6 Ways a Social Intranet Outperforms Traditional Intranet Software

Barry Nyhan

Senior Demand Gen & Marketing Ops

25 Apr 2021

Does this scenario sound familiar?

Your company has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars setting up a legacy intranet. You’ve splashed out on consultants to build and customize the intranet, IT staff to maintain it and offer support, and the necessary infrastructure to host it on company premises.

And yet, intranet adoption is low. Your employees aren’t even interested in it. They continue doing things the way they’ve always been done, communicating over email and chat. In fact, the only time they look at the intranet at all is when their managers tell them to. 

HR may try to increase adoption with incentives, gamification, and constant reminders, but nothing seems to work.

Unfortunately, this situation is all too common. And the problem isn’t with your employees or with HR’s strategies. It isn’t with the specific build of your intranet or the type of support you’re offering. The problem is the software itself. 

What you need is an employee social network or social intranet.


Legacy intranet software just doesn’t appeal to today’s audience. This is a major part of the reason why 90% of intranets fail before three years.   

But an intranet has many benefits. A centralized communication platform helps you ensure no one is missing important information. It’s also a crucial tool for sharing announcements, building strong teams, and getting employees more involved in your company. 

Fortunately, there are alternatives out there. Social intranet software looks more like the apps and websites your employees use every day, so it’s far more appealing to use than legacy software. Picture a social network for employees. 

It may also offer more features and be more cost-effective. If you discover that intranet adoption is low, you may consider switching to a social intranet. 

Below, we’ll explain what distinguishes modern social intranets from legacy intranets and how modern software can save your company money while getting better results.  


By the way, if you’re an HR or communications manager, have a look at our requirements checklist. The list will help guide you through what you should look for in a modern intranet solution and give you a place to start.

What Is an Intranet? (Traditionally)

What does the term “intranet” make you think of? If you can’t exactly put your finger on it, you’re not alone. There are many different types of intranets, and the concept has changed quite a bit over the past few decades.

In the 1990s, an intranet may have been little more than an internal webpage with a list of bright blue hyperlinks. As the digital world developed, some intranets evolved to incorporate more features such as blogs, a helpdesk, document management, and most recently, social media functions. Today, we can define an intranet as a digital portal used by a company to distribute information, manage its employees, and promote internal discussions and teambuilding.

It’s important to note that there is no set list of features an intranet must have. When choosing a social intranet, look for the functionalities that are most important to your company. The needs of an SME may be quite different from a large corporation. While the former might be looking for a way to build camaraderie within a small team, the latter might need to distribute announcements to hundreds of employees across different offices. In both instances, intranet adoption is likely an essential factor. 

Gartner Says Traditional Intranets Are Dead

For more evidence of the need for a modern social intranet, look no further than a recent report by respected research firm Gartner. The report is titled “Traditional Intranets are Dead — Modern Intranets are Alive and Well.”

Gartner concludes that the main problem with traditional intranets is that they rely on the “destination site” delivery model (essentially, all workers see a single webpage with links). On the other hand, modern intranets have many more diverse use cases. Their unique functionalities make them a viable option as a hub and center of workplace life.

If you’d like to learn more about modern social intranets and how they differ from traditional intranets, check out our Director of Solutions, Rob Dumigan, as he provides a whistlestop tour of Workvivo — an intranet that follows the model of an employee social network.

What Do Employees Use Intranets for Today?

Intranets can be used to talk to colleagues, send congratulations on a job well done, plan events, make important announcements, and more.

The problem is that employees aren’t using their intranets. Sadly, statistics for legacy intranet adoption are abysmal. A study by Prescient Digital Media revealed that only 13% of employees use their intranet daily, with 31% saying they never use it at all.

To avoid the trap of low intranet adoption, invest in a modern social intranet that is easy to use, appealing to today’s workforce, and works as an employee social network. Here are the top six reasons modern intranets are better than traditional intranet software:

Why Are Social Intranets Better than Traditional Intranets?

1. More Cost-Effective

If you’ve ever invested in a legacy intranet, you’ll know how expensive they are. The cost of legacy intranets isn’t limited to the actual price of the software. There are also the costs of set-up, customization, maintenance, and infrastructure.

So how exactly can social intranets save you money? 

Many modern solutions are “plug-and-play”; they’re pre-built apps that can be used right out of the box, without the need for expensive IT consultants. In terms of infrastructure, modern solutions tend to be cloud-based — meaning they’re flexible and accessed from anywhere. Plus, you won’t have to pay for servers.

Since modern intranet software is often easier to use, the cost of support will be lower. Running a helpdesk and paying IT pros to troubleshoot can be expensive. 

With confusing legacy software, employees will have more questions and consume more resources. Just look at what Capterra users have to say about the leading legacy intranet software:


Versus what they say about Workvivo:


2. A Better User Experience

Today’s users look for an excellent experience in the products they interact with. Choosing a highly usable employee social intranet will increase adoption in your company.


Millennial and Generation Z users expect software to provide a seamless user experience. Research shows that these generations value instant gratification and tend to seek out self-service solutions; they prefer to solve problems on their own and will often give up and not engage rather than contact support.

When it comes to user interface design, one of the main expectations of the younger generations is that software be mobile-first. 

78% of global Generation Z youth say smartphones are the most important device to get online. They also have a 97% smartphone penetration, spending over four hours total per day on their smartphones, according to research from Snapchat

Much of this time is spent on social media — just under three hours a day for Generation Z and around 2.5 hours a day for Millennials. If you choose an intranet that is mobile-first and offers a social experience similar to an employee social network, this will be much more familiar to your younger users than a legacy solution. 

3. Future-Proof

Following on this last point, social intranets are far more “future-proof” than legacy solutions.

If you build an intranet using legacy software that requires customization, you’ll likely have to update it every few years. Technology evolves rapidly, and today’s intranets look very different than they once did. On the other hand, by choosing pre-built software, you can leave the updates to the software provider. You’ll be able to consistently deliver a fresh, relevant experience with no effort on your end. 

4. Social and Community-Led

Ideally, everything about your intranet should be community-led. Rather than being mandated from above by HR, intranet adoption should happen naturally. Intranet adoption should feel organic because employees find it useful, convenient, and fun.

Social features are essential to a modern intranet. Social media is a proven concept that is highly engaging (the average internet user spent nearly 2.5 hours per day on social media in 2020). But it’s not enough for an intranet to just have one or two social features, such as a “like” button. To be truly social, an intranet must encourage bottom-up, organic communication.  

Choosing a social intranet can have many benefits for your company. For one thing, today’s employees value flatter hierarchies and more transparent leadership. 70% of respondents to a Harvard Business Review study said communication from senior leadership was a top driver of employee engagement. Moreover, according to Forbes, 50% of workers feel a lack of transparency is holding back their organization.


A social intranet demonstrates executive transparency in a way few other tools can. Leadership can speak directly with employees in a democratic community setting. 

They can share important announcements, photos and videos of company events, and tidbits from their personal life. Employees can share and “like” content and message each other on the platform. And in those moments where privacy is needed, you can set permissions for those conversations. 

5. The Center of the Entire Workplace Experience

Social intranets should be at the center of the workplace experience. They are valuable tools for employee engagement and team bonding.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, research showed that remote work had many conflicting effects on engagement. While employees reported higher levels of engagement and well-being, they also reported greater sadness, worry, and stress. 

Although many employees enjoy the flexibility of working remotely, they may also suffer from loneliness or feel like they need more support. That’s where social intranets come in. Helping employees feel more connected with their peers and management creates a “team” atmosphere, even in remote environments. 

6. Easier to Set Up and Maintain

Finally, modern intranets are easier to integrate into your company than legacy solutions. 

Many can be used immediately without requiring a lengthy set-up period. This will save you time and frustration since you’ll be able to get going with your intranet right away. There’s no need to get IT involved or waste time trying to integrate a clunky legacy solution with your other software. If you’re interested in trying out Workvivo’s modern intranet, just book a free demo to get started today!


Workvivo, the Only Truly Social Intranet

Unlike competing products that may offer one or two social features, we built Workvivo’s Social Intranet as a social, community-first platform. Social is a core part of our DNA and not just a feature (meaning, a glorified top-down intranet with a like button).

Workvivo is for bold companies that want the flow of information and communication between company to employee and employee to employee, improving employee experience, productivity, and retention. 

This flatter democratized structure that allows people to contribute, comment, share, and be more active enables a community that helps build a sense of connection and belonging, which is critical in today’s workplace. Especially since it looks like a hybrid working environment is here to stay.

The old-fashioned platforms and competing products that don’t have this social essence will sit on the shelf and struggle with the low intranet adoption rates that legacy platforms are known for.

Workvivo offers customers a way to strengthen their company through the power of community. Employees can access not only all the tools and resources they need via a unified digital platform but communicate easily with colleagues from across the company. 

User Lorraine M. had this to say about Workvivo on Capterra:


If you’re reading this article…

You clearly care about creating a better employee experience by giving them an intranet they actually want to use.

Whatever platform you choose should be useful, engaging, and easy to administer. 

Remember, choose “people centered” NOT “content centric.” 

Curious about what Workvivo can do for your team? Book your demo today and find out.