Manufacturers Are Using Social Media-Style Communications
A short, simple, how-to video has proven to be an effective tool to get messages across on social media. Why not apply those same principles to employee communications?
Bites, a communication platform that was founded in 2017, helps companies create their own bite-sized pieces of professional content in a video format similar to what is used on social media platforms. This format has struck a chord with companies resulting in the company growing its customer base by eightfold in 2021. In fact, Bites recently cross the 1 million-view milestone.
One company that has adopted this style of communication across a variety of functions is Unilever. The easily created content was ideal for achieving the company’s needs, given its large, geographically diverse population.
“When evaluating communication strategies, a company needs to decide what they need to communicate, to whom that want that message to go and finally to know if that message was received,” says Adi Regev, global Retail Innovation lead in Israel at Unilever.
While that sounds pretty basic, Regev says that sometimes what is crystal clear to him might not be to others and sometimes even the simplest message can get buried in how it was communicated. “What Bites provide is a tool which lets us create messages in a most intuitive way.”
As an example, he explains the value of this type of content creation during the pandemic. During COVID, Unilever needed a way to give safety training to their manufacturing workers at four different sites. Unable to gather hundreds of people into a single location to ensure that employees receive the mandatory training, instead they adapted the PowerPoint presentation they used for the training to a playlist of Bites. Within the playlist was the safety quiz all had to take. They send the playlist company-wide using their regular group chat. Within 48 hours, they’ve reached over 80% of employees. Within a week – almost 97% of employees have finished the training. Every site HR manager knew exactly who viewed the playlist and who needed a reminder.
Technology Designed for Training For most companies, the first use-case for this technology is around training and onboarding. “Using, trackable training videos with tools that both engage employees and measure their understanding of the content is important to companies who are struggling to train new employees, especially industries with high turnover rates,” says Eran Heffetz, CEO at Bites.
Creating quality content is not complicated. Using a smartphone to create digital microlearning takes on average five minutes. And the app has several features including the ability to add interactive elements such as quizzes or summary cards. Social media tools such as filters and GIFs are available as well as more enhanced features such as a voice-over and the ability to use slow or fast motion.
Recently the company rolled out other AI-driven features which include natural language process (NLP) which helps to improve content as well as speech-enhancement tools to eliminate background noise, making it easier to film in high-traffic, loud locations. Auto-subtitling tools make the content more accessible, while automated translation enables training in multiple languages. Once the content is completed it can be shared through channels employees are already using such as MS Teams, WhatsApp and SMS, or any other channel.
While having an easy-to-use tool is important, the true value of this technology, however, is to address communication challenges. “It’s more of a philosophy of how you manage your communications,” says Heffetz. “In addition to creating the messages, the ability to then measure the effectiveness of the message using a dashboard allows a company to have a complete communication loop.” The dashboard allows creators to see the number of views, completion rates, user performance on quizzes, or drill down on employee progress by role, region, country, and line manager.
The ability to track who is using the message is especially important, says Regev. “We have used other platforms that let us know who opened the message but couldn’t tell us if the link to the information we were providing was opened," said Regev. "So having a tool that lets us know who is reading the message lets us better manage our communication strategy. For example, if we know someone didn’t open a link we can call and ask why. Before it was viewed more as education but now that it's measured it’s managed. Therefore, we use this for a variety of communication including safety, regulation compliance, marketing and the roll-out of new products.”
Employees Creating Content While management has an effective tool, so do employees. “Production floor employees can create videos on how to do a procedure correctly or they can use it to show a process that is not safe. Issues can be addressed quickly,” says Regev. And the video has a direct chat feature so an employee can speak directly with him about it and not have to go through a chain of command.
Empowerment and even celebrity can be a result of this form of communication. One Unilever employee posted a video on how to improve a process and she became a company celebrity. In fact, her video has received the most views of any company video. Unilever is now producing about 30 Bites per month. But not every employee receives that many. Bites are targeted to specific employees and most receive one or two a month.
“Bites’ active users create an average of 10-30 new bites per month for their frontline employees and enjoy a 90% engagement rate,” notes Heffertz. “We have found that while companies are using the Bites for onboarding and training, many have moved to use this method of communication throughout the entire lifecycle of an employee. Companies can use this method to upskill. And at the end of the day, it’s truly creating a culture of continuous improvement.”
Best Practices Regev offers advice on how best to use this technology. “Make sure you give employees the message in the right way so that it will be accepted. Make the message short, don’t waste time, be sharp and precise. Don’t overwhelm employees with too many messages. And make sure that someone is responsible for the message. If I issue the Bite, I need to be the one to own it until the end. Know who opens it and what the feedback is on that message and understand the dashboard. It’s not a matter of send and forget, it’s a matter of send and manage.” This type of communication that harkens to a TikTok type of culture is effective, says Regev. “We want people asking each other, ‘did you see the Bite?’. The data is there but it’s the human interaction that is important.”