25 Creative Intranet Launch Ideas

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Looking for a clear and simple path to a new intranet? Download our free Intranet Buyers Workbook to learn 10 key steps in evaluating intranet solutions.

thoughtfarmer-illustrations-lightbulb-01The secret to a great intranet launch is not just informing employees about the new intranet, but helping them build an early emotional connection where they are excited about the possibilities. We’ve compiled 25 real-world ideas that you can use to propel your intranet from a foreign piece of software into a mission-critical tool. We’ve grouped launch ideas to correspond with your intranet launch timeline and stages.

Include employees from the very start

The more involved employees feel in the intranet process, the more ownership they will take over the success of the new intranet.

Idea #1: Involve key employees in product evaluation

Include employees in early discussions about the intranet and seek to understand how your new intranet solution can help them. Our article on 15 ways to engage users in launching a social intranet offers tips on including employees in product evaluation.

Idea #2: Get employees to participate in intranet research

Employee feedback is essential to designing a useful, usable intranet. Get employees to participate in card sorting and task testing activities for your new intranet. Not only will you end up with an intranet that’s much easier for employees to navigate, you’ll also show them that you value their input.

Build hype with pre-launch intranet teasers

Offering a sneak peek into the new intranet can relieve wariness and spark excitement. Creativity and fun will go a long way here. 

Idea #3: Run an intranet naming competition

What’s in an intranet name? Well, if the CEO or the Director of Marketing comes up with the name, not much. But if you run an exercise that lets employees suggest and vote on names for the intranet, then your site’s moniker will be full of excitement and engagement. See our article on Crowdsourcing the name for a new social intranet for a step-by-step guide. Also see Stephen Schillerwein’s long list of real intranet names.

Oxfam America Intranet
Oxfam America held a naming contest to come up with the intranet name “Padare”. Learn how

Idea #4: Send out postcard teasers

At Oxfam America several weeks before launching the new intranet I distributed postcards to every employee. I even sent batches to different offices to have colleagues distribute them there. The postcards had “Take me home with you!” in big bold letters and included:

  • A copy of the new intranet’s navigation
  • The intranet vision statement
  • The site URL for home access
  • Simple instructions for logging in
  • The Intranet Help email address

Idea #5: Share fun facts from employee profiles

Penn State had one of the most inventive intranet launch plans ever. One aspect of launch included a series posters that shared little-known tidbits about Penn State employees. These posters generated interest in the intranet’s employee profiles. 

Penn State Outreach used posters to generate interest in the intranet’s employee profiles

Idea #6: Distribute intranet welcome packages

In this increasingly digital age, tangible hard copy materials can go farther than they used to. Another piece of Penn State’s outstanding intranet launch was welcome packages, which a team of volunteers assembled and delivered. They welcome kit included:

  • Booklet introducing the intranet
  • An agenda for launch day
  • A thumb drive with some special documents they needed each employee to have

Create initial intranet WOW factor

If you want employees to have a good first impression of the intranet, it should be immediately interesting and useful. Employees expect horribly user-UNfriendly software from most enterprise applications, so if you make the intranet inviting and engaging you’ll win over your users big time.

Idea #7: Give your intranet a strong visual identity

Splio won the 2014 ThoughtFarmer award for best looking intranet. And they deserved it. Their fun intranet brand started with a clever name that tied into their company culture and extended to every page of the intranet, including the login screen.

Splio ThoughtFarmer Intranet Groups
Splio gave their intranet a strong visual identity and won the Best Looking category in our annual intranet awards

Idea #8: Help super users create example profiles

By getting a few of your more engaged users to fill out their profiles as examples, you can achieve two things: 1) you’ll provide recognition to a group of highly motivated users and 2) you’ll help other users see what’s possible. This approach uses influencers to promote the new intranet for you (less work and more credibility, yay!). Also try to get a few tech-savvy executives to fill out their profiles.

Idea #9: Pre-populate employee’s profile photos

If you have a database of “security badge” photos or something similar, consider uploading them to user’s profiles in advance. Replacing blank profiles with real photos makes the people directory come to life on day one. 

Idea #10: Set up major groups and locations in advance

If your new intranet is a social intranet then you’ll likely have group pages for each major department and company location. By adding employees to the proper group pages ahead of time you can:

  1. Reduce the effort required for users to fill in their profiles
  2. Ensure the people directory shows rich data and connections
  3. Enable personalized news delivery based on group membership
Continuum set up clear employee groups for each office and discipline. Read the case study

Idea #11: Build a contributor community beforehand

If you’ve engaged your intranet stakeholders and power users properly while designing and building the intranet, this step will happen quite naturally. The key is to get your content owners, news authors and group owners involved before launch. See our article on how to manage intranet contributors for long-term success for specific tips and guides.

Make your launch day visible, fun, and exciting

Idea #12: Create a launch video

Our client LPK, a design and branding firm, launched their intranet with this entertaining video designed to mimic a movie trailer. But your intranet launch video doesn’t have to be quite so fancy. Ellen van Aken has compiled a list of 50 intranet launch and promotion videos of all types for even more inspiration.

Idea #13: Run an intranet scavenger hunt

Nigel Williams, former intranet manager at Romec, led a successful intranet treasure hunt as part of the launch of their new intranet. The competition was designed to build employees’ familiarity with the new intranet and offered an excellent prize worth winning — a trip to New York City! Learn more about what has made Nigel Williams a successful intranet manager in the article from our Real Intranet Managers blog series, Nigel Williams is a workplace anthropologist.

Idea #14: Connect with virtual employees through video conference

For offices that are spread out around the globe, the intranet launch is the perfect opportunity to bring people together. I did a lot of crazy things to plan, launch and manage the new social intranet back when I worked at Oxfam America. One of those crazy things was to hold eight video conferences in an 18-hour period, one with each office. It wasn’t easy and I didn’t get much sleep. But it helped put every employee on the same footing with the new intranet and show it was a truly global resource. 

Idea #15: Hold a “No-meeting Day”

Penn State advertised a “No-meeting Day” when all employees could spend time exploring the new intranet. Office-workers’ common distaste for excessive meetings fuelled excitement for “No-meeting Day” and, consequently, the new intranet.

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Penn State set a date to launch their intranet and organized special live activities — including a photo booth for employee profile photos. Read more about the launch

Idea #16: Host an intranet drop-in lounge (with snacks!)

Informal “get-to-know-you” sessions in office conference rooms can help employees ask questions and learn about your new intranet, in a non-intimidating environment. Plus, if you provide cookies or pizza, you’ll likely attract a big crowd. You might also set up a photo booth to encourage the use of photos on the intranet’s employee directory.

Idea #17: Put your intranet on the big screen

Bam! Put the new intranet everywhere, including on the big screens. The TV in reception, the canteen big screen, the small screen in the elevator — show off the intranet everywhere you can. You can even call it an “integrated multimedia campaign” if you like big words and want to impress your executives.

Keep the momentum going after launch day

Idea #18: Open a kudos section to all employees

shoutouts
Farm Bureau Bank created a Shout-Out section to encourage employees to recognize each other using the intranet

Shhhhh. I’m gonna tell you a secret: Employee recognition has a big impact on workers’ satisfaction, especially if it’s sincere and spontaneous. Farm Bank Bureau Bank’s “Shout Out” section lets any employee contribute new posts, allows commenting on every post, and sits in the global navigation. This is empowering for both the people offering kind words and the recipients of congratulations.

Idea #19: Make the intranet available from home

At Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) a large portion of employees work part-time hours and don’t sit in front of a computer. After the launch of their new social intranet, MEC made the intranet accessible from home computers and saw a great increase in traffic. By offering both critical information for employees and community pages for staff to connect on topics of personal interest MEC gave their new site powerful pull.

Idea #20: Encourage employees to upload their own profile photos

If you let people edit their profiles and use personal head shots they’ll feel more invested in the intranet. You’ll also see people’s personality come through too. As long as you have clear guidelines people will post appropriate photos. (I suggest a “no pictures of your cats” policy for starters.)

Idea #21: Write employee-centered news

What’s the most popular type of news on intranets? News about employees. I’ve heard anecdotes from many companies, large and small, that employees flock to stories about… other employees. This type of news is relatable, human, interesting. So have your internal communications team post regular news about employees and particularly tell the company’s brand narrative through employee stories.

Idea #22: Have a photo of the day contest

I heard of one company that has a huge backlog of photos to post because so many employees love the photo-of-the-day feature. It puts employees in the spotlight and highlights their creativity. If this is something your employees would enjoy, why not use it to drive more eyes to the intranet?

Idea #23: Make timesheet software accessible through the intranet

What’s something every employee cares about? Getting paid. At the same time LPK launched their new ThoughtFarmer intranet they were also launching a new online timesheet system. They made the timesheet system readily accessible from the intranet, which helped drive consistent traffic.

LPK intranet timesheets integration
LPK integrated their mission-critical timesheet system with ThoughtFarmer

Idea #24: Provide a killer app that people need

You could also file this idea under “solve a critical business problem.” In many companies the “killer app” is a rich people directory, searchable by keyword, sortable by location and department, and accessible on mobile phones. They key is to figure out the killer app for your employees, which requires research into their needs and daily work.

Idea #25: Send email newsletters

CT-8-Email-Newsletters
Use ThoughtFarmer’s auto-generated email newsletters to bring people back to the intranet, again and again

Once your new intranet gets ticking you’ll have plenty of news, especially if you distribute news authoring responsibilities throughout the organization. By sending a weekly email with links to popular news stories you can find people where they likely spend much of their time — their inboxes. People can easily scan the news digests and follow links to just the stories that interest them. ThoughtFarmer has this feature built in — you just need to turn it on in the admin panel.

Now it’s your turn…

These 25 ideas represent just a tiny sampling of what’s possible. You can find inspiration in advertising, in public marketing and even in business and history books. 

Hopefully this list provides a spark of inspiration. The next step is to combine your own creativity with your company’s unique culture to find the ideas that will work best for your intranet launch. Good luck!

Looking for a clear and simple path to a new intranet? Download our free Intranet Buyers Workbook to learn 10 key steps in evaluating intranet solutions.

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  2. 25 Creative Intranet Launch Ideas | ThoughtFarm...

    […] "The secret to a great intranet launch is not just informing employees about the new intranet, but helping them build an early emotional connection where they are excited about the possibilities."Read the full article to see the 25 launch ideas grouped under these launch timelines and stages:include employees from the very startbuild hype with pre-launch intranet teaserscreate initial intranet wow factormake your launch day visible, fun, and excitingkeep the momentum going after launch day  […]

  3. 25 Creative Intranet Launch Ideas | ThoughtFarm...

    […] We've compiled 25 real-world ideas that you can use to propel your intranet from a foreign piece of software into an mission-critical tool.  […]

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