Training email users on Yammer - Basics 101

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Everyone hates email, except they don't. Huh? Well, it's true. They know how to use email. They don't have to think about what to click, or wonder who's seeing it, or whether people got their message. They don't have to persuade everyone in their team to use it. They don't have to champion or change anything.


So if you're going to train people who are not only busy, or skeptical, but actually resistant to use a collaborative tool... meet them where they live. That's email.


My live trainings vary from 15 to 60 minutes. If I can, I want 60 minutes for known resistors, partly because that enables a lot of hands-on time.


First, the thing to emphasize early to email users is that Yammer is different because of our unknown connections. You don't know everyone who can help you. You also don't know everyone who can be helped by you. But email is always addressed, to people you know! Which leaves a lot of value for your company on the table. Simple. Email also is tough to translate in real-time, to find weeks or months later, to keep straight when conversations get intense.


So there are reasons for you to try adding Yammer to the mix.


Now, think hard about the business / teaming needs of your resistors. Because a good training is about "what you need" and ideally, solves a pain point. If you can make the case that the change, the tool, is necessary rather than nice to have... aces.

More generally, what most of my seriously resistant email users need is: 
- email integration
- not to get spam, and 
- a strong reason WHY they should bother to push and pull information from this "other place to go and check."

So, on a typical training, I'll display my screen and ask folks to open another browser tab so they can work in Yammer too as I talk.


I will:
1) Demo Yammer search as a way to find groups, showing off some valuable groups and then finding their specific group.
2) Make sure everyone has joined and knows this is a dedicated space
3) Going to Settings / Notifications, talking through the only three checkmarks I recommend keeping (Inbox, Someone Invites Me To a Group, Someone Wants to Join a Private Group I Admin). I explain each choice as I go, and I always save Inbox for last to discuss because it's the most complex.

The way I discuss Inbox is that you get three kinds of email, and they're all useful, *as long as you remember that you can read and delete all Yammer email... because that info is available to you later in Yammer any time you need it.*

The three kinds of Inbox email that I walk them through are:
1) Group announcement (read your email, reply if you like, delete it; find it again later if and when you want it)
2) My replies (because who has time to watch Yammer for replies?) And read, reply/delete, find later!
3) My name is mentioned (because who has time to watch Yammer for their name?) And read, reply/delete, find later!

I stress the deletability of email and findability of information over, and over, and over. I remind them that search actually finds things, show them the special group search box. If it's a global group, I might even demonstrate translation.

Next I show them the "Access Options" menu in the group. I explain "subscribe" and by now, they know about deletability and replying.

Then, I hit the option to "post by email" and push push push them to grab that email address with Control-C and POST NOW. While I create a sample email, I might show off extras like in-email hashtagging, in-email @mentions, attaching files and pictures, and the double-hyphen in your saved email signature to stop message clutter, I want them to POST.

And I explain two things: one, you just saved that email address. So emailing into the group, or forwarding useful stuff into the group, is as easy as typing a letter or two into the TO line, and having Outlook remember the group address for you. See?

Plus... you control what you post in Yammer. Go ahead, delete your own post... See that "..." below your post? Open it, delete away!

Meanwhile my test post has arrived and I can show how pictures display, how hashtagged topics appear and can be clicked for a pure feed, etc.


Then, if you're doing well on time, consider demonstrating the mobile app and nudging them to consider whether that functionality adds value for them.

For a slow, cautious and resistant group, this takes an HOUR. But at the end some of my resistors are giddy. Post after post of "It works!!!" "OMG!"

I should note that I always do some mop-up explaining. Because a group is NOT a distribution list. Unless you "subscribe" to the group, you won't get every last post here. Hey, you won't even get emails for every piece of a conversation you've taken part in... only replies directly to you! So decide now if you want to subscribe to the group, and change that choice any time you want.


If you do that, consider using Outlook routing rules to push all those group emails into a particular folder, and a recurring Outlook calendar prompt (10 minutes a day!) to check on those emails in that folder. Ding! No clutter, either in your Inbox or your brain.


Also, when you post in your group, that doesn't push your message to everyone. A push message to the whole group requires an announcement. So consider that when you're emailing information into the group. You'll need to think about using individual mentions, or contacting admins and asking them to make an announcement, if you want to reach everyone with every message.


Finally, Yammer emails have become shortened. Yammer's trying to push you to go to browser to read the full content. So don't "bury the lead" of your message, and keep it short if you can.

And remember the value here of having these extra inputs to your email is the freedom to delete, delete, delete... and find later.

I've thought about capturing my training flow in a video, but UI changes so much. Probably won't ever get there!

3 Replies

My training flow above doesn't reflect the fairly recent introduction of "New messages" and "All messages" in each group's header. You might consider addressing that, as without guidance, this bit of the UI is possible to miss or undervalue.

Fantastic. Thanks so much for the incredibly helpful, detailed scope!

This short (and infamous) "Email Trees" video usually does the trick ...