Internal communications as a profession is moving slowly. Maybe too slowly. Very often the internal communications people are more followers than leaders. More pleasers than challengers. More change watchers than change agents.
12 emerging internal communications trends that will enable internal communications to increase their impact.
1. Real time
As the speed of change is going up and as the demand for transparency is going up, internal communications will have to be fast. If you are not fast, you are too late. The speed will again go up in 2015.
The move away from one-size-fits all will continue. The target groups will have different preferences how they want to receive and send messages. Internal communications will have to be able to use the different channels and measure what works best for what groups or individuals.
3. Mobile/ Mobile/ Mobile
Mobile cannot be called an emerging trend, but it is remarkable how slowly internal communications is using this trend to increase impact. More and more people to expect to receive messages on the mobile device of their choice (smartphone, tablet, watch).
The trend from text to visual is continuing with full speed. Instagram getting more users than Twitter. How many internal communications teams are using Instagram? Infographics are another example of the use of visual. How can you tell a story with some good visuals and very limited text?
5. Video and Explanimations
Video will become more popular in 2015. More and more explanimations will be used to spread messages in a simple, effective and often humorous way. The length of explanimations is often 75 seconds or less.
Personal note: please, avoid talking heads!
Organizations no longer have to rely on top-down communications. The importance of peer-to-peer communications is increasing. News travels fast through the internal and external social networks. Question is how internal communications can influence the peer-to-peer communications.
7. Real and transparent communication
Communications will have to be real. No more stock photos. No more artificial polished messages. Not only the good news, but also the disappointing results.
Also: start communicating early, and do not wait until you are 100% sure.
8. Being part of social networks
Internal communications is increasingly using the social networks. They can learn from the customer service team, who are already further up the learning curve. Sense what is going on in the different communities, and engage in the conversation when you have something to add.
9. The merge between internal- and external communications
The border between internal and external communications is more and more disappearing. As transparency and openness increase, it does no longer make sense to make this distinction.
10. Print is making a comeback
At one time printed communication seemed to be on the way out. What I hear now is that print is making a comeback. Many people still want to have paper in their hands, and when the funds are available, also internal communications will use more printed communications.
Personal note: I still find most internal magazines a waste of money.
11. Communication analytics
Analytics is also an area where internal communications can take some lessons from marketing. “Whatever works” is the credo, but you can only determine what works if you measure. A/B testing is also important. Try different ways to communicate and use the way that works best.
12. More fun!
Making fun is serious business. Where external communications already found out a long time ago that humor and fun increase the impact of messages, internal communications prefers the ‘dead serious’ mode.