At this year’s Fall in Love With Yammer event on January 23rd, we heard many impassioned anecdotes about how businesses did just that. But like all good romances, this one has a story to tell, from the highs of the honeymoon period, through the first row, to the dangers of taking each other for granted.
Here, with the generous support of some Yammer evangelists across Microsoft, Network Rail, Sideways 6 and Dentsu Aegis Network, we’ve pulled out just some of the stories, as they were told to us, that illustrate that love affair. Throughout the narrative you’ll also find best practice ideas and examples from those who have been there before, to help you on your own journey with Yammer.
But first some thanks are due, most especially to our excellent panel from the above companies – Steve Nguyen, Claire Grundy, Bea Tartsányi and Laura Jennings – but also to our partners who helped make it all possible, tyGraph, SWOOP, Sideways 6 and Wiretap – there’s much more about each of those businesses at the other end of their hyperlink. Lastly, but certainly not least, our thanks is also due to Yammer, for not only sponsoring the event but for inspiring so many people to get so passionate about the platform that it could take place at all.
Now onto what the event was all about: falling in love with Yammer. We’ll start at the beginning, as romances usually do:
All our panellists are huge Yammer enthusiasts, that’s why they came along and spoke, but even among these ardent fans, getting off the ground had its challenges. When Claire Grundy first came across Yammer she didn’t understand its value and she struggled to see what it was capable of. It took a little time to get to grips with some of its finer points like the integration with Office 365, but what ultimately won her over was how much employees took to it. Before long the benefits spoke for themselves. Laura Jennings’s relationship with Yammer got off to such a shaky start that they had to break up for six months and Yammer was banned by IT, but that time was time in which the value of Yammer to the employee base became undeniable. Absence really did make the heart grow fonder.
One of the first questions to come from the audience once the event got underway was: “For a small agency that’s not used to such openness, how can we establish that attitude of transparency within Yammer?”
Because people are named and pictured, it’s not anonymous, which makes it a platform for your best self says Claire. Steve Nyugen agrees, for him it’s all about creating a safe environment where trust is a common value. That has to come from the top down, from leaders who expose their own vulnerability and flaws through their own use of the platform and in doing so validate it for everyone else. If leaders aren’t doing that already, it’s something that can be encouraged says Claire. She identified 150 senior influencers within the organisation, profiled them, trained them identified those who were most engaged and supported them to become Yammer pioneers and powerful advocates across the organisation. For Claire senior buy-in wasn’t optional, so it wasn’t something that could be left to chance. But to optimise engagement, the conversation needs to be about more than Yammer. Yammer is a means to an end, but not the end itself, and it’s important to remember that, she says.
Another audience member asked: “How do I engage those who aren’t such active social media users?” The key here is to understand what their drivers are says Laura. What is important to them about the workplace, and how can they engage with that through the platform. An easy way of doing that are to deliver things like reward and recognition through Yammer, but it doesn’t have to be that practical, it can be as simple as giving them opportunities to share their ideas with like minded colleagues.
Once you’ve gotten to know Yammer a little and are ready to get serious, what are the things that start to stand out, and how can you make sure that you’re making the most of the opportunity? The panel was asked what the highlights of using Yammer were for them, once they’d gotten comfortable.
For Bea Tartsányi it’s all about crowdsourcing – the ability to tap a vast network for their expertise instantaneously and informally. No longer restricted by her own expertise, she now has the collective brainpower or her whole organisation at her fingertips. For Laura, the advantages were largely cultural, particularly the way it brought communication out into the open, making it not just accessible to all, but cool. Bea agrees, because that kind of open communication is a win/win situation. Employees across all organisations in all countries are desperate to have a voice, and by giving them their voice on Yammer companies stand to benefit from the wisdom experience and relevant sector expertise that each brings with them.
For one attendee, Yammer implementation had gone well, but it seemed that he had hit a ceiling. His question: “Where do we go next?”
There will always be ceilings say Claire, but they’re there to be broken through. Even if everyone in the organisation is using Yammer and engaging with it, look at what else they’re using – email being the most obvious – and think, how can we change that? How can we ramp up the use of Yammer and Teams so that other tools become redundant?
Another question the panel faced was: “How do you bring the best of your network to your users so those who aren’t engaging meaningfully can see what they’re missing?”
For Laura it’s a question of shamelessly promoting your success stories. Don’t hold back she says, but share as widely as you can using whatever channels colleagues use to showcase the awesome work and the stories that inspire, giving everyone plenty of content to engage with.
The real magic happens when people see beyond Yammer and are carried away by the content says Bea. Her company, Sideways 6, are building analytics that show those looking after Yammer when topics are really hot so they can see what is working and spin that off more widely. Baxter Willis, WM Reply’s panel host chipped in that storytelling, in any form, is essential. One way that this can be used to bring in a diverse audience from across the business is to showcase who the heroes of these stories are. It’s not always obvious if those people are head office or frontline staff, from different offices or even countries, so showcase that diversity.
Like any truly successful relationship, it’s important not to get lazy, but to constantly be striving for more and better. In this case that might be interactions across the company, levels of engagement, efficiency or productivity.
Tapping into the idea of constant progress, the panellists were asked what they’re doing (or planning to do) differently with Yammer in 2018 compared to last year. For Claire, it’s about cementing it in as a bedrock of company communication. We want everyone to be using Yammer every day for a whole range of tasks that might never before have been the norm she says.
For Bea analytics are key. She notes that her company is already doing loads of great things with Yammer, but that she wants to go beyond that and instead show off how successful those great things are by measuring them with analytics. In so doing she hopes that she’ll be able to spread best practice to others easily and communicate just how important adopting those practices can be.
Steve is part of the Microsoft team that develops and improves Yammer, so he was able to drop a few hints about exactly what is coming down the pipeline, including live video, rich text formatting, movable posts and the “Seen it” function – to help companies understand how widely posts are being picked up. Laura thinks that it’s these kind of developments that are so important to the ongoing success of Yammer. Her plans for 2018 involve moving beyond Yammer, to capitalise on everything that connects to it, integrating tools like Skype more effectively to make communication the best it can be internally.
And finally, to round off more than two hours of Yammer based evangelising, a member of the audience stood up to ask the two business advocates on the panel: “Overall, what is the one Yammer campaign you’ve run that you most enjoyed?”
First up, Laura’s favourite campaign was a climate change campaign that was aimed at raising awareness of and engagement with a pressing global existential threat. The campaign centred around a quiz that was engineered to not only test participants’ knowledge, but to inspire and fuel conversations about climate change across the organisation. The campaign was so successful that it had gone viral before it was even launched. The team building it only needed to run a final public test of their build in a secluded corner of Yammer for the organisation to seize upon it and organically spread it throughout the company.
Claire’s favourite campaign is one she ran called “Better Every Day” where employees were challenged to share those niggling things that they’ve always thought could be done better, but never before had the voice with which to affect change. The campaign kicked off a company wide scramble for self-improvement that left employees empowered and with a better place to work and left the company with cost efficiencies that made a genuine difference to the bottom line.
If you came along to Fall in Love With Yammer, thank you, it was great to see you, and thanks too for taking the time to check out this article, we hope you found it interesting. If so, you might be interested to hear that we have another event coming up: Fall in Love With Office 365 is taking place on 28 February at 3pm in Microsoft’s Paddington Office, secure your place now by registering