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.