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Those of us in the digital signage world know the terms social-mobile-local. They represent a trilogy of supposedly critical factors to think about when considering implementation of DS systems. They are all terms that can mean different things to different people, so over my next few blogs I'll take a look at what they mean within the workplace sector of the DS world, starting with social.

Those referring to social are mostly referring to a strategy using social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. With about 900 million and 125 million users, respectively, the number of social interactions they generate, as well as the corresponding monetization potential, is incredible. But does any of this really apply to workplace communications? Not so much at this time.

First of all, less than 50 percent of the U.S. population owns a smartphone, according to the Yankee Group. And even though 90 percent of companies permit use of personally owned devices now or are moving in that direction, the majority won't allow them on the company's network.

So attempting to reach all of your employees through social just won't work at this point, at least using tools like Facebook and Twitter. Sure, you can reach some of them, but that's not what most companies need to do — they need to reach all or most of them. But there is a place for social in the workplace nonetheless.

What's happening in the workplace right now

At this point we see many of our customers using social as a second-level layer of communications. For example, an HR manager may post a notice about a new corporate initiative with the summary outline, and then include a QR code that employees can scan for more details. An employee can then email the data to fellow employees who may not have smartphones yet. Or the HR manager might post a weekly work schedule and allow employees to download it, also by scanning a QR code. Again, the employee can then share this data. While only some employees are able to do these scans, it still helps get the detailed information "out there," while also creating more employee engagement at the digital signage location.

These are techniques that managers are using to get their information circulating among employees and going viral if possible. We're still in the very early stages of managers using social for distributing workplace communications, but the early attempts are interesting, fun and engaging.

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Frank Kenna
Frank Kenna III is CEO and President of The Marlin Co., which helps improve safety, employee morale, productivity and performance through its workplace digital signage products. He is responsible for setting the company’s strategic direction and developing new ideas to help implement workplace communication programs.
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