I recently went through my streaming apps to figure out which I wanted to keep and which could go. I was surprised to discover—after scrutinizing each platform—I wasn’t willing to part with a single one!

I am not the only one who hoards streaming services. In fact, according to recent data:

  • 58% of households in the U.S. have more than one subscription video on-demand (SVOD) service
  • When considering just the top three services (Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime), 74% of households have more than one—compared to 70% in 2020, 69% in 2019 and 47% in 2016
  • The average number of SVOD services among all households is 3.1

What is it about these streaming services that keep people engaged and willing to spend money on multiple platforms each month? Their engagement strategies are great inspiration for employee communication!

Here are five techniques streaming services use to break through with their audiences and how that translates into communication strategies that can keep your “subscribers” (employees) engaged.

  1. Make content easy to navigate

At any given time, Netflix has a library of more than 6,000 movies and TV shows. However, when I open the home screen, I see a clean, simple interface that highlights about 50 of the newest, most popular programs—often based on past selections. If I scroll down, I get a few more. If I want to find a specific title, I can search for it.

When it comes to employee communication channels — a newsletter, intranet or even a benefits guide — employees don’t have time to sift through pages of information. Instead, they want the newest, most helpful content on top. Take the time to curate content: identify and promote information that balances employees’ needs with your priorities.

  1. Create compelling material

It’s not enough for these streaming services to reel in their audience, the content needs to be compelling enough to make people stay. Netflix may have the latest and greatest technology platform, but if the content is poor, people will ask, “What else is on?”

For streaming services, this means hiring the best actors and writers to tell tales that grab the audience’s attention and tug at their emotions. A great cast plus a captivating story is a winning formula for binge-worthy programming.

Here’s the twist for employee communication. Make employees the stars of compelling company stories.

The next time you write an article for the intranet, don’t simply announce a new product launch. Instead, tell the story of what the team did to bring that product to life. Start by introducing the product, create dramatic tension by highlighting challenges the team faced and finally, end with the team’s victory. Include personal perspectives from team members to bring the story to life—a human touch that inspires emotion and captivates employees.

  1. Give each channel a distinct purpose

If every streaming service had the same movies and shows, there would be no reason to explore other options. It’s no surprise the largest streaming services—Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime—focus on promoting unique content.

Fans know that Stranger Things is on Netflix, The Handmaid’s Tale is on Hulu and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is on Amazon Prime. The fact that each of these shows is exclusive to its respective company gives audiences a reason to subscribe to more than one service.

What does unique content have to do with internal communication?

You likely have several channels, or methods, to reach employees: intranet, newsletter, email, in-person meetings, social media, instant message, etc. Regardless of the mix your organization uses, each channel should serve a distinct purpose. In other words, employees should understand the value each delivers.

Start by identifying the objective of each channel and then ensure content meets that objective. For instance, an intranet can focus on news and resources, while a social tool (such as Yammer or Slack) is used for employee recognition, interaction on big-picture issues and team communication.

  1. Share the right amount, at the right time

When it comes to keeping subscribers hooked, timing is everything. Instead of releasing an entire season at once, Netflix is trying a “no-binge release schedule” to avoid overwhelming subscribers who are struggling to keep up. Staggering the release makes the time commitment feel manageable and builds anticipation for the next installment, so people keep talking about it.

Employees can also feel overloaded when hit with too much content at once—and will tune out. To keep employees engaged, segment content and release it in waves. For example, instead of posting that 15-minute video to Yammer, try chopping it into four episodes and post a new one each week. Employees will be more likely to find time to watch and you'll have fresh content for a month!

Here’s another way to think about staggering content: design content to fit time available. While employees may be willing to devote a Saturday afternoon to binge-watching Bridgerton, they very rarely have time to sit through a full-length feature film’s worth of content during the workday. Sometimes, they just want a trailer (quick peak) or a preview (a little more substance) to understand the main premise. When they’re ready for more, it should be easy to find the movie (all the details).

For example, is it time to communicate benefits? Lead with the trailer: a postcard reminding employees of key deadlines and actions needed. Follow up with a preview: a brochure highlighting key plan changes. Then, make the movie—the full plan documents—available on your intranet.

  1. Make data-driven decisions

Streaming services have a wealth of personal data—from what you watch and when, to previews you clicked and shows you gave a “thumbs up.” The goal? To figure out your likes and dislikes to keep you coming back for more!

Just like the streaming services, data can help you make decisions about your editorial mix and how to target specific groups with helpful content.

Even if your organization doesn’t have the same personalization capabilities as Netflix (“Because you watched ‘The Great British Bake Off’ you may also enjoy ‘Is it Cake?’”) there are still several methods to gather data.

Try spot surveys to understand how and why employees use key channels. Then, pair that data with e-metrics (such as clicks, pages views and visit duration). Now you’ll have insights to promote “what’s trending” on your channels and ideas for new content that breaks through.

Next time you are putting together an internal communication plan or developing content for your channels, think about your last streaming service binge. The marketing and content strategies that Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max and Disney+ employ are great inspiration for how to engage employees with your content.


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