Thumbs up for the intranet – but what’s in a thumb?

Last week I shared some figures on the newly introduced interactive features on our intranet. Along the way I have received much feedback and many questions. The most interesting/baffling question I have encountered is ”What does a thumb mean?”.

Good one. Do you like/dislike the article? Do you agree/disagree with the message? Do you think it’s too long/short? Do you rate the author? …and not to mention ”What are you going to use it for?” All very good questions.

Honestly, I did not have a good answer, but I would think that people would like/dislike the message in the article. I also had a suspicion that these questions would answer themselves. This proved correct, and I have also been proven right. People base the direction of their thumb on the content. If the story is about something which is positive for the company – Thumbs up – if it affects the company in a negative way – Thumbs down. It’s as simple as that.

Thumbs - Your colleagues Think
Up or down - What does it mean?

What ARE we using the thumbs for then? So far we have used them as a sentiment to how engaging a news story is. Since they are anonymous, it is hard to base any specific actions on these – that would have to be the comments. All in all, I believe that we will not be able to extract many insights from the thumbs in general, but they have another role which and that is to drive traffic. Humans are born curious and I’m sure that a number will click to see what others think. They may not like/dislike or comment, but they may very well read the story – the good ol’ 90:9:1 rule – and right now I am reminded of the slogan from UK retailer Tesco: ”Every little helps”

Questions are good. I encourage questions, but sometimes things are just there because they make sense. No ROI or business value. But then again, If thumbs drive some traffic – isn’t that a good enough reason? I have certainly seen more lame metrics in my career…


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