So you’ve spent a few weeks designing the intranet and working with site owners and groups to populate content. You’ve been creating intranet launch materials. You’ve engaged your advocate network. Your business champion is briefed on what to say. A day has been set for the big launch. Now it’s finally time to unleash your social intranet.
Ready, steady, go!
Build momentum and buzz leading up to launch
In the run-up to the intranet’s launch, you want to create excitement among users. There will inevitably be some curiosity from employees about what the intranet can do – capitalize on this! Launching is a good time to catch their attention and drive early levels of adoption.
There are lots of ways to create some excitement among users. Some organizations have created teaser videos with a glimpse of what’s happening.
Others have unveiled an early view of the intranet at town hall meetings and management conferences, or created specific viewing events for those who are interested.
A popular method of creating buzz is to run a naming competition for the intranet, allowing employees to suggest a name and win a prize. This is often done in two stages: employees suggesting names, and then voting the final winner from the best suggestions.
The naming contest also establishes the intranet as a social channel which is for employees, not just a channel for corporate communications to employees
Launch in phases if necessary
Many teams opt to go for a “big bang” launch and release the intranet to the entire workforce on day one, but this isn’t always possible for logistical or technical reasons.
Every organization will be different, but it is worth considering launching your new employee intranet in phases. This can make the implementation far easier, particularly if you have challenges around resourcing the central intranet group.
You may want to run a pilot, or initially release the intranet to a smaller group, so that you can learn from the feedback you get and make any necessary changes. You may also need to conduct a pilot if you have skeptical stakeholders and need to prove the social intranet works before it can be rolled out to the entire enterprise.
One approach to adoption is to just allow the social intranet to “go viral” and be spread by word of mouth and peer recommendation. While this has seen some examples of very rapid take-up, this method often runs out of steam, and generally doesn’t reach the point of sustainability.
A more managed approach to the launch tends to reap more benefits in the long term.
Make launch day one to remember, mobilize your advocate network
So when it comes to the actual big launch day, it pays to make a bit of a splash and get some attention for the intranet. You want to try and get as many employees as you can to go onto your new intranet, to explore and experience using the social tools themselves.
Companies have used lots of fun and participative events to launch their intranets. These include running cake-baking contests, treasure hunts where employees have to look through the intranet to find answers to questions, and competitions to see which location can get the most people using social tools.
Some organizations have even organized flash mob dances! Another great idea is to have a photo competition with employees submitting the best pictures.
As well as the fun, it’s time to mobilize your advocate network. They might coordinate local launch events, encourage others to join in the fun or answer questions about the new intranet. They may be “floor walking” to see if users are comfortable with the new platform. It is likely that you’ll find their support makes all the difference between a good launch and a great launch.
Most of all, don’t be afraid to be passionate and to have fun! This is the start of something great, and your new social intranet will only get better from here.