Credit: Flickr User Sebastien Wiertz

Over the years, internal communications has changed, and companies now recognize the importance of keeping associates engaged, informed and inspired. An effective internal communications plan can help build a positive culture, enhance associate morale, increase productivity and decrease turnover.

With technology changing, the amount of resources a communicator has at his or her disposal continues to grow and evolve.

Here are five internal communication trends to look for in 2014 and beyond:

1. Responsive Emails
Let’s all face the fact that the medium of emails is here to stay. Emails are still the most reliable, bang-for-your-buck tool for communicators to reach associates. However, the majority of emails I check on my smartphone require me to pinch the screen to zoom in and out and create a terrible user experience.

Making your company’s emails responsive will automatically adjust the email to the correct dimensions for any smartphone or tablet. Responsive emails can enhance the user experience and increase the likelihood that the message will be read. There are several options that companies like ExactTarget and Mailchimp offer for sending responsive emails that include archiving and analytics features. You also can have a designer create a template to use for Microsoft Outlook.

2. Mobile Messaging

Many companies now provide associates with smartphones to help them keep up with their emails and appointments. One of the best features a smartphone provides is the ability to send and receive SMS and text messages.

Associates are already using mobile messaging to talk with colleagues, so it makes since that corporate communications teams should start communicating with associates through 140 characters or less.

The benefits are:

  • Increased open rates
  • No design effort
  • The fact that a text message reaches the user, not their inbox!

3. Social Media

Companies use social media for B2B and B2C marketing, but rarely do you hear of a company utilizing it for B2E (Business to Employee).

Using a medium that associates already use daily in their personal lives can help increase engagement, keep them informed and introduce the brand to a bigger audience. Social media also is a great tool to use if your company is spread out across the country and doesn’t have routine access to email or the company intranet. What could you put out on social media? Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Community events
  • Sponsorships
  • Weather updates
  • Breaking news
  • Milestones
  • Associate recognition
  • Diversity networks

Companies like UPS have already started the trend, and it’s growing among corporate communications teams that struggle to gain traction with associates through internal sites and email.

4. Video
How many communications do you write that would be better suited for a video? Here are some examples:

  • Company announcements
  • Senior leadership messages
  • A team’s yearly objectives
  • Company volunteering
  • A company event recap
  • Open enrollment

All of these messages are great ideas for a video communications instead of the classic 12-point font, Arial email messages and will make the message more personable, genuine and memorable. Just imagine how impactful it would be to see your CEO explain the company’s roadmap. Videos also are a great medium for a company that is spread out across the country.

Don’t feel like you need to hire an outside resource to produce videos. With a mid-level professional video camera and Mac computer that has iMovie, you can start filming and editing videos in no time. You also can shoot quality footage with your smartphone; just make sure you’re within six feet of anyone talking who is being recorded for the best audio.

5. Infographics

Infographics are the Tesla of mediums for communicators; you have to look even if the infographic is about the history of high heel shoes. You can literally make an infographic about anything, and they are great for telling complicated stories that might otherwise be dull.

Infographics are great for but not limited to:

  • Leader bios
  • Volunteering and non-profit giving
  • Survey results
  • Yearly recaps
  • Product launches

Using resources on your design team, you can produce a great infographic that engages and inspires associates. Great planning and content strategy is critical to ensure the infographic is done on time and comes out looking great.

These are some of my favorite internal communications tools and trends I’ve been using lately to help jazz up my communications. What are trends you see for internal communications in the future?