10 ways to make your internal communications more engaging and valuable
Internal communications play an important role within organisations. Keeping employees informed about what is happening around your company is critical, particularly during times of upheaval such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Internal communications also play a part in engaging employees, and can influence how people feel about the company they work for. News, strategic updates, leadership communications, people-focused stories, customer success stories and operational announcements are just some of the items that employees regularly access.
Most companies have professional internal communicators who are responsible for posting news, updates and announcements across a range of digital communications channels and tools, such as the Twine app.
Over the years, we’ve noted a number of successful tactics that our customers have employed to make their content more engaging, impactful and valuable for their employees. Here’s our view of ten of the most important.
When internal communications are formal and “corporate”, they tend to be less engaging and more boring! Including a range of more personal and informal items in your communications mix can be an excellent way to get certain messages to resonate more with your employees. In particular, having more personal, authentic and informal communications from your leadership team can increase impact with employees - a trend that has been increasingly seen during the pandemic. Overall, many teams have found that more informal messaging supports better engagement and even attracts more views.
Embedding a video into a news item can prove to be a better format for some messages, particularly in promoting more authentic leadership communications. During the pandemic, CEOs and other senior leaders have filmed messages – often just via their mobile devices - and posted these on communication channels. These simple, personal videos resonate in a different way to text, and certainly relay a more empathetic and people-centric tone.
Items which focus on people and celebrate their achievements often get more views than other news items. These stories might reflect your company values, show inspiring examples of work or even reveal a surprising side of a person. Perhaps someone in the accounts department is going to appear on Britain’s Got Talent? Perhaps somebody in the Manchester office celebrated forty years at the company? Perhaps a team did some volunteering to support the local community? An organisation is made up of a diverse group of people, and your digital communications channels should reflect and celebrate this.
Most employees are super busy and have zero spare time, but are continually bombarded with information that tries to grab their attention. When designing and creating news and articles, assume employees have limited time and attention; shorter items that are to-the-point tend to be the best option in getting the message across. Including the most important points of your message nearer the top of the story is one idea to help employees digest the key information they need to know.
To draw attention to more important messages, you may need to use push communication techniques such as notifications. In our view, notifications to single communication items should be used sparingly and only for priority messages, otherwise people may start to ignore notifications if they receive too many. On the Twine app, we also allow you to target the notification to different teams, departments and offices so only the relevant people are notified. In this way, the people in your Bristol office do not have to read about the major office refurbishment in the Birmingham office that does not impact them.
Most digital communications channels for employees now offer commenting on news stories. Within the Twine app, the majority of our customers choose to turn this on for most or all of their stories (you can choose to turn it off for an individual story if necessary). Adding comments can encourage people to interact with your news, making it more interesting and giving everyone a voice to post comments.
It also creates the opportunity to foster dialogue. This can be enormously powerful in making a single item more engaging. For example, a leader might create a post and then ask for opinions on strategic matters or for ideas and feedback relating to a specific initiative. When you create opportunities for dialogue, employees appreciate being listened to, meaning your digital channels receive better adoption and your leaders can gain valuable insights. Everybody wins.
While adding images to a news item makes it more pleasing to the eye and encourages click throughs, you want to make sure you’re using the right ones. Adding stock images can sometimes work, and in practical terms is often necessary, but it can also backfire, particularly when you use stock images of people that just don’t quite ring true. Using images of actual employees ensures a people-focused story is authentic, and may better reflect the diversity of your workforce. Remember, when using photos of employees, make sure you get their consent.
Increasingly, some internal communicators are acting as ‘curators’ and reposting interesting stories that appear on blogs, websites, emails or other digital channels across your organisation but might get missed by the majority of employees. Comms teams may also be “commissioning” local stories. Curating or commissioning a stream of stories is a great way to feature a mix of different stories that represent all parts of your company. Sometimes, the news on digital communications channels and intranets can become too “HQ-centric”, and this can be disengaging for people who don’t work there as they feel the messaging is not relevant to them. Curation or commissioning stories from all corners of your organisation is a way to overcome this.
It really helps to add categories or labels (tags) to different stories to inform employees of the kind of items they may want to read. This aids the quick scanning of a page and helps an individual find stories of interest.
These tags could be story types (CEO update, Customer success, People Story, IT announcement), how important the story is (Must know, Nice to know), subjects (Coronavirus update) or even who the story is intended for (All employees, London office). In Twine, many of our customers choose to add labels to stories.
A question that many internal communications teams wrestle with is how often to add or change stories on the homepage. Add too many items, and stories will get missed as they fall off the homepage before an employee has had a chance to log in since their last visit. Add too few, and a homepage can feel static and boring, making employees less inclined to visit.
Getting the balance right may not be achieved immediately, but you can usually eventually find the optimum number of news items to add per week by using analytics – for example, to see how frequently employees visit your communication channels – and getting feedback from users about what works for them. Twine integrates with popular analytics solutions such as Google and MixPanel to help inform internal communicators about the best use of the platform.
Driving engagement through internal comms
We’ve only included 10 here, but there are many other good practices that internal communications teams can follow to drive engagement. Are there any good tips and tricks we missed?
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