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Let’s Talk About Microsoft Teams and Your Internal Communications

Should we add Microsoft Teams as a channel to communicate with our employees? It is one of the most debated topics in corporate communications today.

It’s not an easy decision as we already have many channels, for example, email, Intranet, Newsletters, Mobile Apps, etc. Each channel has had varying levels of success when it comes to effectively communicating with your employees – and how do we, or can we, measure that effectiveness. For decades, we’ve been blindly publishing content and hoping for engagement or maybe using simplistic means for measuring it. So, given that state of affairs, would we really want to bring Microsoft Teams into the picture? Particularly with its challenges on certain fronts like authoritative communications.

Let’s quickly dissect each of the classic communications channels and then make a case for Microsoft Teams:

Intranets – they have been the standard of employee engagement and communication for years. I have worked with companies that have redesigned their Intranet in three-year cycles for the last 15 years with the hope that a new version of SharePoint or a new Intranet product will save the day. I have seen organizations track hits on their home page as a measure of adoption while forcing everyone’s browser to default to the Intranet’s home page – as the saying says – “There is no worse blind man than the one who doesn’t want to see.”

Intranets do have a place in the corporate communication ecosystem, but we have to acknowledge that they are time-consuming and costly to implement and support. A good Intranet needs to provide employees with reasons to return on a regular basis for it to be effective at corporate communication.

Despite the most valiant of efforts, Intranets have never become the holy grail of engagement and communications many had hoped they would become. We have gone through many revamps, each hoping to get it better, only for whatever initial success was found to often slip away. We are not advocating for an organization not to have an Intranet, yet. They do have shortcomings that we seem to be unable to escape. Shortcomings that a truly collaboration centric-platform like Microsoft Teams doesn’t have.

Newsletters – The first challenge with newsletters (both printed and digital) is around timeliness and immediacy of information. Newsletters are a good way to summarize what has happened during a time period (say a week or two). However, they are lacking when you have an important message that you need employees to see and act on immediately. They also tend to be one-way communication channels, and therefore difficult for the audience to engage. We become the classic professor in a lecture hall focused on saying content, rather than being the approachable leader who draws people in and discusses items of importance. During this pandemic, the latter has never been more critical.

Email – The most used medium of communication today and for the last few decades. While email does have the immediacy that you would need for important, timely messages, it is overused to the point where many of us tune out all but the most essential ones. DMR reports show that the average office worker receives 121 emails per day. That’s a lot of emails.

There is no effective way to distinguish between important corporate communication and other emails. There is too much noise on this channel, and it is challenging to have two-way conversations with your entire audience without overwhelming them with even more email. Also, engagement often becomes confused as people are responding to comments that are out of order.

Let’s talk about Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Team is a modern platform built around collaboration. Your employees can chat with each other, they can collaborate on files, projects, attend virtual meetings, and you can host virtual townhalls.

If you are like most organizations, you are realizing the following:

  • Your employees are spending less time in email and a lot more time in Microsoft Teams.
  • Your employees are spending even less time in the Intranet and a lot more time in Microsoft Teams.

COVID-19 and social distancing has expedited the adoption of Microsoft Teams and accelerated a digital transformation as we have never seen before. The usage stats are impressive, including over 75 million daily users, more than 2.7 billion daily meeting minutes, etc. More importantly, you can check your organization stats by running these Microsoft reports.

After you verify your stats, you will likely confirm that, yes, your employees are spending most of their day in Microsoft Teams – collaborating, attending meetings, chatting. Microsoft Teams does not have the lack of adoption that your Intranet suffers from.

Unlike newsletters, Microsoft Teams provides an excellent channel for important and immediate messages. You can reach your employees on the platform they are using several times a day. It is also a platform that provides an inherent segmentation mechanism by grouping employees into Teams and common interests; email doesn’t have a good way of accomplishing this.

To summarize: 
  • Unlike Intranets, Microsoft Teams does not suffer from poor adoption.
  • Unlike Intranets, Microsoft Teams, as a platform, is likely used by most of your employees several times a day.
  • Unlike email, Microsoft Teams provides a built-in segmentation mechanism.
  • Unlike Newsletters, Microsoft Teams provides a channel built for immediacy and important messages that need to be seen now.

Microsoft Teams has received some key criticisms, and on its own, they are entirely valid.

  • Critical communications and authoritative posts can get lost in the chatter.
  • No means to manage corporate communications and delegate publishing.

Sparrow for Teams is a product that fills those holes and completes the picture, allowing for Microsoft Teams to step up and be the hub of communication for the enterprise. We have detailed an article that goes into depth on this.

It’s far easier and more natural to bring the content to where the people are (in Microsoft Teams) than trying to haul the people out of their now natural work environment and get them to visit the Intranet or read a newsletter email. With a few days and Sparrow for Teams, your org could be good to go.

Book your Demo Sparrow for Microsoft Teams today to see this in action. Best of all, it is easy to install and configure that you can be communicating in Microsoft Teams by next Friday.

 

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Create Your Content Once and Maximize Your Distribution

Create your content once and distribute it to as many channels as possible

We’ve all heard one version or another of this statement. Creating the same content, shaped for different platforms, is error-prone and timeconsuming. All too often, the tools supposed to help us write once, publish everywhere, don’t focus on that as a key feature. They quickly become burdened with tons of additional features and increased complexity, requiring us to revert to manually dealing with our various communication platforms. 

Organizations today inevitably end up with multiple channels of distribution, yet not everyone in your organization consumes content the same way. We are dealing with multigenerational workplaces with varying degrees of digital literacy and a range of device preferences. Most large organizations today rely on Email, their Intranet, and potentially Mobile Apps to communicate with their employees. These channels are usually siloed with separate analytics (if any) that make for a challenge when communications professionals try to get a good understanding of how content is being consumed. Analytics should be feeding the virtuous circle of improving content and delivery, driving up engagement, which feeds the analytics, which helps improve the content and delivery.  

At Sparrow, we strive to make your life easier. We have the communications professional at the center of our universe, understanding the different ways they need to reach out to all of their communication ecosystem. With Sparrow, you can create your content once and have it published automatically by our platform into many different channels, including: 

  • Email 
  • Intranet 
  • Mobile Apps 
  • Microsoft Teams 

What’s more, posts can be marked as must-read (mandatory), targeted to select audiences, be in multiple languages, and more. 

Sparrow Publishing

Quick, easy, and flexible. You focus on creating your content in one place and leave the nuisances of distribution and scheduling to SparrowWant the post to be published later? We have delayed publishing. Need to ensure people explicitly click a box to say they have understood that policy update? We’ve got that too. Want to reuse a post from a few weeks ago? Clone it with a click of a button. Need only the leadership team to see it, or maybe new employees? Set the audience to exactly who needs to see it. Sparrow will help you get the right message to the right people at the right time. 

If we already have other systems in place, can Sparrow work with those? 

Yes. We understand organizations have made significant investments in other tools, and replacing them is not easy. That’s why we have built Sparrow with the hooks to integrate our platform with your existing tools. 

Do you have an Intranet that you would like to keep? That’s great; let’s integrate. This can allow your organization to take advantage of our mobile apps and Sparrow for Microsoft Teams while continuing to use your Intranet. 

With Sparrow, you decide which components you deploy. For example, you can trial our platform by adding the power of corporate communications on the Microsoft Teams platform and deploy our Intranet, Intelligent Newsletter, and Mobile Apps at a later time. The choice is yours! 

Sparrow Mobile

Analytics for the data scientist in you 

There has been a push in recent years for internal communication to provide concrete measurements, “Where are the numbers?” Sparrow has a comprehensive analytics module that helps you understand how the content you are producing is being consumed by the organization. Our analytics start with the content itself by providing you with detailed metrics on the readability, grade level, length, as well as the number of unique opens, complete reads, and more. Stay tuned, as we’ll be writing more about this in an upcoming article. 

Analytics

 

When it comes to “Write it once, publish it across all the channels,” think Sparrow. 

Experience Sparrow for yourself – book a demo today!

 

Experience Sparrow for Yourself - Book a Demo Today