The launch process for your intranet begins long before the day it goes live. Your plan may differ according to your industry or organization, but the need to generate an exciting, creative launch campaign that drives maximum employee engagement is universal.
A well-planned intranet launch campaign will ensure your users:
- Demonstrate high adoption and usage rates from day one
- Are engaged enough to contribute to the platform
- Receive all intranet launch announcements on the communications channels they prefer
- Understand the benefits of an intranet for culture and productivity
- Know how they can use the intranet to improve their daily work
How should you launch an intranet?
The great thing about planning an intranet launch phase is that there is no one “right” way to approach it. Creativity can set your imagination free and you can work with people who know company culture best to come up with employee engagement ideas that will cut through. We’ve helped companies launch more than 1,000 intranets over the years, so we’ve seen some amazingly inventive launch plans!
Experience has also taught us that the most successful intranet launch campaigns take company culture and intranet objectives into account. Tailor your launch announcements and activities to your physical and digital workplace and you’ll stand the best chance of achieving stellar results.
Here are some questions you might want to ask so that you can tailor a launch to your requirements.
1. What’s in it for them?
It’s important to focus on the ‘what’s in it for me?’ factor. By considering everyone (primarily through detailed user persona profiles), you can create an inclusive approach that gets stakeholders and employees interested in the project.
Do this by communicating some of the ways that the intranet portal is going to make their lives easier or improve their employee experience. Try to select those benefits that aren’t only significant, but exciting.
If we’re being honest, highlighting that HR policy documents have moved to a new folder is unlikely to set the world on fire. What does work well, however, is picking a ‘big’ message and communicating it broadly. One of the most common employee benefits of an intranet is that enterprise search functionality enables users to find the information they need to do their jobs quickly and easily.
In 2020, AMC Networks won Best Launch at the Interact Excellence Awards for a campaign that used humor and visual imagery to bring the wiifm factor to life.
2. What’s better, a teaser campaign or a full product launch?
Teaser marketing campaigns have grown in popularity in recent years, and we’re seeing the same trend in internal communications.
Laying out breadcrumbs of information over an extended period can generate intrigue and boost interest. Leak the intranet name or its branding and the ‘unknown’ element can get people talking.
A teaser approach we loved was the one taken by a customer of ours in the construction sector. In order to play on their building products and services theme, the company branded their intranet launch campaign as a “work in progress” that was capped by a big unveiling.
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However, it may be a challenge to keep your intranet project, design, name, or persona secret. A big bang launch goes all out with communications, events, promotions, and more to build awareness and educate users in the days, weeks, or even months around going live. A multichannel approach creates brand awareness and increases the visibility of your intranet platform so that it’s front-of-mind for users.
The children’s charity, the NSPCC, took a transparent and inclusive approach to its intranet launch. During the weeks and months before launching The Green, the organization provided updates and stories about the project process. Closer to launch day, a story showing the stages of the intranet build was published. A poster campaign highlighted the key benefits for staff, with information changed on a fortnightly basis to keep it fresh and engaging.
3. Who should your intranet launch be rolled out to initially?
Depending on the scale of your project and the number of users you’ll be onboarding, you may want to consider a staggered or ‘soft’ roll-out approach to road-test your new intranet on smaller groups first. Some of the biggest and most complex projects may even feature a software proof of concept stage to test the idea at a high level.
Approaching it this way can help gather support in an accumulative fashion. It can also identify any issues that need addressing and may serve as a beta-testing operation to gain feedback and insights.
Alternatively, the soft roll-out may be in the form of your intranet features: launching a basic or skeletal version of your intranet initially and then introducing additional features further down the line as your users become more confident.
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Company-wide roll-outs, when planned and managed effectively, are more of an event that can generate excitement and a buzz amongst employees. By getting everyone involved and making a ‘big deal’ out of your intranet across your business on a particular launch day, you can trigger a surge in adoption and engagement. If everyone is talking about it, no-one wants to miss out.
4. Should your intranet rollout include a launch event?
In-person and virtual launch events can be a great way to generate interest and answer FAQs about your new intranet. Ask employees to block out their diary for a time so you can show them in detail why the platform will be beneficial for them.
There are lots of launch activities you might want to consider. You can allow employees to ask questions, watch a live demonstration, take a tour, or learn about their intranet with a hands-on approach. Create top-down motivation by hosting an events led by senior stakeholders.
One thing to consider is the question of access. If you have multiple offices or locations and it won’t be convenient just to do one hybrid event then consider touring the launch as a roadshow.
One previous winner of Interact’s Best Intranet Launch award, the nonprofit healthcare provider Piedmont, held 12 launch events across six hospitals and three corporate locations. Events were staffed by 75 members of the organization’s employee volunteer group, known as the ‘Piedmont Connectors’, who served as intranet tour guides and ambassadors.
Employees could have their profile pictures taken with the event display as a background and were shown how to create and populate their intranet profile. Each event also saw free, branded giveaways and prizes, including an iPad or Samsung tablet grand prize at each location.
5. How can virtual tours help employee engagement?
Hybrid and remote working have become far more prevalent in recent years. Consider delivering virtual tours of your intranet to achieve maximum engagement with WFH employees.
Creating a video which explores the core features, functionality, and benefits can help users get orientated. It’s also a good way of directing employees to further information and launch campaign materials. The use of QR codes can be especially effective here.
Investing time in a video will also be repaid when you use it as an onboarding video for new starters. This can help them get to grips with the intranet and to learn more about your company culture.
Virtual tour videos take viewers through the basics: from completing their profile and finding colleagues to searching for information and using the forums to ask questions.
6. Who wants a swag bag?
Everyone loves to get something for nothing, and employees are no different. Your intranet launch campaign might include branded goodies that celebrate the intranet name and brand. In the past we’ve seen everything from mouse mats and coffee cups to earphones, cupcakes, and phone holders.
When done creatively, branded goods can have a real impact on early adoption. Any items which stand out and remind users of the new system can push them to use it on a daily basis. The goal is to keep the platform front-of-mind, which helps increase daily visits.
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If you have office- or location-based workers, consider welcoming them to work with a pack of branded merchandise. Headphones, branded snacks, face masks: anything that users will see on a daily basis could be useful in spreading the word.
Take them on a treasure hunt?
People learn best by doing rather than being told.
Help build user understanding of the new intranet in a hands-on way with activities like treasure hunts and competitions. Set users a series of tasks or searches to complete, or potentially ‘hide’ images or icons to encourage users to browse and look around.
The Royal College of Nursing planned an intranet launch campaign using a scavenger hunt idea. Questions pointed staff to different areas of the site, for example: ‘How many Daniels work at the RCN?’.
Answers could only be found by searching the site or navigating content. As an added twist, the first letter of each answer made up a word (‘Forum’) which was submitted via an intranet form to enter competition to win a prize.