Recently, I attended the inspirational Art of Marketing Conference, which I suppose is not the biggest surprise as the deemed Marketing Maven of Intranet Connections. But what was a surprise was how applicable these speakers, lessons and best practices resonated for intranets as well. After all your intranet is an internal website, which is rich with features, tools and functionality well beyond the means of a public website, for your employees.
Given this, I’d like to share a few lessons I took from the conference that I’ll be using not only for our marketing practices, but on our intranet as well:
The Power of Social Influences
Dr. Robert Cialdini was the first speaker to kick-off this outstanding event and he did a fantastic job exciting the masses with this theory on the 6 social influences that guide persuasion, based on his best-selling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. I’m sure many of you have already devoured this popular business and know these social influences are not revolutionary, in fact reviewing most social influences you think to yourself: “Of course, why didn’t I think of this before?”.
So how can you use social influence on your intranet you ask? Well, many intranet admins want a silver bullet, to increase engagement, foster intranet evangelists and influence more employees to be regular contributors to the intranet. While I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “silver bullet”, nor does Dr. Cialdini, these social influences could be considered potentially a “bronze bullet”.
- Liking – we all want to be likable; so does your intranet. Make your intranet more “likable” through giving your intranet a persona, such as our friends did with Dwight at Pima Federal Credit Union. Even having simple intuitive intranet architecture and navigation can make your intranet 100% more likable. In addition, having accurate, reliable intranet search can make your intranet much more likable as well as useful.
- Commitment/Consistency – the idea of this influence is to get your “target” to take one small step in your direction, on your intranet. This would be your employee (your user). Let’s say the first step is having them add a picture to their Employee Profile. Look how easy that was! Or the first step could be complete this Online Expense Form. Wow, look at that, you get reimbursed faster than completing a paper-based form. The point is, if you get employees to commit to a small first step then every step after that becomes easier and using your intranet eventually becomes second nature.
- Authority/Credibility – this is obviously common sense when it comes to your intranet, but you need to establish the intranet as a reliable source for employees. Sometimes this is as easy as returning reliable, accurate search results; other times this means the intranet is the go-to resource for all documents – the master documents reside here, making the intranet the only dependable resource.
- Consensus – think “group mentality” here, if everybody is doing it you should do it too (yes, this is your parent’s worst nightmare). Simply knowing that your colleagues use the intranet makes using the intranet more attractive. Promote the adoption of the intranet on your intranet to breed further intranet adoption – especially from key influencers like your Executive Team.
There are a few more social influences Dr. Cialdini covers in the Influence: The Psychology of Persausion, but I don’t want to spoil the entire book for you. I’ll leave you with a few to discover yourself.
Get Users Hooked
Nir Eyal, the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products, perhaps delivered an even more applicable message to intranet administrators. After all, every intranet admin’s goal is to get their users/employees hooked on the intranet.
Eyal describes a habit as “an impulse having little or no conscious thought”. Some current examples of products that have “hooked” users globally are FaceBook, YouTube, Instagram and Netflix. Users aimlessly access these products when an internal or external trigger is experienced. For example, an internal trigger may be the following routine:
- My morning alarm rings.
- I reach for my cell phone to turn off the alarm.
- After checking the time, I decide I have 5 minutes to lay in bed before getting up.
- In that 5 minutes, I check my email and Facebook account.
Alternately, an external trigger may be:
- I’m browsing the web.
- I notice a new ad displaying the latest Netflix series.
- I click on the ad to learn more about the series.
- I login to Netflix to start binge watching the new show.
At this point, you are thinking – geesh, this gal sure wastes a lot of time online. I may, but I like to consider it all in the name of “market research”. However, the takeaway here is not my internet habits, it’s that successful, habit forming products build in innate triggers to keep users coming back for more.
To get users “hooked” on your intranet, you need to be able to answer/solve these five questions:
- What itch is the user scratching? What internal trigger brings the user to action on the intranet?
- What external trigger can make the user take action on the intranet?
- What is the simplest behavior you can get the user to accomplish in anticipation of a reward?
- Will the reward delivered be fulfilling enough to leave the user wanting more and coming back for more?
- What “bit of work” needs to be done to increase the likelihood the user will pass through this hook (coming back to use the intranet) in the future?
Obviously, as software developers and product managers, these are questions we ask ourselves with each new release of Intranet Connections. However, the beauty of an intranet is that every organization can take our software to make it their own – each customer creating their own hooks that are tailored to the needs of their employees and their organization. Therefore, just as we ask ourselves how can we increase our “hooked” factor in our product, you also must ask internally in utilizing your intranet…how can we get more users/employees “hooked” on the intranet?
The Art of Marketing: Intranet Edition
Obviously, there were many more engaging speakers and outstanding books presented at the Art of Marketing this year, but I hadn’t enough time to cover them all. I will say if you are looking for a few more books to read from engaging speakers and authors, I can highly recommend authored books by Chip & Dan Heath. Many of you have likely already discovered these New York Times best-sellers authors, but there are incredible insights to be taken from their work so I had to mention them.
Another book very applicable to creating communities and loyalty, which can easily be translated to your intranet, is Monster Loyalty by Jackie Huba. I can genuinely say I was surprised to like this one, but Huba certainly knows how to entertain, just like the subject of her book, Lady Gaga.
Have you read some other business/psychology/marketing books that you have used to improve your intranet? We’d love to hear about them. Please comment below.