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The Communication Landscape Has Changed

Natalie Hill

By Natalie Hill, Communication Consultant at the Principal Financial Group®

Employers are trying to understand what social media really means to them and how to use it to benefit their business and employees. Think of some recent materials you've received from a company via snail mail: letters, notices and statements. When I'm inundated with those printed materials, I'm not excited or engaged. I promptly recycle, find a way to receive the information online or attempt an opt-out. I appreciate push notifications to my mobile phone informing me to view statements online. I also belong to private, social groups that send me notifications containing tidbits from peers and experts. This is a nice balance of quick knowledge, items of interest and conversations within a circle. I've even decided to maintain a virtual farm that only provides me with fake coins, stars and a burning desire to build a gold wall around the property. Can you say gamification junkie?

Working in the communication field, I often hear the phrase, "keep it simple". Simple communication is designed to seem effortless. It's all about reaching an audience where and how they want to be met and creating communication to get engagement. None of this is simple. To be effective with social media, the communication needs to be creative, concise, interesting and engaging. It means stepping outside of a technically, jargon-filled zone to get a point across and then having all the right content, links and connections in place to make the user experience a good one.

As the virtual landscape lines become more and more blurred, it only makes sense to provide as much as possible to workers within that space. It's not about new social media because it's not new. It's about being relevant now and in the future. Millennials make up approximately 40 percent of the estimated 162 million-member U.S. workforce in 2014. This group of employees has grown up communicating via social media sites and devices. The use of social media is a workplace trend with staying power for the foreseeable future.[1] Who actually reads a brochure to get relevant, timely information? If you do, you may not be in the primary workforce demographic or using that smartphone to its fullest potential. Virtual spaces are for communicating — efficiently. Social media can be used both internally and externally for an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) and a company — effectively. Employers can benefit from working socially: learning, collaborating, brainstorming and maintaining ongoing conversation. This is where the ESOP communication team from The Principal® comes into play. We develop the strategy and content (BTW: content is visual, written and verbal), then leverage social media to meet the audience and plan sponsor's objectives. Just imagine what an ESOP-specific brand could look like. Wait a minute, you're a visual person and need to see it, right? I could argue that if you're visual, you can picture it. Let us help you see those glorious trees in the virtual forest.

Contact Natalie Hill

"Managing and Leveraging Workplace Use of Social Media", SHRM, 12/5/2012

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