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“If you build it, they will come” Will they?

Building a successful Yammer Network

Did you know that as of the end of November your organization has access to the enterprise version of Yammer at no additional cost if you have an Office 365 E Plan. A new plan has also been introduced for SharePoint Online plus Yammer which is just $1 more than the existing SharePoint Online plans. Organizations still have the option to purchase Yammer Enterprise as a standalone application for $3 per user/per month.

So now you have Yammer what do you do?

This is the point at which you should stop and think about the tool and come up with a strategy around how to implement it. While we have seen the power and adoption of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in getting people to discuss topics of interest, Yammer is not any of those. While similar in technology and scope, making it easy to use its use cases are entirely different. Yammer is meant to be a tool to drive employee engagement, collaboration and innovation on content matter that is specific to the business, not what your employee's are eating for lunch or where they went on vacation. As such it requires a sound strategy for implementation to keep your users coming back and participating.

Yammer has devised a simple yet concise methodology around deploying Yammer, though it could apply to any Enterprise Social Network (ESN). This methodology is known as the Social Journey. Its steps are as follows: 

  1. Define Your Vision
  2. Map to Value
  3. Work Social
  4. Drive Success
  5. Evaluate, Adapt & Iterate

 

Define Your Vision

A vision for Yammer is the first step in setting up a network. It is what will help convey the purpose and value that you expect to see by using such a tool. This vision is not set in stone and may change overtime as your organizations usage of the tool grows. 

Map to Value

This step is all about defining what goals you want Yammer to help you solve. These organizational goals are around Engagement, Collaboration, and Innovation, this is what Yammer refers to as the "Three Solutions". 

Engagement focuses on attracting and retaining employees by providing ease of use for sharing best practices, finding experts, communication that sparks interaction.

Collaboration focuses on connecting the right people to work on a task and deliver by creating high performing teams across geographies and functions. Yammer is a great way to provide transparency into projects.

Innovation focuses on giving your organization a greater ability to adapt to a changing world, compete and win by providing the ability for rapid innovation though open communication. 

Work Social

Now that the first two are squared away this step will help to define the particular use cases that will be implemented to see the value. Think for instance that you wanted to map the value to Collaboration, the use case might be to run project communication from Yammer by using it to store meeting minutes, discuss project scenarios and source SME's. Or maybe you wanted to drive engagement so all new company communications are published to Yammer to get employees participating in the discussions.

Drive Success

This is the moment you have been waiting for. It's time to release Yammer to your employees and watch it grow. Yammer is a change to how a lot of organizations work so this is a time to help your employees embrace change. In this step you will want to pick a launch date and activities to drive employees to use Yammer. A network/community manager will be a necessary role in driving success. I will talk about this role in more detail in future post. Depending on the size of your organization this may not be a full-time role but its importance is still valid.

Evaluate, Adapt & Iterate

This step is visited after a certain time of Yammer being used by your employee's maybe its three months or six. In this step you would determine what did and what didn't work. It is also a time to determine if you should change your vision, opt-in some new use cases, come up with new events, etc. Yammer does provide some basic analytics to show the health of your network so reviewing those at this time or even on a more frequent basis is also recommended.

Summary

Yammer is just like any other enterprise application in that it requires a sound strategy. Think about Yammer before implementing organization-wide otherwise you may not see the types of benefits it may provide to your business. Creating your own Social Journey will help ensure your users and your executive team see the benefits of Yammer. 

Cardinal Solutions is a member of the Yammer Customer Engagement Partner Program. Our job is to help you be successful in deploying your Yammer network. 

 

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About The Author

Principal SharePoint Consultant
Cory is a principal consultant in Cardinal's Charlotte office. He has been working with Sharepoint since 2005 in a variety of clients and industries.