Having spent a large chunk of my corporate career as an Employee Communications Manager in the financial services sector, I understand the challenges faced by Internal Comms teams in getting employees to read the intranet.
Throughout my comms career, I’ve built, re-built and content managed intranet sites, analysed viewing figures and trained others to write for them. One FAQ from those training sessions was ‘How can I get more people to read my articles?’
The missing puzzle piece
Content is an essential part of a well-designed intranet. Get it right, and you’ll engage your audience, encourage adoption and keep your readers coming back for more.
The holy grail of intranet content has to be video. If you don’t have the budget to blow on amazing video content, here are a few tips on writing engaging articles that draw your readers in…
1. Plan your content
It’s important to have a balance of articles across all news categories. Planning ahead helps you to publish a mix of current and relevant stories. Adding new articles on a regular basis keeps content fresh and encourages employees to dip in and out of the site.
2. Identify your audience
If I had just 10p for every employee that’s told me ‘I don’t have time to read the intranet’, then I reckon I’d have saved enough for a mini-break in Europe by now. We’re all short on time, so why not make it easy for readers to identify that an article is relevant to them. You could do this by creating news sub-sections, including the target audience in your headline or by using colour coding or icons for different article types, e.g. corporate, social, HR.
3. What’s in it for me?
Put simply, make it worth my while and I’ll read your article. In my experience, the most viewed articles tend to have some link to social activity, discounts, freebies or competitions. This isn’t always helpful if you have an important corporate announcement to share. However, consider whether it’s appropriate to combine the corporate story with a quiz or other activity. Employees can learn whilst having fun too!
Share stories or profiles of real employees containing subtly hidden corporate messages. It’s like Facebook; people just love to know what’s going on in other peoples’ lives!
5. Write a great headline
There are two ways to do this: use a sense of urgency or be explicit. Here’s one example for you:
Performance Management 2016 – dull and boring, there’s no way I’m clicking on this
5 days left to submit your self-assessment – conveys a sense of urgency and responsibility
Performance Management: What you need to do by 21 December 2016 –clearly demonstrates that an action needs to be taken
6. Make it easy to find
As an Intranet Manager, my pet hate was any team using the site as an archive. If I search for ‘performance management’, the last thing I want to find is an article containing last year’s information. I only want the most recent and relevant articles to appear. To create the best possible user experience, add appropriate keywords and remove or expire old articles from your site on a regular basis.
7. Get interactive
If you’re lucky enough to have interactive functionality on your site, such as a message board or forum, then start a conversation with your audience to accompany the story. When used and managed sensibly, these platforms provide instant answers to questions and are great barometers of how your audience is feeling.
8. Use a montage!
Everyone loves a good photo montage. Whether it’s a fundraising activity or corporate event, forget the words and let the images do the talking for you - a sure-fire way to huge viewing figures.
Articles containing coloured visuals increase a reader’s willingness to read by 80%*. If you have a lot of data or information to convey to your audience, how about converting it into an infographic to make it easier to digest and understand.
10. Track your traffic
Last, but by no means least, spend some time each month reviewing your statistics and work out which type of content or article style works best for you. Give your audience more of the content they enjoy and you’ll be sure to capture your readers for life.
Lucy Jackman is a self-employed Communications Consultant at Comma Sense Limited. She supports businesses with content marketing strategy, creative copywriting, proofreading and editing services.