GenY to the Xpower

New Intranet Articles in 2011 by Valerie Hoven
January 12, 2011, 6:21 pm
Filed under: Intranet

What a great start to the new year! Just this week I saw these articles on Twitter.

How to transform your intranet in a week by @digitaljonathan

7 techniques to improving your intranet by @ibf

And of course the Top 12 intranet posts of 2010 by @lindabolg


A Million Dollar Direct Mail Success by Valerie Hoven
December 2, 2010, 8:04 pm
Filed under: Healthcare

This is now the second article I’ve read saying that direct mail is a poor marketing tactic, calling it a “dinosaur,” fail or just an archaic type of outlet that’s “dead.” Direct mail isn’t dead. And the people who say it’s a poor marketing tactic are people who shouldn’t have a job in marketing. Your direct mail didn’t fail, you just missed the three important factors to all direct mail campaigns: a targeted audience, a clear call to action and an aesthetically pleasing look that should identify your brand. Don’t blame the mail because you failed as a marketer.

Here’s a million dollar example. Hopkins Medical Center, a leading academic medical center, uses direct mail as a major source for their patient-directed marketing. They sent letters to 300 patients who just had bariatric surgery. The letter talked about the benefits of body sculpting, and then it was signed by their doctor.

Cost for mailing 300 letters: $2,285
Net Revenue: $2,290,000
Contribution Margin: $1,079,000

For direct mail, you must have a specific call to action (ie purchase body sculpting). You must have a targeted audience (people who just had hundreds of pounds surgically removed) and a nice look to the mail (formal letter from the doctors).

At my hospital, we offer dozens of free events and classes to the community. For about a dozen of them, we send them an invitation in the mail. On average, roughly half of the people who attend the events come from direct mail. And on average we get $30 million in net revenue a year from new patients who attended an event, and half of them came because they received a postcard or letter in the mail inviting them to it.

Saying direct mail is dead is a strong statement, and it’s flat out wrong. Are we sick of junk mail? Of course! Is direct mail junk mail? It shouldn’t be.

Simple Guide to Making Intranet Content Social by Valerie Hoven
November 24, 2010, 4:11 pm
Filed under: Intranet, Web 2.0

Using @roojwright’s social intranet presentation, I made a super simple list of ways to make your intranet social. This is a good start guide to new people on your intranet team, too. I thought I’d share with with all of my intranet fans. Keep in mind, we use Sharepoint, so some stuff is SP specific.

It’s a PDF because I wanted to use the little icons from Andrew Wright’s presentation.


A construction update widget and other lessons by Valerie Hoven
September 8, 2010, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Intranet

This blog post reviews an intranet case study and outlines some good ideas for planning as well as important web parts to include. Thanks @rachellai83!

intranet survey results by Valerie Hoven
September 3, 2010, 7:35 pm
Filed under: Intranet, Web 2.0

So I participated in an intranet survey from, and the results aren’t surprising. In the “general comments” in the end, clearly we have some unloved intranet administrators. “We have no support” or “Get leadership involved” and “never have IS maintain it – EVER!” were some of the responses. Why, why WHY is intranet the red-headed-step-child of communications? With technology growing exponentially, why are organizations so slow to adopt intranets and really use them to their full potential? Ahh, I’m just a broken record.

Here are some highlights from the survey.

  • Three out of four respondents give it its own distinct name, as well as a look and feel different from the external Web site’s.
  • Only a small portion of respondent organizations offer a personalized experience for users.
  • Only one in three respondents use metrics to evaluate its effectiveness.
  • Nearly one in four respondents do not offer any remote access to it.
  • Three out of four provide community terminals for non-desk bound employees to access.
  • Employee directories and internal search are extremely common features. Multimedia, CEO blogs, and social media are less popular.

6 things your intranet probably has, but shouldn’t by Valerie Hoven
August 17, 2010, 8:32 pm
Filed under: Intranet

So there are hundreds of articles out there that tell you the “must-haves” for an intranet. We must have fresh content, easy navigation, a people-finder, collaboration, a governance plan… Yaddy yadda.  So we know the 5 functions and 10 things and 7 pages every intranet must have. But what about what we shouldn’t have?

By now, we know what we should do, but what about the things that we keep doing and should stop. I mean, social media is all the rage now, and we keep seeing articles warnings companies not to hire the 20-something-intern to do it. But why doesn’t intranet feel that love, too?

In my humble gen-Y opinion, intranets still aren’t valued much in the USA. Before I was named the intranet administrator for two hospitals, my intranet was managed by an HR secretary. The bosses hated the Sharepoint look (see exact discussion here), so they sent her to a two-day training in Dreamweaver, and she went to town. The other hospital’s intranet didn’t even have a manager. It was just sort of there (put there by IT) and some people found it, little used it. Based on my short two years as an intranet manager, here’s some things that you’re intranet might have but shouldn’t have.

1) A look from outer space.
Don’t give your a look that looks nothing like your company’s style. Generally, companies have some sort of theme or style guide that their communications adhere to. Maybe they have some general colors they use. Well, stick to something like that. I’m not saying your intranet must look exactly like all of its other media, just make sure employees know they are on their company’s intranet and not some school teacher’s website. When I came on board, my intranet used two main colors – orange and purple. My company uses blue and white on almost every publication, letterhead and website. But for some reason, it was decided that the intranet should be orange and purple. Not really a best practice.

2) A giant banner.
Your giant banner takes up a third or even half the page. This was a problem not only on my intranet, but on my company’s website. People love banners, and it is popular real estate. But the most important part of the page is its content, so don’t blow most of it with a banner that names the title of the department with a picture of the team.

3) It’s all about me!
Yes, it’s OK to be proud of your intranet, but don’t be selfish. A number of my employees expressed in a survey that they don’t like seeing news just from their hospital/corporation. They wanted to see industry news. Consider a RSS feed showing headlines in your own industry.

4) It’s all in the family.
Don’t link only to your other intranet sites. Consider just linking to your own company website or external news sites featuring your hospital. Similar to #3, my employees said they didn’t just want internal information. Not only did they want industry news, they wanted to hear success stories. My employees wanted to hear patient stories, specifically. Well, our marketing team is constantly writing patient stories and pitching them to media or using them in our own marketing publications. I started posting the links to those stories, and they reach 100+ hits in a few days. And the links are outside our intranet, usually to our website or local news stations.

5) It’s none of your business.
An intranet can blow if it’s purely marketing. While news is the #1 reason my employees visit the intranet, they also said they wanted to see more stuff about our company’s bottom line. Make sure your intranet features the company’s business reports, like financial goals, sales earned, etc. (For me, it would be our surgeries completed, beds filled, etc.)

6) You’re social, but not popular.
So you have discussion boards, forums, wikis, but no one uses them. I’m a huge fan of the web 2.0 elements, but don’t rush it. But for the ones with it, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Don’t do it because it’s cool, or else you will end up just like all those girls at parties trying to be cool, but no one gives you the time of day. If people aren’t using your discussion board, take it down and try again. Re-evaluate. If your social parts become static, and that’s just bad news bears.

In closing, know that there are lots of don’ts for your intranet, but I hope they are obvious, not like the ones above. Examples include – crowded homepage, outdated content, broken links, no buy-in from leadership, and the list goes on and on… but most other intranet experts cover that stuff. See other resources for examples. Just know that sometimes it’s not obvious that your intranet blows – or at least could be improved.

Yammer no longer blocked! by Valerie Hoven
July 14, 2010, 3:50 pm
Filed under: Intranet, Life, Web 2.0

Not sure how this happened, but Yammer is no longer blocked at my work! Thank you secret angel… 🙂

P.S. Sorry for the slowness on the blog. It’s been a busy week! Plus, my computer is slow, so I’m slow… but it’s being replaced next week and I get DUAL monitors! Thanks, boss!