A new study by APCO and Gagen MacDonald reveals how internal social media use can bring major benefits to a number of employee engagement areas, and isolates the key attributes that such programs require.

The two firms surveyed workers at companies with more than 500 employees, using the data to build a model of internal social media (ISM) engagement, and how its use affects employee attitudes.

They found that 58 percent of those polled would prefer to work at a company that uses ISM. 86 percent would refer others for employement.

61 percent felt it became easier to collaborate, while 60 percent are likely to feel their company is innovative.

Employees are 60 percent more likely to give their company the benefit of the doubt in a crisis, and two-thirds more likely to support government policies their company supports. They are also 78 percent more likely to purchase the company’s stock.

Around half of the employees polled said that their companies employ ISM tools; but executive leadership accounts for 75 percent of an employee’s perception of internal communication. Besides the intranet, the most used tools are blogs, wikis and Facebook-like sites.

The study’s ‘ISM effectiveness model’ isolated 21 discrete attributes that characterize the best programs. These combine to form three major factors that employees look for when deciding whether their company has effective internal social media: quality of content (42 percent); engagement and dialogue (37 percent); and optimization (21 percent).