Your intranet or corporate social network can be a digital workplace's best channel to establish engagement and a reliable two-way link between your employees and organizational culture.
Content authors play a key — and ongoing — role in this relationship. Authors are the ones who recognize what content to feature and know how to make that content engaging, relatable and relevant. But keeping the engagement levels up takes more than just about coming up with ideas for interesting posts. It’s about having the resources, both human and technological, to determine and act on relevant trends and to build organic interest over time.
- Do you have people whose responsibility, even if it’s part-time, it is to write your intranet content?
- Do they have the necessary time to do that consistently?
- Do they have the tools to make the content attractive to your employees?
- Do they have access to analytics to see what's popular?
If your answer is no to one or more of these questions, your content authors are operating in the dark and their best efforts come down to pure luck. In circumstances like these, even the best-looking intranet will lose it’s audience and engagement.
Fix Your Broken Intranet Content Process
Fixing your broken engagement pipeline starts with three elements:
Writing intranet content isn't magic: it's about knowing your employees, your organizational culture and catering to both. First determine what type of content will be featured on your intranet and more importantly, who will author it and how often.
With tools like Office 365, we often see organizations wanting to use nearly the entire arsenal of available features, but who will maintain some of those features? Features like events, polls, image carousels and news articles quickly become stale if they aren't refreshed on a regular basis.
We recommend having a primary author and a backup to cover highly visible areas of the site such as the home page. This doesn't mean having a dedicated resource per piece of content, but at a minimum, have one person assigned to consistently refresh key areas of the site. In smaller organizations, those can be members of your marketing or HR team and in larger organizations, members of the communications team. Have a matrix of people assigned so that when someone goes on holidays, backup takes over and your intranet is still under control and fresh.
I’ve helped launch some beautifully crafted intranets, where every image is pixel perfect, of correct ratio and colors are well balanced to compliment the rest of the site. Designers use professional tools to make this happen. However, in almost every case, the site starts to lose its luster as content authors create new content and add poor quality graphics and use other workarounds.
This can be easily avoided by providing authors with the necessary end-user tools and training them on their use. We're not talking Photoshop here. Many online tools, such as Canva, can be used by non-technically savvy users to create quality graphics fast.
An analytics tool is another must have. Knowing your engagement levels is key to writing interesting content. It’s also a way to prioritize and rethink your publishing schedule for specific types of content. For example, if “Customer Stories” are read mostly towards the end of the week, perhaps you should stop posting them on Monday morning. If you’re using Office 365, Microsoft has been rolling out rich content analytics dashboards using Power BI out-of-the-box.
If you have a good idea about a piece of content but are still unsure whether it’ll catch, use tools like polls to test the waters. You may find that certain content needs to be emphasized at the top of the page while other topics don't need as prominent a spot.
You’ve lined up your content authors and managers, ensured they have access to the tools they need — now they need regular training to keep up.
Content authors can at times be hesitant to post content because they don’t understand how permissions work or how to drill down in the analytics and engagement report.
With cloud-based platform like Office 365, the regular additions and changes to features can result in out-of-date practices and workarounds. Some workarounds cause layout problems and lost time and frustration for both readers and authors.
Some of the strategies you can use to help with this, include: group-attend webinars, host lunch and learns, invite an expert for a half-day refresher training, involvement in local or online user groups, and for larger organizations, organize an author support area on the site where authors can exchange their experiences and ask questions.
Engaging Content Is an Ongoing Process
Try to use only the types of content you’re willing and able to keep fresh, not just what looks good on the page. Give your authors the necessary tools to create rich content and provide access to engagement analytics. Train your users on how to use the tools you give them so they can better utilize their time and focus more on the quality content.
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