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Thinking Digital

Thinking Digital

A 2013 study found that 85% of businesses have an intranet or employee portal, however only 39% said that their digital platform was a driver of engagement. We attended the Social Media in Large Enterprise (SMiLE) conference in March, and since then have been mulling over what we saw and reflecting on the challenges faced by our clients.


Content is KingContent is king

Think you can rest on your laurels if you’re creating content for digital channels? Not a chance. No matter what platform you’re using, the quality of the content you publish is still the number one driver of engagement.

At SMiLE, the RFU got a fantastic reaction to their intranet, which was built on a combined platform of Sharepoint and Yammer. We know these can be dirty words in the world of internal comms, but their platform received shining feedback thanks to the brilliantly crafted content it hosted; imagery, stories, and video. The team at RFU worked hard to generate this content, sharing messages from the top but also harvesting stories from the front-line, maximising the opportunities brought about by people engaging with their platform.

One of the key themes of the day was that content for consumption on digital devices these days needs to be bite-sized and easily digested. Studies show that we check our phones on average 150 times a day – and it’s not possible that that can be for more than a few seconds at a time (otherwise we’d never do anything else!). So content has to be succinct, engaging and easy to read.

There are some great lessons to be learnt about content generation from the world of digital media. Sites like BuzzFeed and Huffington Post specialise in using brilliant story formats that people really engage with. They’re brief, visual, interactive and entertaining. So no matter what platform you’re managing, to achieve impact and maximise engagement focus on your content above everything else. Bear in mind the four Cs: considered, curated, and crafted content.

If you’re looking to optimise the content on your digital platform, we can help. Drop us a line to get started making the most of your internal channels.

Channel Hoping

Channel hopping

In recent years a big challenge has been staying abreast of the sheer range of new digital platforms in the market, and identifying the right one to invest in. As a result, some internal communication teams are lumbered with a number of legacy platforms, particularly if they were early adopters of new tech. The problem being, of course, that their audience have to log in to multiple channels, remember various passwords, and spend a lot of time searching for relevant content.

Traditionally, bringing all these legacy systems in to a single channel used to involve digging out your existing technology and replacing it with a whole new platform, much like having to demolish a house before you can rebuild it. This requires vast investment of time, money and hours, and often by the time the new platform is installed, it’s out of date already!

With the arrival of new aggregator platforms, this is no longer necessary. There are suppliers in the market who allow you to plug in your existing channels and publish them to a single, mobile optmised platform, opening up a new world of two-way communication to your audience. This is especially powerful in larger organisations with diverse audiences where you can put your messaging in the pockets of your employees by channeling everything through one, easy to navigate, mobile platform.

To find out if a digital aggregator could work for you, get in touch. We can help find the right solution for your legacy platforms.


A Measured ApproachA measured approach

Getting a return on investment and proving the value of social platforms to the business was a major concern for many people who went to SMiLE. And what was their main worry? That analytics are only available after they install a platform.

SMiLE showed some great examples of really snazzy quantitative and qualitative measurement that allowed platform managers to assess the success of content, and so tailor future content to the audience’s preferences. It’s back to that simple, but extremely effective, mantra for success from publishing guru Mark Frith – “give the reader what they want, nothing else matters.”

The speaker’s recommendation was that measurement is applied to any platform right at the beginning of it’s conception. Then you’ll be able to track progress and see what works, and importantly, what doesn’t. As a result you’ll be able to evolve your platform along with the likes, dislikes and action-based feedback of your users.

But, we question just how necessary this is. There are alternative ways of getting insight from your audience that still allow you to make informed decisions. Surveys, focus groups, comms champions and senior stakeholders can all give you essential feedback about your communications, before and after you’ve implemented of a new platform.

In fact, launching an internal survey on a new digital platform can be a brilliant first step in the rollout of a new digital strategy.

And we heard an interesting analogy comparing creating a car to a digital strategy… they looked at internal communicators trying to build a car by getting an engine (new hardware), a chassis (new software), a steering wheel (new strategy) and seats (communities and networks) to build a successful social platform. In actual fact, a much more effective strategy is to start with a skateboard, then upgrade to a scooter, then a motorbike… and then when you’ve had the chance to iron out the issues at each stage in its development then you can upgrade your platform to the equivalent of a car.

Evolving your platform this way allows you to test and learn as you grow. You can tweak and amend as you go so you can develop a robust solution perfectly tuned to your audience and your organisation.

So the next step on your journey towards digital maturity may only be a small one, but it’ll still bring huge rewards in terms of future learning for you (just make sure you measure it!) and will help your employees find their way in a changing digital world.

Are you at a crossroads in your digital journey? Let us help you find your way…


Fail Fast ForwardFail Fast Forward

An interesting concept raised at SMiLE was that, sometimes, pilot schemes suggest failure before a project has even launched. It’s widely thought in tech circles that new rollouts should be released to a restricted audience first in order to identify and fix any issues before a wider launch. But in today’s world where agility and responsiveness is so important, we question this – does it just slow things down?

Here’s where ‘fail fast forward’ comes in. Modern digital tech means that any issues on social platforms are much quicker to fix, not to mention cheaper. So in theory it should be increasingly easy to take a risk on technology that may fail because you’re safe in the knowledge that a fix is much easier than it would have been five, or even two, years ago.

Of course, persuading your IT team and the stakeholder that holds your purse strings to invest in technology simply based on the argument that it’s ok that it might fail probably won’t be hugely effective. But we still think it’s a good motto to bear in mind, and not just for tech.

How many of the most successful people in industry had to take a risk to get to where they are today? Fail fast forward helps alleviate the fear of risk.

If you’re looking for a team who have been there and done that with a wide range of clients, then look no further. Talk to us and we can share what we’ve learnt from nearly 25 years in the industry.


Community Service

Community Service

‘Community Manager’ is a role appearing more and more often in larger internal communication teams. This role is specifically to monitor the use of social platforms used professionally; publishing content, moderating and measuring the response, and harvesting data from the network. As networks grow in scale and usage, this role is becoming increasingly important – and one that teams implementing new platforms may not have already considered or budgeted for.

We heard a fantastic sound bite that we’re using as the takeaway from the event: “it’s better to be punched in the face on your internal social network, than stabbed in the back on an external one.”

A community manager can identify a disgruntled colleague, deal with their issue, direct them to the appropriate team and find a resolution, all as a result of a single comment online. And the potential damage of that comment is considerably mitigated when made on a closed network rather than a public one. And what better use of social media for employee relations is that?

Furthermore, a good community manager online is like a great editor of a magazine. As the gatekeeper of the platform, they make sure that the content reaching their audience is handpicked and published strategically to land with maximum effect. From the audience’s perspective, they help identify the content that is most worth investing time in consuming – an essential role in today’s world of ‘over-communication’.

Do you see your role changing as digital communication develops? Talk to us about how you can plan for the future to stay one step ahead.