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This article was published on April 19, 2010

Hear ye, hear ye – making the case for broadcast messaging

Hear ye, hear ye – making the case for broadcast messaging

I’ve recently been spending a lot of time discussing the integration of social media and intranets with clients of mine. One of the biggest mindset hurdles I encounter is integrating twitter style broadcast messaging into the service. Here’s some thinking to counter the sceptics.

“Why can’t I just speak to the other guys in my project team?”

You can, and you should. But there’s only a limited number of people that any one individual has reach to – whether it’s your project team, your site, your skill group or your division at some point you’re going to reach a limit to the number of people you have access to. Beyond this point, you need to use collaboration tools to access the knowledge within your organisation.

“We already have discussion forums.”

Yes, and you should keep them. Discussion forums serve a specific purpose – providing a place for a disparate group of people to discuss specific topics in a structured fashion. Broadcast messaging serves a different purpose – it is a short message noticeboard that creates a place to find and collaborate with people who have shared interests.

“But there’s no guaranteed response to a message.”

That’s true. And that’s okay. If you wanted a guaranteed response you’d send an email to the people you want a response from. If you knew who specifically would benefit from what you had to share, you’d email it to them. Broadcast messaging is all about “putting it out there” for all to see and respond to.

“Our company is too big for that.”

This one surprises me the most – the nature of broadcast messaging means that the more people that are using it, the richer the platform is. Twitter among 10 people would be rubbish, Twitter among 100m and the network comes to life. In a small firm, you’re more likely to know a larger percentage of the firm and the benefits of broadcast are watered down. It’s a true more the merrier environment.

It helps if you can explain Twitter in a way that is meaningful to the person you’re speaking to. The best analogy I can come up with is to consider a broadcast messaging environment like a notice board. Posting notices on the notice board doesn’t guarantee that you’ll hit your target audience but it opens more possibilities than just asking the few people in your immediate circle.

I’ll sign off with a personal case study. Last week I needed to test some mobile web designs on a range of phones. In my team we only had iPhones and BlackBerrys. I used my company’s internal broadcast messaging platform to ask around and within a day I had a handful of Nokias on my desk. Asked and answered.

Image credit: Jösé, via flickr