How to create engaging content that keeps users coming back for more!

No...not this type of engagement!
Earlier today I took part in a webinar hosted by Interact Intranet on the topic of creating content that keeps users engaged and as the title of the blog posts says...coming back for more.

Both content and content engagement are extremely important topics for intranet managers to have a good understanding of. Not just when they're running an already well established intranet but perhaps more importantly when they're about to launch a new intranet.

The reason I would argue that it's more important when you're about to roll out a new intranet is because getting users excited about content should start before your intranet is launched, so that when your intranet does launch users will be full of enthusiasm about it.

There are several ways you can get your users excited about your intranet and the content that is going to be published to it, they include:

  • Holding a contest to decide on the name of the intranet
  • Identifying content managers (this is really important and should be done early)
  • Sending teaser emails - showing screenshots and sneak previews of new functionality
  • Creating pre-launch guides
  • Posters
  • Thinking about a soft launch

Of course engaging with your users in relation to your new intranet and the content that's on it should continue post launch and could involve any of the following:

  • A survey post launch to gather feedback
  • An area (forum) where users can suggest new content
  • Creating "exclusive" content that can only be found on the intranet
  • Lunch and Learn and similar style sessions to explain how to use new features on the site

Building relationships with content providers.

This is essential to ensure your intranet content remains up-to-date. So there are several groups of users you'll need to build effective relationships with. Again you should start talking to these groups of users early in the process of rolling out a new intranet, not just before it is launched.

They groups include the following:

  • (Senior) Management Team
  • IT
  • HR
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Thought leaders
  • Engaging authors (these are the  people who are creating the most content within your site, and can usually be identified through site statistics) This group may include people who you weren't aware were creating a lot of content in the first place.

Types of engaging content

To keep employees engaged you need to have different types of content, not just "boring" company news, although of course this does need to be featured, in addition to this you should aim to have the following types of content:

  • Special features
  • Company news
  • New hires
  • Featured Teams
  • Awards & Recognitions
  • Event photos
  • Customer wins and best practices

Anything that features an individual is generally considered a great morale builder, as people like to read about people, it gives them a sense of wellbeing and feels nice :-)

Integrating your content with other channels

This is about integrating content from other platforms and includes the following types of content:

  • Newsletters
  • E-blasts
  • Social media
  • Blogs
  • Whitepapers
  • Case Studies
  • Webinars

Twitter and RSS are great examples of two channels that can be easily integrated on intranet homepages.

Creating great content

This is a very important area, as writing content for the intranet is very different from other media.

  • Put conclusions at the beginning, get to the point in the first paragraph, then expand upon it
  • Proofread you work, typos and spelling errors will send people away from your pages
  • Use headings and sub-headings effectively - these make the text more scan-able
  • Be sure that it makes business sense - it meets organizational content objectives
  • Keep content visually consistent, this makes a users experience more consistent

There were some great hints and tips contained within this webinar. If  you're interested in learning more about creating engaging content then I highly recommend "Creating intranet content" on the Clearbox Consulting website. This is an excellent guide to doing just that!

Social factors in collaboration

I enjoy reading Michael Sampson's blog posts, even more so after hearing him speak on a couple of occasions. His latest blog post is definitely worth a read if you haven't done so already, as it looks at some of the social factors that can impact on how people work and collaborate with one another.

Enjoy!


Kent Fitness League (KFL) Race 2 @ Swanley Park

Front legs not too bad
Yesterday I took part in the second Kent Fitness League cross country (XC) race at Swanley Park. There are three things to say before I describe the race in a bit more detail.

The first is that this was my first XC race since school, where to be honest I hated XC, the second was that on Saturday night it absolutely heaved it down, which as a result meant that the course was very muddy, but apparently not as muddy as some of the cross country courses! The third and final point is that in the race briefing the organisers indicated that there was a large hummock that runners would need to climb over, but there would be some help from the marshals.

Before the start there was a very poignant moment as we were treated to a flyby from four spitfires, followed by a 2 minute silence to mark Remembrance Sunday.

Shortly after this 500 runners set off from the mass start line, this time I remember to start my Garmin, which I hadn't on my previous race running for Gravesend Road Runners. This was a three lap course and went a little bit like this.

Lap 1 - A slow start as everyone jostles for position and gets used to the soggy conditions. Some points of the course were very congested, no more so than the first hummock, where there were no marshals to help. After the hummock the course became a single track which led down into a woods, where there was definitely no overtaking, this was followed by a short hill (where I spotted a GRRAC supporter) into some more woods and then downhill into a very muddy part of the course next to the lake. Having turned around at the lake I spotted a couple more Road Runners and gave them some encouragement before a short sprint up a steep incline a right turn and the first complete lap.

Lap 2 - More of the same, but a bit quicker as the field spread out and runners began to find their race pace. I felt good during this lap and definitely gained some ground on other runners, helped by some more encouragement.

Back legs completely covered
Lap 3 - The final lap and feeling it a bit now, but trying to keep going and make up some more places (not really happening though) the final hill and no sprinting up it this time, but a sprint finish to ensure no one overtook me and DONE!

Final statistics for the race were 5.2 miles in 41:38 (8 minute miles) and a race position of 223rd out of 495 runners. Pretty happy with that, although I would have liked to have got closer to 40 minutes, but all things considered (especially the wet conditions) I'll take that and hope to improve at Race 3 which is Oxleas Wood in Eltham.

I always loved getting really muddy as the photos show, so if you're runner who enjoys getting muddy and you live in Kent then you should you get yourself affiliated with a club and get to the next XC race :-)

I hope you like the photos of my legs, you really don't want to see what my trainers look like!

The four core use cases of an enterprise collaboration platform

The Lunar core..who knew!
Recently I was fortunate enough to take part in a webinar organised by HighQ solutions which looked at the "Four core use cases of an enterprise collaboration platform" The webinar delivered by Stuart Barr is well worth watching if you're thinking about developing an internal collaboration platform.

In the webinar Stuart looks at some of the reasons why enterprises are looking at enterprise collaboration platforms. There are of course a number of reasons why the use of these tools is on the rise, not just because of the development of consumer tools like Dropbox, GoogleDrive, Icloud and the ease with which these can be used by individuals both at work and at home.

The problem of course with these tool as Stuart explains is that IT Departments don't like them, the reasons why include the following;

  • Lack of control over infrastructure
  • No visibility into information sharing
  • Security and compliance risks
  • Often blocked at the firewall

So whilst people want and need these tools and like the simplicity of the consumers tools that are available, there are some serious barriers to their adoption and how they're viewed by IT.  So instead of using a consumer tool within an organisation, organisations are increasingly looking at enterprise versions of collaboration tools. These tools should provide;

  • Enterprise-grade security
  • More control & auditablity
  • Secure private clouds
  • A choice of hosting locations
  • Single-tenancy deployments
  • ISO27001 certification

In addition to this the tools should provide options for external collaboration, so collaboration with clients, partners, suppliers and anyone who doesn't have access to your network. These are just some of the topics, which are discussed in this webinar and at only an hour long it's well worth spending your lunch break watching it :-)

Turning Challenges into Opportunities: New Directions for Legal Information Professionals

If you're interested in reading about what the future might hold for Legal Information Professionals then look no further then a Law Sites blog post called "Turning Challenges into Opportunities: New Directions for Legal Information Professionals"

In the post Robert Ambrogi looks at some of the challenges and opportunities presented by unprecedented innovation in legal technologies. Naturally with innovation comes challenges and Robert looks at some of these before looking at some of the opportunities and new roles for legal information professionals.

There are many ways in which legal information professionals can provide value and Robert's post looks at some of the roles that legal information professionals need to think about undertaking to ensure they remain relevant and valued.

The most complex job in the world?

Pretty complex stuff  - Reproduced from Wikipedia
Two recent articles have discussed the increasingly complex and I would argue difficult role of the intranet manager.

The first of these on the ThoughtFarmer blog discusses why the intranet manager can be so complex and difficult. Before discussing this blog post you might be interested in reading my blog post on a similar subject called "Tips for new intranet managers" which ThoughtFarmer link to in their post - thanks guys :-)

Their post begins by discussing why the intranet manager role is so complex, followed by a look at some of the core skills required by intranet managers. This is a very comprehensive list of attributes and is well worth reviewing if you're considering moving into intranet management or have recently become responsible for managing an intranet.

The post then looks at how social intranets have made the intranet manager role even more complex, before suggesting three ways in which you can identify any weaknesses in your current skill set. This can be very useful to do and looking at the list of attributes I can see a couple of areas which I need to develop.

The second post called "Intranet manager: the most complex job in the world" was published by Samuel Dreissen on his blog Infoarch. In it Samuel reflects on how important intranets are and how this means it requires an individual with a significant number of skills to manage them. Samuel presents another very through lists of skills and attributes required by modern intranet managers and again looks at the ways in which intranet managers can develop their skills.

These are two very interesting and through posts, which look at the complex roles of intranet managers. So if you're new to intranet management or are considering a move into intranet management then these two blog posts are definitely worth reading.

Is there a future for SharePoint?

Many organisations are using SharePoint as either an intranet or as a collaboration tool, or in some cases as both. But with the increased focus on Office 365, does SharePoint have a sustainable future? This is the question asked by Sam Marshall in an excellent presentation on the Clearbox Consulting blog which I have embedded below.

This is a really interesting and thorough look at some of the factors that are influencing the adoption of SharePoint by organisations and the future of this product.