Not as eye-catching, but a real novelty for most companies and intranets, are news and information targeted at specific departments or divisions. These items are personalized when they’re disseminated. Take a look at this screenshot in comparison:  

The news is compiled in personalized form based on profile data. This means that every user gets to see a different batch of information. Depending on the language you speak, the location you work at, the team or department you belong to, and the roles you play in the company, you get to see a compilation of news tailored to your profile.

Occasionally, intranet teams ask us why they should go to such lengths to offer these types of personalized features and sections for news and information. Ultimately, these messages compete with management news and reduce the space available for board communications.

The basic argument for this is correct – especially when special news and information are generally more relevant than information addressed to everyone, and when the decisions by the board may be more far-reaching. But if you work in Zurich and someone publishes news that is targeted at employees in Zurich, you’ll almost certainly want to read it. And its relevance is the reason why central corporate communications should not just allow this form of “competition” to take place, they should promote it. 

Imagine you could either publish your news on the front page (or website) of the New York Times or take up an entire edition of the Bayou County Courier for a day instead. The New York Times is the most influential newspaper in the world, and your article would find itself in excellent company alongside the very best in quality journalism. What’s more, both the readership of the print and online editions is many times higher than that of the Bayou County Courier. Nothing against your writing skills, of course! But apart from your doting parents, most readers are likely to find a newspaper that only you publish pretty monotonous. Nobody would read it closely. And that’s the way it is on the intranet as well. 

If you transform the portal into a melting pot for internal publications and attention gathering, the information put out by corporate communications and the board will reach a lot more people than in your own exclusive (excuse the term) propaganda rag. 

When you and your intranet team ask yourselves whether you should allow previously unauthorized managers from somewhere on the periphery of your organization to publish news, my urgent recommendation would be a resounding “yes!” That said, however, you should ensure that news and information of this type are only broadcast personally to those employees for whom they are really relevant. Then it will strengthen your strategy. 

Many intranet systems, however, including completely new solutions, aren’t able to master real personalization. And if you follow the “one size fits all” approach where all employees see the same news, my answer to that same question would be “no.” That’s because the risk is great of every additional message watering down your top-down communication.

This is a classic example of how good technology can affect real processes. We already discussed this when I spoke about two-factor authentication (see “Security, Data Protection and Confidentiality Versus Usability”)

Personalized messages from local offices, departments, and also small teams are therefore really great and highly recommendable. But only if your software supports the personalized look well – both on the web and the mobile app. 

News Subscriptions

The third aspect of our news application is no longer about top-down communication. The bottom-up principle applies here as well: this enables employees to choose what news they want to see. A personal choice of subscriptions significantly increases the relevance of the intranet offering for each individual user. In Linchpin, we call the personal configuration of news streams of this type “personal news feeds.” These newsfeed lists are broadcast over the intranet homepage in separate sections. Take a look at my computer screen – this is what they look like: 


The reason why we created a feature like this in our solution is easily explained. A large customer with over 55,000 employees had over 200 internal email newsletters before they introduced personal intranet newsfeeds. These news feeds were introduced because the individual departments wanted to make their own results and services better known internally. Often, this was motivated by policy, but in some cases (such as with internal service providers), practical reasons also made it important to inform co-workers and employees about services and offerings to ensure that a demand for them was created. 

When news subscriptions were introduced on the intranet, almost all of these internal newsletters were abolished. By doing so, the company eliminated the need for millions of internal emails in a well-documented form. But that was not all: news subscriptions systematically reduce the amount of stress employees have to deal with when processing emails. At the same time, the information arrives at the right place in the right form where people are happy to read it – and it’s not in their inbox. 

Emails often deal with day-to-day business, communication with customers, and urgent matters. Anyone who sneaks in information that’s communicated to everyone, even though it’s only of interest to a small fraction of people, promotes the systematic misuse of email as a medium. 

You should think about introducing news subscriptions for employees if you publish lots of internal newsletters, or if you frequently send out emails “to everyone,” but also if you want to increase the relevance of your information on the intranet.

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The Social Intranet

Foster collaboration and strengthen communication. Be effective with enterprise intranets mobile and in the cloud.

Virtual Collaboration in Companies: Social Intranets as a Digital Home 

Never before has the business world been so overrun by cloud software and specialized vendors as it is now. There is so much software out there that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of things. It is all the more important for the future of work to have a place for digital meeting - a reliable home port meaningfully networked with numerous other systems that makes it quick and easy to navigate. This will increase transparency in the company and make collaboration more effective. Based on many years of experience, this book tells you how it already works in today's digitalized world and which trends you probably should rather than shouldn't follow.

About the author

Martin Seibert was 17 when he founded the software company Seibert Media. Twenty-four years later, it has nearly 200 employees and generates 35 million euros in annual sales. He has been sharing his enthusiasm for technology in YouTube videos for many years - and now also in his new book about social intranets.

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This content was last updated on 03/31/2021.

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