OFFICE 365 12 MIN READ

The Yammer 101 Summary from the Experts

Benjamin Niaulin
WRITTEN BY BENJAMIN NIAULIN
The Yammer 101 Summary from the Experts

On Tuesday August 5th, there was a YamJam on Yammer itself. What’s a YamJam? In short, a number of experts will be there to “Jam” about their experience with Yammer as well as answering your questions.

Now, almost every time we talk about SharePoint, we’re also talking about Yammer. This is especially true since Yammer went under the Office 365 hat. As know, if we are talking about implementing enterprise social that fits with the rest of our Microsoft Suite and especially SharePoint, we are going to start using Yammer because the old social features are no longer getting updates.

But what is Yammer? We’ve prepared a few topics to cover during this YamJam session with experts on the field. These topics are just to get the conversation started and the more we are the better.

Our conversations during the Yammer 101 YamJam

  • What have you seen work the best when implementing Yammer in your organization?

  • What 3 things should companies prepare for in their move toward Yammer?

  • Is there a way to keep Yammer from becoming a ghost town in my organization?

  • What are a few best practices that you've learned for integrating Yammer with SharePoint?

  • In your opinion, should you create multiple networks within your organization or stick to groups?

  • How can an organization measure the success and ROI of bringing Yammer in? If not traditional, how have you made your case to the executives?

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What have you seen work the best when implementing Yammer in your organization?

Dos: 

  • Build momentum- Soft launch the network by starting with a business case, and enlist partner groups from throughout your organization, reflecting specific value drivers. Work with them to colonize the network first and start building culture. Harvest examples and use cases of the early successes as part of your broad-launch campaign. Once there is a presence in the network, invite the rest of the population.

  • Have a full-time community manager overseeing the network to help answer questions and provide guidance and support.

  • Get executives on board. Executive participation will increase adoption. You can even try making them an admin and having them invite users from their account.

  • Show people the benefits. Showing people how Yammer helps them to do their daily job is very important - if Yammer is integrated in the business process then acceptance and usage will grow.

  • Be proactive. Set up Yammer before rolling out Office 365 and make it the place to communicate through the rollout project with people in your organization. Use it to answer and ask questions about the rollout.

  • Create an Etiquette Guide. Start with the behaviours and culture you want to cultivate. THEN add what to avoid. See an example here.

  • Respond quickly. Show that Yammer can be faster than email.

  • Having an event, gamification or topic to add incentive can increase engagement.

  • Try using it as a help desk. Once the users saw the value of getting their issues and questions fixed quickly, they were open to other uses.

  • Help users feel comfortable about sharing 'in the open’ and where sensitive and private material should be posted.

  • Establish social groups for popular non-work related topics help to get the social aspect off the ground, such as photography, hiking, or other extracurricular groups.

Don’ts:

  • Try to control content. Trying to "control" what gets put on simply has not worked. We have to embrace what Yammer is/does and leave it open, unless it violates the Usage Policy.

  • Fear communication. Allow your employees to converse with customers in a Yammer setting. Trust the people you hired to do the right thing, and allow them the freedom to do their job.

  • Don’t be afraid of hearing feedback from your people in your organization. Some IT Pro's and Sys Admins think using Yammer or any open forum is just an invite to hear complaints. But it actually starts to create a community where colleagues begin to answer each other’s questions

What things should companies prepare for in their move toward Yammer? (The Top 8)

  1. Figure out your organization’s answer to "Why use Yammer?" Be able to explain the many benefits to resisters.

  2. Have YamBassadors to help engage and start discussions as well as directing people towards them. This can take time. So be patient.

  3. Understand how Yammer works "properly" before jumping in. Plan how you want the network constructed.

  4. Get legal and compliance on your side beforehand.

  5. Prepare for confused users. Have a community manager or support system where people can go for help.

  6. Have a clear usage policy.

  7. Figure out deployment and adoption BEFOREHAND.

  8. How to reward people for learning and using Yammer.

Is there a way to keep Yammer from becoming a ghost town in my organization?

  • YamChamps. Cheerleaders who can help not only with roll out and adoption, but ongoing engagement.

  • Having senior level executives actively contribute. Reward great usage and executive participation.

  • Having a standard daily post, update, or activity helps. Like a Tip of the Day, a news article, some project stats, or a ‘praise’ of the day to someone.

  • Pick a public distribution group, add a matching Yammer group to the network. Then add the Yammer groups email address to the distribution group. Email messages sent to the distribution group will become posts in the Yammer group.

  • Encourage Yammer moderators to ensure every question asked is answered. Every comment made should get a reply/like.

Should you create multiple networks within your organization or stick to groups?

Depends on your goals. Most organizations should keep to groups. Only use external networks for connecting with those people/projects outside the organization.

Use groups when: 

  • Collaborating with internal employees on projects

  • First launching your network. Make adoption easy by simplifying structure.

  • You want a consolidated network feed

  • An organization is trying to reinforce a ‘One Company’ message

  • User-friendliness is a major consideration

  • You want to promote serendipity and discovery

  • Cross-posting content and discussions is going to be necessary

  • You want to be able to make company wide announcements

Use external networks when: 

  • Working with outside consultants, suppliers vendors, organizations, etc.

  • You want segmented feeds full of different customers.

  • When there are two different audiences, like a teachers and students

  • There is a dedicated community manager to cultivate the network

  • The organization has multiple Office 365 tenants

  • The users understand Yammer and the network is mature

How can an organization measure the success and ROI of bringing Yammer in? If not traditional, how have you made your case to executives?

  • Highlight the success stories of Yammer, where a message from the workforce made it up to management, an idea or change was made and money was saved or made as a result. 

  • Winning a new client's business because of conversation that started in Yammer<

  • Measuring value... stats are nice, but tough to tie back to hard-dollar ROI. I find that stories are an easier sell.

  • Measuring engagement... Beat the lurker ratio (90/9/1 -- add 9+1 and therefore get more than 10% participation)... WEEKLY. Because your goal is to drive everyday, habitual behavior change.

  • That it is a primary method of communication that replaces or enhances e-mail. No-one is asking for ROI of e-mail any more, it just IS, and so should Social Enterprise.

  • Using the 5 Ways to Measure Enterprise Social Success

  • Money talks, but stories walk.

  • Beyond traditional case study, one indicator is when people reference their info source as Yammer.

Q&A 

Q: Is there a good resource for both learning about and introducing Yammer to your organization?
A: Check out the Yammer Success Center: https://about.yammer.com/success/  
This session from SharePoint Conference is also a great introduction for Yammer admins:http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/SharePoint-Conference/2014/SPC295
 
Q: How do you address legal discovery issues around Yammer discussions?
A: Yammer use should mirror your existing records policy - you can hard delete content for a specific time period etc. You can archive the content by exporting the network.
 
Q: How would you answer: Use Yammer for THIS and SharePoint for THAT?
A: Yammer is more for the conversations around the business. SharePoint is to store work and manage your documents themselves. But in many cases, 'what tool when?' is something that may depend on your organization - but there are templates available in the Yammer Customer Network (YCN) to help with the discussion. 
 
Q: It can be hard to convince some teams to switch to Yammer when they are so good at using traditional collaborative methods. How can we win them over?
A: Ask them to consider the value to the company of exposing their communication silo to the public. And no matter how good they are with their emails and meetings routine, switching to Yammer will make them a stronger team. Provide enough training to minimize the bumps in the road to transition. 
 
Q: Getting executive/senior management champions are key . . . What are some success stories in getting that engagement?
One of the things I recommend with respect to getting executives on board is to first understand what is top of mind for them. What are their burning platforms? Perhaps they are looking to cut costs in a certain area. Maybe they are trying to improve the way a certain process occurs. 

As a community manager, seed your network with conversations about those topics. Then, point your exec to those conversations. You've now just made an immediate connection with topics that are pertinent to their own personal goals.

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