Over the past few years the internal communications industry has been buzzing about social media. Questions and statements like “How do we use this inside a business?” or “We need to embrace these new tools and find a way to make them fit!” have filled offices around the country as we get to grips with the speed of technology and the opportunities it presents. Then somehow, over the past six months to a year, SharePoint has appeared (not for the first time) as the biggest and best tool for the job – but how?

Just a few weeks ago I got an email from Melcrum – leaders in the industry – who asked their community; What are your SharePoint priorities for 2011?  Which made me ask, why are they SharePoint priorities and not just internal communication priorities?

The answers were:

– 37% want to increase the use of collaboration tools;
– 25% are concerned about governance;
– 22% want to increase adoption and uptake across business units;
– 16% are focusing on global deployment and integration.

Now this to me is not a SharePoint priority, but objectives for a team of communicators. I am looking to increase collaboration and adoption across the business I work for but that has nothing to do with one tool – it’s to do with what the business needs, and once I have established what the business needs I can then look at the tool.

For years we have looked at the purpose, message, audience and then tool so why all of sudden, when looking at social media are we reversing this process. When social media hit the industry a few years ago I was working with theblueballroom and we produced white papers and research on this topic – it went through the online community like wild-fire and was a real starting point for  many when it came to looking at the tools on offer. Since then we have seen social media for internal communicator conferences boom, social media benchmarking groups pop up all over the place and case studies about what you should and shouldn’t do everywhere – but when will this stop being hype? When can we actually say I have listened to the business, the people and the culture and I have found the right tool. This tool will give you a platform to talk to your colleagues, share ideas and work together – just what you’ve always wanted. and yes, it is social media but never has the word been said.

It is not about the hype, the buzz or the shiny tools, it’s about getting something that works for you. So please, isn’t it time for a little less conversation and a little more action?