Your intranet is only as good as your last piece of content. It must be fresh, relevant, and worth your employees’ time, every time. 90% of intranets fail within 3 years for many reasons but essentially, they fail when employees don’t use them.
of intranets fail within 3 years
Here are 4 ways you can make sure that your content will bring your intranet to life, keep your business engaged and help employees to Work Happy.
1) Make content the heart of the project
It’s essential that content is not an afterthought to your intranet project.
By addressing content from the very beginning of your project – and ensuring you have the governance to keep it fresh, engaging, and inspiring – you can ensure that your intranet will succeed, and your employee engagement will reap the benefits.
Make content an essential pillar of your project. Assign a lead to oversee the definition of content types and their purpose, the creation and collation workstreams, and the business change required to establish robust ongoing content governance (see point 3!).
This role is as important as any stream lead, as – without content – your intranet is nothing.
Many intranet projects stumble at the last hurdle when they look to add content and discover that the critical path for bringing in new – or even existing – content that meets their newly defined goals and purpose, far exceeds the time they have left before launch.
Delayed releases that disengage stakeholders and incur additional development and testing costs or, even worse, an intranet that launches with poorly populated or substandard content, turning users off before you’ve even got off the ground. Ensure your content stream lies on your critical path and track it accordingly.
2) Create a structure that will work, for them
Intranets with high engagement are those that provide information that employees actually want and need.
These sites are insight-led and designed with a deep understanding of employee drivers and behaviours from the outset. By bringing in UX expertise to support your design and build, you give your intranet the best chance of delivering an intuitive, friction-free experience that gives your people access to the content that they need, when and where they need it.
As well as helping you to reveal the personas you are building your content structure for, good UX designers will help you to evolve a taxonomy to present your content such that users can navigate to the information they need instinctually, quickly, and successfully.
Ensure too, when you are establishing your ongoing content maintenance and development procedures, that there is clarity on where and how information is stored so that it doesn’t break the flow of your well-designed taxonomy.
When new areas of content are defined that sit outside the structure – such as a new department, brand, or discipline – consider their introduction as a new mini-project. It is worth taking the same care and attention to expand your taxonomy as you did when designing it.
Look at the insights, survey your employees, use your personas and you can’t go wrong.
3) Set up good governance
Intranet governance is vital.
It extends far beyond uploading new files and includes establishing operating procedures, technical incident management, and integrating training into new employee induction packs. But how you manage content and protect the integrity of the structure of that content is also vital.
Content governance should cover the management of content across your organisation and be focused on making sure that each piece of content that is created is:
- Strategically aligned, and of high quality,
- Appropriately located to make it accessible for all those who need it (primarily) and then all those who want it (where permissions allow),
- Maintained and up to date,
- Appropriately tagged so that it can be searched for and displayed in result lists in a meaningful way.
Your governance should reference the roles involved with creation, and approval, of information providing a framework for stakeholders at every stage of the content lifecycle. It should also lay out procedures for storing and archiving content, define types of content and the different ways these might be protected or updated, and refer to the importance of consistency in content creation.
In the creation of training programmes, you may set a standard whereby all trainees receive an email a week before any course they attend, with associated learning materials and pre-joining instructions. The day before their course they may be welcomed into a Teams group which is prepopulated with the training materials. Immediately following the course, they receive a thank you email with a link to a feedback survey and, a week later, a reflections email with highlighted feedback gathered and links to any follow on courses.
To provide consistent experiences for all trainees attending courses – virtual or in person – the content across email, training, and in Teams should follow the same themes, be up to date, and be delivered to the same cadence regardless of the course.
This will give attendees confidence in the quality and professionalism of the training, as well as building and maintaining their engagement across the course, and beyond.
4) Write good content
At the heart of it all is the quality of the content you create and publish on your intranet.
It can be harder than it first appears to write consistently engaging content but, by following some simple rules, you can bring your intranet alive and keep your business engaged and informed with inspiring information and easily digestible data.
First – Who?
Think about who you are talking to.
Is this a message to the whole company and, if so, do you need to deliver it differently to different people. Or is it just for specific roles or departments?
If you have created personas as part of your UX design, these are invaluable when it comes to planning content. Understand as much about the recipients as you can before you create. Are they time poor? Do they tend to respond better to numbers, pictures, or longer form pieces?
If you don’t know, ask. Use your survey and insights tools (such as Microsoft Viva Insights or Microsoft Forms in Teams) to learn more about your audience before you put pen to paper.
Next – How?
Now you know who you are speaking to and what works for them, select your medium and platform.
Is this an important communication that needs to be shared via a Teams town hall meeting? Or is it a lower-level information share that can be run through Viva Engage communities? What will the campaign look like from end-to-end, and could it be best supported through a campaign planning platform, such as Ripple?
How (and when) you share your content could make the difference between a successful internal brand launch and a failure to gain traction.
Finally – What?
For communicating hard facts, and for those who appreciate brevity, think bullet points, infographics, and clear, straightforward language. And for more detailed, or complex messaging that requires a softer tone – such as communicating a company structure change, or a strategic brand development – unleash your storytelling skills.
Sharing information by telling a story – taking the reader with you through the evolution of the message, bringing in personal details, anecdotes, and examples that makes the message come alive – is a powerful and engaging method of communication.
Use video and imagery to make your words literally leap off the page, and always consider accessibility to make sure that no one misses a message.
When you’ve invested the time and capital into creating your new intranet you want to gain the maximum engagement from your employees from the outset, so content needs to be a core part of every project and beyond.
Take the time to plan content in from the start, design with the employee in mind, invest in ongoing maintenance and governance, and ensure that every piece of content is well thought through and appropriate for the audience.
Do this and your intranet content will continue to make an impact from the start and bring energy and inspiration to your Work Happy organisation for years to come.
Find out how our content services can bring your SharePoint intranet to life.