Is anyone really using your intranet?

To put it mildly, there is some disagreement among communicators about the effectiveness of intranets.

To some, they’re invaluable. Others say they’re outdated and, in a word, dead.

The truth seems to be somewhere in between, but they’re definitely not used as widely as some communicators might like. According to a survey from Presicent Digital Media, even as far back as 2012, only 13 percent of employees said they use their intranets every day. Nearly one third (31 percent) said they never use it at all.

Yet even with what seems to be lacking interest, intranets are highly used by communicators. PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey Results show that communicators rank intranets as the second most-used communications tool after email. Only six percent of respondents said they don’t use it at all.

What, then, are communicators to do when they’re aiming (or perhaps being pushed) to make the intranet a centerpiece communications strategy even as employees and other stakeholders seem to be only somewhat interested, if at all?

Perhaps it requires a change in perspective. Though some communicators consider them to be, intranets are not the end-all, be-all of internal communication. And they’re not a replacement for email, though some have tried to market them that way. An intranet should be one part of a broad communications approach.

Intranets and email don’t have to be an either/or proposition. Indeed, our own research bears out that most communicators use both on a day-to-day basis. With that being the case, they should work hand-in-hand. Social intranet provider ThoughtFarmer suggests that intranet newsletters are a highly valuable way to drive employees to the intranet.

Best practice is to use the intranet as the destination to post all your long-form content, with email best used to provide the high-level messaging with links back to the intranet articles.

That’s especially true in a world in which mobile communication is increasingly a method employees want and even demand. A survey by theEMPLOYEEapp found that employees are more likely to look to email instead of intranets if intranets aren’t mobile ready. (It also found that most employees—87 percent—prefer to receive news by email.)

If someone is trying to sell you an intranet as a replacement for email, they’re quite simply wrong. Emails are the best possible way to drive more engagement on your intranet, hands down.

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