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  • Intranet Book: Group Chat Versus Microblog: A Comparison
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In my view, the difference between a chat group in a messenger and a microblog on the intranet lies in the difference in range and persistence. Posting something on a microblog is a little bit more complicated than simply typing a chat message into a mobile app. This makes the chat message very fleeting. After just ten comments, the only ones who know what the chat is going on about are those who were involved in it right from the start. The longer the discussion takes and the more posts there are, the less likely it is for the other participants in the group to read the chat from the beginning and join in the discussion later.

A micropost, on the other hand, has a longer shelf life and can also be found later. For example, it has a unique (and persistent) internet address, which can be used to refer back to it at any time. Chat messages, on the other hand, usually don’t have direct links that you can copy, send, and open in your browser. 

Microposts with all of their discussion points are discussed on the intranet for days or even weeks when it comes to particularly hot topics. They remain at the “forefront of your mind” for much longer in an organization. Chat discussions, on the other hand, usually last just a few minutes or a few hours – depending on how busy a group is. The previous topic is usually forgotten as soon as one or two new topics, and therefore some new discussion threads are started. 

Most chat groups, in addition (in contrast to the microblog), offer no or at least no meaningful thread function and therefore no topic grouping. The bottom line with threads here is that you can still reply to specific messages easily even when they are older. As we discussed earlier, the related responses are then presented in the form of a coherent discussion tree in the microblog, which is not the case in many group chats. But we just discussed that.

These differences between each of the messenger functions don’t make it easy to compare the two formats for chats and microblogs. Instead, you have to drill down to the level of the individual tools. 

In discussions with customers, I always find that they have already opted out mentally at this point: “Please stop, this is all too detailed for me! This isn’t really helping me to understand things better. How is all this going to help?”

If you thought the same thing just now, you have my sympathy. But it’s not an attitude that will necessarily help your company. If you don’t perform a litmus test on all the platform’s functions and really “experience” how it works, it’s the users who are most likely to be the ones who ultimately stumble across any unanswered questions. And then you’ll have to deal with it anyway, just later. So, where am I meant to post this now? In the chat? Or in the microblog? Or as a blog article? Or as a wiki page? Or maybe as a Word or Google Docs document? 

Until now, we’ve only dealt with chats and microblogs as an alternative. What I would hope, however, is that intranet teams do not limit themselves to just these two channels, but also go on to include blogs, intranet pages, and other special forms and use them appropriately. Special channels include, for instance, one-to-one conversations, formal meetings and phone calls, as well as phone and video conferences. A good intranet also helps the user to find their way around in this jungle of possibilities.

However, before we continue to delineate the various forms of communication mentioned, I would like to present an example that goes beyond chats and microblogs and works with intranet blog articles (i.e. news), intranet pages, and other channels. In this way, I can show you well how ideas are born, thrive, but also die. 

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