Success factors in a thriving Yammer networkOctober 17, 2019
Truly successful enterprise social networks don’t happen by accident. The concept of “build it and they will come” should put aside in place of good planning and management.
Setting up for success
You have to start somewhere. Before you get into the detail there are some fundamental things you can do which will guarantee
- Executive support: without it a network is doomed to be a small, grassroots effort. If you don’t have any executive support, seek out one or two to make aware of the benefits and coach on how they can lead the way.
- Cease alternatives: you may like to reduce email, retire an old system or increase sharing. If this is the case, identify any alternatives the team may use, and where possible phase them out.
- Community guidelines: A clear cut guideline or policy around how your network operates will help everyone know from day 1 how your organisation works and behaves. See Setting up a Yammer usage policy for a sample of what yours could look like.
- Community Management: Any success story is underpinned by someone in the organisation who takes charge and nurtures the network. In a larger network this may be more than one person. The important part is that there is someone, and that it is a recognised part of their job to do so.
The onboarding process is a critical part of the employee experience. If done well you can improve retention by 82% and productivity by over 70% (The true cost of a bad hire – Glassdoor). Your enterprise social network can be the lynch pin of your new starter experience.
- Welcome message: Make your new team members feel welcome with an introduction and a pointer to the rules and instructions of your network. In Yammer there is an automated message which you can leverage to provide further instructions, or you could go all out and do a separate message.
- Induction: To embed your network as part of the usual ways of working, introducing it to new starters during induction is an important step. Bringing people in from day 1 and ensuring they are comfortable with how to engage will enhance their experience.
- Groups: Use the functions of your network to share information about how to use it and updates. You may also like to create a group just for your new starters where they can network and support each other.
- Content: Supporting guides such as work instructions or videos about how to perform basic functions are not just important for new starters, but for anyone who may need a refresher. You can leverage guides from the internet, but having your own guides will allow you to include any nuances that are unique to your organisation.
The text version of the Community Guidelines is attached to the post for you to view.
Working out loud
Information is the cornerstone of your network. While communication will be a natural part of the picture, encouraging collaborative practices and Working out loud will present business value that everyone can benefit from.
- Ideas and feedback: encouraging and incentivising the sharing ideas can be a valuable source of encouragement and business improvement. Tie that in with a strong feedback channel and your team will have a voice which can be a source of important insights. Get support from mangers or subject matter experts to review and close the loop on ideas which can be put in place.
- Industry news: if your team is informed about your industry and business, then every one of them is an advocate and source for information. Sales and executive teams in particular will enjoy sharing the latest news.
- Collaboration: an extension of working out loud, when we are actively sharing what we are working on opportunities open up for collaboration.
- Events: enhance your physical events or make them 100% digital. See Four ways Yammer can make your event better.
- Questions: the power of a network comes from its membership. Building a culture where people can feel comfortable asking questions on any topic, and the network is there to answer will result in faster response times and visibility so answers are shared with everyone. Yammer has a handy Question and Answer feature which highlights questions and allows the selection of the ‘best answer’.
Culture and fun
While there may be people in the corporate world who frown upon some of these suggestions, your network is the ideal place to not only show your culture, but grow it.
- Recognition: it’s gratifying to get kudos for a job well done. Most organisations have recognition programs, your network can slot easily into the mix as an accessible channel to share thanks and praise. Including a personas manager in
- Social Groups: you would already have formal and informal social groups at work. Your network can be a useful way to amplify the positive effects of your sports teams, book club, games group, or just a place to share funny memes.
- Gifs and Emoji: not all organisations will quickly embrace gifs and emoji, but they are a proven way to liven up a network and let people bring their personality.
- Polls: set polls to gain insights, reach consensus, or have a bit of fun. No substitute for a survey tool, but that’s not the point. Use them for something quick, light weight and democratic.
For more detail on fun features see 6 ways to bring some fun to your Yammer network.
In any enterprise social network measuring success and setting metrics will be key to demonstrating ROI, but it also assists with engagement. Gain senior leadership support and show successes with quantitative and qualitative measures.
- Posts: tracking how many people have read a post is a simple and useful metric which will tell you what reach you are getting. It’s a popular query from people who frequently communicate, and easy to check in Yammer as each post shows a ‘read’ count.
- Group insights: just as you cannot set-and-forget a network, you cannot set-and-forget a group. Yammer’s group insights feature is a fantastic tool for group administrators to see how they group is tracking, and to see if posts and discussions are getting traction.
- Admin centre: higher level analysis can be achieved with Yammer by accessing the Office 365 Admin centre. If you don’t yet have access, speak to your IT administrator.
- Surveys: take things into your own hands by surveying your network regularly. Surveys will allow you to get quantitative data about people’s impressions but is also a good opportunity to get quotes and use cases from your people.
- 3rd party tools: to level up your data, a 3rd party analytics tool may be the solution for you. Out-of-the-box analytics are limited, and manual collection is prohibitive, especially for larger organisations.
Success is one step away
If you are at the beginning of your enterprise social journey, or have a existing network with challenges, it is much better to start with something, then to do nothing at all.
Assess your organisation, pick one or two things which will meet your goals, put it in place, assess it again and move on to the next.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu
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.