How often do you check Facebook throughout the day without thinking about it? Or just have to get to that next level of Candy Crush? That's the hook.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products is a book by Nir Eyal about the power of habit-forming technology that has managed to engage us all. Eyal takes readers through the consumer experience and what makes certain products so ‘sticky’ to users. Over the past couple weeks, we’ve gone over the hook model and applied the lessons from Hooked to internal communications. The goal is to bring employees back to your internal content, the same way Instagram and Facebook capture our attention time and time again.

Watch our webinar on hooking employees on internal comms here. 

The hook consists of four different steps:

  • Triggers
  • Actions
  • Variable Rewards
  • Investment

For those new to the concept, here's how the hook method works for Facebook:
the facebook model for internal communications

For more information on the hook model, take a look at our articles on applying each stage to internal communications:

You can also watch our webinar for a 30-minute rundown on how to use the hook to create habit-forming communications.

Now that we have a better idea of what the hook model is and how to generally apply each step to internal communications, we’re going to go deeper into specific examples of how you can make the hook work in your internal content. We’ll look at three different kinds of hooks that work for internal email: image focused, feedback focused content, and action based content.

What does the hook look like in an actual internal email? What are some easy tips internal communicators can use right now to turn reading internal emails in their organization into a habit for employees?

1. Switching up your internal email feature images


Focusing on the email feature image or header, this is one idea of how you can apply variability to your internal emails. With every internal email you send, the subject line or email snippet changes by topic and content of the email. But what about the feature image? This is a simple way to apply a variable reward to your email communications.

As we learned, the trigger is the first step of the hook model. In this case, your employees would get an email notification (the external trigger) informing them of the email just sent out from the internal account. Employees would then open the email and scroll down (the action).

The variable reward is delivered in the form of a new team photo as the feature image. Below is a button allowing employees to submit their own photo to be featured in the next email. The investment comes in submitting a photo of their own, taking the time and effort to do this.

When the next newsletter is sent out, employees are more likely to open and click to see what photo was chosen, especially if they’ve submitted their own photo. Added bonus: reading internal emails suddenly becomes more exciting and pertinent.

image variability-internal email-bananatag- hooked model investment stage

The focus is on the image header and the idea of incorporating an impactful, powerful image to show how emails can be more engaging when they use this style of imagery and variability. You can accomplish this, as you can see above, in getting employees to submit their own photos for every newsletter. This gives employees something different to look forward to, like a new, fun feature image.

This idea stems from a popular Google Chrome extension called Momentum (full disclosure: about half of our office uses and loves this extension). Every day you open up a new tab in your browser, a new beautiful, high-quality image is there to greet you. For 24 hours the image will stay the same, but the next day when you get to work and start your computer, you can expect a new striking image on your desktop. It’s simple but so effective in getting users to look forward to opening up a new tab each day.

2. Feedback-focused content

survey-cta-bananatag-hook model
One thing we consistently hear from internal communicators is the importance of feedback in internal comms. Employees are often asked to fill out long surveys, taking time out of their day to tell the internal communications team and management what they think about their job and the organization. But often, employees never hear the results or find out how the company is translating their feedback into actionable results.

This step is all about priming employees to take the next action and return to the start of the model. Here employees are focusing on the action: reading the results from the survey they took a few weeks ago. Viewing past survey results acts as a reward here, as employees can see the results of their work and how the company is addressing their feedback.

Giving employees feedback and following up on the actions they took sets them up for taking the next action. Knowing they will get results back from their survey means employees will be more inclined to take the survey in the first place.

3. Action-based content

employee-feedback-bananatag internal email-hook model

Beyond filling out annual surveys and polls, encourage employees to submit their feedback regularly. This is as simple as adding a block in your email with a button that says “submit feedback” and a short writeup of why employee feedback is valued and important at the organization. For some employees, knowing they can give their personal input feels more valuable.

The investment stage doubles down on the power and ‘addictive’ aspect of the hook model, making the loop and habit even stronger for employees.

This is a good opportunity to add investment from the hook model to your internal communications. By being able to submit feedback and taking that action, employees are able to have their say on a specific topic or even on what kind of information they would like to see in the next internal newsletter. With this, employees are putting in that little bit of work to get something in return.

Using the hook model throughout your channels

Don’t think of this being applicable just to email -- the hook can be sprinkled throughout your various channels and in many cases, complete the cycle in a different channel like your intranet.

There are a few exceptions when applying the hook model for habit forming products to internal communications — such as, the absence of an investment phase in some applications. Look at this as working towards incremental improvements over time, rather than broad sweeping changes. That way, the new tactics are more manageable and digestible.

For more on the hook model for internal communications, watch our webinar on how to make 'sticky' internal comms, focusing on your internal email channel.
Let us know what you think about #hookIC in the comments below!