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Your intranet news is up to date. Your metrics should be, too

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Your intranet news is up to date. Your metrics should be, too

“How many views should a typical intranet news story get? What proportion of our employees ideally will use our intranet weekly? What KPIs should we apply to our intranet analytics?”

Recently, I was working with a client who was hoping to improve the readership of their intranet news articles, with the knock-on goals of improving understanding and engagement across all departments. They asked what the industry standard was, or how they could benchmark their results against others, but I warned them these were probably the wrong questions.

It’s hard to be sure any numbers you see from benchmarking are comparing like-for-like. For example, is the percentage of employees vs the percentage with intranet access consistent? Are the nature of and habits within the organizations the same, for example is the intranet forced as the browser homepage? 

While comparing against others makes some sort of sense, benchmarking against yourself is much more effective than against other organizations. To do this, there are a few questions you can ask yourself to start building a baseline.

Is the intranet the main news channel?

If the intranet is the primary source of news and information in your business, I have found it  likely that news articles will reach 50% to 75% of people at least. Where other channels are also popular, then your readership might be lower than in an organization that only has an intranet, which might be achieving 90%+ on its key news stories.

What are other channels achieving?

You’re likely to have other communication channels alongside the intranet, so where possible review the analytics for those too. 

  • How much better or worse is your intranet performing in comparison to those? 
  • Is that above or below where you would hope it to be?  

If you know (or suspect) your employees also get news from other channels, then your intranet news readership might be low. If they aren’t being reached by other channels, then you’re likely to want a higher rate for your intranet.

If you can’t easily analyze the success of those other channels (for example, digital signage or even paper posters), you’ll have to turn to other evidence to assess whether they are reaching people. For example, have people applied for a voluntary role you’ve advertised? Are nominations coming in for your annual awards? I’m edging into other KPIs and metrics now, but these approaches can be applied just to news articles where wanted.

How newsworthy is the news itself?

Certain factors will affect the reach, including the newsworthiness of the individual article. While any communicator (myself included!) will feel all internal news is newsworthy — otherwise, why share it? — ultimately, each individual will have their own interpretation of whether it is. Newsworthiness can therefore be summarized as relevance to the individual

For example, news about events in Europe may not interest employees in America. Likewise, news about the organization making an acquisition  may not be seen as a “must read” item by some people, unless there is a direct impact on their own role. 

Where something can be classed as “you must know this because it directly impacts you,” such as the temporary closure of an office or information about a change to the process for claiming expenses, the relevance increases and so should your readership rate. Therefore, it might be useful to split your news articles into categories, hopefully, using tags, so you can assess the reach and impact of types of news — with the aim of making sure the most relevant have the highest reading rate.

What’s the current baseline?

Although intranet analytics overall tend to be weak, information about individual articles tends to be fairly strong. I’d recommend focusing on key articles to start benchmarking, then expand out to general readership rates across other news stories. Where you can, track the monthly or quarterly results for your articles and compare them to the previous year. You either want to be about the same, or tracking a little higher, as the previous year. 

So, what should the rate be?

The many unique factors that affect your target readership rate will really  be unique for your organization. Ask yourself the above questions to start setting your own targets and benchmark against those. As an internal comms professional, you’ll probably also have a feeling whether your intranet’s current performance is too low, about right, or doing very well. Use your instincts while asking yourself these questions, then use data to back up your thoughts or uncover unexpected findings.

Finally, make sure you have clear plans in place to address your findings too, or more simply — what are you going to do if you decide your readership is low?

  • Try a different style?
  • Try another channel?
  • Stop publishing that kind of news?
  • Something else?

If reach rates are low overall, perhaps you need to reorganize your home page or even address the ways you approach writing your articles. Maybe they’re too long, or too formal. The key to measurement is working out why you’re asking a question in the first place, and ultimately what you can do with the answers you uncover.

This article was originally published by Reworked.

Suzie Robinson

I've always worked with intranets, and have practical experience with all aspects of intranet management, including research, implementation, governance, and strategy. My roots are in internal communication and I focus on employee experience and engagement.

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