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Six key principles for a successful social intranet

To help those about to embark on adopting a social intranet, we’ve outlined six key principles that we believe are essential for success on a new social adventure. They’ve worked for us and we now have a thriving internal community that has transformed the way we work.

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Going social is about more than the technology. Simply setting up a social intranet and expecting people to come and engage is not the answer. We found this out through our own internal use of Yammer. It took a couple of months of messages by the same old faces to realise that adoption does not happen automatically

Yammer and other lightweight social tools like Thoughtframer and Igloo make it easy for smaller companies to embrace the new social world, and enterprise strength systems like Jive, Sharepoint, Telligent and IBM Connections even enable corporations to light the social touch-paper.

After all, the way people use the web has changed. Around 10 years ago most people were solely content consumers. Sure, they went online, but they read content produced by a select group of publishers. There was the odd blogger trailblazing their thoughts, but for the most part the average user didn’t actually create content.

Today, things are different. Sites like WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest mean that publishing – whether it’s the latest news, what you had for dinner, or a link to a must read article – is now easy, for everyone.

At least that’s how it works outside the work environment. Inside, however, things have not quite caught up. Broadcast emails or ‘internal comms’ are still the norm in most organizations, along with precious little opportunity for employees to have their say.  With this in mind, here are a few key things to think about when thinking about a social intranet:


Six principles for social intranet adoption

1.     Communicate a clear vision and nurture it

Employees need to know that it’s ok to be social and that it is being actively encouraged. Legitimise social and ask your leaders to lead the way.


2.     Allow everyone to have a voice

The social intranet should give everyone a level playing field to contribute and should not be based on people’s ranking within the company.


3.     Encourage different ways of sharing

Create the right conditions to encourage people to share. Make sure they understand how to do it, and try to build sharing into existing workflow.


4.     Breakdown organisational barriers

Try not to create silos that mirror your existing organisational structures. Knowledge needs to flow across these boundaries.


5.     Be available anytime, anywhere

Not everyone clocks in from 9-5. Remote working and always-on cultures demand a solution that is available anytime and anywhere. This is an important thing to factor into the development process.


6.     Create conversation starters

Identify the things that matter to your employees. Whether these are frustrations, new ideas or areas of interest – use them as a way to kick-start the conversation.

Keep these in mind whether you’re planning a new social intranet rollout or need to kick-start employee engagement on a new social platform. Adoption will not happen overnight. Sometimes it can be a two to three year journey to get everyone on board, but with some careful planning your company will be transformed into the networked enterprise ready for the 21st Century.

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