Engaging communication is challenging but achievable. Everyone dealing with internal communication sees a promise of a real dialogue with employees in the slogan “social intranet.” It seems as if the implementation of technology would translate into increased engagement right away. We can simply log in, and at hand have access to all work friends, colleagues from a project, documents, and frank, open answers to any questions we might have, even the dumbest ones. And all of this is possible in real time and for everyone.
Literally for everyone.
Also for the boss.
And his boss.
And the boss of all the other bosses…
And here’s where the bubble bursts, along with the dream of an honest, open and engaging communication within the company. Without knowing who is going to read it, it’s best to be wary of what we write. And it’s best not to write at all. This automatically kills the dream of having engaging communication.
Engaging communication – what works for your recipients?
So as it turns out, cooperation is a type of behavior which strictly depends on the organizational culture, and not on technology. Implementation of a new system will not result in (unfortunately) – an immediate launch of a company-wide knowledge exchange if previously there hasn’t been one – other than the intranet.
Although we may find it hard to believe, online and offline employees are the same people – the content must contain something captivating enough for them to share it. If they are to get involved in an open discussion on any topic, they cannot be afraid of the consequences. And let’s be frank, no official report or directive will ever become viral. People get absorbed by topics that are well…absorbing: interesting, authentic, entertaining, and especially those which relate to them personally. This is also why experts on business ethics or internal procedures should relax a bit if they want to get through with their content and deliver a more engaging message.
How to create engaging content?
Obviously, there is no one size fits all approach, which, just like a die cutter, will always cut out an engaging content. There are however a few methods that are worth trying out.
- Provoke a dialogue – notices beginning with the words “we would like to inform…” discourage from taking action. Try formulating the message in the form of a question or even a comment, which will provoke a more effective reaction.
- Sell big ideas in small packages – nobody has the willingness or time to read extensive elaborations – short forms are much better.
- Place the team above the hierarchy – the boss doesn’t always have to be right! Teamwork enables generating better ideas and communication can stimulate it.
- Refrain from judgments – discussions within the company social network should be considered as a group brainstorming activity: you don’t have to find all the ideas interesting, but individual ones may inspire others. Criticism will discourage the author (and third persons) from further contributions.
- Don’t be afraid of humor – everyone enjoys a good laugh! And funny content gets shared and commented on more frequently.
When implementing social intranet networks, we should not expect full engagement right away. It is natural that novelties tend to raise concerns. But creating engaging content may support the process of converting the company to using new tools, allowing the employees to include others in this change.
What does it look like at your company? Do you have any proven methods for creating engaging content? Feel free to join the discussion.