44 Digital Blog Our digital 2021 predictions for internal communications

With the country once again in lockdown, and the working world still adapting, we explore our digital 2021 predictions, and what things are going to look like for the next 12 months.

It’s that time of year again. We’ve had that little bit of time between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day to reflect on what we really want to achieve this year, both professionally and personally. For me, it’s a comfortable 5k run, and building new and exciting digital platforms.

However, even if you don’t live in the digital world you should still know about these digital 2021 predictions for internal communications, because if they aren’t on your to-do list already, they are very likely on their way.

We’ve seen that digital technology adoption has experienced a decade’s worth of change in the past 12 months. What follows is what I think the impact of that will be.

Social listening

We’ve talked about two-way conversations as part of IC for a long time. In fact, I mentioned it last year in my 2020 predictions list. Social media has been something internal communications teams have pushed and pulled against, making sure the way they choose to adopt it (whether through Yammer, WhatsApp, Telegram or other) fits the culture of their business, and their way of working.

The knock-on effect of lockdown last year was that it spearheaded the implementation of remote-working, video-calling, instant-messaging and internal (or dark) social. As a result, we’re seeing a lot more instant messages instead of phone calls, and more chat feeds instead of email trails.

The question for internal communicators this year will be what to do with that new rich seam of communications, how to mine the great ideas, and how to reward (or correct) the behaviours they are seeing in these new forms. If you haven’t got one already, we definitely recommend having an internal social media policy to make sure you have the rules-of-the-road clearly laid out just in case you need to refer to them.

Author’s note: This was written before the recent purging by Twitter, Facebook and Google platforms of Trump and the alt-right movement. Social media policy in action, indeed.

Virtual conferences

It goes without saying that the social distancing measures of the Covid-19 pandemic made some traditional internal comms conferences untenable, overnight. I believe in the “Sigmoid curve” of internal comms, the Charles Handy method of “Jumping the curve”. In short, to engage people with something highly visible and impactful before the wave of the previous engagement has fallen back to par.

Campaigns and conferences are a great way to do this, keeping momentum buoyed above and beyond the day-to-day work.

We’ve been working with some great digital partners to plan out virtual conferences, which can be run just as effectively as physical ones. By creating custom interactive agendas, live streaming, delegate voting, Q&A sessions, 1-2-1 networking, and breakout rooms, you can still create a great conference experience for colleagues and share the latest business messages and strategic direction – which is the point, after all.

Internal podcasting

There’s a modern adage that podcasts are great at talking about media and the wider world, but that media and the wider world really don’t talk much about podcasts.

It’s curious that something that was adapted and re-invented for the Apple iPod has continued to thrive and evolve well beyond the tech itself. In the past 12 months Amazon has invested in its own podcast platform following on from Spotify, who have just signed a deal with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for exclusive content of their own.

And there are different forms of podcast. There’s the research-heavy and multi-episodic podcasts of This American Life and S-Town; the themed podcast-style of Stuff You Should Know and My Favourite Murder, which occur largely as conversations between the hosts; and the news-type podcasts of the BBC World Service’s Business Daily.

With so many colleagues working remotely, on their devices most of the working day, I believe that podcasts that tell internal stories, update on news, and talk about recurring business themes, are definitely something every organisation should be exploring.

What are your digital 2021 predictions?

And, as always, if you’d like any support around your digital 2021 predictions, or help to put them into practice, feel free to get in touch.