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Shall we dare to take a leap into the future together? Great! Then let’s assume that you already have a successful or at least very frequently visited intranet. You publish lots of valuable news there and lots of people in your organization read the content. Now a topic has come up that is really important to you and you want it to be pinned to the top of the newsfeed permanently because you want everyone to read it. As I said before, we have a feature in Linchpin for this: we can pin messages in a newsfeed. Other systems offer this option as well. But before you use this option, I would advise the following: don’t use this feature! 

New posts do not move the pinned post from the top down the newsfeed, but leave them right at the top. They are always visible. This is usually the case even if the post has already been read. If a pinned post was automatically placed further down the feed in chronological order after it had been read, I could probably live with it. But that isn’t the case at the moment –neither with Yammer nor in the numerous SharePoint applications I’ve seen. That said, however, the author can define a specific period of time during which the message remains pinned at the top. 

I also call this type of pinned news CEO news. This is somewhat disrespectful, since it conjures up an image of an ignorant and autocratic manager who is not really interested in the intranet and what it can do, but is simply looking for the largest possible stage and undivided attention. But whatever we call it: pinned posts are annoying, elicit sarcastic remarks and run the risk of backfiring. And why? Because they do not adhere to accepted publishing practice. At the risk of overusing the analogy: if your daily newspaper served up the same leading article three days in a row, you would find it pretty stupid. And this is exactly what the pinned post feature does. 

Incidentally, I’m pretty certain that our internal teams will change this feature in Linchpin sooner or later. But that’s not the point here. What’s important to me is that this feature is so widespread, because those in charge of the intranet (usually top managers) are allowed to define and change the rules that apply to it. Pinning posts represents a good example of how this happens. 

When planning an intranet, the main thing is not for the producers of intranet software to develop convenient functions, but rather that as a customer, it is necessary to think carefully about how the intranet should garner the attention you want. 

So now that we know how not to do it, we should ask how do we do it right? What method do you use to announce your important new projects to everyone? The answer is actually pretty simple: you do it in the same way daily newspapers do. You constantly write something new; in each case, you highlight a different aspect of the narrative and refer back to previous reports on it using links. It doesn’t matter here whether you really have something new to say, or whether (like with a comment) you just want to take up an aspect that is already known and present your own point of view. 

It is vital that you always offer something different in terms of content that is nice to read and justifies the additional attention readers should give it. 

I’ll go through this for you providing examples of the various communications channels we use on our intranet. Let’s start with chats. They occur frequently and develop rather erratically. For example, you can reply to a chat a second time with confidence if you want to increase attention to it on short notice. 

Of primary importance here, of course, is that thematic groupings exist in the chats and that new posts move upward. Google Chat supports this, as does our microblog on Linchpin, and Microsoft Teams and Yammer as well. In WhatsApp or Telegram, on the other hand, all of the chats simply run without thematic grouping. Here, you can reply to a specific post and establish a connection to the original post by doing so, but this does not result in a real chat topic in the way we want it. With Slack, things are a bit more complex: the software has a well-designed chat support function, but most users do not use it in my experience, which makes Slack feel as if there is no grouping. This may just be my personal impression, of course, and may change over time.

Even the topic I write something new about jumps back up to the top spot in our microblog. My colleagues sometimes refer to this as micropost necromancy, by which process you simply breathe new life into what is essentially a dead discussion. If others are active on the blog, read a lot of posts and have a certain affinity for all things technical, this tactic is easy to see through and is not very helpful. But it’s still better than pinning a static post at the top of the page.

Real attention garnering is achieved by posting a completely new contribution that contains a link to the old one. Something like this: “You know we had quite an intense discussion about our ISO certificate a few days ago. Since then it’s been going through my head the whole time and I wanted to take it up again: here’s the new angle I wanted to present, so please think about it and give me your opinion. In my opinion, the argument in favor of XY has now been quashed because of this. So, do you have any thoughts on the subject?” This post creates a new discussion that is linked to the old one, but in a completely natural way. 

So, instead of pinning the existing post to the top or artificially pushing through updates, write a brand-new post and link it to create a better context. From my point of view, updating the old article by adding a link to the new article a few days later is also quite permissible. Although this is also a tactic used to raise attention, it increases the contextuality of the posts in the system and is not open to criticism, either systematically or in terms of content.

For exactly the same reason, I usually link my Jira tasks, which I causally link to these informational elements when I create content of this nature. The task in Jira could involve: “keeping all employees up to date about our ongoing ISO certification activities.” Then I would link all the elements that have a unique URL. In this way, those who follow the Jira task, or who have already interacted with it in the past, will be made aware of the content. (Incidentally, it goes without saying that good systems like Confluence and Jira also allow followers to quickly unfollow elements at the click of the mouse.) 

Are you still with me? I could understand if you wanted to mentally “check out” for a moment if everything is getting a bit too operational or detailed for you. I don’t think much of “tactics” either. But the desire for attention is often very strong as a company grows. If that’s the case with you, you may want to consider these measures again at some point in the future.

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