Our Yammer network recorded its first member in August of 2013, our CEO. In mid-2015 two more of our senior executives joined the network. Despite these early adopters, our network didn't really begin until our digital transformation, when Office 365 was introduced.
In February 2016 Yammer fever spread across NEXTDC. I began community managing the network, our executive team was on board and active. Driven by their support and an appetite for new and innovative tools people began creating groups, sharing information and images. We had the makings of enterprise social success. Despite all of this there were still pockets of the business not engaged.
Fast-forward to July 2017 to our team conference on the Gold Coast. We'd gone completely digital, no paper agendas. Everything the team needed to know was on the intranet and Office 365. All updates would be through Yammer. We'd used a conference Yammer group in the lead up and had polls and a scavenger hunt lined up for the 2 day event.
The turning point came as I was sitting in the sound and lighting booth on the morning of our conference kick off. The idea came from Craig our CEO, let's do the Yammer polls live and display for the audience. David, our Chief Customer Officer and Executive VP of Technology would be presenting, we scrambled to prep the polls.
As David presented, I sat in the booth and waited for his cues. He prepped everyone to let them know we'd be using Yammer, a last minute opportunity to download the app and be ready.
On cue I'd publish the poll, our AV technician would switch to my screen, and I would refresh as the results appeared live. It worked perfectly and we repeated it for other sessions during the conference.
This event solidified Yammer as a key business tool, had everyone in our business using it on their mobile device, a simple and compelling reason to use it, and a tangible outcome visible to all in the room. We were able to measure these results with a distinct peak in Yammer activity, followed by consistent ongoing use.
5 tips to drive engagement through an event
1. The right event
Your event should be one that involves most or all of your workforce, or includes the part of the workforce you are trying to engage. It should be appropriate for enterprise social use, for example one where people may want to ask questions and share photos. If the event requires people to be more engaged in the content, and being near a device is difficult or frowned upon it may not work for you.
2. Senior Leadership support
A staple of successful enterprise social networks, and an important part of any successful event, is the support of your leaders. If you want to drive Yammer use at an event, you need your Senior Leaders and other influential stakeholders (such as a champion network) on board. Brief them ahead of the event on expectations, provide them with some templates of what to post , set some reminders and maybe provide some gentle prodding.
3. Clear, purposeful tasks
Even in an active network, you cannot assume that the team will understand what they are supposed to do, or what you are trying to achieve. Tasks which are clear, defined and purposeful will allow people to easily understand and engage. Some examples to try are:
- Polls: before, after or during the event for feedback and sentiment.
- Q&A: great for live sessions with leaders where questions can be answered in session, or afterwards and kept for all to see.
- #YamJam: The Yammer version of an AMA. Schedule and moderation a question and answer session with a senior leader on a popular topic. Check out the YamJam Playbook to get started.
- Images: Encourage people to take photos of speakers, themselves, team photos, whatever may be relevant to your event.
4. Visible and consistent
Monitor activity throughout your event to make sure it is running smoothly, that questions are answered, there is a good flow and that there is no inappropriate content. Get help if it's a big one a small event in a small company might just need one set of eyes, but if you are a larger organisation bring in some champions to help monitor and nurture the event content . Keep things visible and consistent whether it be a short campaign or a huge event. Tools such as Yammer embed or Yammer wall feeds where you can display what people are posting are great for visibility. And as in my story, seeing results live and in the room is very powerful. If activity starts to waver, or steer away from your objectives, use your leadership team or your champion network to help get things back on track with supporting content.
The right incentive will really depend on your audience and the culture. It may also depend on your budget. Incentives need not always be monetary. Sometimes glory or a bit of healthy inter-team competition is all you need. Your incentive should be linked to the activity and something which you can easily measure.
And a few lessons we learned along the way
Test and adapt
Not everything is going to work for you all of the time, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Follow the examples of others to start and then adapt what you do based on what works for your organisation.
Plan for the unknown
I always want more planning time, but it’s doesn’t work that way in Yammer. It’s difficult to control what people post, and to control when changes come through to the product. Control what you can control, with settings and training. However, be prepared to be able to react quickly when things change or a post lands which needs.
Go with the flow
Yammer is an enterprise social network, it’s a community. A community is defined by the people in it. If moving to a new network or undertaking an organisational change realise that activity which might have previously been unusual or frowned upon could be the new thing which gets your network humming.
NEXTDC is an ASX200-listed technology company enabling business transformation through innovative data centre outsourcing solutions, connectivity services and infrastructure management software.
Their team of 228 people are located across 9 data centres (plus 3 in construction and planning) across Australia and their corporate head office which is in Brisbane.
Hi I'm Rebecca, a digital and visual communicator specialising in the digital workplace. I've been working with intranets, online communities and the digital workplace since 2009. I first began using Yammer around 2010 and have been a member and community manager of many Yammer networks since then. I work for NEXTDC as Digital Workplace Coordinator where I am the product owner of multiple Office 365 tools including Yammer and our Intranet (on SharePoint online). I enjoy learning and sharing by blogging, sketching, speaking and participating in industry events. It's an exciting opportunity to be a contributor to the Yammer blog and work collaboratively with other Yammer practitioners.