Take steps to make your intranet less boring

Just the mention of the word ‘intranet’ is enough to send some people to sleep.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. While an intranet might never elicit deep joy or palpable excitement, you can still do your bit to make it significantly less boring.

Why bother?

You might see an interesting intranet as a ‘nice to have’, but it’s much more than that. If it’s your job to make sure everyone’s on board with the intranet, then filling it with boring is a great way to ensure you’ll never achieve good user take-up.

By making your intranet engaging and adding a dash of the unexpected, you will keep users coming back, and ultimately build a stronger community among your colleagues. So what can you do to make it happen?

Intranets shouldn’t just be a one-way thing. Too often, they end up being a way for corporate communications to broadcast news to employees, which on its own isn’t enough to sustain engagement. Adding social features lets users share the valuable (well, sometimes) views and knowledge they can bring to the discussion.

Add a social element

You can quickly add a social element to your intranet by surfacing SharePoint’s Social Activity Feed feature on an on-premise intranet, or by embedding Yammer on an Office 365 intranet. Both act like other popular social networks, with the ability to post, follow, like, share and comment on statuses. Users can follow other users, hashtags and even documents or pages.

A Noticeboard feature allows users to post personal ‘classified’ notices for the attention of their colleagues. This could include items for sale, notices of social outings and charity events.

Another ‘quick win’ is to enable comments and ratings on pages. This lets users share what they want to say on any page of the intranet, while giving you valuable feedback about how well a page is performing.

(These features are all baked-in to our Kira intranet platform, which you can find out about on the Kira microsite.)

A common concern often raised by senior stakeholders is that social features like these will be misused. However, there is a strong argument that employees should be treated as adults when it comes to corporate social networking. Ensure there’s a documented policy in place, and that staff are aware of it.

Use the intranet to build community

Hosting employee blogs on your intranet can be a great way to engage staff and help them get to know colleagues and their roles.

An obvious place to start is the CEO blog, but, if they want to do it, why not allow other staff to have blogs too? Don’t forget that tightly-controlled and painfully ‘on-message’ blogs can also be a major turn-off. Allow room for freedom of expression and let colleagues get to know the real person.

You could also use the intranet to share engaging articles that offer a different view of your business. Consider quirky stories about the company’s history; run a competition, or invite discussion on a particularly hot topic.

Add a bit of colour

Intranets already have text covered. That’s why they’re often viewed as boring. Add a bit of fun by making use of media. You can start with photos. If you don’t already have a source of regular photos, then it’s time to buy a camera and get snapping (you can use them on your corproate social media, too, all the while building up a useful library of photos for later re-use.)
Video and audio can offer even bigger oppiortunities for engagement. In the smartphone age, it’s never been easier to capture video and audio, although they do still require a time investment. However, the pay-off can be fantastic, and like most things, it gets easier the more frequently you do it.
Consider letting colleagues film their own ‘day in the life’ video diaries, or recording a monthly audio podcast with key people around the organisation. There are options to embed video and audio within intranets such as those based on SharePoint, but ultimately you can host media directly on sites like YouTube or SoundCloud.

JFDI (just… do it!)

These are just a few ideas about how to keep your intranet fresh and interesting. The main thing is to keep trying new things, and keep your intranet content changing. The more effort you put in to doing things differently, the more interesting your intranet will become. With a little bit of extra effort, you can make your intranet more engaging, and maybe even fun to use.

Find out more about Kira, our world-class intranet platform that makes SharePoint less boring.

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