The results of our recent poll show that the majority of people are interested in using social media in internal communications, but are unsure of its application and effectiveness (67%). This is understandable and natural – don’t act before you feel comfortable and knowledgeable about it yourself. But there is a point where you do need to jump in.

From talking to companies there are three common barriers highlighted in implementing social media in internal comms. They are legitimate concerns but perceptions can somewhat be skewed by myths. So let’s dispel a few of these myths and overcome these barriers.

1. Social media distracts people from their jobs and makes them less productive.

A really interesting academic study recently found that if employees were able to blog at work, about work and leisure, it increased their overall productivity. This approach encouraged more posts, gained more readers, boosted the reputations of the writers within the business and that online conversations turned to offline relationships. If you are happy for employees to check their Blackberry’s at home or work the occasional weekend to meet deadlines, then what is wrong with the odd personal blog post in amongst work related ones? Of course there needs to be parameters so it doesn’t get out of hand but some trust does have to be shown to employees.

2. What if someone writes something negative or derogatory about our business?

To be totally candid, this is a bit naïve really. If someone feels negatively towards the company they will be telling people – internally and externally – over the water cooler through to e-mails. If these feelings are there already, adopting social media shows that you aren’t putting your head in the sand and ignoring the issue, that you want to hear from employees (good or bad), will listen and act on that feedback (so long as you do of course). This gives you the opportunity to respond to negative comments rather than letting bad feelings rumble under the surface. Again, there needs to be parameters – it shouldn’t be a free fall nor should there be personal remarks made about others. Lay out the boundaries in guidelines for everyone to see. This will relieve your concerns and protect employees.

3. We don’t have the resources to manage, monitor and administrate internal social media.

We obviously can’t say whether you do have the resources or not, but this statement tends to come from an assumption that it is very labour intensive. Develop simple and straightforward guidelines – say what employees should and shouldn’t be doing on these platforms, what topic forums ought to cover. Through light-touch management, internal communities can ‘police’ themselves. If someone says something inappropriate, the rest of the group normally comes down pretty quick on them. But do check-in so you can a) be involved and b) respond to comments/questions or queries. Automatic notifications can be set up for administrators so they can easily and quickly check content too.

Don’t let barriers grind you to a halt.

This is not the time to stand still and ignore social media. It can be a bit scary, but ask for help and guidance. A little bit of knowledge can go a long way in delivering great internal communication.