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Occasional Contributor

The old adage “if you build it, they will come” does not apply in Yammer.  This isn’t Field of Dreams!  Creating a successful Yammer community takes a bit of planning and some initial care and feeding until it gains traction and becomes a self-sustaining community.

 

We have several communities in our Yammer network that have a very active and engaged community of members.  But we also have our fair share of communities with low membership and little engagement.  While not every Yammer community has to be a hive of activity, having a lot of inactive communities is not a good thing.  For one, it makes it more difficult for employees to find useful communities to join.  Additionally, if new users to Yammer join these communities and there is no activity, they will quickly feel there is no value to Yammer and abandon using it.  By the same token, the communities administrator may also feel there is no value to Yammer when no one is participating in their new communities. 

 

Since I play a role in employee technology adoption, setting community administrators up for success is important to me.  A colleague and I host an internal monthly podcast series where we talk about our workplace technology tools, like Yammer, and how employees can work with and benefit from them.  So we decided to record one entitled “How to Create a Successful Yammer Community”.  We reached out on our Yammer network to connect with community administrators who had successful Yammer communities and invited a few of them to join our podcast and share how they cultivated successful community.  Here’s a summary of their top tips. 

 

  1. Have a clear purpose and goal for the community – All the participants we interviewed said this was key.  Having a clear goal and purpose will guide both the community creator and members what the community is about and help draw in the right participants. 
    Recommended Resource: Group Owner Best Practices Guide

  2. Brand your community– Once you have a clear idea of the purpose and goal for the community, brand it by selecting an appropriate image and giving your community a clear, meaningful name.  I’ve seen many community created with acronyms that few people would know.  Having an obscure community name will not help drive interest in the community.  Also, be sure to write up a clear description for the community that aligns with the purpose.  
    Add a Cover Photo.png

  3. Have a plan – A lot of the successful Yammer communities had a plan for what they would post to the community within the first 30 days after the communities inception along with the cadence with which they would post.  This ensured that even if no members posted, there was always fresh content to keep members coming back.  This is important to do in the early days of the community.  
    Recommended Resource: 25 Types of Yammer Posts

  4. Find ways to engage your community – This is where things get fun.  In order for a Yammer community to be successful, you need to engage your members.  Some of our successful Yammer communities kept members engaged through activities such as having the members vote on the image for the community, holding Yammer scavenger hunts, and other competitions.  Additionally, it was mentioned to try to have posts end with a question rather than just a statement.  A question invites members to comment and share their views to start a dialogue, which is ultimately what you want.
    Recommended Resource: Yammer Guide to Community Management

  5. Promote it – Just because your community shows up in All Company directory doesn’t mean anyone actually noticed it.  So promote it! Do your own posts explaining what the community is about and why people would want to join.  Invite members to the community that you know would be great contributors and gain value from the community.  Talk about the Yammer community at team meetings and cross post about the community in other Yammer community, where appropriate. 
    Recommended Resources: Communication Plans, Templates, Emails, Flyers

  6. Don’t go at it alone – “It takes a village” to build a successful community.  So recruit some colleagues to be champions in your community and commit to actively posting and replying for a short period of time until the community gains some traction.  Touch base with your champions to collectively share ideas on topics to discuss that would be meaningful to the community and to support one another.  
    Recommended Resource: Community Manager Checklist

  7. Leadership Engagement – Last but not least is leadership engagement. Generally if the leader is onboard and actively participating in the community, so will the members.  Some leaders have made it part of their strategy that they will only broadcast department wide communications in Yammer versus email and a distribution list.  This strategy works well because employees will not want to miss out on important work information – FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is powerful!
    Recommended Resources: Use Case: Leadership Connection; YamJam Playbook

Share these tips in your organization with colleagues who are launching their Yammer community, or to help those just getting started. 

 

There are additional resources on the Yammer Adoption Resource Center, ready for your community owners or community managers to repurpose for your organization regardless of the stage of your community, including measurement, sentiment analysis and additional community manager best practices. 

 

If you have any other suggestions that have worked for you and your community, I'd to hear them too. 

 

Tanya.jpg

 

Hi everyone, my name is Tanya and I have an awesome role working in the Employee Technology Experience and Communications team at Bank of Montreal (BMO), where I actively lead the adoption of our Office 365 collaboration tools. I've played a key role in the implementation of Yammer, SharePoint, OneDrive and Exchange Online in or organization. I've had the pleasure of connecting with our employees and sharing the value of these modern workplace tools as a featured speaker at a number of our internal employee digital transformation events and as a host of TechTalk a monthly BMO tech podcast series. I'm passionate about making technology fun and easy to use, so employees can make the most of the tools available to them. I'm thrilled to be a part of this Yammer blog community.

8 Comments
Super Contributor

I'm not trying to bash this selected blog post, but i'm not sure where should i express these thoughts (Yammer forums, Info Center?). It looks like lately Yammer blog is filled with constant rehashing of same idea (engage, plan, create, etc.). It is ok, although it starts to be just a waste of time reading again and again about it, so i just skim fast or skip it. Yammer blog stands out from other blogs here which tend to provide technical information mostly (hence the Tech Community name). I miss news and articles about technical stuff, directed to tech professionals (who i feel should be the main auditory here). Or are there no planned or recent Yammer platform updates, no technical advises about configuration/administration to share? Is it posted somewhere else while this Yammer blog becomes a success stories blog?

Microsoft

@Oleg K Thanks for your feedback! We have added more and different content for variety and opportunity for others to share what's working and what's not. We've wanted to go a bit beyond the product updates and share how others are using Yammer and what they are learning along the way. We have a few more technical posts in the future so stay tuned! Appreciate your concerns! 

Super Contributor

Thank you. Maybe it is even worth to have two blogs (Yammer and Yammer Customer Success). Kind of like Intune. Although Intune tends to post technical stuff in their Success stories blog :)

Occasional Visitor

From the perspective of this history/social science professor, it will be fascinating to see how Yammer develops as a connective application for the worker community in all kinds of job sites, from hospitals to factories to universities to high schools to corporations. With its ubiquitous presence in the form of multi-platform versions (iOS, Mac OS, Windows, Browsers, Android) it is obviously designed to fuel a 24/7 community. I wonder how long it will be until workers utilize it not only for Christmas parties, cat videos and bake sales, but as a forum to discuss really important issues. Topics like workplace policies on sexual harassment, working conditions, compensation, managerial respect, company ethics, the cost of benefits, paid vs. unpaid leave, etc. could all be debated. 

 

While this kind of discourse may seem far-fetched, it's actually not. The National Labor Relations Board has already issued a directive on employee use of employer-provided electronic networks. According to the NLRB, employees have the right under the Wagner Act to utilize these electronic resources (as long as they are not immediately involved in performing worksite acts of compensated labor). Additionally, it is against Federal law to surveil them while doing so. The NLRB has also stated that bathroom breaks, regular breaks, lunchtime and even outside walks do not constitute moments of employer control. Employees are absolutely and especially free to discuss workplace conditions, compensation issues, managerial treatment and even to organize unions and other supportive groups. 

 

Any IT professional would be literally crazy to shut off employee conversations on such issues using Yammer's managerial settings. No only would that present a clear violation of Federal Labor Law (leading to steep fines and million-dollar lawsuits), it also might result in a criminal conspiracy charge. While it is true that employers probably own the computers, servers and networks that provide Yammer (wait...don't we all own our smartphones, tablets and laptops in 2019?), Federal and state courts have ruled again and again that Americans do not leave their civil rights at the door when they go to work each morning. 

 

Yammer's potential for creating genuinely productive, constructive and sometimes provocative discourse is real. How it will pan out in the near future is anyone's guess, but I am thankful that we live in interesting times. 

 

@Allison Michels 

Contributor

Great tips here -- most could apply to Office 365 in general. The only thing I might change is to move #7 - Leadership Engagement - to the top of the list!

Occasional Contributor

Very true @Graham McHugh and that is often the most challenging too!

Occasional Contributor

Thanks a lot, Tanya for this great overview!It reflects a lot we are doing here at Siemens Healthineers, but also adds some further great tipps and tricks that I am going to post to the community management community at our Yammer.
As an addition to your overview I want to share here that my american colleague and I host one-hour, virtual, monthly and free-of-charge Community Manager masterclasses for new community managers where we bring about the most important need-to-know and need-to-dos.

Plus, we have a bi-monthly virtual session, called "Community Manager Café", where our community mgrs can get into touch and share. Both means help to create a sense of belonging which we want to increase this year.

Occasional Contributor

@Claudia_Mayer_SHS thanks for your comments and I love what you're doing.  The bi-monthly virtual session is an awesome idea and I love the "Community Manager Cafe" too.  One thing I did was start a Yammer Champions community and invited all community managers to it but it's a public community. So we have people who are passionate about Yammer joining it too.  Early on in our Yammer roll out, I decided to add the words Yammer Champion after my name so in my posts it displayed my name and (Yammer Champion) right after it. I can't tell you how many people reached out to me and asked "how did you do that?" or "how do I become one". So now we have a whole bunch of people with that after their name. I love it!  I talk a bit about that and our roll out in general in this podcast

 

Hopefully you can access the link if you're interested in listening.  

 

Cheers, 

Tanya