7. Launch With Purpose

A strong launch with lots of fanfare is a great way to get an initial audience. Your content, and the usefulness of the app is what’s going to keep them coming back, but your launch will be the driver of the first-time downloads.

Here are some ideas to make a real event out of your app launch.

Promotional Items

Posters, Desk-Toppers, Mugs, Pens and Banners can all be used in staff areas to generate awareness. If you’re designing your own posters, make sure to include information about:

  • Where to download the app
  • How to Log In to the app
  • Why you should download the app

We’ll be happy to design some posters and desk-toppers on your behalf, so that you can get them printed ahead of your launch.

 

Launch Events

Launch events are a great way to create a bit of fanfare. It might be something as simple as setting up a stall in your staff canteen, or  going all-out and organising a roadshow to visit your various sites. The aim here is to get out and about and talk directly with staff about the app now that it’s available. You’ll be there to answer questions, and to help the less tech-savvy employees to download and register.

If you’ve been following our advice from the beginning, you’ll already have plenty of people across the business aware that the app is coming, and you will have taken their feedback onboard when creating your content. This is your chance to make a big deal of going out and showing them that you listened!

Props such as phone cutouts for people to get their pictures taken, balloons and so on, tend to work well. You could even bake some cupcakes and put QR codes on them with the app download link!

Just don’t forget to post pics of your launch events to the app. Or even better, if you have a ‘User Generated Content’ section in the app, get others to post them there too.

 

Competitions

If you have some budget, you might want to consider offering an incentive prize via an in-app launch competition.

Here are a few ideas for in-app competitions:

Selfie Competition: Post a selfie to the user generated content section of the app. Whichever gets the most likes wins.

Caption Competition: You post a picture in the app, and employees leave a caption in the comments. Either best caption is chosen by the admins, or the one with the most likes wins.

Complete Your Profile Competition: This one works if you want to encourage users to complete their in-app profile pic and contact info. ‘Those with completed profiles by X date are entered in to a prize draw’.

 

Putting the above advice in to action will ensure that your app really makes a splash!

6. Reflect on your Culture

This step of the journey is all about reflecting on the culture of your organisation and your other, existing internal communications channels.

Having an employee app is a totally different way of communicating than emails, noticeboards or a staff magazine, so try not to approach your content in the same way.

People are used to spending ‘bite-sized’ amounts of time on their phone, so you need to make sure that you’re getting your point across quickly and succinctly. Whereas longer features can work well in an employee magazine, they tend not to fare so well in an app.

The main difference between an app and your other channels however, is that while someone might pick up your staff magazine in the canteen at lunch time, with an app you’re potentially in that person’s pocket at all times.

You have the ability to send out push notifications and alerts, to ask that person to reach in their pocket and pull out their phone to read your content at any time of the day. That’s a big responsibility to have. And it might be a huge departure from what your employees are used to.

Evolution or Revolution?

Ask yourself:

  1. What existing channels do we have for comms?
  2. Do any of them already allow for two-way communication?

If the answer to the second question is ‘yes’, and you already have a culture of two-way communication and people getting involved, then your app is a way to nurture and develop that.

If not, it’s important to realise that this app represents a radical departure from the norm for your staff. You’re not just leading a change in ‘how you do comms’. You’re leading a cultural change throughout your organisation!

Be aware that your current organisational culture might take time to adapt to an app where staff can get involved, make posts, and comment on the latest news. If it’s new for them, they might be reluctant to get involved. This is why it’s so important to involve stakeholders across the business, and identify people to be champions for your app. Set realistic targets for growth and engagement, depending on how ‘new’ this way of doing things is for your business.

Every business that we work with is at a different stage of the journey. Some will launch their app and have all their staff in there on day one making posts and comments, while others need to work a bit harder to get to that stage.

It’s important to reflect, and recognise where your organisation is on this journey – and to think about the cultural aspects of your business that might hold you back.

What are you afraid of?

An employee app is a great way for you to engage your staff, but the next thing you need to ask yourself:

Are we afraid to really let our employees engage with us?

Answering this question will reveal a lot about your organisational culture. Are you afraid of what your staff might say if they’re allowed to make comments? Are you afraid that they’re going to post inappropriate content? Are you wondering if it’s possible to moderate comments before they’re visible to everyone? If there’s a profanity filter in the app? If someone might post something negative that questions our strategy?

These are valid concerns, and you know your own business better than we do. But our advice is – if these kinds of questions are at the forefront of your mind, and you’re afraid of what staff might say, now that they have the chance to say it – you need to be the one to break the cycle.

You have a chance here to create a real sense of community amongst your employees. Encourage and nurture that, and try to place trust in them.

You have moderation tools at your disposal – you can delete comments, you’ll know who posted each comment, and the community can report objectionable comments to you using the ‘report’ function in the app.

 

If someone is complaining or being negative in the comments – reply to them and engage with them. Be the leader of cultural change!

Imagine that you’ve spent a few years working for a company that doesn’t hear your voice, and has no vehicle for engagement. Now you get an app and let others know about your frustrations, and someone simply deletes your comment. It’s not a good look.

Now imagine that instead of having your comment deleted, someone actually replied to it – a manager, or someone from the comms team has read what you had to say, and is using the app to respond and explain. You now feel like your voice is being heard, your attitude is likely to improve, and other employees will read it too. They realise that the business really is making a shift towards openness, and they feel more comfortable about engaging.

This is just one small example of the type of cultural shift that you need to lead to make your app a success.

An app for your employees – or any kind of two-way comms channel, will only be as successful as the mindset of your business allows it to be.

Don’t let fear hold you back!

 

5. Identify Champions

Now that you’re moving towards launch, and you’re busy getting your content ready, it’s a good idea to start looking at actions you can take to grow your userbase, and get your users engaging and interacting with your content.

The great thing about having an app for your communications, is that it allows two-way communication. However, you’ll often find that your staff will be hesitant to comment on your articles, and post their own content if you have user generated content enabled. This is especially true if it’s the first time in your organisation that staff have had a chance to engage.

TheAppBuilder’s Client Success Manger – Ian McCutcheon, talks about how to harness champions to increase engagement with your app:

Quite simply, no one wants to be the first one to comment or post. When you post a page using the CMS, and no one has commented on it yet, it looks like this:

Be the first to comment? No thanks! Terrifying.

But if you, as a comms leader in your organisation can get some dedicated champions, who will consistently leave comments and make posts, you’ll find that others will be happy to join in. As long as someone else has done it first.

Have a look at the video below that explains it well:

Now, in this example, the ‘first-follower’ could have been a stranger, but equally he could have said to his friend: “I’m going to get up and dance here, so wait for a few minutes and then come up here too.”

For your purposes, your first-followers are going to need to be people you have spoken to, and asked for them to regularly leave comments and make posts in the app.

When your users are exploring the app in the weeks after launch, and they see comments from other people on the articles – they’ll be much much more likely to join in, and from that point on, your growth will start to become more organic.

You really just need to plant the seeds yourself before it will grow!

Of course, you might be asking yourself, “why do I even want all these comments and posts?” – It’s all about using your app to create a sense of community. 

Thankfully, the process of identifying these champions and getting them on board before launch is really easy if you’ve already done Step 1: Talk to your staff, and Step 3: Involve Stakeholders. You’ve already talked to a range of people across the business. Go back to some of them now and make sure that at least some of them will be your ‘first-followers’ by making posts and leaving comments!

4. Focus Your Content

Now that you’ve planned out your content and you’ve started building it up in TheAppBuilder content management system, you can start to think about ‘who sees what’.

By default, any of the content you add will be visible to everyone in your organisation. However, you can give your users a more streamlined experience by using content segmentation.

This works by creating user groups, and then using the CMS to choose which user groups you want to be able to see that content. This allows you to create entire sections of your app that are visible only to specific people.

For example, if there’s information that you want to be visible only to managers, or to a specific department, you can achieve this using user groups.

All Signal. No Noise.

It’s not always about ‘hiding’ information that you don’t want others to see though. Using content segmentation intelligently has big impacts on perception of your app, especially if you’re in a large organisation. There will be plenty of content in your app that, while you don’t mind everyone seeing it, it’s maybe only relevant to subsets of your staff – so why not just segment it so that only they see it?

If you’re an employee and you’re opening each section of the app to be presented with stuff that’s just not relevant to you or your job, and you’re scrolling past quite a few items to find something relevant to you, it gets a bit tiresome. However, if you open the app and the vast majority of what you see is actually something that applies to you, then you’re more likely to want to keep coming back to the app, and to engage with the content you’re reading via the social features.

If you’re adding content to your app that’s only relevant to your employees in Scotland, why not create a user group for your Scottish employees and segment that content so that they’re the only ones who see it?

Segmenting in this way to streamline the content for end-users rather than just using it to hide ‘super secret stuff’, is all about user perception.

Ideally, you’d love to be able to communicate with people individually. In the absence of that, one of the great things about your app is its ability to at least dive a little bit deeper so you can communicate directly with the people that a piece of information relates to, rather than scatter-gunning and hoping that the relevant people see it.

Employees are often overloaded with emails, meetings, targets, and if they perceive this app as another thing that’s overloading them with information, they simply won’t use it.

Your app can be a nice set of noise-cancelling earphones for your staff – not a megaphone!

Check out the link below for more info on how to segment your content using TheAppBuilder CMS:

Segment Content

3. Involve Stakeholders

Don’t try to do this alone! Whether you’re the only Internal Comms person in your organisation, or you have a giant Internal Comms army, you’re still going to need people from right across the business to get involved, and to to take a stake in the app’s success.

If we go back to Step 1 of our ‘Steps to Success’ plan “Talk to Your Staff” – if you did that, and you went and engaged with a range of people, then this step is easy, because you’ve already taken the first step to getting these people on board. You’ve listened to them, and you’ve taken what they had to say into consideration when you planned your content at step two. Now it’s time to get them involved in helping you to make your employee app a success. You’ll need these people across various departments for a few reasons:

  • Technical Input
  • Senior Management Buy-In
  • Creating ‘Champions’ to drive usage

Technical Input

It’s always a good idea to have people from your IT team involved in the process at this stage. If you’re going to have your own branded app available for your staff to download, your IT team will be able to advise on what Apple and Google accounts your business already holds, what policies are in place that govern the distribution of apps for employees, and you’ll need their help if you want to integrate your Active Directory for logging in to the app.

Your Client Success Manager at TheAppBuilder will be happy to talk with your IT team about the ins and outs of how we handle things like app distribution and logins, but don’t wait until you need a decision made to get them involved. A half hour meeting early in the process with your IT team to say ‘here’s what we’re doing, this is TheAppBuilder, and this is what we want to achieve’, will go a long long way and will help to clear any potential internal governance roadblocks.

Senior Management Buy-In

Bringing your Senior Management Team along for the ride can help to make your life easier. These are often people with wide influence across your business, who can act as promoters for your app. Having members of the Senior Management Team behind you, promoting the app to staff tends to make people take notice a little more than they otherwise might!

One of the great things about your app is that it allows for direct communication. Senior Managers might be used to relying on cascade briefs – but with your app, you could think about having a dedicated section for them to post so that they can be in direct contact with staff. This is a great way to boost engagement and show staff that those ‘at the top’ really care about how their employees feel.

Champions

We’ll talk a lot more about this at Step Five of the app success journey, but pulling in people from across the business also allows you to start creating champions that you can rely on later. When your app launches and you tell your employees that it’s now available for download, you’ll need these champions right across the business to encourage their peers to download it and to engage with the content.

 

The key message here is just to try not to do this alone. You’ll need to bring in others for technical help, governance, and to get content from different departments. If everyone feels like they have a stake in the app – it will be more successful. But if it’s just “that thing that internal comms are doing”, then it will be much more difficult to get any traction.

2. Plan Your Content

Now that you’ve talked to your staff, and you have a good idea of the kinds of things they’d like to see, you can put those together with your own requirements to create a content plan.

Don’t rush straight on to TheAppBuilder Content Management System to start building though. Get out a pen and paper and draw up the structure of the app. Choose what your ‘top-level’ sections are going to be, and what kinds of content are going to sit inside each of those.

 

 

Now that you’ve got a list of sections that you want your app to have, there’s an exercise that you should do: Of each section that you have planned, ask yourself two questions:

  1. Does the existence of this section in the app either solve a problem for someone, or support the core reason that we need the app?

It’s not about ‘filling space’. It’s important to reflect on the core reasons for your organisation needing an employee app in the first place, and on the feedback that you got from talking to your staff, to decide if there’s real value in putting that information in your app.

2. Why are are our staff going to come here (to the app) to get this information?

This is to encourage you to reflect on the various comms channels already in use in your organisation. For example, you might already have an intranet that hosts various policies, documents and staff handbooks. If all of your staff are office-based and at a PC all day, then it’s not likely that there’s going to be much value in duplicating those documents in your app. If however, you have a portion of staff who are remote, or on shop-floors and don’t have any way to access your intranet – that would be a good reason for the duplication, to allow those staff access to the documents also.

Building a Rationale for Your Content – The Message Palette 

Here’s an easy exercise that you can do for each of the ‘sections’ that you have planned for your app. Create a message palette using the below template. (Credit to Fitzpatrick & Valskov (2014) Internal Communications: Manual for Practitioners).

The message palette can help you to build a rationale for including a specific type of content in your app. Here’s how it works:

 

Essentially, you’re posing a series of questions to get to the heart of what you’re trying to achieve, and think about the usefulness of that content to the business, and to the employee using the app.

For example, see a completed palette below which builds an argument for including our Peer to Peer recognition feature in your app:

 

Your app is going to have its own identity, and it’s likely to be sitting alongside the other comms channels that you’re already using. Having a strong sense of ‘what the app is for’ and ‘what the app is not for’, is going to really help you to decide what content is useful and provides value to your business and to your employees.

Now you’ve made a plan and you’ve reflected on it to trim the fat, you can start to build that content in TheAppBuilder Content Management System.

 

1. Journey Begins – Talk to your Staff

Before you do anything else, you need to be clear about why you’re getting an employee app at all. Your app shouldn’t just solve a problem for you as an Internal Comms professional – it needs to solve problems for your staff too.


TheAppBuilder CEO – James Scott talks about where to start

 

Talking to your staff before you start to plan content has loads of benefits. It makes people feel like their opinions are important, it creates a grassroots buzz among staff, and it pays dividends later on when you look at your uptake numbers.

When talking to your staff, you need to ask them what they would find useful in an employee app, and then you need to figure out if it’s do-able. Get everything on the table without shooting down anyone’s ideas!

Of course, some people will ask for functionality that isn’t feasible, but it’s all about finding as many things as possible that your staff are going to find useful.

You’ll do this by asking questions, and actively listening. One of the most common things we hear from employees across all sectors, is that they get frustrated by finding things out ‘on the grapevine’ because they’re shop-floor or remote workers without email access, or because their Team Leader forgot to mention it in the morning brief.

Ask questions about their frustrations, about the repetitive tasks they have to do, and about whether there are particular types of information that they find themselves having a hard time finding.

The answers to these questions will inform the next step, which is your content planning!

There are lots of ways to approach this stage of ‘feeling out’ your staff. You can go for the formal route and hold workshops and focus groups, or you can be more casual about it by approaching a cross-section of different employees for a chat.

We recommend that you don’t use things like online surveys here. Getting out and about, and talking to people to get a real sense of what they would find useful in an app is crucial.

So before you do anything else, and certainly before you start to plan your app content, get out there, get on the road and talk to your people. They will be the ones that you want to download and use the app, so it’s key that you’re listening to their needs from the start!

If you get some ideas and feedback from your staff about the types of content they’d like to see in their app, but you aren’t sure how to make it happen, discuss it with your Client Success Manager at TheAppBuilder. We’ll be able to advise you on the best way to go about implementing it on our platform.

 

How to Update your User Profile

Updating your app user Profile

1. Pull out the sidebar menu and tap on your name:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Now press edit, or the pencil icon, depending on whether you’re on iOS or Android:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. You’re now on the Edit Profile screen. You can change your profile picture by tapping on ‘Change Profile Photo’:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Then tap in the fields to update your Display Name, Job Title, Department, Contact Number and Email Address.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you see a lock beside any of the fields, it means that your organisation doesn’t allow that field to be edited.

5. When you’re done, remember to press ‘Save’ at the top of the screen.

Adding an Existing User or Editor to a Non-Default Channel

You may have more than one app in your app library. Most of our clients will have at least one ‘default’ app, visible to everyone in the organisation. Some will also have apps that are only visible to specifically assigned users – for example, an app for a specific event or location within your business. Non-default apps are those without ‘can be accessed by all users in your organisation‘ ticked in the app settings:

 

 

 

To manually add a single user to this kind of app, click on the cog icon at the top of the CMS and search for the user you wish to add.

Note: If you’re adding multiple users at once to a non-default channel, it’s easier to follow the guide for bulk adding here.

Once in the user’s CMS profile, go to the channels tab, and click on + add new channel and you see a list of all available channels:

 

 

Choose ‘User’ or ‘Editor’ in the user drop-down menu, depending on what access you wish to grant.

If you choose ‘Editor’, this user will be able to log in to the CMS and add content to this channel.

Once you have selected the user role, click on ‘Save Changes’.

Editing a User’s Profile & Changing a User’s Password

To edit a user’s profile, click on the cog icon in the CMS menu bar, and you will again be presented with the list of users in your organisation. To edit someone’s profile, search for them, click on their username, then click on ‘reset password’:

 

Here, you can edit any of the information you require, or you can click on ‘reset password‘ to give the user a new password.

 

When changing a user’s password, it must comply with the following password rules:

  • At least eight characters long
  • Contain an uppercase letter
  • Contain a lowercase letter
  • Contain a number
  • Contain a special character (such as ! ? &)

When you have selected a new password, click on ‘Reset’ to change the password.