Intranet manager, you have different audiences

I’m pretty convinced the ”I want to kill some time—hey, let’s browse the intranet!”—percentage for intranets is exactly zero-point–zero. Employees in organisations don’t get onto the intranet just because they have some spare time during the work day. Instead they check their personal Facebook or Instagram feeds. Then how should we, intranet managers, act in order to still get some loving from the end users?

I’m convinced the most important thing is building an intranet that provides tangible support for the end-user during the work day. Not just building a usable intranet but a use-worthy intranet.

Providing tangible support is about filtering forward relevant, useful content, preferably through good personalisation. Because everything on the intranet (often more than 10.000 pages) is NOT relevant for every user (who never uses more than 400 pages).

Different types of content

This picture describes the content model at Region Skåne. Some content (maybe 20%) is global and relevant for every employee. But most information (maybe 80%) is local, NOT relevant for everybody, and should therefore only be shown to a specific audience.

This is perfectly obvious to me. This is how you build something use-worthy on the intranet in a medium-to-very large organisation. Only building the 20% core content and then say “Done!” is not enough.

This is also the basic course in Communications: ”Everybody” is NOT an effective audience. Different recipients need different messages because they have different conditions and you want to achieve different effects among them.

Therefore I’m surprised that the ”main major intranet producer” in the global intranet community (commonly a communications officer) often have an instinctive ”broadcast to everybody”-attitude when it comes to producing something for the intranet. ”We want everybody to know this!” ”This has to be on the front page for everybody!” ”Send out this news item to everybody!”

Why?!? What do they think they will achieve? Have they forgotten the things they learned in Comms 101?

An example about how to think about different audiences on our intranet at Region Skåne:

  1. The ordinary employee needs very little info about e.g. Finance routines, maybe only two pages: 1) Am I allowed to buy any thing and the company pays? – No, of course not, speak with your manager first. 2) How do I approve a bill in my inbox in the economy system? – Click three times, here, there and there. [distinct screenshot attached].
    These two pages should reside in the core section of the intranet, because this audience is ”the ordinary employee” (95% of all staff). Content should be created with the mindset ”the user don’t know anything and is only marginally interested”.
  2. A financial officer (who has studied economics three years at college/university and works at a finance department in the organisation ) needs 200 pages detailed expert info and support in order to excel at his/her job. Technical terms is ok in this material. Obsession about minute details in Finance is ok. Maybe even an aura of ”We-who-love-Finance” is good.
    This content is local Job role content and should only be shown to this specific audience.
  3. A third audiece is line managers. They need to do more ”economy stuff” than ordinary employees but has almost no deeper understanding about this (they took the manager job because they want to deliver great stuff to customers, not because they want to process things in the economy system). This audience needs content, maybe 30 pages, focused on ”how-to” with lots of screenshots and step-by-step instructions. And on every page the VIP number to the Finance Support Desk needs to be visible.
    This is another local Job role that should only be shown to managers in the organisation.

Direct any of these three different audiences to the wrong section and you will confound everybody, create uncertainty and lower the efficiency.

In order to help intranet producers and organisational units understand this I often make pictures like this:

Audiences

If we, intranet managers, think the right way about our different audiences and about how to target content we can build excellent intranets! If we fail to do this or the content producers fail to see the light we are doomed. Because then our intranets won’t be use-worthy.

Further reading:

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Everything to everybody on the intranet.

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2 thoughts on “Intranet manager, you have different audiences

  1. A great approach, Jesper.

    We have a big focus on global/local frameworks in larger, more complex organisations. And yes, it’s absolutely that 80% of content is local, and local content is typically the more valuable 🙂

    I’m looking forward to seeing your entry into next year’s Intranet & Digital Workplace Awards! 😉

    Cheers, James

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