Traditional intranets were very much a hierarchical, top-to-bottom-down affair. Only a select group of people wrote or published content, and very rigorous permission settings controlled what content made it online. In the most dramatic cases, perhaps only a single individual could post articles or files, and each document had to be approved by a third party.
Over the last few years, however, we've seen a dramatic shift toward intranet solutions where the tone and style of writing are suitable for peer-to-peer exchange, where content management is decentralized and where many authors provide a more informed and authoritative voice than in the past. In fact, you can't manage a modern intranet with limited input and involvement from your content owners.
Still, your employees aren't going to write content for your intranet out of the goodness of their hearts. They need to feel inspired and empowered, and that only happens when people feel productive at work. Keep reading for the three steps you need to take to ensure a healthy supply of content on your business intranet.
How to Empower Content Contributors
1. Motivate people.
For your employees to feel empowered, they need to understand what's in it for them. Ask them for feedback about what motivates them while at work, and what would make it easier for them to contribute content to your intranet. What obstacles might prevent your technical experts from participating in content creation?
Although it can be tempting to rely on the expertise of senior employees to produce content, your junior employees need to feel welcome at the writing table too. Add a traditional brainstorming session to your meeting agendas and listen to your employee’s ideas. Look for ways to promote creativity from your content owners. By actively removing impediments to posting and by encouraging entrepreneurship and authorship, your area experts will find both their voice and a sense of excitement in creating useful content.
2. Recognize people.
Create ways to acknowledge people for contributing content to your intranet. Don't only get in touch with authors when you notice that their articles need to be updated. Establish a process to give them feedback and information about the people who benefit from reading their content. For example, consider posting a list of the top contributors to your intranet’s news section, determined by readership.
This simple acknowledgment will motivate your best writers to contribute even more. Celebrate your employees' diversity of knowledge and experience. Receiving company-wide recognition from management will leave of your organization's experts with a great feeling that will inspire them to produce content.
You might also wish to provide a space for content authors to connect, brainstorm ideas and ask each other questions.
3. Help people.
The best thing you can do for your authors is to get out of their way. Your intranet should be simple, accessible and easy to use so that your content creators feel empowered, and so they don't dread having to write another article. You need a user interface and design that makes the process of writing so seamless that it becomes second nature.
For example, authors should be able to easily tag their articles and documents so that the people interested in those topics can find them using your intranet’s search function.
You will find that ease of use and ease of publishing become critical to success. Empowering content owners to post content without editorial review is what ultimately makes an intranet successful.
The best intranets have people from all departments and at all levels of expertise contributing and viewing information. Giving your employees more incentives to publish and edit articles boosts your intranet adoption rates and establishes a healthy foundation of content that will pay dividends for years to come.