Avery Dennison and Johns Hopkins on Internal Social Networking


Marcie Steerman from the technical communications group at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and Heather Marks, Director, Interactive Communications at Avery Dennison talk about how their organizations are using private online social networking platforms behind the firewall as part of their internal communications strategy.

Johns Hopkins is redefining internal communications practices with a social network that facilitates dialog among more than 4,500 staff members spread across a 300 acre campus. Their most dynamic platform is called the Cooler (as in water cooler) and it’s powered by Elgg, an open source social networking engine. Because it's internal, staff members can discuss proprietary ideas without making inadvertent intellectual property disclosures.


Avery Dennison is using Lotus Connections to power their social networking internal communications plan. It’s a global company with more than 32,000 employees at 240+ facilities in 60 countries, and they’re using their private social network to time-shift and place shift conversations.

Neither Elgg or Lotus Connections appear to have the types of activity streams that has made Facebook and Twitter so popular.  Elgg looks more like an online forum with user profiles and IBM doesn’t make it easy to find screenshots or samples of Lotus Connections online. Avery uses primarily the wikis, forums and blog modules to foster internal collaboration, rather than what Facebook or Linkedin users would recognize as a familiar social networking platform.

But both organizations are realizing significant gains from their internal online collaboration initiatives, and in this episode they talk about:

1. How they’re using internal social networks at their organizations.
2. The benefits of social networking in a private environment.
3. How they achieved widespread adoption.
4. The importance of:
a. Securing strong, executive sponsorship.
b. Social media literacy among management.
c. Comfort with social networking websites for external communications.
5. The benefits and drawbacks of open source vs. proprietary social networking software.

it will come as no surprise to listeners of this podcast that social networks have value to internal communicators.  We may see social media literacy become an integral part on most internal communications jobs in the future.

This episode is a follow up to a previous show on Private Social Networks with Robin Daniels of Salesforce.com Chatter.

Photo by Pavan Trikutam on Unsplash

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