Employee Social Network Field of Dreams

Over the past 10 years, the options for employee social networks (ESNs) have multiplied: there are desktop social apps, information sharing platforms and team collaboration solutions. But despite the innovative features and personalized widgets these services provide, many communicators are disappointed to find that employees remain hesitant to participate.

The movie Field of Dreams taught us that “If you build it, they will come.” But smart internal communicators know that phrase is missing one key component: great content. The key to attracting employees to come play on your ballfield is providing content they care about.

Here are 9 ways to develop content that will help employees step up to the plate:

1
            

Provide up-to-the-second news

Why build it?

Employees are used to real-time news in their daily lives, so your ESN must provide a similar experience to keep them coming back for the latest intel.

How to knock it out of the park

Post global news like financial results immediately when they go public, rather than hours later. To up the ante, include leader perspectives that are exclusive to the platform. And coach local communicators to use targeted notifications for weather alerts, campus events and other important updates.

2

Keep it short and mobile friendly

Why build it?

Mobile access is critical for remote employees like sales forces. And employees with little time to read lengthy articles (almost everyone!) appreciate short, to-the-point posts.

How to knock it out of the park

Work with your IT partners to ensure the ESN platform you choose is mobile friendly; if not, you’re excluding a large chunk of your workforce from the conversation! As for post length, keep blogs to 50 words or fewer and articles to 200 words or fewer. The shorter, the better.

3

Get leaders to pave the way

Why build it?

Employees will show up if they know their leaders not only approve of the new platform, but also are leading the conversations. So get your leaders to join the team.

How to knock it out of the park

Make it easy for leaders to participate: ask them to “tweet” short two-sentence updates or post photos from their recent events. These take very little of leaders’ precious time and are quick for employees to read.            

4

Make it useful

Why build it?

Focus on giving employees news they can use: advice that helps them solve a problem, accomplish an objective and get their jobs done.

How to knock it out of the park

Think about your employees’ biggest questions. “What do I need to do?” and “What does this mean to me?” are two examples. Then write content to answer those questions. Starting with a “How to” headline is a great way to capture attention. Try this: “How to hold a mid-year review conversation that will benefit your career.”           

5

Let employees drive the content

Why build it?

With external social media (think Instagram and Facebook), people get to post their ideas where they want, when they want. So give them a similar experience in the office.

How to knock it out of the park

Set up chat forums where employees can post ideas, share tips, ask questions and have their voices heard by both colleagues and senior leaders. You can even build forums for posting photos and videos of events and accomplishments.      

6

Include visuals to capture attention

Why build it?

Visuals are powerful: they pique viewers’ interest, provide a method to communicate a lot of information quickly, and create an emotional connection that words alone cannot.

How to knock it out of the park

Always include an intriguing image with your posts to grab attention. Develop infographics to explain complex topics. Sprinkle images throughout longer articles to tell a story. And emphasize action items with colorful callouts and interactive buttons.

7

Ensure content is easy to access

Why build it?

On survey after survey, we hear that poor search functions and unwieldy navigation are employees’ biggest complaints about their intranet and social platforms. Help employees find what they need quickly by improving these two features. 

How to knock it out of the park

First, understand what employees search for by reviewing metrics or conducting a survey. Then, partner with your IT team to develop a navigation system that’s organized by employees’ needs and offers multiple ways to reach the same topic. To improve search functionality, use key words to tag content in a way that helps employees do something, know something, or go to a specific page.

8

Use video to break through the clutter

Why build it?

Videos can help you break through communication overload. You can use videos to explain complex topics in a simple way and bring stories to life. And all you need is an iPad or smartphone to get started.

How to knock it out of the park

Begin by defining your objectives, then drafting a storyboard that quickly gets to the main point. Keep spoken words short and simple, instead making visuals the star. In other words, show, don’t tell. Create a call to action so employees are left with something to do. And remember to have fun!

9

Give them a chance to play

Why build it?

Want employees to get excited about your content? Appeal to their innate desire to play (and win!)—give them games and contests to compete in.

How to knock it out of the park

Use the innovative new features of your ESN to turn boring trainings into games. Include badges and leaderboards so employees can compete against each other for pride, all while boosting their knowledge of policies, product portfolios and codes of conduct.

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