Yammer Review

To Yammer or not to Yammer – can we guarantee success with enterprise social tools?

I’m very keen on the idea of the enterprise social network Yammer and what it could mean for internal business communication.

I visualise a time when our interstate frontline staff are discussing the pros and cons of a new business initiative with our senior managers at Head Office. When the CEO spots a game-changing idea from a new employee during his daily check of the site. When our sales teams are reporting back from the field, creating excitement about wins as they happen.

But enterprise social tools like Yammer are not like our traditional internal communication tools:

- We don’t control the message.

- We can’t force people to get involved - and success relies on interaction.

- We can’t guarantee success.

It’s actually pretty scary. I know of plenty of organisations that have experimented with Yammer and it failed. People didn’t see the value, they didn’t find the time and it fizzled out.

At this moment in time, the success of Yammer within my own organisation is at make or break point. Over one-sixth of our workforce signed up within the first few weeks of my soft launch, simply via word of mouth. I invited those people I could rely on to join first. That worked well. A key group of about half a dozen people from across the business were very keen and began posting updates, asking questions, replying to threads and creating groups.

Next, with a good proportion of staff onboard I sent an email to our Senior Management Team, outlining the benefits and asking for their commitment to the network – just five minutes a day, twice a week to begin with.

I also spoke face-to-face with a number of staff: if they were working on an interesting project I suggested a Yammer post. If I was writing an intranet news story on behalf of a business unit, I suggested that they could also promote their work in a status update.

I’ve nudged conversations along, introduced talking points, asked questions and tried to encourage the lurkers.

Now, we’re six weeks in. The initial excitement has died off. There are other business priorities. Less people are joining. Those who signed-up haven’t revisited the site. The goodwill of our Senior Managers is there, but they just haven’t found the time.

So, I’m asking myself some key questions and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts:

- do we just ‘experiment’ with enterprise social tools such as Yammer, or do we strategise the roll-out as we do with all other internal comms channels?

- by creating a strategy for success, can we ever guarantee a social tool like Yammer is a success?

- what does success look like on these tools anyway?

- finally, what can we learn about our employee engagement if there is low interaction through Yammer. How can we use this to influence the rest of our internal communications strategy?

These are the questions I’ll be working through over the coming months…..I’ll keep you updated.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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author avatarit_user11424 (Marketing at a pharma/biotech company with 10,001+ employees)


If you choose to experiment then you should focus on a core of people who are committed and interested in moving their conversations out of Email an into an on-line platform. I'd target those who are in distributed locations and time zones. Social is not a typical Comms project that can be rolled out - it's a way of working that not all groups are ready to embrace.


My 2c is "No", tools don't create success - people do. Discussions are temporal and SMEs come and go because it's not their day job or a formal commitment. It has to thrive on its own through viral use as _one_method_ for social engagement.

Watch the metrics and look for incremental growth in both content views and contributions. 90% of your audience will lurk and share, but only 10% will post and/or reply. Your membership will top off at some point so you need to know what your target is for engagement to measure success.

Ask people. Ask the people who joined first, and the ones who have joined recently to see what their expectations were and are.

Also, reading your article it looks like you may have "opened an empty store", so you had people coming on board through word of mouth and they didn't see something that compelled them to revisit. We use Jive with similar functionality and our success has been to launch a three-pronged destination for the audience that contains a Support Community, a Community of Practice, and a Community of Interest. That combination seems to have given the broadest possible audience a reason to both visit and return.

author avatarit_user133521 (Sr. Technical Manager at a tech company with 10,001+ employees)

Hi Anna Lowman,
Hope your journey should be almost two years old now as it is 2015. Eager to know your observations and did a true social transformation take place in your organization? As suggested by Samuel Coe, were you able to measure the metrics? Any progress? Can you pl keep your observations posted...?


author avatarit_user96480 (‎Social business consultant at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees)

Allthough the article is a couple of years old, some statements keep nagging as I keep hearing them. They can be summarized by the following quote:
"But enterprise social tools like Yammer are not like our traditional internal communication tools:
- We don’t control the message.
- We can’t force people to get involved - and success relies on interaction.
- We can’t guarantee success."
Starting with the third item: Can you name any tool that actually does guarantee success?
And the first: when your goal is to control the message, don't use a collaboration tool. Use a send to all mechanism, preferably with a 'do-not-reply' from address. ;-) You then automatically arrive at your second point: if you want involvement, let go of the control issues....