative of the entire directed study.

Works Cited

Adamson, A. (2009, June 2). Companies Should Encourage Social Networking Among Employees: Using social media inside a company can help turbo-charge a brand. Retrieved 12 16, 2009, from

Byrne, T. (2009, November 9). Properly Socializing Your Intranet. Retrieved December 16, 2009, from


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