A lot of organisations are looking to Yammer as the solution to social enterprise and collaboration in the workplace, as a social tool Yammer is an excellent product, and can be an enabler for your business to build a collaborative, networked workforce that can contribute to high performance and engagement.

But for Yammer to be as effective is it can be there are some things you need to consider such as:

A suite of tools

Yammer works best as part of a suite of digital tools. If you introduce Yammer, then consider the different tools you need to make sure you get the most out of it. Yammer is great for creating online communities and conversation, but for dynamic media such as films and podcasts there are other internal options that offer a better solution such as Vimeo and You Tube.Yammer

It is also important not to assume that Yammer can replace your communication channels, you still need a mechanism to communicate with employees. Yammer can add in the conversational element, but it is there to complement, not replace existing channels.

One mistake some organisations can make with Yammer is to try and position it as another communication channel, that is not where you will find the value from Yammer. It is an enterprise social network, which means its primary purpose is to enable community (horizontal) led conversation.

Yammer is most effective as a suite of digital tools that employees can use to communicate, connect, network and collaborate.

Horizontal conversations

Yammer is at its most effective when it enables horizontal conversation and collaboration in business. There is value in teams and departments creating vertical communities, but in a world where people interact already, Yammer can only add so much value. In a world where people in an organisation might not interact, but have similar problems, issues or skills, Yammer has a huge amount of value.

It is those horizontal conversations that you really want to unlock when rolling out Yammer, so it is important that you understand your internal communities and pitch Yammer as an enabler to collaborate horizontally in your business.

It is an easy trap to fall into to see Yammer as a shiny new communications channel that can help push out vertical messages and give employees a voice to feedback, and it does have that capability, but Yammers identity in a business should be about unlocking horizontal conversation at a community level.

Vertical communication

If Yammer’s primary role is to unlock horizontal communication, it does have a secondary role to push out vertical communication. If you have Yammer in your business you can start to build a social element into your internal campaigns, so that you can initiate conversations about topics and issues that are important to the business.

It is important with Yammer that you create a social culture, and that means building social language into your organisational culture. Hashtag marketing is an excellent campaign tactic you can use as a communicator to drive traffic and conversation to social tools.

Let Yammer be social

Don’t be too descriptive about what employees can and can’t use Yammer for. If employees fear being pulled up for using it, then they won’t use it. You have to have a certain amount of trust in your business for Yammer to be really effective.

If employees want to use Yammer for business and social topics it should be accepted as a by-product of a business that is networking and collaborating, even if the topics aren’t directly related to the business.

Yammer has been designed as a social tool and it needs organic growth for it to really work, some of that growth will come through business conversations, other parts may come through employees interacting in communities that aren’t directly related to business.

If you are liberal with your guidelines, sticking to the highest level of 3-4 golden rules, then I think you will find that organic growth a much easier journey.

Yammer champions

Try and find some Yammer champions in your business, people that are passionate about social tools and can take the lead in building your online communities. This group can play a huge role in mobilising Yammer and keeping people engaged.

If you can add 1-2 of your business leaders to this group that will also add a great deal of value. Yammer can really help to break down hierarchical boundaries which are often barriers to innovation in an organisation, so if you can mobilise Yammer champions at different levels in your business, you can start to showcase the value of a socially enabled business.

The Yammer app

Yammer has a really good app that can be downloaded onto tablets and smartphones. The app is something which is really worth pushing to employees, you can log in from a personal smartphone and post on the move. In an agile world, the app is a great tool that employees can use to stay connected.

Summary

There are a number of social tools that are now available in the workplace, but Yammer offers a brilliant ‘off the shelf’ solution that fits snugly with other digital tools. If you want Yammer to be as effective as it can be, then these steps may be worth considering as part of your strategy.

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