How to Launch Your Yammer Network (And Keep It Going)

Becky Benishek

Q: "We are currently in pilot mode with plans to launch Yammer to all employees. I need to document roles and responsibilities for a Yammer Community Manager. Not high level, but a summary of what one should do daily, weekly, monthly. For example: Look for duplicate sites and merge or purge, facilitate conversations in All Company feed, run stats and report monthly...what suggestions do you have?"


I bolded that part of the user's question for good reason: If you don't yet have a dedicated Community Manager and your company wants to launch Yammer, do not continue until you have one. It may even be you!


For me, community management is not just about keeping the lights on and buttons pushed. It IS about being a facilitator, but also being aware of and incorporating company culture to ensure a successful launch and adoption. 


Disclaimer: I'm also a Network Admin and my company currently has 235 employees.


Part 1: Before the Launch



  • Get buy-in from the top. People take their tone from leadership, so find an influential leader or two to get invested with Yammer too. You will need to come prepared with reasons WHY they should get excited. Some of mine were:


    • Help break down department and company silos with this efficient, integrated platform.
    • Provide a forum for leadership to connect with employees by giving updates, industry news, direction of company, etc.
    • Enhance our company culture as we all get to know each other better, from strengths to collaborating on challenges.

Important: Even if you need to draft up the email or talking points yourself, make sure this leader is willing to communicate to all employees that the company is now adopting Yammer and how it's an important, exciting step forward.


    • Have a soft launch running up to the official launch. Keep it casual. Use email, reiterate in meetings, post on the intranet, and tell people they need to get in to Yammer now and get their profiles set up before the big day! --and then be sure to tell them how.


Part 2: Lead-up & During the Launch


  • Get at least one other person to help you out. Someone from your immediate department or a friendly colleague across the company who is willing to be trained up as you prepare; plus anyone who can help you during the actual launch is key. And if you're throwing a launch party, try to get more than one person. While you can probably do it all yourself, having others in charge of the set-up and snacks, or a Profile Picture Photobooth while you're busy running all over answering questions is extremely helpful.


  • Launch party ideas:


      • Snacks, music, a general air of festivity; as mentioned, you can even encourage taking profile pictures right there if your company doesn't already have employee photos on hand.
      • Develop a Yammer Scavenger Hunt with a workable set of to-dos on Yammer so they can get used to the platform, such as "Search for <name> and click Like beneath a comment" and "Tweak your notifications by doing X and Y."
      • Did I mention snacks? 




  • Pay attention to who really seems to "get" Yammer. Start doing this during the soft launch and continue during the launch and immediately after: Take notice who's trying things out, who's adopting it eagerly, who is even helping others. These people will be your co-Community Managers, Ambassadors, whatever you want to call them. Try to find people from different departments. 


You will ask first and then train these people so they can help out and help you lighten your load, because . . .



Part 3: Post-Launch & Beyond


  • You will still be very busy with onboarding people, training in groups or 1-on-1, continuing to foster engagement, saying things such as "You should put that on Yammer," and going to departments/leadership/co-workers and suggesting that "Your email announcement was great! Mind posting that in X group on Yammer?" So having advocates in those other departments means you can also send THEM to say all this.


  • Stats & analytics: People love to see the value of Yammer before their eyeballs, and if you can provide graphs to that extent, even better! The Admin tool in O365 has stats in development, but if you're hoping to get a third-party vendor with all of their awesome charts, you may need to wait until there's been substantial activity to justify the cost. You will still be able to go back in time and get stats from your launch! (Or you may be able to convince your boss to get it in place from the start and have a close-to-real-time chart projected the day of the launch.)


  • Keep an eye on new groups and reach out to each new group admin: Write up a Group Admin Guide and send it out, gather all the group admins in a special Group Admin group . . . something that helps provide structure and guidance so these admins don't just set it & forget it.


  • Take care about jumping in to every conversation; you don't want it to be the You-Network. At first it may seem very much like that until people get more confident in posting, but you'll get there.


Part 4: Yep, Keep Going! 


Remember what I said about continuing to foster engagement? You can't set it & forget it either. Though depending on your company culture and the uses people want to make of Yammer, there will come a time where you can ease back a bit and focus more on analytics or onboarding than thinking of ways to stimulate and engage.


Here's a great idea for engagement you can do any time: Running a photography contest by @Deleted.


What do you do as a Yammer Community Manager? What do you feel are the most important aspects? And how are you planning YOUR launch?



(10-13-16: Edited title from "Yammer Community Manager: Roles & Responsibilities From Launch Onward" and opening remarks for clarity.)

5 Replies

Wonderful summary, Becky!


Two random thoughts...


First, think of your company in terms of cohorts and their pain points / information needs / integrations that can be served with Yammer.


Administrative assistants, for example, are supposed to know *everything* and can be that much more deadly efficient with a group to help each other. You may also find they are your best ally in keeping leaders engaged.


Communications professionals, by contrast, are looking for ways to "cut through the noise" in an org with their messaging; engage employees in ways aligned with current strategic objectives; and demonstrate value. You may be able to help them understand that they can get more "shelf life" and discussion value out of 10 more minutes of work on top of what they're already doing and producing, just sharing what they've created in Yammer in effective ways.


Segment your targets this way, think about your value proposition, and get busy building relationships. Launch is about persuasion, handholding, new habit creation (what will be people's trigger to open Yammer, to post in Yammer?) and creation of critical mass of groups, content and visitors in your network.


Second, starting with launch but then ongoing, be on the lookout for company events you can integrate with your network. Recognition campaigns, company charity events, leadership summits, town halls... get a seat at the table by offering to help make these events successful.


You may find yourself creating groups, uploading distribution lists, drafting communications, even "Yamming" events with posts and pictures as a reporter and drafting others to do the same. So, you thought about recruiting those power users yet? They'll save your sanity and multiply your value.


I hold regular calls for my power users, offering an update on network health, changed Yammer features, roadmap to come. There's a recognition element as well, and when I have time, I offer an updated graphic overlay for their network avatars in honor of their service.


Oops, length...! Always. :)

Thank you, and thanks for sharing your insight and experience!


As you say, it's so important to be on the lookout for what you can integrate offline to this online space. Sometimes it takes just a gentle reminder, other times you're breaking new ground with a group that wasn't too interested during the first round, but now might be ready because they've got an event or project.


The phrase that warms my heart is when someone says, "I'll put that on Yammer!" all on their own.

Firstly, a great list Becky, and I will bookmark it for reference for our own upcoming enterprise launch.


It's very early days for me as a Yammer community manager but things I do include:


  • Champion the 'value of engaging and posting' cause
  • Sometimes post 'lure' posts to encourage others to reply
  • When talking to community members by phone I often ask them to post to the group
  • Strongly encourage ('Like') member posts
  • Share inspiring or informative posts from other groups within my groups
  • Subscribe to and read numerous technology and community blogs
  • Constantly remind myself of the 90-9-1 (and similar) ratio 

I am really keen to see how our communities at work will grow, and this Office one as well.

@Brett Williams, that all sounds great! Love the sound of the "lure," and the multimedia approach you use when on the phone.


And yes, that ratio has provided many a comforting moment for me. Stan Garfield has said that "There is nothing wrong with the 90% passive participants, as long as they read, listen, and pay attention." 

@Becky Benishek, wise words from Stan and I did forget earlier to give you props for those Yam snacks.


They reminded me of a past role as social club president where our most succesful events always had free food. :)

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