Intranet Content Management in a Social World

By Toby Ward, Founder, Prescient Digital Media To ensure great content on the intranet, your organization must work from a plan. An effective Content Management Plan is an essential component in supporting strong intranet search, information architecture and effective, timely, and relevant content for employees.

Your intranet is hungry for good content; but it’s awash in bad, stale content.

Feeding the intranet ‘monster' once was a primary concern for corporate communications, but now it’s culling the dead and fallen. Old documents, unused team sites, poorly written titles, no meta tags – all symptoms of a sick intranet suffering from acute, poor content management.

Today, particularly with the advent and popularity of social media and rapidly deployed SharePoint sites, our ability to create content easily outstrips our ability to manage and retrieve it. In fact, here’s a refrain you might be familiar with: “The search engine sucks!”

Indeed, but rarely is it the intranet search engine technology. More often than not, it’s a content problem. Specifically, poor or absent content management. When the intranet is hampered by thousands of pages of poor or dated content that is poorly labeled, with little or no meta tags, you will be saddled with poor search results.

Content management is the means and methods that content is created, stored, accessed, and reused. Effective content management requires:

  • Organizational processes and rules.
  • Motivated and active content providers, writers and editors.
  • Appropriate technology solutions to support the content process and workflow.
  • Engaged users.


To ensure great content on the intranet, your organization must work from a plan. An effective Content Management Plan is an essential component in supporting strong intranet search, information architecture and effective, timely, and relevant content for employees. A Content Management Plan provides rules, details and guidelines for all authors, publishers, and contributors at all levels. It provides processes and rules, training and guidelines, and technology to help content creators deliver solid intranet content. Ultimately, a Content Management Plan ensures that content is easily found by employees and is easily updated according to explicit rules and standards.

It is also increasingly important on social intranets where anyone can create content within a wiki, or a discussion forum, or a comment to a news story or blog post. All of the social intranet content types must be defined and roles and responsibilities must be defined for each.

A detailed Content Management Plan must have detailed rules and instruction on all aspects of the content management lifecycle:

  • Assessment: an overview of current content and processes.
  • Creation: how to create, edit and publish content.
  • Organization: direction on information architecture, wireframes, taxonomy, metadata, workflow and documentation.
  • Management: reviewing, renewing, editing, maintaining, monitoring, and archiving content.
  • Maintenance: storing, accessing, reusing/repurposing, resourcing and deleting content.
  • Policies: taxonomy, social media use, email use, home page news, etc.
  • Measurement: measuring, analyzing, and tracking content performance and consumption over time.

Content Lifecycle

There are many ways to define and depict content management, and the lifecycle for creating and managing content on the intranet. The most simple, usable depiction for the average content author and publisher is one that illustrates the three key components of the content management lifecycle:


To plan, write and approve content for the intranet.


To input and publish content via content management templates (e.g. SharePoint), add keywords and metadata, and add version and other controls to ensure the content can be controlled in the future.


To allow all users to access the content, and to allow content owners to control it, review it as necessary, and to eventually archive and/or delete the content.

On the last point, all content must have an expiry date or renew content deadline. All content must be deleted at some point if it is not renewed or refreshed after a pre-determined time (e.g. 12 months) that is set and baked into all of the intranet CMS templates.

Strategy and governance

Intranet strategy

Critical to the success of any plan is the understanding of the underlying strategy. A Content Management Plan supports and aligns with the organization's strategic direction and  the intranet strategic plan (mission, vision, overarching goals, and specific objectives).

Mission Statement

The mission statement provides the highest level of strategic direction and guidance for the intranet team, and provides the intranet’s purpose. For example, the mission statement might read:

To support our mission, vision, and values by providing an innovative environment for collaboration, innovation, and interactive communications.

Goals & Objectives

Goals are overarching directives that expand upon the direction provided by the mission, and provide guidance for developing specific, measurable objectives. Objectives are S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-sensitive). For example, sample objectives might include:

  • Reduce e-mail volume
  • Increase ROI
  • Increase employee engagement
  • Reduce time spent finding information

Intranet governance

Governance defines the ownership and management model including:

  • Management Team
  • Roles & responsibilities
  • Decision making process
  • Policies & standards
  • Governance model

In short, the governance supports or directs the content management initiative by putting in place rules, and accountability (roles and responsibilities). And this is the crux of feeding and caring for the intranet beast – rules are required, and those creating content must understand in detail, and black and white, their responsibilities.


Social Media

Social media on the intranet is no longer a nice to have, it’s a must. We all use it in the real-world, particularly younger employees, and the need for collaboration and connection among dispersed employee populations demand it.

Early adopters have learned that developing a social intranet has little to do with technology, and more about change management and dialogue. While intuitive tools encourage nominal adoption, motivating employees to participate on social intranet tools requires identifying early adopters and mavens that will promote conversation and use. The success of intranet collaboration and social media use is largely determined by culture and the role of executives and key manager use, supported by the right plan and governance.

Social media and social content requires rules and defined processes. For example, no anonymous postings, response etiquette, privacy, etc. In an increasingly social world, a Content Management Plan must address how and why content is created across all tools, and what employees can and cannot do when using the tools.

For more on intranet content management, you should register for the free webinar on October 10: Intranet Content Management for a Social World


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