The modern business world is becoming more and more dependent on technology and in order to stay competitive, companies keep adding new tools into the mix.
Depending on your industry, you probably started with an internal communication tool, then added a customer relationship management system, then a task management system, and maybe even an enterprise resource planning system.
And by now you must be wondering do I really need an Intranet on top of that? And why does it need to be "social"?
In this article, we'll explain the benefits of using a social intranet and how it can help your company. We'll also look at the different types of intranets available and give you some tips on choosing the right one for your business needs.
What are Social Intranets?
A social intranet is basically an internal network within your organization, used by employees to communicate, collaborate and share information with each other. It serves as a centralized hub where your employees can access documents, interact with each other, and share ideas in real time.
It's not just restricted to communication either - you can use it to store documents, organize corporate events, share company news and updates, and even create a digital library of resources.
Intranet Vs. Social Intranet
Intranets aren't really a new concept - they've been around since the late 1990s. However, the traditional model is more focused on the organization and storage of documents and data.
They are stationary, providing employees with access to a large repository of information such as HR policies, safety procedures, and other documents.
Social Intranets are more dynamic and interactive. They go beyond simply organizing documents and provide a platform for collaboration, engagement, and communication among employees.
Traditional intranet systems, such as SharePoint or Documentum, tend to get outdated easily and require a lot of manual effort to stay up-to-date.
Social intranets, on the other hand, are self-populating. This means that employees can contribute and update the content themselves, so it's always fresh and relevant.
Lastly, old-school intranets were not always user-friendly, especially for non-tech-savvy employees. But today's social intranets are designed with usability in mind - they're intuitive and easy to use, so all your employees can easily access the information they need.
So in short: whereas intranets focused on data and document management, social intranets are about people and how to make collaboration and communication easier.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Social Intranet?
Having a social intranet in your company can help in many ways. Firstly, you get the standard benefits you would get from an intranet, such as:
- A centralized hub for documents, forms, and policies.
- Easily searchable archives of information.
- Access to relevant company news and updates
Apart from that, social intranets also offer a great opportunity to get your staff connected and engaged on one platform.
They level the playing field, bridging communication silos that are usually prevalent in larger organizations. It also helps to break down digital barriers that can arise due to different physical locations or time zones.
Having an intranet allows everyone on your team to have a voice and be heard, creating a more cohesive, unified environment that will increase both engagement and productivity.
Social intranets also encourage knowledge sharing helping you create a culture of informal learning and development. People feel more comfortable sharing their knowledge when they are given the right platform to do so.
Especially if you have deskless or remote workers, or several office locations, a social intranet will allow you to unify your workforce and streamline collaboration and communication, no matter the physical distance between them.
You might be wondering though, how providing employees with a social intranet increases productivity if all it does is encourage them to socialize or communicate? Shouldn't you be taking away distractors and not adding them?
A Waste of Time?
It's true that those types of platforms encourage employees to spend time on activities that are not related to their actual job duties and, at first glance, it might seem like a waste of time.
But if you look more closely, you'll see that employees will be able to find the information they need quickly and without having to ask someone else for it. That alone can save a lot of time.
Not to mention that cohesion and engagement have a direct impact on your bottom line. When employees are happy, they're more productive and motivated, which leads to better performance. And social interactions are key to developing and maintaining a cohesive team.
And even if don't see how having a designated social platform can help with productivity - you still would do good to implement it because you probably already have one in place, without realizing it.
Your employees are likely already using a variety of social platforms to help make their jobs easier and connect with their colleagues.
According to research, 59% of engaged employees used social media within the company to build relationships - and that number is only growing. So be it through Facebook, WhatsApp, or something third, your employees are already using a variety of social media for workplace communication and collaboration.
Implementing a designated system for it would therefore not be more time-consuming, on the contrary - if everyone can find info on one platform, it'll minimize context switching which is actually sabotaging productivity.
Why Social Intranets are Superior to Social Media
Social media channels and groups might seem like a low-maintenance and low-budget alternative to facilitate workplace collaboration, but they come with their own set of problems.
The first issue is that all those channels that organically develop within companies are often unmanageable. There is no designated administrator to oversee posts and interactions, and it can be difficult to track conversations.
You also don't want your employees to be scattered across multiple platforms, as this makes it almost impossible to make everyone feel included, and instead creates silos between different departments.
Groups and Channels
It might also seem easier for leadership to just ‘set up a group chat’ or have everyone join a Facebook group - but this can quickly become unruly and unmanageable.
Firstly, channels and groups are notorious for getting cluttered and hard to navigate, so you'll be missing out on the benefits of having a well-structured information architecture.
Secondly, with these platforms comes the risk of data leakage, as they are not owned or managed by your company. This could mean that confidential information is exposed to those outside your organization - something you definitely want to avoid.
Finally, there is no way of measuring the success of these channels and groups. Sure, you can track who actively posts, but what about other important IC metrics such as engagement and satisfaction?
So yes, you'll get your employees to exchange ideas and collaborate regardless, but investing in a social intranet is the only way to ensure that your workplace collaboration platform is secure, well-structured, and inclusive.
Choosing the Right Intranet for Your Business
If you made it this far, then you probably understand why social intranets are so important for workplace collaboration. However, this is only the first step - now you need to choose which intranet will be the best fit for your business.
The key is to select a platform that meets all of your organization's needs and requirements, while not overdoing it on the features and functionality.
Think about this quote from Forbes, “The best social intranet software is not the one providing the most social features, but the one which ties the most business processes and data to employees’ social behavior.”
Why do Social Intranets fail?
Social intranets fail for one simple reason: people don't use them. That's the only catch with this type of software.
It's designed to bring value to users and organizations by encouraging collaboration, knowledge sharing, and communication - so if no one is using it, then it has no value.
There are many reasons why employees refuse to adopt new technologies, but most of the time it comes down to:
Unclear value proposition – employees don't understand why they should switch from what they are already familiar with to a new platform.
Lack of engagement – very few people actually enjoy being in the spotlight, and if not enough people are actively participating in conversations, then the whole platform will quickly become a ghost town.
Poor user experience – if the platform is difficult to use or navigate, people won't bother with it.
The success of any social intranet lies in the hands of its users, so it's important to make sure that you set up and manage it in a way that encourages adoption.
All of this is why we created Lorino - the social intranet to help businesses foster a culture of collaboration and learning in a fun and engaging way.
Lorino has a simple interface that even the least tech-savvy employees can use. Sharing files, updates or news is as easy as posting something on social media.
All posts are categorized by topics, tags, and keywords, so finding the information you need is a breeze.
Posts can be liked, commented and shared with the whole organization or just certain people, giving employees more control over who sees their posts.
This also allows for a lot of freedom and flexibility when it comes to how the intranet is used. It can be set up as a social network, notice board, or knowledge base - whatever works best for your company.
Not Here to Replace, but to Complement
Lorino is a standalone solution with all the necessary features for collaboration and communication - but it doesn't replace existing systems like CRM or your chats like Slack.
It's designed to provide a social layer on top of your existing tools, so that information can flow more freely and communication remains consistent across all departments.
But you won't have to drag your employees away from the tools and apps they already use, which will make the transition easier. They can keep using the familiar applications, while still benefiting from the social intranet.
Measure Engagement and Involvement
As mentioned earlier, a key factor that will determine if your social intranet succeeds or fails is the amount of engagement your employees show.
Lorino provides you with detailed metrics and analytics so that you can track how your employees are using the intranet, what content is popular and how conversations are progressing.
These insights allow you to gain a better understanding of the needs and interests of your employees so that you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
Safe and Secure
With Lorino, you are in complete control of all your data because you will always own all of it. No one else has access to it, and if at one point, for whatever reason, you decide to switch to a different provider, you can take all your data with you.
Lorino also provides access control options so that you can limit which employees have access to certain parts of the platform, keeping all company information safe and secure.
Ready to Get Started?
If you're still reading this, then you're probably ready to start using Lorino. We promise it won't take too long to get set up, and you'll be able to see the results in no time!
And if you are still unsure if it is the right choice for you, just book a free demo and one of our experts will give you a personal walk-through.
Watercooler conversations and exchanges over lunch are slowly becoming a thing of the past. With hybrid work and global teams becoming the norm, businesses need to find new ways to foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing.
The future of work lies in digital collaboration and communication tools like Lorino, which provide an easy and engaging way for employees to stay connected, share ideas and learn from each other.