6 ways to bring some fun to your Yammer network

April 16, 2019
The original article is published on the Microsoft Tech Community Yammer Blog.

If you think of your Yammer network as an extension of the physical workplace, then what happens in Yammer and what your teams do there should reflect your organisational culture.

Physical workplaces can have social clubs, gym memberships, board games over lunch, water cooler chats, bean bags, charity fundraisers, and so on. If anything like this is present or even fostered in your organisation and contributing to culture, then consider how the same can be represented in Yammer.

Today, our physical workplaces are changing and this is another factor to consider. Your organisation may have one office or many, be in one city or across many countries, you may not have a physical office at all. In this case, an Enterprise Social Network like Yammer presents an opportunity to grow and share organisational culture across physical and geographical boundaries.

How you approach this does depend on your existing culture, your leadership, and your organisations appetite for risk. Here are 6 ways to bring some fun to your Yammer network.

1/ Groups

If your Yammer network is a reflection of your organisations culture then it follows that not all the groups need to be, nor should be directly work related. In fact, having groups for non-work purpose can help keep ’All Company‘ available for more important information. Amongst groups related to products, projects, customers, safety, security, consider the value of groups for:

  • Social events
  • Movies and music
  • Language exchange
  • Travel
  • Books

While some of these groups may come and go, consider which ones should be nurtured to reinforce your organisations culture and give life to your network beyond work.group-names-emoji-nextdc.jpgA list of Yammer groups both fun and functional – NEXTDC

The team at BankWest leverage social groups such as Pets of BankWest to build trust and culture, rather than shutting them down. See @Matthew Dodd’s blog post for more:

2/ Photos and memes

A simple way to build culture is to encourage sharing photos. And, it’s one which can be applied in even the most conservative organisations. Images of people from different offices will connect people visually who may never have the opportunity to meet in person. Lunch catch ups, social events or just office shenanigans provide are quick wins. Adding a competitive aspect or some gamification could assist if your network needs some encouragement. Movie tickets, chocolates or a leader-board may be all it takes to turn your wallflowers into budding photographers.friday-fun-post-nextdc.jpgFun photos in a Yammer post – NEXTDC

If your organisation runs a little more on the wild side, then step it up a notch with the occasional meme. They can be used to add emphasis to a post, or as a light-hearted response.meme-daylight-savings-nextdc.jpgA meme adding emphasis to a Yammer post – NEXTDC

If memes are something that your organisation is into, then perhaps you’ll like the next suggestion.

3/ Gifs

A contentious feature in the Yammerverse, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the Gifs feature has been a headache for many a Yammer network. Gifs can now be turned off, but any existing network will have a legacy of Gifs and people who do not like them. Yammer is for work. Yammer is not Facebook. Managers don’t like the Gifs. Gifs distract from real content. Gifs make moderation challenging.

Some or all of these may be true for your Yammer network, but I argue (that with the right culture) they can add personality and vibrancy to your network. It’s a way to give expression to a post, or a response to a post, which is not always easy to convey with just text.

gif-example-nextdc-flu-shot.gifA Gif used to add emphasis to a Yammer announcement – NEXTDC

If you can’t be convinced that fun Gifs have a place in your Yammer network you can hide the Tenor Gif option. However, I think you may at least be tempted by using Gifs as a quick and engaging way to present educational content such as technology tips. Read this blog post from @Jason Sooto find out how you can create your own Gifs to use in Yammer:

4/ Emoji

Just as contentious as Gifs (I am a reformed Emoji resistor), Emojis are now part of our daily language and working their way into our workplaces. If you’re not a believer grab a cup of tea and watch Jenna Schilstra’s TED@UPS talk, In defense of Emojis .

Emojis can be used for:

  • Visual impact
  • Meaning and context
  • Structure

At the time of writing there’s no function for adding an emoji via the menu or shortcuts but you can do a good old copy/paste from a web browser. I recommend emojipedia.org for your emoji needs.

Pick an appropriate emoji and copy/paste it in one of the following areas:

  • Group names
  • Descriptions and info sections
  • Posts and responses
  • Your nameinfo-section-emoji-nextdc-yammer-101.jpgEmoji used to add emphasis to a Yammer group information panel – NEXTDC

5/ Topics  (aka Hashtags)

Ideally, topics and hashtags are being used to mark posts with relevant keywords to make them more discoverable. While not every network has the benefit of a community with an ingrained practice of using topics to mark content, it can be a subtle but effective way to reinforce culture.
Instead of just adding them in the topic field you can also use them inline as a hashtag adds visual emphasis to a post.

  • Values: Turn your values into a topic to reinforce key messages in a post
  • Projects: Reinforce a project name or tagline by using a topic
  • Events: Create a hashtag for an event and tie it to an activity or competition

hashtags-smith-family-volunteering-nextdc.jpgTopics (Hashtags) on a Yammer announcement to indicate a program, event and corporate values – NEXTDC

6/ Praise and polls

Long time Yammer features that can sometimes be overlooked, praise and polls have clear functional purposes, but can also be used in light-hearted ways to drive a fun culture.
Sharing praise to let a colleague know they have done a great job could be the simplest way to spread good will and grow a positive culture. Big or small it creates a connection, encourages positive behaviours and is as easy as a few words and clicks.

Polls on the other-hand, could be overlooked as a tool to drive culture or add some fun. No argument that they are a useful tool to anonymously collect information from your Yammer network, did you ever consider using it to for a bit of fun like voting on preferred music, whether you eat the skin on a kiwi fruit or which chocolate bar is superior.poll-example-nextdc-chocolate.gifA fun Yammer poll, Twix v Twirl – NEXTDC


Whether you try one or all of these methods, whether you take a conservative or an adventurous approach, success ultimately depends on your existing organisational culture. And, if not your existing culture, perhaps it can be a catalyst to drive and promote cultural change. @Simon Terry talks about the cultural ingredients which are important to a successful Yammer community in this blog post:

If you have any examples of successes or challenges with applying these six tips, or other ideas for making Yammer more fun I’d love to hear from you. Please share in the comments below.


RJackson-2019-02-square.jpg

Hi I'm @Rebecca Jackson, a digital and visual communicator specialising in the digital workplace. I've been working with intranets, online communities and the digital workplace since 2009. I first began using Yammer around 2010 and have been a member and community manager of many Yammer networks since then. I work for NEXTDC as Digital Workplace Coordinator where I am the product owner of multiple Office 365 tools including Yammer and our Intranet (on SharePoint online). I enjoy learning and sharing by blogging, sketching, speaking and participating in industry events. It's an exciting opportunity to be a contributor to the Yammer blog and work collaboratively with other Yammer practitioners.

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