Getting people to use their intranet has and always will be the biggest challenge for any intranet manager.
What is Empty Bar Syndrome?
If a bar is empty your natural reaction is to think it's not very good and not worth entering. However, if a bar has people inside that seem to be enjoying themselves then you’re more likely to want to go in.
It's the same with your intranet. If people look but don't see activity or content of worth then why should they be inspired to engage with the intranet themselves?
So here are some things you can do to overcome this challenge.
1. Get a good solid set of content for launch
Fairly obvious, but during the launch of an intranet you need to invest time in getting high quality content loaded. This doesn't mean dumping all the content and documents from the old intranet into the new. Remember the rubbish in rubbish out rule. Take time planning the content your users need and upload it with the appropriate tags and metadata so it's searchable.
2. Maintain your content
Related to 1, you need to be aware that content management is an ongoing activity. Your initial quality content can quickly fall into disrepair if you don't invest the time to keep it up to date. Devolved content management also needs careful management as rogue power users can easily undo your good work if they are not controlled and guided.
3. Identify and recruit early adopters
In the early days you will need an army of users that will act as advocates for the system and will go out of their way to use the intranet themselves and encourage others to do likewise.
4. Get senior management involved
Getting senior people within the business active and visible on the intranet will greatly help its credibility and will encourage others to get involved.
5. Action feedback quickly
Listen to feedback from your users and respond accordingly to continually improve the intranet. Even with the best will in the world, you won't know what works and what doesn't until your intranet’s launched, so be ready to be agile.
Don't hope that your intranet will be well used. Hope is not a strategy! You need a plan to get and keep your users engaged.