It's no longer cost effective to have a small team manage the content on your Intranet, you need to encourage contributions from the wider organization. Here are some approaches to do that.

Any one who builds or maintains Intranets will know the technology is only half of the puzzle. A good Intranet lives or dies by its content. In days gone by, generating and maintaining content required dedicated Intranet teams, devoted man hours and careful curation. All of these things required time and money to be invested, on top of whatever costs were incurred in the technology build.

Encourage User to Add Content

The advent of the ‘Web 2.0’ has flipped content creation on its head. Not only is the technology now in place for end users to create their own content, but users expect to be able to contribute because of their experiences on the web. Most Intranet CMS systems these days come with a wide range of features and functionality allowing users to add their own content.

Fill Out User Profiles

A popular feature is the profile page, mimicking functionality similar to that provided by sites like Facebook. SharePoint 2010 is a case in point. Microsoft invested heavily in the personal profile component of this new version, giving users status updates, their own wall and ‘my activity’ pages. Here user generated content is personal and ‘social’.

Users don’t generally feel like they are adding content to the Intranet, but by providing details of themselves and their activity on the system they are indeed populating pages with data.

Contribute to a Wiki

More traditional content can be facilitated by wiki pages. Nearly all of the big enterprise players allow content to be added by this means. A wiki page can be edited and updated by any user (usual permissions settings aside), with a full audit trail and version history kept. Basic text and images can generally be added easily, and many systems allow you to add rich content and even documents.

Policies & Guidelines are Key

But it isn’t really technology that is the powerful thing here. It is the users themselves. Generally speaking, users are now comfortable with the concepts of adding and submitting content online on the web. Facebook, Wikipedia and Amazon all rely heavily on user generated content and their popularity has helped to shape users perceptions.

While the corporate world is still somewhat behind, it is rapidly catching up. The challenge in this environment though is two fold. First, users need to be encouraged to add the right kind of content, on a regular basis. They need to be aware of what the system can allow them to do, what the technology offers and have any required training. They will also need regular encouragement, in the form of launch events, competitions for top contributors, etc.

Second, the employer needs to be clear what they are asking from their users, they need clear policies and guidelines. Is content moderated or approved? Can content be added anywhere to the system, or only certain areas? If users are going to add content to the system they need to know under what conditions they are adding it.

The Intranet Team Expands

User generated content undoubtedly has its place in the modern Intranet. It takes the burden off a central team, and puts the ownership for the system in the hands of the users. This collective responsibility can result in a system that people can feel proud of, one in which they have a reason to keep up to date.

It isn’t realistic to expect Intranets to thrive under ownership of small dedicated teams anymore, the Internet has shown us this. Companies should embrace user generated content to ensure their Intranets grow and thrive.