The Complete Guide to Social Intranets - theEMPLOYEEapp

The Complete Guide to Social Intranets

The Complete Guide to Social Intranets

Last updated on March 7, 2024 at 10:48 am

The key to succeeding in the modern workforce is all about relationships. Companies that create great people-centered cultures, who elevate the employee voice, and think about the employee experience are going to come out ahead. And that means that we have to look at our channels and embrace new ways of working. Lucky for us, the outdated intranets we all know have a modern successor: the social intranet.

But what is a social intranet and why do you need to upgrade to one? We have all the answers in this blog.

What is a Social Intranet?

An intranet is a private internal website that only employees can access. And a social intranet is a type of employee intranet that companies can use to securely share company information and messages with their employees. 

Social intranets are defined by their focus on social features and functionality. Many intranets in the past have been more static content repositories. But modern intranets often are equipped with social engagement functionality like:

  • Liking or reacting to posts
  • Commenting and/or thread commenting
  • Hashtags
  • User mentions
  • Sharing content on external platforms

These features have risen in popularity on intranets in the last few years because companies realize that employees want more two-way communication. They want a way to share their thoughts, ask questions, and recognize their peers. And this type of company intranet enables that!

example images of theEMPLOYEEapp's social intranet platform on a laptop, tablet, and desktop computer

What Are the Benefits of a Social Intranet?

So, why choose an intranet with social functionality over other types of corporate intranet? The truth is, there are so many benefits to using social intranets:

1. Enables Two-Way Communication. 

Having the ability to comment and ask questions on specific posts and resources allows employees to share their thoughts. And those comments may even drive more engagement and meaningful conversation amongst other employees using your intranet.

2. Enables Employee Listening. 

When you have a two-way communication channel, you can start practicing employee listening. This is when you track trends in comments, engagements, questions, and even opens to learn what employees want, need more of, or aren’t finding on your intranet. This can help guide your content strategy and enable you to better support your teams.

illustration of workers around a computer with a megaphone coming out of it

3. Better Employee Recognition. 

When your recognition posts are more than just a photo and some text, it feels more meaningful. It feels like you put some real time and consideration into the post, rather than just going through the motions. And with features like @ Mentions, you can even tag the person being recognized, ensuring they don’t miss their shoutout.

4. More Usable. 

Because social intranets are modeled after social media feeds, they are incredibly familiar and easy to use. This can help cut down on training time and enables employees to more easily find what they’re looking for.

5. Improves Culture. 

Cultures that are more open and invite employees to engage are more inclusive. But tracking trends in comments or sentiment with employee listening can also help you spot when things are going well. This helps you course correct faster.

6. Increases Engagement. 

Having more ways to engage inherently increases employee engagement. But more on that shortly.

man engaging on his social intranet and receiving messages as shown with icons coming out of his laptop and phone

How Do Social Intranets Improve Employee Engagement?

We mentioned this briefly, but since employee engagement is such an important topic, we wanted to take a deeper look at how social intranets improve engagement. 

In short, social intranets mirror the experience of external social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and TikTok. They are inherently more engaging because it’s not just push communications and top-down messaging. They invite employees to participate and join the conversation.

Here’s why social intranets are so engaging: 

1. Employees get a voice. 

Despite our best efforts to share engaging content, what employees really want is to hear from one another. They want to hear employee stories from the employee. They want recognition to come from their manager or a senior leader, not from internal comms or HR. Social intranets bring the employee voice front and center. We recommend leaning into that and giving your employees and leaders the ability to post on the intranet too.

2. There are more metrics for tracking what’s moving the needle. 

Improving engagement with content is very difficult if all you have to go on is your open rate. Likes, comments, and shares give you more nuance to track what content inspires your employees to take additional action.

3. Content can be localized.

When local leaders can also share content and engage their teams in conversation with comments, you do what’s called “localizing content.” This means the content is super targeted and hyper relevant to the audience, which will get more engagement than mass communications that can feel generic and even irrelevant.

4. Support multimedia content. 

One benefit of any intranet is that it gets you out of the content limitations of email communication. You can embed videos and podcasts, and share visual PDFs and images. If social media has taught us anything about what drives engagement, it’s that people love these visuals. We don’t have bad attention spans, we’re just sick of walls of text.

What Should You Post on Your Social Intranet?

You might be thinking that social intranets sound nothing like the intranets you’re used to. Most intranets are the opposite of engaging. They’re full of stale content, rarely updated, and often really disorganized.

So, what’s the secret? How do you create a social intranet that’s truly engaging?

It’s all about your content.

You can’t just continue sharing boring PDFs and text-based content on your social intranet and expect results. Highly engaging content needs to be:

  • Diverse. You have to learn what your employees need and want and create content in a variety of mediums (e.g. video, audio, pdf, image-based, etc.). Even posting nothing but images in your intranet news feed gets boring. Diversity is the opposite of monotony!
  • A balance of need-to-know and nice-to-know. A lot of companies think you need to share stories and gamify your intranet to get engagement. While those tactics can drive engagement, the most important way to get employees using your intranet is to give them what they need. Maybe that’s the cafeteria menu, procedural updates, or their schedule. These essentials have to be in place before you should worry about “just for fun” content.
  • All about the people. This is two-fold. You can literally share recognition or stories about your employees. But you should also take it less literally and think about how you are targeting and personalizing your content. Make the content relevant to them and understand that not all groups and teams are going to want the same content or level of information.

To help get you started, we recommend getting a free copy of this whitepaper 👇


How Do You Measure the Effectiveness of Your Social Intranet?

Once you have your content strategy in place, you can’t let your foot off the gas. You have to check your analytics and learn how to continue improving your social intranet content.

This is exactly what social media managers do to drive engagement and achieve their goals. So take a page from their book, and use these measurement best practices:

  • Consistency is key. If you aren’t checking your data regularly, you might miss important trends in the data. If you only periodically check in, you might miss the chance to pivot your strategy when it matters. So, keep an eye on your reports and stick to a cadence you can manage.
  • Go beyond vanity metrics. All those social engagements on your intranet can be great to give you a sense of what employees care about. But just counting likes and comments over time doesn’t really mean much. What matters is if your content strategy is helping you achieve a goal–like reducing churn or improving new hire retention through employee onboarding. So, keep an eye on what you can measure (like engagements), but make sure you tie it all back to KPIs.
  • Content analysis. One of the best ways to learn more about what content is working and what you should post more of is by starting with a content audit. What currently exists on your intranet? Who has access to that information? How old is it? Where are the gaps?

matrix of illustrated people connected to one another by lines and dots

How Do You Choose the Right Social Intranet Platform?

Choosing the right intranet for your business comes back to your goals. What are you trying to achieve with your intranet?

If you want to drive engagement, improve retention, and bring your culture and ways of communicating into the future of work, then a social intranet might be right for you. 

But we seriously recommend looking at what you are trying to achieve and pick a technology partner that supports that vision and continued growth.

Why Choose theEMPLOYEEapp’s Social Intranet?

Our social intranet goes a step further than most. Of course, we have social engagement functionality, but we are also a mobile-first internal communications solution. In addition to a social, web-based intranet platform, we also have a mobile app so your employees can access your intranet from any mobile device.

If you’d like to see our mobile intranet in action, we’d be happy to set up a 30-minute demo.



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