Yammer “is a private social network that helps employees collaborate across departments, locations, and business apps” (via Yammer.com). Our College recently launched Yammer with our staff, faculty, and students, and we are learning what works and what doesn’t when using this tool for sharing news and announcements, and encouraging collaboration within and across departments and disciplines. Today, I’m sharing lessons learned (so far).
Yammer is not Facebook, but occasionally that’s the best explanation for what Yammer is.
When we first launched Yammer, I started off by explaining that Yammer is a private or internal to the organization, social network. Some people got that right away. Others weren’t sure how Yammer could be used and why they would even want to use it. Adding on that it was “Facebook for Business” brought more looks of recognition. However, that phrase should be used sparingly, as people have (I’ve discovered) rather polarizing opinions about Facebook. Some use it all the time and love it. Others find it to be a waste of time and never use it. In either scenario, I want to encourage collegial, professional collaboration and information sharing within Yammer, so I try not to use the “Facebook for Business” phrase very often.
Your entire organization won’t use Yammer overnight.
When we launched Yammer, I expected to see people posting right away – interacting with one another, sharing ideas, etc… I’m not sure why I thought that was going to happen (perhaps it was from my experiences from the University where we heavily used Yammer), but it was an expectation I didn’t realize I had until we launched and not many people joined right away. We have had a mixture of somewhat steady growth over the last two months or so since we launched, with a few spurts here and there.
Encourage Early Adopters and Leaders to use Yammer.
Early on, I reached out to several early adopters at the College and shared about the upcoming launch of Yammer. I encouraged them to post and get their peers and/or departments using Yammer too. I do think a big part of the growth we’ve had is from seeing staff and faculty post and interact with one another. We have at least two departments that are using it as an internal collaboration space too. I’ve shared Yammer with leadership but haven’t encouraged specific or regular posting yet – that’s coming later this summer.
Give your Faculty a Reason to Use Yammer
In addition to encouraging early adopters to post, I’ve started consciously finding reasons to use Yammer. Some of those include:
- Sharing a document that is only available within Yammer – i.e. you have to login to Yammer to access the document (fairly positive results with a recent test of this)
- Posting a teaser message in an email and then the rest of the message is in Yammer (mixed results with this).
- Creating groups for people that collaborate frequently and switching email communications to Yammer to demonstrate the benefit of having one space for focused conversations (working fairly well).
Keep Using Yammer to Encourage Yammer Use
This might seem obvious, but if you want your faculty (and any employee in your organization for that matter) to use Yammer, you need to demonstrate consistent use. If your employees see the value in using the new tool, and that it’s not going away (i.e. it’s not a “here today, gone tomorrow” tool), then slowly but surely more will join. Sometimes it’s not easy – and I’ll admit, it’s disappointing when sometimes it seems like there are only crickets chirping in our Yammer space – but it’s really awesome when it works.
Are you using Yammer in your organization?
How do you encourage its use?
Learn more about Yammer by visiting their website.