Four ways Yammer can make your event better

August 8, 2019

The original article is published on the Microsoft Tech Community Yammer Blog.

A four-day event is our canvas—that's 96 hours or 5,760 minutes per person. Of that time, let’s say we get seven hours of sleep a night. That leaves 4,080 minutes of awake time. If we spend five hours per day in key notes, sessions, and milling around the expo, we are left with 70% of our awake time to network, catch up with friends, eat, drink, and walk… so much walking at events.

If this is an acceptable frame of reference, and assuming the majority of the investment in an event is dedicated to those 20 hours of key notes, sessions, and expo, we are left with 2,880 unstructured minutes. If we multiply that by 5,000 factious attendees, we end up with 14,440,000 minutes of time. If I'm running an event and the attendee experience is at the center of my ROI, I want to know what's going on during those 240,000 hours.

Enter Yammer.

Recently, a client asked my team and me to help manage their Yammer network for an event. Five thousand attendees were coming in from all over the world for four days of training, networking, learning, and more. This experience is a much-anticipated company event where leadership, subject matter experts, and seasoned veterans take over an event center and endow their knowledge on eager employees with concentrated and confidential information. Our job was to capture the sentiment of the event. What were people thinking? What were they buzzing about? What topics were of most interest?

Yammer wasn't new, it had been used in past events as another place for the organizers to echo announcements. Engagement was low, and the content wasn't interesting enough to give people a reason to visit, let alone participate. In addition, a separate Yammer event network added a barrier to entry that didn't justify the extra effort. With single-digit engagement numbers, and little strategy behind community management, the call was made that either Yammer had to work or it was going to get cut.

Our solution was to pivot the point of view—look at the event from the perspective of what wasn't being captured. What did the informal event look like? What was happening during the 240,000 hours of non-organized event time?

Here are four key things we did to make Yammer an integral part of the event:

ONE: Start early and always be present. The event can gain momentum and excitement if there is interesting chatter before it begins. 

  • Bake informal social engagement into the event’s communications strategy
  • Proactive community management is critical to keeping the conversation flowing
  • People need a place to ask questions and engage with other attendees before they arrive
  • Give attendees time to engage and prepare before the craziness of the event kicks in

TWO: Amplify the pulse of the event

  • Use active groups to cross promote the event to amplify company culture and channel the excitement of attendees
  • Stage the event specific conversation where the company conversation is already happening (it could be more than just the event group)
  • Let non-attendees watch and learn (Yammer makes this really easy)

THREE: Good content is your magnet

  • Influencers, or subject matter experts, add credibility and generate engagement
  • Video is a heavy influencer and powerful storytelling mechanism
  • Draw from and capture different aspects of the event so you can see what resonates (ie. food at the event may be a popular topic)
  • Extend leadership messages with post key note informal conversations
  • Promote giveaways, contests, and promotions in a social environment to get more people engaged
  • Make sure you have community managers amplifying and tracking important posts/topics
  • Use #tags and @mentioning to target and focus your content strategy
  • Share photos and videos of people at the event

FOUR: Analytics. Analytics. Analytics. Analytics is more than numbers

  • Always be watching for insights so you can be agile in your content management efforts
  • Share group insights with attendees–evidence of success is a great way to encourage momentum
  • Sentiment analysis in the form of stories can be extremely powerful
  • Tell your story to event stakeholders before, during, and after the event

So how did we do?

Our results were amazing, and the client was more than happy. Our efforts to reimagine how Yammer can be utilized was more than just changing the location of the group, it was about placing people, and the content they care about, front and center. It was about exposing latent value that was otherwise invisible.

Here are a few highlights we can share:

  • Over 1,500% increase in Yammer engagement over the past event
  • The event group became the 2nd most popular group on the network
  • 800%+ increase in posts
  • Over 50% of users engaged more than two times and 10% engaged over ten times
  • Non-member engagement was over 20% of all active users

  

Unfortunately, due to NDAs, privacy commitments, and a healthy respect for our client, we can't share who we worked with on this engagement, but we can tell you they were quite pleased with the results.

We are already planning for the next wave and rethinking how attendees to can get more out of the event. Yammer's ROI is tightly linked with the attendee experience, but our success is found in the fact that informal engagement is now featuring in the all-up event strategy and planning.

We are attracting thought leaders and content owners from other parts of the company, social storytelling is now an investment, and we are only scratching the surface on how social engagement can reshape the event experience.  

To me, this story isn't about Yammer—it's a story by Yammer. To me, it’s about connecting people with each other and the information they care about. Simply put, Yammer made the event more accessible to more people in a more engaging way.

jarom2.jpg

I'm Jarom and I am the CEO of Carpool, a boutique consulting agency specializing in corporate communications and engagement. I'm originally from New Zealand and now live in Seattle. I have a background in advertising and spend a lot of time hanging out at Microsoft, both of which heavily influences the work I do now in adoption and change management.

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