Arla thumbs up on intranet‘Social’ was a major buzzword for intranets in 2011. As is often the case, it is far from easy for intranet professionals to figure out what the concept behind the buzzword means for the business and how to back it up with a business case. However, it is clear that many managers and employees now expect social, so where and how to start?

Danish dairy company Arla Foods, took the first small but important step in the direction of social, when they introduced a simple thumbs up or down rating feature on internal news. According to intranet webmaster at Arla, Martin Risgaard:

This has been quite a significant change to internal communication. While people might not talk much about internal news, the success we have had with this proves their willingness to engage with the messages we communicate internally

The idea originated from intranet surveys where many Arla employees asked for commenting or like functionality on intranet news stories. In addition, the senior management team was pushing for more vibrant internal communication based on openness and honesty. This created the momentum that enabled the intranet team to add this small and cheap, but very visible feature to the intranet.

Arla intranet news story with thumbs up functionality - click for full size

As you can see from the above intranet story, this single story so far has 42 thumbs up. Even more impressive, Arla has had a total of 1,600 thumbs up or down indications only 4 weeks after using this on about 20 stories in total. According to Martin, the most popular stories are the ones in which a person expresses plans or opinions. No surprise, since that calls for an opinion whereas a business success stories easily becomes a bit generic. You need to have a bit of “edge” in order to prompt people to have an opinion.

Next step for the Arla intranet is to find new ways of encouraging people to participate even more in the debate.

Start small with your social intranet

Many other J. Boye group members are currently at some stage of implementing one or more social intranet features, such as commenting, discussion forums or microblogging.

It’s a good strategy to start small with a simple but highly visible feature such as the Facebook-style thumbs of Arla. This will pave the way for additional, more complex features to be added successfully later.

A social intranet can also be used to discover talent within your organisation as explained by Guy van Leemput in his posting on 5 intranet trends for 2011

Learn more

Arla is a member of the J. Boye community for web & intranet professionals. You can join as well and learn from experienced peers in a confidential setting.