Use Yammer to make newsletters interesting again!

June 25, 2019

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

If your company has more than 50 employees, there is a good chance that you are getting updated about company news through a newsletter. If this is the case, every week or month you get a mundane company newsletter in your mailbox. 

Topics of these newsletters go something along these lines:

Next week we are launching new product that will allow us better insight into…

Listen to this interview with our Director of Software solutions about new changes…

Next month we are starting to use new communication tool and service…

Unicorn spotted in the elevator!

adorable-animal-canine-1564506 (1).jpgPhoto by mark glancy from Pexels

I admit – the unicorn headline is here just to grab your attention back, because I am sure that we have lost it the moment you saw all these common themes that are quickly sent to your Recycle Bin.

The problem isn't the content, but rather, the way its being presented. Eventually, company newsletters get boring no matter what the topics are, right? By the time a newsletter is sent, there’s a chance that employees have already heard the news or it wasn’t that important to them in the first place. In the modern workplace, company news should travel in more interesting, more effective, and more informative ways.

So, why do we even have company newsletter?

Before we criticize newsletters too much, let's step back and define their purpose.

Newsletters are regularly occurring emails that mostly contain informational content or a roundup of content pulled into one email, which users can scroll through and find info relevant to them. They are a way companies share announcements and provide helpful information to employees. Emails are the most convenient tool for this form because of the amount of content and text – so it is nice to have them around… even if they can become stale at times.

But what can we do better?

The most common reason why newsletters are not working as they should be, is because they are constantly in the same format and with the same approach to topics. Likewise, there is no room for interaction, comments or responses to it. Finally, business related emails always take precedence over company`s newsletter.

In other words, employees feel they don’t have time for them, which is probably why statistics show that 58% of employees automatically delete company newsletters without even opening them. (Smart Insight, 2018.).

Ultimately, company newsletters become perceived as a distraction and never get the chance to fulfill their purpose, often without the newsletter author even knowing their content is not being read.

While departments are spending time and resources creating these newsletters, the limitations of the e-mail format prevent them from knowing the true reactions of employees from the content. The outcome is that both sides end up unsatisfied. And neither gets what it needs.

Do we really have to find a unicorn to make newsletter interesting?

According to my experience – no! There is an easier way. Use Yammer instead.

Yammer as an enterprise social network, helps companies to improve engagement between colleagues through conversations. Enhanced communication builds a culture of transparency while keeping everyone informed and aligned.

To make newsletter more attractive, split topics in smaller Yammer posts and make them more easily digestible.

For example – Almost every organization has an internal event or conference. The event could be posted in an announcement and you can shorter posts following it for the event about content, topics, speakers and need to know information. 

This way you can gain:

• modern and interesting form of usual topics
• enable employee feedback via two way conversations in response to the posts
• gather expression and ideas for new topics
• involve employees in the process of choosing topics

Plus, in Yammer you can view the “seen” option for how many employees have read the post. This can be use in the yearly KPIs of content creators and as an impact measurement.

By using Yammer for posts about news, you can have interesting teasers when something big is preparing and manage employee’s expectations.

Also, opportunity for announcing the news while they are still hot can achieve real time reactions before or as soon as they hit the press. 

During an event, if the Director is speaking about crucial topics on panel discussion – snap a picture and post on Yammer with quote and share a question. You can count comments, feedback or impressions while they're still on the stage. For more tips on how to use Yammer during an event, see this blog post. 

6 Tips for improving your newsletter improvements:

  1. For sharing large amounts of numbers and data, create simple infographic and share it on proper Yammer group
  2. Post pictures or videos from internal/external events with a synopsis of what was learned from the eventNewsletter 4.JPG
  3. Share awards, new hires, promotions, and accolades, through Praise option

    Praise sharing.JPG

  4. Post a poll and openly ask employees about the topics they find interesting or would like to contribute to, or to gather quick feedback 

    Newsletter 2.JPG

  5. Create short GIFs to use as supplemental materials,  check out how easy it is to do it in this blog post here. 
  6. Create a hashtag #topic you can use to track and find in the future to see the collection of news related content 

My advice is to start small and try a few different types of posts to encourage your employees to interact with the content.

And once you've tried, share with us what's working well and what you are learning. 

Katarina Zenko.jpg

Katarina Zenko is from Zagreb, Croatia. Her everyday job is to helping people raise their level of internal communication in company using Microsoft Office tools at InfoCumulus.  She is connecting people by finding their common themes and interests by creating their use cases and materials for further communication. Katarina helps her customer feel the importance of sharing and collaborating with others on projects. She finds this type of work fun and glad to be part of this kind of a changes in companies.

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