Finding the right fit for a mobile app in your communications channel mix
There are so many reasons to love employee mobile apps! First and foremost, apps can be a fantastic and effective way to keep employees connected, informed, and engaged — no matter where they are or how they work.
But whenever we hear a company is considering adding mobile to its employee communications mix, we always caution them to take a step back to really consider, “Why do we want this channel?” After all, it’s easy to fall victim to “shiny new object” syndrome, but we’re firm believers that every channel should have a clear purpose, goal, and role in your internal communications landscape. This clarity is what ensures new channels don’t languish, but gain adoption and help your people get things done.
First things first: Uncovering your “why”
So, where to begin? If you’re considering introducing a mobile app (or any new channel, for that matter!), we recommend you start by taking a high-level look across all of your existing communications channels to uncover the purpose of each, as well as when, where and how you and your team use them. By looking at the whole picture, you can see where there are gaps, overlaps, and make an informed decision about where and how your new channel will fit.
Feeling a tad overwhelmed? Let’s break it down.
Step 1: Build your list: Begin by working with your team to do a “brain dump” of all your existing internal communications channels. Be sure to include everything: company-wide email, newsletters, Slack, digital screens, intranet, podcasts, Town Halls/All-Hands meeting, etc.
- Hint: are there communications channels in use at your company besides those that the IC team uses (E.g., Salesforce Chatter, etc.)? Be sure to include those too!
Step 2: Find your purpose: Now that you have a list of all your channels, consider the purpose of each channel, and capture it in a few bullets or sentences.
- For example: The purpose of newsletters is a measurable and targeted way to reach employees with critical news and updates. The purpose of your employee podcasts might be to allow employees to form a more personal connection with leadership.
Step 3: Consider your content and audiences: Make a note of who uses each channel to get a message out, the audiences they’re targeting, and the types of content they’re sharing.
- For instance: A targeted monthly newsletter might be used by HR to remind eligible employees to take advantage of benefits throughout the year, while your intranet newsfeed might be used by your IC team to share quarterly financial updates with employees company-wide. Note which channels are used to supplement one another, and which channels are being used to promote exclusive content.
Step 4: Think about delivery: The final step is to think through delivery considerations. For each channel, think about how quickly or easily the message is consumed.
- Ask yourself questions like: What’s the reading/viewing time? Are additional authentication credentials required to access the content? Are there confidentiality concerns? Do people have to be on a computer in the office to access the content?
Okay, how about my mobile app?
Now that you’ve mapped out your communications landscape, it’s time to consider where mobile will fit in. Add a mobile app to your list of channels, and walk through the questions above, considering its purpose, your goals, and the opportunities/challenges you see the mobile app providing to your people. Is there overlap? Is there any content that could be exclusively shared on mobile? Who will be your primary audience? Which other employee audiences might benefit? For mobile, the constraints are tighter than with many other channels, so a major consideration will be whether the information is “need to know” versus “nice to know.”
Working through this process to integrate your mobile app, rather than simply deploying the new tool, will give you valuable insight into what’s going on under the hood of your internal communications strategy, and enhance your ability to reach employees where they are.
Be advised: Once you start thinking about your channels in this way, you might find yourself fizzing with inspiration and rethinking your whole communications landscape. Maybe you’ll discover you have too many channels, and need to trim down, or you might see a gap where there’s an opportunity to bring in a new tool. The key is to be flexible as you learn about what really works for your organization as well as what no longer serves you. Ask yourself:
- What channels do employees actually engage with? Examine your metrics for each channel to figure out where employees are interacting with your messages and content.
- Are there topics listed here that need to be shared with employees and currently aren’t being properly cross-promoted?
- Are there any glaring gaps? Are you posting important content on channels that aren’t widely accessed by employees?
- Equally, are there any unnecessary overlaps where information could be streamlined for the most effective channel?
When you get this balance right, existing channels and your new mobile app will work together to help you tell your stories in the most meaningful way – and what could be better than that?