What is a social intranet and how can it help your business?

Looking for a good introduction to what a social intranet is and how it can help your employees/business? Then the short video below, which was published to the IT Portal website is a good starting point.

The video "stars" Lori Williams from Appiro whose company provides a social intranet solution for many organisations.

Is there a difference between a social intranet and an enterprise social network?

Jenni Wheeler over at the "Confessions of an internal communicatior" blog has written a thought provoking post called "Social Intranet or Enterprise Social Network? Is there a difference?"

In it Jenni ask whether we should separate all the different tools we use, intranets, enterprise social networks, wikis, forums etc, as they are all effectively just part of a single online channel. I definitely agree with this, especially in the context of the digital workplace where intranets are often regarded as the glue by which other tools are joined together.

What I especially like about Jenni's post is her description of the different levels of social interaction that users can undertake on the tools that are now available.

For me, a social intranet is different to an enterprise social network (ESN). For me, an enterprise social network is an online tool that is designed for collaboration. That is about communities and file sharing and creating a space for anyone to add news and information. Content can be liked and commented on and people are able to add their own status updates and more personal details to a profile.
For me this is a great way to describe the differences between these tools, but what do you think?

Are we seeing the death of news on intranet homepages?

News on the intranet homepage is something that most organisations and many individuals expect to see as a matter of course, but a recent post on the Intranet blog questions whether news will always be on the corporate intranet homepage.

In the blog post called "The destruction of home page news" the author looks at whether activity streams will replace intranet news content. The article quotes several organisations that have replaced news on their intranet homepages with content from Yammer. According to the article "social media activity streams via Yammer are driving users to the news"

The reasons behind this move seem on the face of it very logical, given that email and other ways of delivering news were designed just to deliver content, not as organisations are increasingly doing encouraging engagement and adoption. Yammer like many social tools encourages users to contribute and create their own content, in this respect it can significantly increase employee engagement.

Another logical reason why having activity streams on the homepage rather than more traditional news content is that conversations between individuals and within the organisation are key to good communication. Social media tools, including enterprise social networks like Yammer, present a great opportunity for organisations to put conversations at the forefront of their intranet/communication strategy.

Of course the article doesn't say that intranets will be be devoid of intranet news stories anytime soon. My feeling is that Yammer and other social media sources will be used to supplement rather than replace intranet news stories.

Building a collaborative company dictionary

I love the team at Thoughtfarmer, they have an excellent looking product and are always publishing useful
tips on how to manage content on your intranet.

In addition to their blog, Thoughtfarmer publish a biweekly email which always contains tips and ideas on managing intranet content and developing your intranet. Their latest tip is to create a "collaborative company dictionary"

As they say in their email;

Most companies have loooooong lists of company-specific acronyms and industry jargon. So Oxfam America opened editing privileges on the company dictionary to all employees, while using page version histories to ensure any inaccurate changes were rolled back. The resulting comprehensive dictionary provides new employees with a wealth of information and models effective collaboration.
The results look very impressive and you can see the benefits of creating something like this. It strikes me as being especially useful for new joiners who certainly wont be aware of the different acronyms used in the organisation and what those acronyms mean. Of course an intranet isn't the only way you could create a collaborative company dictionary, wikis have often been used to create collaborative dictionaries, with Wikipedia being a great example of an online reference source.

So what are you waiting for, get out there and start building yours!