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Understanding How to Create a Successful Social Intranet: 3 Tips for Optimizing Collaboration

Intranets have long been the standard for sharing secure information within an organization, but they can be challenging to manage, especially when left to one person or group, and consequently, the information could become stale or employee involvement low.

So how do we make sure our intranet is valuable and the investment maximized? By adding a social layer to your intranet, you’re adding familiar communication tools – ones that your employees already use on a daily basis in their personal lives – to better connect employees so they can collaborate, share knowledge, be part of a community and go beyond a two-way conversation.

Here are 3 things you should know to optimize your social intranet:

  1. The Evolution of Email
    Organizations today run on email; it’s like fuel for employees. It’s the first thing we consume in the morning (often times still in bed) and most employees are entrenched in it all day long. While email is a business staple not likely to become obsolete any time soon, the way we use it is changing. 
    The introduction of social tools allows a level of connectivity and collaboration businesses have not seen before. Suddenly, the intranet is relevant; an organic environment where information goes to be shared and built upon. 
    With new and better ways to foster communication, knowledge sharing and employee connections, email is becoming less a content repository and more about notifications. Social intranets enable conversations between open groups of individuals, and provide durability to the dialog for others to discover later.
  2. Overcoming Fear of Change
    Although social media has been ingrained in our daily lives for quite some time now, making the transition to business can often stir up nervous feelings. Fear of change may be warranted, for executives and their employees, but it should not inhibit.
    One of the great benefits of social intranets is they break down the barrier between the C-suite and employees. Many executives preach transparency and open communication, but it’s difficult to accomplish; especially with a global business or one with employees spread out in numerous locations. With a social intranet, C-level executives are able to broadcast a message directly to employees, and – perhaps more importantly – solicit rapid feedback and dialog from employees. 
    Some best practices help to ensure that fear doesn’t torpedo the launch of a social intranet. For example, make sure your intranet has executive sponsorship and figure out who/which group is responsible. If you’re unsure about what is going to work best for your business, engage with someone who has done it before. The delegated group needs to think about:
    1. Launch and ongoing communication
    2. Governance
    3. Policies
    4. Training
  3. Social IS for Business
    Part of the employee appeal to social in the workplace is a familiar interface. With today’s mobile technology, people are connected to social sites 24/7. They’re steering away from email and using social sites such as Facebook as their primary communication tool. And guess what? They like it, it’s easy and effective. Why wouldn’t you want a tool like that in the workplace?
    Moreover, there are concrete business problems social intranets remedy. Does your business have a remote workforce? Do you have multiple offices in different time zones? Are you global? Or do you have a workforce that is working different shifts? Is your business organized in siloes? The social intranet makes collaborating and communicating across siloes, geographies and time zones easy, giving employees the opportunity to add more value to others and ultimately the business. 
    The employees at PointBridge are finding value in our social intranet every day. We recognize peers, ask questions and share resources. We’ve found that participating in these activities in a social space is more productive and employees are actually more willing to engage than they do via email or other mechanisms.


How is your organization using social? What kind of benefits have you seen?


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Callie Jones

My name is Callie and I'm the digital marketing manager at Perficient. I spend most of my days managing Perficient's online and social media presence, which includes Perficient's IBM, Microsoft and Oracle practices. I came to Perficient through the acquisition of PointBridge in February 2012, where I was the content marketing specialist. Prior to that, I spent three years at Hubbard One, a Thomson Reuters business, marketing software and services to law firms. I grew up in Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a degree in journalism and mass communications. Like most Minnesotans, I have an affinity for the state and it’s summers.

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