How to write content for company intranets
Since their inception in the early ’90s, well-structured intranets have made huge differences to companies around the world:
“Internal communications within a company are simplified substantially and make for more success in terms of growth, as productivity increases.” Elcom
A good intranet must be organised, well-thought out and educate the reader. There’s a knack to getting intranet content right, so here’s an overview of the steps you need to take.
First, understand what a company intranet is
Put simply, an intranet is a private network that stores information, resources and services that employees cannot access through the internet, but need to complete their tasks.
Many companies decide to place tools/databases on their intranets – such as Customer Relationship Management systems (CRMs). Others use them to disseminate information and engage with their employees – this is what we’ll be focusing on.
Second, figure out what content to publish on your intranet
Intranet sites are a resource for your employees, so all the written content you create should help them complete tasks and understand the company culture. Here are just a few examples of the content you should publish on your intranet:
- How to guides/instructions
- Question and answer blogs
- Microblogs (updates about what users are working on)
- Company news
- Resources – forms, letters, contact information, organisation charts etc.
- Company calendar (and invitations)
- Published papers
- Style guides
- Company glossary
- Social networking content
- Feedback pages
- Twitter feed
The best way to figure out what type of content to create for your intranet is to ask your employees. They’ll be using it after all!
Third, adjust your writing for your audience
Instead of writing for your customer, you’re writing for your employees, so it should be a little different to your website copy.
Develop an intranet brand
Your intranet should motivate and engage your staff. Give it an official, but catchy, name that will set it apart from any systems you’ve used before.
Once you’ve chosen a name, and expanded it into a brand, it can then inform your writing decisions.
A great example is the San Diego Humane Society intranet – FEtCH. As a company, they’re focused on finding homes for abandoned animals, so that became the theme for the intranet. Segments on their site include:
- Meow Madness
- Most Pawsitive Player
- In the Mews (company news)
Their written content includes pet-puns and fluffy phrases, making it more exciting for the reader.
Your tone should line up with your company style. You must always remember that the intranet is an official company resource, so don’t get too colloquial. But the odd fun phrase now and then will help immensley with employee engagement.
Keep it brief
The aim with company intranet content is to inform and educate your staff, without taking up their entire day. You don’t want them to trawl through pages of your site, you want them to find the information they need quickly and easily, so then they can get back to work.
Here are our top four tips for keeping your intranet content brief:
- Aim to write half the amount (or less) than you would with conventional writing. E.g. The average blog is 1000 words, write 500 or less.
- Write shorter sentences – an average of 14-16 words will do
- Have one idea per paragraph
- Move detailed information to subpages
Use content targeting
Not all of your content needs to be seen by all of your staff. What your marketing team need to see may be very different from what your engineers/tech guys are searching for.
Limit what each employee can see according to position in your organisation.
Also use in-built software to intelligently target content to users based on their interests and location. Relevant content is key to a good intranet system.
Fourth, write for search
SEO is still important throughout your intranet. If staff can’t find what they need when they need it, they will conclude the intranet isn’t relevant to them, and they will stop using it.
Anticipate the words and phrases they would use to find your content and sprinkle these “keywords” throughout your writing. Add metadata, if you can, to help this too!
Front load your important information and make sure your meaning is clear so that you can ensure a successful search-function on your intranet.
Fifth, use real-life images
Support your written copy by using images – just like you would in a normal blog post.
Images featuring a recognisable face are more likely to draw readers to a page than an inanimate object. Use real-life pictures of your company, not corporate clipart, to engage your employees.
Finally, consider site navigation
Even though you’re not trying to sell your employees your product, a prominent Call To Action (CTA) could go a long way to content success. Provide a link or invitation to contact someone by phone or email to show you support your employees.
Provide links and cross reference to related content – it will help them find their answers on their own.
Creating content for company intranets needn’t be a chore. Use the tips in this piece to get yours off to a flying start!
Use these top tips, and engage with your employees every day.