How to update teams with content they actually want to read

Team motivation sign in an office

Good content = posts that get read. It’s as simple as that. 

When posts and messages on your employee app get read, they do what they’re meant to do: invite replies, start conversations, kickstart a new idea, or just put a spring in your colleagues’ steps.

Updating teams is an essential part of having an employee app. Here’s how to do it well.

1. Don’t wait till you have huge swathes of time.

A long free stretch of brainstorming won’t miraculously appear. You already have a job, and it already takes up most of your time.

Happily, you don’t need empty hours to write a post for your employee app. Small pockets here and there are more than enough. Just make sure you grab them. 

Those 15 minutes between meetings that you end up surfing on social media or news sites? Use them to draft a post instead. Soon, it will become a habit.

2. Remember – it’s not a performance.

I can’t emphasize enough how crucial this is. Don’t make a Big Deal out of writing update posts for your team. 

Writing something that your colleagues will read can feel daunting. That’s because it involves putting down words, which many people think they aren’t ‘good’ with.

Often that goes back to our school days, when anything we wrote got covered with negative red scribbles. Urgh. No wonder so many people associate writing with stress!

Writing on an employee app isn’t a test. You don’t need to dazzle or impress. You don’t need to sound clever. Nobody is out to mark or assess you; people just want to hear (and read) what you have to say.

Office teams in a meeting

3. When you update teams, write like YOU.

Imagine everybody spoke in the same way — same pitch, same intonation. It would be boring. Writing’s no different. Everybody has a distinctive voice – and people want to hear it. Write like you would speak to someone, over a warm cup of coffee.

Caveat: I’m assuming here you are not the kind of person who goes around ranting, cursing or telling people off. That’s not your voice – that’s having a problem that you should urgently address (but not on your employee app).

4. K.I.S.S., always.

Kissing is good. Especially when it stands for Keep It Short and Sweet. Or somewhat less sweetly: Keep It Simple, Stupid!  

Readers like posts and messages that are short and to the point. They want to understand what you’re saying, and they want you to just say it. So don’t beat around the bush. Don’t spin long pompous sentences that everyone (including you) gets lost in.

And guess what? ‘Plain English’ words are the shortest but also the most precise way of saying something. You don’t need flowery phrases of Latin or Greek origin.

Just keep it simple. That doesn’t make you stupid – on the contrary.

5. Treat it like a photo caption.

Long blocks of texts may be bearable in scientific or academic publications.

But anywhere else? They do people’s heads in – especially on a mobile phone. Text columns on small screens are inevitably long and narrow, so if you don’t watch it they go on forever. Or till your reader’s brain switches off.  

Stick to small blocks of writing (100-300 words) when you update teams. If what you want to communicate is complex, break it down into a few posts, each focusing one aspect of what you want to say. This will help you clarify your own thoughts, too.

6. Make it skimmable.

Most people don’t read every word in a text; their eyes fly over it, and they skim. You can’t stop this, so guide their eyes. Start a paragraph with the most important point. Use clear, bold headers in a longer post.

Interrupt with a paragraph break after 3-4 lines. White space is like a pause to take a breath. And breathing keeps us (and our writing) alive.

7. What about grammar? Spelling?

Many posts to update teams are written on the fly; you don’t need to agonize or obsess over grammar and spelling. As long as what you say is clear, a spelling mistake or an adverb in the wrong place won’t matter.

Clarity matters, though. 

Before you update teams, always re-read before you press send. But don’t sweat it too much.