How a Social Intranet Can Benefit Your Business

Find out how your business can benefit from social intranets as well as features to look for when setting one up.

Written by: Josh Brown

Published: September 17 2020

Collaboration and communication are together considered a cornerstone for a well-functioning workplace, whether it's in an office or a digital environment. But, it can be a challenge, with as many as 20% of remote workers considering it their biggest struggle, according to Buffer’s report on the state of remote work in 2020.

One common reason why collaboration and communication falters is poor knowledge management:

  • You discover that your newest team member happily has been doing something the wrong way for weeks — just because they didn’t get one of the instruction manuals.
  • Your colleague forgot to send the latest version of THAT document before going on vacation, and now your team has to re-do the work or wait.
  • Someone accidentally shares the notes from the board’s top-secret strategy meeting with the entire company — and now you’ve got to worry about leaks and manage ruffled feathers in the team.

The intranet is a popular software solution for improving knowledge management and knowledge transfer. It sounds great on paper — you gather around the digital waterhole, take in the latest company news, share important information with your colleagues. What’s not to like?

But, the traditional version of intranets often face problems such as:

  • Stale content. How about “company news” that are months old even when they are published?
  • Non-collaborative features. Traditional intranets often turn into megaphones for company news rather than two-way communication.
  • Poor UX. Navigation typically centers around folder structures (Intuitive? Forget about it.)
  • IT heavy.  Let’s just say that the old school intranets keep the IT department busy, as they’re often difficult to deploy.

So, how do you fix the issues of a traditional intranet? Yes, you guessed it — we make the intranet social by adding features that encourage collaboration and engagement. Let’s take a look at what a social intranet is.

What Is a Social Intranet?

If the traditional intranet was a megaphone, then the social intranet is the shared party playlist where everyone chips in with their favorite songs and discovers new hits.

The social intranet allows employees to contribute their ideas and knowledge in real-time. This interaction can, for example, take place through article creation, commenting, or chat.

Features to Look For When Building Social Intranet 

So, what features do you really need in a social intranet for encouraging knowledge sharing, communication, and connection among employees? To put it simply: any features that contribute to this goal in a way that is relevant for your business.

However, there a few essential components to look out for include:

  • Knowledge sharing features. Make sure that employees get the ability to create, update, and share content, whether documents or multimedia.
  • Access management. Different access or transparency levels make it easy to share content with nobody but the right recipients.
  • Usage transparency tools. The social intranet should let you see who creates, updates, and comments on content.
  • Interactive features. Functions such as user commenting, tagging, and liking or rating content make it easy for employees to engage.
  • Strong search capabilities. While having a great content hierarchy and overview is crucial, you also want a search tool that helps employees find content quickly.
  • Analytics functionality. Without analytics, you can’t measure how the content is consumed.

Plus, let’s just say that we’ve seen a few upgrades in the UX department since the traditional intranets launched… Today’s users can look forward to a much more sleek, user-friendly interface.

The Benefits of Social Intranets

So, what are the advantages of a social intranet? Some of the benefits you can look forward to includes:

  • Share information with the right recipients. While the traditional intranets were overloaded with information for all employees, the social intranet helps you tailor the information to the recipients by managing access levels.
  • Improve knowledge sharing. By enabling employees to share and capture information, you can harness all types of knowledge within your company — tribal, tacit, and explicit. For example, employees can get feedback and share ideas when documents are easy to access, edit, and share.
  • Increase productivity. According to a McKinsey study, productivity among knowledge workers goes up by 20-25% when communication improves.
  • Improve employee satisfaction. Better communication leads to higher employee satisfaction, even for temporary workers. But communication is more than just information — employees become more engaged when it is a two-way street.
  • Reduce turnover. Social intranets are great for giving employees company-wide recognition. A Deloitte Review found that companies that gave their employees a lot of credit — an essential part of employee engagement — had a 31% lower turnover rate than companies that didn’t recognize their contributions.
  • Improve engagement. Improved communication leads to better engagement. A study in the International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications showed how employee engagement at the Delhi International Airport plummeted suddenly after the completion of a large project. With better communication efforts, the engagement returned to the previous levels within six months.
  • Communicate your company culture internally. A 2016 study by LinkedIn and Imperative showed that 85% of companies with a clearly articulated purpose saw growth, with 58% of companies seeing a growth of 10% or more.

Did these benefits pique your interest? Thought so. So, let’s see why a knowledge base could be an excellent option for your social intranet:

Using a Knowledge Base as Part of Your Social Intranet Hub

While there are open source solutions and even WordPress options for setting up an intranet, these solutions come with downsides such as limited customization and support. So, why is a knowledge base a superior option for setting up a social intranet?

Better for Organizing and Managing Files Than Traditional Solutions

You can easily set up a knowledge base so it is intuitive and easy for employees to navigate. Part of this comes from a user-friendly interface. However, you’ll also get the ability to categorize or tag content:

Speed Up Productivity With Efficient Document Collaboration

Document collaboration is where a knowledge base shines. It makes team collaboration more accessible, as you no longer need to switch to another app to edit the document. Instead, multiple authors can make the changes straight in the document — and see them in real-time.

And, those endless email chains with the latest document revisions? Forget about them. Instead, a knowledge base offers versioning, so you’ll always have the latest document to share. If there’s an accident, you can always revert to an older version of the document.

Increase Employee Satisfaction With Interactive Features

When it comes to interactive functions, a knowledge base makes it easy for employees to comment, like, or rate content:

Together with the document collaboration features, this adds to the communication symmetry — and as we previously saw, that’s crucial for higher employee engagement levels.

Improve Security and Limit Time-Waste by Managing Information Access

A knowledge base lets you decide exactly who can access the content. For example, you can share a piece of content only with specific individuals or certain groups of people:

The access level management makes it easy to share certain documents with new employees or remove access as they change teams or leave the company.

Analytics Features for Tracking Information Consumption

Analytics doesn’t just show you the most popular documents and how long employees spend reading them. You can also measure things such as search phrases:

By tracking how employees consume the information, you can adapt your strategy accordingly. For example, maybe you highlight important pieces that don’t get enough attention.

Wrapping Up

Setting up a social intranet is a concrete, meaningful step towards improving your company’s communication and collaboration.

When you use a knowledge base as a foundation, you give yourself all the conditions for building a social intranet that adapts to your business’s needs.

By choosing Helpjuice, you don’t just get all the relevant knowledge base features that we’ve previously discussed. You can also get templates that make it easy to set up your new social intranet in minutes. Best of all? We offer unlimited customization. In fact, our customer support team will even customize your intranet for your — at no cost to you. Try us out with a free 14-day Helpjuice trial now.

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