The value of internal blogging

The benefits around posting technical documents, policies, guides etc to an intranet are obvious - employees need quick access to these documents and an intranet provides a structured and usually organised environment in which to publish these.

But what value is derived from encouraging employees to blog within an intranet? That's the question asked and answered in this post on the badass data science blog. .

What are the benefits of providing blogging on an intranet

The author suggests there are several reasons why blogging within an intranet is useful;
  • Internal blogging provides useful insights
  • Internal blogging builds individuals comfort with risk - this is an interesting point and one I agree with to some extent, writing a blog post and encouraging employees to comment on blog posts are certainly are good way to make them feel more comfortable with these tools. 
  • Internal blogging is a great way to manage project updates. Again it's certainly easier in my mind to post a project update on a blog rather then send round an email to all project team members.
  • Internal blogging promotes visibility. This is especially important if you work in a large organisation and you want to become known as an expert in a particular area. A blog can help an individual do exactly that by allowing them to post about subjects they have an interest in.
Should you encourage blogging within your organisation

My feeling is yes - but where possible I would allow employees to post to their own blog or a blog which has a general theme rather then expect one or two individuals to contribute to a blog around a very specific subject. This is moe then likely to fail or there will be some interest in the blog initially but it will wane over time.


Law firms taking a half-hearted approach to social media

This is the title of an interesting news story on the Managing Partner website, which looks at the results of a survey of Law Firms use of social media tools. There aren't to be honest too many surprises when it comes to the social media tools that law firms are using. In summary;

"LinkedIn is by far the most popular social media platform among law firms (with 77 per cent penetration), followed by Twitter (31 per cent), Facebook (29 per cent) and YouTube (10.9 per cent)"

And further on in the article:

"Over the past year, adoption of LinkedIn by UK firms has increased dramatically. The number of partners and employees at mid-sized UK law firms that have LinkedIn accounts has typically doubled from under a quarter in 2010. In addition, the number of people following top 50 law firms on LinkedIn has almost doubled to nearly 50,000, according to Kelso Consulting research"

So according to the article and the research that was previously undertaken LinkedIn is by far the most well used Social Media tool. So why the hesitancy to use other social media tools?

Ethical considerations

One of the biggest issues for law firms is around ethical considerations, especially in the light of the Practice note issued by the Law Society around the use of social networking tools by solicitors. It's very clear from the practice note that some activities, for example friending clients on facebook are unacceptable and may be in breach of the Solicitors Regulation Authority Code of Conduct.

However usage does vary dependant on where the law firm is located. Unsurprisingly North Amercia leads the way in terms of use of an engagement with Social Media sites. UK law firms are also taking advantage of the opportunities provided by social media. So on first appearance it might appear that the use of social media tools by law firms is quite poor but actually the global use of these tools is quite encouraging.

Are employees rejecting SharePoint?

Now this is an article that is well worth reading if you have a spare five minutes. In it the authors discuss whether SharePoint is being rejected by employees in organisations where it has been deployed.
In the blue corner...I mean in the Yes camp is Sam Marshall from Clear Box Consulting. Sam argues that although SharePoint is a success in some respects, look beyond an organisations firewall and you'll find that SharePoint isn't being used as it was intended to be. For example blogs and My Sites, which are particularly powerful features of SharePoint 2010 have very low adoption rates.
The difference between SharePoint and a traditional intranet
Sam suggests that a major reason for the failure of SharePoint is that the way individuals interact with SharePoint is different from a traditional intranet. On SharePoint there is an expectaton that users will be active participants rather then just passive users. Sam also points out that SharePoint is inherently complicated "It’s highly complex, and some of the collaboration patterns are quite sophisticated, such as metadata, versioning and workflow. It makes it hard to selectively switch these elements off so that people can learn progressively"
The counter (No) argument is provided by Camilla Herrmann who is an internal and digital communications consultant. Camilla sets out her stall by saying yes some of the collaboration tools within SharePoint aren't great. "The wiki is very basic and full of annoying little characteristics, so it’s not really surprising if it gets little use. The discussion forum is nearly as poor"  However Camilla then goes on to say that with a little tweaking the collaboration tools within SharePoint can become the most useful//powerful part of your intranet, especially where they're supported by central management.

Camilla also suggests (and I agree with her) that allowing employees to comment on items and rate documents for usefullness is a great way to get employees to "dip their toes" into collaboration.

Should you be using SharePoint

Ultimately the choice about whether you choose SharePoint or not wont come down to one individual but if you're considering using it then I would highly recommend reading this article first.

10 things that make an intranet critical and social

What is it that makes an intranet social and critical? Well this post, rather unsurprisingly called "10 things that make an intranet critical and social" outlines what in the authors opinion are the 10 elements that are critical to the success of an intranet.
  1.  New style social intranets focus more on people then content. Although content is still relevant
  2. Content is authored collaboratively by anyone and the emphasis is either knowledge sharing or documentation that is useful
  3. Anyone can contribute and everyone is involved (from CEO to PA’s)
  4. The intranet supports work processes and helps people get their work done more efficiently
  5. Publishing workflows and approvals are kept to a minimum
  6. The intranet has a mix of key social features: activity streams, authoring (wiki style), networking and  blogging
  7. Outcomes are measured in terms of business performance: better and faster decision making, improved knowledge sharing etc
  8. A community manager or team is in place alongside a light yet necessary governance policy
  9. A mobile version of the intranet is available
  10. Gaming constructs (gamification) play an increasingly important role as a way of rewarding contributions
Do I agree with the points made in the blog post. For the most part yes. Gaming and gamification isn't something I've looked at, although I understand the concept having signed up for and played Foursquare, although some will say Foursquare isn't actually a game. Governance is an issue I've looked at and have started working on, as it's essential in the long run, but unfortunately tends to get overlooked whenever a new intranet is being implemented.

What do you think, are there other critical factors?

[Photo credit - Condition critical from Stock.xchng}