Thursday, August 13, 2009

5 Tips To Create a Successful Intranet
Part Three - Front Page News

Should every Intranet have a news section on the front page? This question is bound to be a contentious one. The front page news section has historically been seen as an essential item for every Intranet but this may not be true for every organisation. You need to cast an objective eye over the news section and evaluate if it adds sufficient value to justify its prime position.

I have recently done just that, evaluated the content of all news items posted over the past month, checked the monthly access stats to see what the actual readership numbers for news items are and reviewed the amount of space taken up by our news panel.

My conclusion for our Intranet was YES, the news section does provide value for users and we seem to have the balance pretty right. I have to say though that it was a pretty close call.

Many internal communications professionals see the intranet news as a vital communications channel to enhance employee engagement and indeed there is some truth to that. My evaluation of our news readership however demonstrated that items about company performance, executive appointments, project milestones, marketing media releases and the like are interesting to a very limited number of staff. The bulk of my users who check the news are interested in information that provides them personally with opportunities and items on issues that affect them directly.

The usage results table below shows the top 10 ranked news items for the month of July 09. There were 38 news items published in the 31 day period. We have approximately 6000 daily intranet users and the top ranking item was viewed by just under 8% of those users. Number 10 was read by just under 5%. You can interpolate that number 38 for the month would be a very small number of views indeed.
The content of the top 10 items can also be broken into 3 clear categories.

Offers and opportunities for employees
1 - Discount show ticket offer taking number the one spot
2 - Bulletin Board is a place where employees can buy and sell items amongst each other
3 - Shine Winners is a list of those who have won $250A employee of the month award
9 - Pre Sale Ticket offer to purchase major sporting tickets before the general public

Monthly News Letters
(Magazine type publications that contain a lot of articles about individuals)
5 - Corporate
6 - Sydney Casino
10 - One of our core business arms

Information that directly affect employees
4 - Government tax changes to employee share plan
7 - Government changes to company superannuation contributions
8 - Major company acquisition being considered

As a comparison I have provided another chart that shows the top 10 Functions and Features accessed over the same period. You can see the numbers are much higher with the number 10 ranked item being accessed more than the number 1 news item.

There are a few tips that you might like to consider about the provision of Intranet news.

  • Good volume of news items
    Make sure you have plenty of news contributions from across your organisation. If a news item stays on the front page for an entire month it is really just taking up space. Not many people re read yesterdays newspaper.
  • Limit the space each item takes
    Headings should be short but descriptive, and a very brief synopsis can be provided. Users should be able to get an idea if they are interested in an item by reading its title. They can then ignore it or click in to read more. Presenting a large chunk of the item is really once again just taking up space.
  • Good variety of information
    As illustrated above, users are interested in items that directly affect them, offers they can take advantage of and information about other employees. Posting company media releases, marketing information and self congratulatory corporate information alone is not of great interest to employees on the coal face.
  • Learn about your users
    This is a very important thing that every Intranet Manager needs to do for everything on the Intranet. Each user is different, every location is different and every organisation is different. It is up to you to identify their interests and needs. There are many ways to do this and I am sure I will elaborate on some in future posts.
  • Consider alternative methods of news delivery
    If you have a small volume of news or your contributors are limited you might consider a different delivery method instead of the traditional front page panel. Perhaps a prominent link of the front page "Current News - Last Update MM-DD-YYYY". Maybe provide an RSS feed that those interested can subscribe to. There are many options and I am sure some unique ones I have not considered that would work in your organisation.

In conclusion, the analysis and information I have outlined above is about my organisation and the Intranet I currently manage. There is no strict set of rules or guidelines that apply for every Intranet. The correct way to do things for your Intranet is what works for your users and organisation. I would however advise all Intranet Managers to take a critical look at how the news is managed on your Intranet. As my mother has always said "Just because everyone else does it doesn't mean you have to as well" and mothers always know best.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What the F**K is Social Media: One Year Later

This slideshow is very long, 83 slides, but it contains some fascinating social media statistics. Well worth a look. Apparently it has also become a global viral success and it is clear to see why.

Sourced from . This is a follow up to the original What The F**K is Social Media? . Interesting to compare the stats from then and now.

What are the top 10 factors when implementing Twitter in your organisation?

Yesterday (Tuesday 4 August), the Canberra chapter of the Intranet Leadership Forum met for day one of a two day workshop and one of the items discussed was whether Twitter used inside an organisation added value. Though I was in another state and unable to attend, I was able to follow the debate via Twitter #CanberraILF. It appears that the room was split into 'For' and 'Against' camps with the 'Against' side slightly larger. There was a few undecided.

Some of the positives the 'For' team raised:
Emergency situations, have conversations within intranet author user groups, solve problems instantly.

Some of the issues raised by the 'Against' team:
Long term sustainability, potential to be a time waster, quality of information, low care factor, FOI (am assuming that was Freedom of Information), number of characters prohibiting getting message across and information overload.

Late in the afternoon the group decided to come up with a list in answer to the question "What are the top 10 factors when implementing Twitter in your organisation?".

The factors they considered were:
(In no particular order)
  1. Governance for managing
  2. Investigate security/technological requirements
  3. Content
  4. Team collaboration
  5. Executive buy-in
  6. Monitoring
  7. Policy around guidelines for users
  8. Solid business case
  9. Who gets permission to tweet
  10. Whether responses are trusted.
While the above list is by no means definitive, there are many inclusions that need to be carefully considered if an organisation intends to allow all employees internal access to Twitter.

Personally I think the ability to follow proceedings of events like this ILF workshop remotely and in real time is an overwhelming vote for the positive however the bureaucracy that exists within most organisations and breaking down the suspicions of management are realities that few have overcome.

Overall, an interesting and enjoyable debate and I would love to receive comments for things people feel should be included in the list, more arguments for the 'For' case as well as views of those in the 'Against' camp.

One final note, I came across this Template Twitter strategy for Government Departments made available by the UK Cabinet Office and have found it extremely useful. Thanks to @CraigThomler and @fanbloodytastic for tweeting the link to the template.

Thanks also to @RichardTuffin @readingroom_au @ACSnewsfeed @adriankhall @awmitchell @Alex_Manchester for contributing to the days discussions via twitter.