10 Internal communications tools and channels you didn’t consider before — and how Intranets remain as the hub of collaboration

When companies grow their nominee they start having internal communications challenges they didn’t have before: it’s harder to know what each individual is doing and corporate communication becomes blurry and complex. As a real example, companies have expressed to us the challenge of making sure important announcements —like the overall corporate strategy—are communicated to each individual in an organization.

For this reason, we decided to gather a list of tools and channels you can use to execute your internal communications within your organization and ripe the benefits of collaboration. Unlike common alternatives found on other blogs like intranets and emails, we bet you haven’t considered some of these tools due to their novelty and no-yet widespread adoption.

  1. Business email

The most obvious Internal communications channel for companies is email. It is the default tool for teams to announce:

  • New hires
  • Product updates
  • Leadership or executive board messages
  • Photos and videos at the workplace
  • Educational content
  • Upcoming events
  • Quarterly financial and performance reports
  • And other ideas

According to Newswaver, the average corporate email open rate is about 66%, and best-performing companies reach 88%. These averages are absolutely outperforming customers open rates but, on the other hand, they also suggest that if emails are the only communication channel, the Internal communications department is only reaching about half of the individuals in organizations.

As good practices for improving your internal emails open rates performance, we encourage you to segment

2. [Messenger] chatbots

Perhaps you didn’t see this coming on the list.

A chatbot is a software that, theoretically, can establish a text conversation with a human in order to automate repetitive tasks and responses, replacing a sales rep for basic queries

However, as AI hype has been slowly taking momentum among organizations for optimizing customer service, it’s also been clear that in many cases language recognition capabilities have fallen short in an attempt to simulate a human rep, making some implementers quit on their use of chatbots or personal assistants.

But before you also give up on chatbots as a new tool for your internal communications due to their seeming complexity, there are some benefits that will make you consider them again as an option:

They actually don’t require artificial intelligence: you don’t strictly need a chatbot with robust language recognition capabilities, but one that can identify specific keywords or works based on predefined user inputs, i.e. giving employees a set of possible answers that will trigger specific responses from the chatbot.

You don’t need your employees to install new apps: you can quickly set up your own Facebook Messenger chatbot and connect it to your corporate Facebook page. Chances are that your employees use Messenger:

You can broadcast targeted messages through Facebook Messenger: what channels do you have available to push a message besides email? Facebook Messenger lets you send targeted messages to your subscribers (such as employees) and it can be an alternative solution to solve your open rate issues: while average email marketing open rates are about 21%, Facebook Messenger has demonstrated a fantastic performance reaching nearly the 100% of subscribers!

3. Web browser push notifications

Have you seen those screens that suddenly show up on your browser window that ask you for permission to send you notifications messages?

They are called push notifications and are intended to bring the ability to web browsers what mobile apps can do to notify you of a specific action or trigger: they show up for requesting access to your camera and microphone, when someone writes to you on Facebook or your corporate chat,  or a new article update. Interestingly, push notifications can be activated from a desktop or any device even if a specific website is not open.

They can be a great way to bring back your employees to an Intranet when a new update happens in case they don’t mind to open it frequently.

Source: https://deanhume.com/push-notifications-on-the-web-google-chrome/

4. Business chats

The market is a wild fight among growing startups and some of the largest companies such as Skype for Business and Yammer by Microsoft, Slack, the fastest growing startup ever, or Ushare.to, developed by HyperOffice and Verizon that seeks to outperform competitors by adding customer support ticket management, simultaneously shared screens in video conferences, unlimited document and conversations storage, and more.

5. Facebook or Linkedin pages

As an attempt to become more social and close to their employees, companies have opened their own social media communications channels through Facebook pages (or any other social network pages).

Of course, they are not meant to share sensitive, private information of the company, but to engage employees through rich media content such as blog posts, images, and videos. As they set these pages as open, they also work as a way to showcase corporate culture at potential hires.

Two great internal communications ideas through Facebook pages are Hubspot (Hubspot Life) and AIESEC (AI team), which share the best way possible their corporate culture, internal jobs applications and promotions, upcoming events, and special announcements.

6. Whatsapp

Unofficially, your company may have several Whatsapp groups where your team discuss work on the go—and share memes, maybe? If you didn’t know this, it is because you were not invited to those groups.

While Whatsapp is not the most optimal, formal solution in terms of information organization and document management, it excels at immediacy and direct communication. It makes it into this list not because we would “recommend” it as a professional channel for internal communications due to the lack of privacy and security (among other reasons), but because of its massive adoption and usage: we spend about 195 minutes each week on Whatsapp!

7. Corporate Intranets

Intranets are the most known tool in the arsenal of internal communications specialists, especially in large organizations. They serve as the hub for many collaborative applications such as corporate announcements, the whole company documentation, events calendars, process tracking and commenting, and so on.

Among other benefits, Intranets happen to be the most customizable and robust solution for collaboration, as they are specifically created for that, different from Facebook groups or Messenger chatbots, which are meant for more generic tasks. If you want ideas and inspiration for building your own Intranet and see how other companies are using it, we encourage you to read “7 real examples of Intranets—and what makes them a great tool for collaboration.”

8. Videos

According to Wordstream, 59% of executives agree that if both text and video are available on the same topic, they are more likely to choose video. Among other reasons to explain this,  90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. For internal communications ideas using video, here’s an awesome infographic from Alive with Ideas, just like events highlights or employee generated content.

9. 911 internal call centers

While researching non-common ways companies communicate with their employees, a friend of mine who works in IT of a large bank told me that they have a direct phone number where they can call a specific department meant to solve employees general and specific questions. While the volume of calls was a huge challenge they are seeking to solve, he also claimed that is a must have inside the bank.

10. Facebook groups

Every year, Facebook holds an event called F8 where they announce new product updates. This event works as a guideline of where businesses should focus their attention towards making the most out of Facebook benefits —and groups are one of those features business should start paying attention to.

Facebook has announced they are adding efforts to making stronger communities through groups, and they are adding many features that you, as the person in charge of internal communications at your company, should be aware of:

    • Private Facebook live broadcasts
    • Rules feature: ban or remove member’s posts and automatically notify them what group rule they are breaking.
    • Content sharing privacy: deny or grant permission to users to share content on Facebook.
    • Document sharing: upload documents on your Facebook group and easily find them through a search bar or a document module.
    • Tagging and commenting: tag the group members you really want to get to see a notification or a post.
    • Posts prior approval: as the group admin, you can decline or approve a message from a member before it’s published.
  • Group privacy customization: you can make your group public, private or secret, depending on your privacy needs.
  • Insights: Facebook allows you to visualize the reach, engagement and demographic data to see how your group is performing.

Some honorable mentions

There are other internal communications tools you can keep exploring such as SMS messages, CEO blogs, forums, and specific mobile apps you can consider to foster employee engagement and making sure important announcements reach each individual in your organization.

Final thoughts: these are not alternatives to Intranets, but add-ons

We cannot say that you can replace intranets with videos or push notifications, for instance, as their function is different but complementary; these are all tools and channels to improve internal communications.

Intranets are the hub of internal communications where each individual, team, document, and application gathers. Meanwhile, emails, blog posts, and videos are simply formats in which content can be presented.

On the other hand, SMS, emails, Facebook Messenger, and other instant messaging apps are just notifications triggered to alert an individual of a new update, but they are intended to redirect users to a web page ton consume such content [on the Intranet]. And, finally, social media tools like Facebook or Linkedin groups or pages are just a content distribution channel that, again, are meant to share content that will be stored in a single hub.

While adding more channels can increase reach, it also adds complexity and disorder. This is why all these efforts should be directed to a single, centralized place where employees can collaborate, talk, work, store information, and plan together.

Internal communications tools and channels infographic