Writing Content for an Employee App – In Just Seven Easy Steps

Take your employee communications to the next level with your own employee app.

“The content you write for your employee app is key for your app's success.“ It’s the backbone to the whole system. What you post here is supposed to engage your employees and get them involved in corporate culture.

 

So how do you make sure to do exactly that? What guidelines should your articles follow in order to be not only mobile friendly but to also spike your employees interest?

 

From experience with our customers we have learned that there are seven easy steps to follow:

 

#1 Don’t go into the content death zone

They key for content on mobile is to think of it in two different categories: There are shorter pieces and there are longer ones. And then there are those in the middle that should not exist.

 

For your employee app the key is to write mainly shorter pieces with less than 500 words. These pieces should be straightforward, be easily-digestible and should take less than 10 minutes to read. Just because the information is shorter, that does not mean it should contain less information though.

 

According to Neil Patel–New York Times best selling author and marketing influencer–this means you have to write better. Think about how you can structure the content to ease readability and help your viewer focus, use rich images, facilitate current information and grab their attention within the first paragraph.

 

There will still be longer pieces of content in your app. These pieces in comparison will be rare and hold information that is relevant over time. For example your company culture or quarterly updates.

 

Content-Death-Zone, employee-app

 

#2 Whitespace for the Win

In addition to what you are actually saying always also consider the way your content will look. Appearance is important because of the average human’s limited attention span.

 

Break your content up into smaller pieces and use whitespace to make reading easier. Articles that have small writing without paragraphs and with long lines of text running together aren’t very engaging. Most people would close the page without even skimming it.

 

Instead use a mix of relevant photo images and eye-catching graphics to illustrate the points you’re making. Subtitle sections and use bullet points to make important information stand out.

 

#3 Your Headline is Your Star

None of the points above matter, if nobody finds your article in the first place, so make sure it’s set up to grab attention. Your headline is what really increases reader numbers here.

The three main rules for a good headline are:

 

- Keep it short and sweet

- Aim for around 8-12 words

- Sum the article and it's value up

 

#4 Make it relevant

Remember that your employees are reading articles in the app voluntarily and possibly in their free time. What happens to often is that corporate news will be be pushed in the app without ever considering if they are of any value to the employees they are sent to.

 

So take a few minutes, or, if you have a team, take half a day, and rethink your content.

Can you target the information better? Can you get local updates to a local group of reader? Is there a chance you can open up a section of your news feed to contain content written by your employees for your employees? Can you make the content more interactive?

 

Our customers have seen the greatest success with interactive and fun content. One great example is the TradeWinds Island Resort. In order to get people involved they started a contest over the app in which employees were supposed to take a selfie with a fish. The best selfies won a prize. Activities like this really catch your employees attention and increase engagement.

 

#5 Admit it: You only scan, too

Only a very small percentage of people will actually read your articles thoroughly. Most people scan over the content and try to filter out the information relevant to them in 10 seconds or less.

Make your content scannable by dividing the section up and using sublines. Similar to the article you are reading right now you can divide your content into different sections, mark subtitles or use numbers.

 

If you have a lot of information you want to bring across consider linking to other pieces instead of going into the depth right away.

 

#6 Don’t be pretentious

Especially concerning industry specific news authors tend to fall into a certain slang. Since your employees work in many different fields this can quickly become an obstacle for reading though.

Try to make your content easy to read, avoid slang and explain terms that you feel could cause confusion.

 

Here are some common words to simplify in your content:

  • obtain / acquire – get
  • requires – needs
  • purchase – buy
  • request – ask for
  • subsequent – next
  • terminate – end
  • utilize – use
  • leverage – use
  • commence — begin, start
  • inception — start
  • implement — follow, carry out
  • erroneous — wrong
  • expeditious — fast
  • regarding — about
  • subsequently — after or later
  • accordingly – so
  • discontinue – stop
  • eliminate – drop
  • validate – confirm
  • witnessed – saw

 

#7 Get a head start

Put your most important news in the 1st paragraph. Summing up your content here will not only ensure that everybody gets it, but will also draw readers in who are interested in more information.

Don’t waste your employees time by dancing around the topics for 2 pages.

Your structure should follow this easy path:

 

Content Information Level Path

 

In conclusion:

The content in your app is very specific to your company. It reflects your style and the values you stand for. At the same time the content can be what brings your employees back to the app again and again.

 

So be precise, add value and keep asking yourself: Would I want to read this?

 

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For more information on employee apps, mobile communication and employee engagement you might also want to read:

Written by Sina Lockley

Sina is a communication specialist at Staffbase. She wants to help companies engage their employees and find ways to make work more fun. She writes about internal communication, mobile employee engagement and how to use an app in today's evolving workforce. She religiously reads one book a week and sleeps with pen and paper next to her head.