Effective use of digital comms | S1 E7

First published: 21 July, 2020

Play this episode now:

Series 1
Effective use of digital comms | S1 E7

How to get the most out of a digital communication platform

In this episode, Big Picture People’s Craig Smith talks to Lauren Mottram-Heathcote, Internal Communications Manager at Auto Trader UK, about getting the most out of a digital communication platform.

Lauren tells the story of Auto Trader UK’s transition from print to online, and the challenges the organisation faced when implementing its digital collaboration platform. Originally positioned on Yammer, Auto Trader UK moved over to Slack in 2019. Lauren shares this experience with you, as well as how Slack helped Auto Trader UK’s employees and management stay connected and sane during the coronavirus lockdown. She also shares her top tips for any organisation that is considering embedding a digital communication platform in their business.

A digital transition journey

Lauren walks you through the journey that Auto Trader UK took when implementing its collaboration platform, starting with the fanfare release of Yammer in 2015 and how people took ownership for it. She talks about the organisation’s surprise that areas of collaboration extended beyond work and developed into deeper social connections – channels that included a book club and cookery.

However, use on Yammer slowly dissipated, and by 2019 only 20% of employees were active on it. The business responded by taking action to learn why this was, and what its people really wanted. What they found was that its technology employees (most of the organisation) had set up on Slack. Thus, the decision to transition to Slack across the organisation was made.

Lauren says that 99.9% of Auto Trader UK’s employees are now active daily on the platform, and at its peak the platform has carried as many as 40,000 messages in a single day.

Why does a digital communication platform work so well?

Lauren describes the benefits that implementing a digital comms platform has brought to Auto Trader UK. She says that it has improved the ability for people to catch up with each other and with work, and has removed a lot of the ‘noise’ surrounding emails. Slack has allowed Auto Trader UK to set up teams, projects and working groups, and this makes communicating far easier.

The platform is also readily accessible on both desktop and mobile devices, with no difference between them. In addition, it is fully integrated with many of the technology and applications that Auto Trader UK employees use, including Microsoft Teams; Email; Outlook; Trello; Skype; and others.

Auto Trader UK mostly uses its digital comms platform for day-to-day work, but also sends broadcast messages to the organisation – though these are often introductions with a link to the broadcast on Auto Trader UK’s intranet.

There is also a huge amount of traffic data that can be accessed, so Auto Trader UK can see what content and channels are most popular and effective.

Staying connected through a crisis

Lauren says that Auto Trader UK’s digital comms platform has enabled its people to stay connected more effectively during the coronavirus lockdown. It has allowed the leadership team to disseminate regular updates. Realising that employees would no longer have the daily interaction with senior staff that they have in the office, Auto Trader UK also set up channels to link employees to the business – such as a questions channel that leaders would answer.

The platform also proved to be a space in which people were able to maintain connection with their friends from work. The use it evidenced during the lockdown was surprising. “The way we all come together in times of need – it’s put a spotlight on it,says Lauren.

There is now a huge social element on the platform, and this is one of the things that Auto Trader UK plans to maintain when its employees are back in the office. In fact, Lauren says that she expects Auto Trader UK will keep everything going. “We’ll reintegrate different areas of communications, she says, but keeping those that we have relied on during this time.

Lauren’s top tips to embed a digital comms strategy in your organisation

Craig asked Lauren for her recommendations for any organisation seeking to implement a digital communications strategy.

It all depends upon the culture you have within an organisation, she says, but what we’ve honed in on is the social aspect of it, and people’s lives outside of work, and the things that make them happy outside of work.

Lauren recommends that you understand why people aren’t interacting with what you have already, and get people involved in bringing it to life. “Getting under the skin of the different demographics to understand what makes them tick and how to work things moving forward, she says.

Finally, make sure that you include a good mix of business-related content and channels and fun stuff, where people can connect socially.

Useful Links:

Lauren’s LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurenmottram/

A Case Study to read: 10 Tips on maintaining engagement during lockdown: a case study of Auto Trader UK

Questions, comments or suggestions

Do you have a question that you want answered in an upcoming episode? Do you have an idea that will help to make our podcast better? Let us know by using the form below.

Podcast question form

More episodes

Series 1

Ready to learn more about The Big Picture People?