Lessons from Hulu: 5 ways to beef up your intranet

The streaming TV platform is tickled pink with its new intranet. How did it design a new channel that is popular with its staff of Hulugans?

Well, sure. They’re Hulu. You would expect them to be great at creating a fabulous intranet.

Your company, on the other hand, manufactures left-handed shovels, and your staffers spend their free time dropping water balloons out high-rise windows and trolling celebrities on Twitter. How can you compete with the cool video-streaming service’s fancy new internal platform?

Fortunately, it’s not as hard to do things right as you might think, even with your payroll filled with miscreants and ne’er-do-wells. In the new Ragan Training video, “How to empower your people: Engage employees with a social intranet,” Hulu‘s Mike Rocco offers tips that will help any organization jazz up its intranet.

The company embodies the latest trend in TV watching and makes its headquarters in Santa Monica, California. Being hip and well-heeled, Hulu provides a work environment of open workspaces with exposed piping overhead, bean bag chairs, a kitchen full of snacks, a recreation room where staffers can shoot Nerf baskets or navigate video game hotrods, and a wood-paneled pool room with a realistic-looking digital fire crackling on a wall screen.

You? Well, if you’re like many in today’s workforce, you work in a cubicle farm with stained carpets and a lunch room fridge used by co-workers whose primary protein intake is roadkill and old gym socks.

Never mind. In the video session Rocco, who bills himself as Hulu’s social media and communications mixologist, offers suggestions for staying timely and relevant, augmenting your company culture, driving user adoption and measuring success.

Adopt these approaches:

Find out what your hooligans want.

Sure, you know all about your own staffers. Besides, who cares what they think, anyway?

Hulu, however, didn’t take anything for granted. It started the new intranet project with a series of focus groups and surveys of its Hulugans, as the company calls the loveable rogues on its payroll. Comms staffers video-conferenced with teams in other offices, among them New York and Beijing.

Turns out the Hulugans wanted to know about their leaders’ perspective. (Go figure.) What was going on in the company? What were the goals? Were they shifting with new leadership? What were the internal job opportunities?

Be clear.

Does your intranet feel like a digital dump drenched in dormant documents and dead-end destinations? Hulu’s comms team, which has expanded from one person to five in just a few years, wanted to expand the old intranet, which had become “un-updatable” when the builders left the company, Rocco says. Information was also scattered on HR pages and in an in-house wiki. The team felt the site should be organized clearly.

“We had all these different places, right?” Rocco says. “And it was like, where do you go? Where’s that email that was sent out two weeks ago?”

Bucket it.

The new design served as a central repository for information, but links and tabs formed buckets that made it easy to dig deeper. From the front page, Hulu’s rascals now find links to videos and a news carousel for content. There is an events calendar, and an all-in-one search makes it easy to find information.

“I don’t want to spend a lot of times looking for things,” Rocco says. “I just want to start typing, and suggestions come up.”

The top three stories are promoted in a carousel, with topics such as “Let’s talk resolutions” (as in New Year’s) and that evergreen of the American workplace, “Open enrollment begins: Complete necessary benefit changes by…”

Another section is called “Insider’s Blog.” It’s a blog about “Hulu projects, experiences, the industry, culture, and more.”

Here’s something you can try: A “photo wall” carousel that enables you to hover the cursor over an image and pop out each picture, among them the guy in the Maple Leafs jersey, the future carnival barker twirling his mustache and the young woman tugging on her hair.

“It draws from who we are,” Rocco says. “It’s not just about shoving news down your throat.”

Let them buzz.

The rapscallions at Hulu can offer their opinions and seek information in what Rocco calls the company’s “firehouse feed,” which looks similar to a Facebook wall. Any employee can kick in a comment or post a link.

“This is really about crowdsourcing your informational universe,” Rocco says.

Yes, you may be thinking, but what snarky things might those reprobates post—those people who leave malodorous socks and carcasses in your own lunchroom fridge? Turns out the system actually moderates itself.

“You’re putting it out there,” Rocco says. “You’re representing your own personal brand.”

Apparently that means something to staffers. Give it a try with your hooligans.



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