Minimize “Social” for a More Effective Intranet

Minimize “Social” for a More Effective Intranet

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About the Author: Suzanne O’Brien works with organizations seeking stronger customer relationships to increase satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. Visit

Social. Engagement. Collaboration. Transparency. Intranet.

Chances are, you associate these terms with a sense of MORE content created by MORE people. But is that best for a business? During May’s IABC/Atlanta luncheon, we learned how one company has seen intranet success by shutting down mass content creation and instead curating a communications ecosystem.

Michele Shauf, Ph.D. is director of corporate learning at eVestment. With years of experience in organizational development and designing learning programs, she spearheaded a new approach to content and engagement for eVestment’s recent intranet revamp.

Shauf and team began by challenging the vague and contradictory premises that “internal social” is always better, and that without “social” internal communication is always top down – but also, companies should feel flat and informal. Instead, they acknowledged these realities:

  • Without social, communication can come from the center out rather than top down.
  • Conversations don’t need to go on and on. They can end. And that’s good!
  • More content isn’t better. More content is just noise; it undermines efforts.
  • Just because someone can type, doesn’t mean they can create effective content.

At the same time, they defined business objectives for eVestment’s intranet. These likely apply to your organization, too:

An intranet should…

  • Equip employees to be strong collaborators.
  • Increase productivity by reducing information foraging and [re]production.
  • Shrink geographic differences and reduce travel costs – and globalize thinking.
  • Establish two-way communication with associates, but only where appropriate.
  • Embed micro-particle learning everywhere so that employees constantly absorb small pieces of information.

eVestment designed their intranet to be a communication platform of curated content: a beautiful, carefully tended and walled garden, not a jungle.

So how did they do it? First, they built the intranet inside every employee’s existing workspace. At eVestment, employees spend the most time working in their customer relationship management (CRM) software – so that’s where the intranet was built.

Then they developed a content strategy that promotes cross-functional, global thinking. Each publication has an angle that reflects business priorities and business progress, buffering strategic foundations and providing a sense of accomplishment. Also, content is oriented to how it could be discussed with clients and in public.

eVestment minimized distraction in the intranet by limiting employee profile fields to those that are relevant to work, and providing templates and a “controlled vocabulary” of suggested terms. They also configured out most social interaction options, leaving only content ratings and subscriptions.

Finally, they took communications beyond the intranet and developed a full internal communications ecosystem. Channels include monthly town halls, a learning management system (LMS) for information that changes infrequently, and internal marketing – signage, a TV channel in the company gym, and a daily internal email summarizing the most important messages.

eVestment teams still use other communication tools like Confluence and JIRA, Salesforce Chatter, SharePoint, Skype, and email. But that’s for team-based work only. For the intranet, employees are served a carefully designed and managed set of relevant, timely and succinct information.

Luncheon attendees were gifted a copy of How to Measure Your Communication Programs, a manual by Angela D. Sinickas, ABC of Sinickas Communications. Thank you for this valuable resource!

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