Building Connection and Culture with Yammer

Most of us working in Microsoft 365 based organisations are probably using Teams for day to day meetings, chats, file sharing and collaboration. Yammer can be seen as the poor and out of date cousin to Teams, superseded by this multi-faceted superstar.

But Yammer can do things Teams can’t which is why a WebVine client recently requested some guidance around Yammer as a systematically implemented Enterprise Social Platform. They were looking to support a digital culture of communication and collaboration, building engagement within hybrid and remote work.   

Why Yammer?  

While Teams is better for day to day exchanges and rapid responses, Yammer has several advantages over Teams for broader communications. This aspect of corporate communication is becoming more important to build engagement and culture within a hybrid work model. 

  • 1. Inclusive Communications

     With open communities that people can join without having to work with each other on a daily basis, Yammer is an awesome tool for company-wide communications. People can reach out, interact with senior leaders, share thoughts and ask questions across the whole organisation. By design, Teams only supports smaller group communications with people you already know and communicate with. 

  • 2. Microsoft Integration

    Not only does Yammer come free with your Microsoft 365 licence, Yammer feeds can easily be embedded into the intranet. Authors can share engaging intranet content from anywhere within your digital workplace using Yammer share buttons, driving traffic to the intranet and creating more opportunities to see content. 

  • 3. User-led Discovery   

    Sharing content in Teams is easy, but recipients are just that – specified people that have been chosen to receive certain information. Yammer enables exploration and discovery, with public groups accessible by anyone with an interest. 

Getting started with Yammer 

Like any enterprise social undertaking, a Yammer rollout requires careful planning. A Yammer ecosystem that is simply created and handed over will either end up in chaos or – more likely – unused and gathering dust.  

Here are 5 steps to a successful Yammer launch. 

1. Define your vision 

Be clear on the purpose of Yammer in your organisation.  This will guide decisions made on deployment, permissions, adoption and management. Are you looking for:  

  • a) Corporate communications and top-down broadcasts 
  • b) A channel for status and photos 
  • c) Promoting interest-based social connections  
  • d) Crowd sourcing ideas and feedback 

2. Configure your Yammer network 

To ensure a consistent experience for all users, your admin or the vendor setting up Yammer should: 

  • 1) Agree and set the network name (friendly name for the Yammer header.) 
  • 2) Customise how it looks 
  • 3) Determine rules for file upload 
  • 4) Set limits on third-party app use  

When you create users in Office 365, they can log on to Yammer with their Office 365 credentials. When a user is deleted from Office 365, he or she is automatically deactivated or suspended in Yammer. The user's profile properties (such as name and department) from Azure Active Directory are automatically populated in the user's Yammer profile.  

Avoid Yammer Community madness:  

By default, Yammer allows everyone in the company to create Communities and there’s no way for a Yammer admin to restrict this. You’ll need to create an M365 security group whose members are allowed to create M365 groups, then set Yammer to follow same rules as M365. 

3. Governance and Security   

Governance is key to managing the Yammer platform from both business and IT perspectives.  

IT governance will focus on platform configurations, administration & support mechanisms, integrations and upgrades.  

Business governance will focus on communication goals and change management. It’s essential to find a balance between free exchange and chaos. Introduce too many rules and you will squeeze the life out of any social network, particularly in the first few months. An etiquette guide is a good start. You can have your usage policy appear as a link in the side bar in each user's Yammer home screen or to display it as a pop-up that users must accept before entering the network. Microsoft has a sample one here 

You can monitor sensitive content by specifying keywords such as banned words or employees' personal information. All messages in internal and external networks, including messages to and from external participants can be monitored – you just need to set a person who is responsible for monitoring, editing and/or deleting flagged posts. 

4. Launching Yammer  

Get your plan in place well in advance of launch.  

  • •  Build momentum gradually. Pilot with a group of users. Use this time to iron out any technical issues such as access and permissions. 
  • •  Make sure there is a clear and effective channel for people with technical questions. 
  • •  Try to make Yammer part of everyday work. It must be easy to find and access. Incorporate a feed on your intranet home page. 
  • •  Admins sometimes get excited and create complicated structures with lots of different topics. Start with one Community and let it build - one big party room with lots of activity. 
  • •  Ensure senior level executives actively contribute.  
  • •  Create a standard daily post: tip of the day, shout-outs for excellent work, best new intranet photo, industry updates etc.  
  • •  Have at least 3 months planned content ready BEFORE launch. 

 5. Change management and Yammer adoption 

Change management is crucial.  

Social engagement is like trying to launch an aeroplane – you have a short runway and if you haven’t taken off after a few months, it’s going to be a struggle to get off the ground. Do it right the first time. 

  • •  Having followed the first step and identified your reasons for introducing Yammer, you must be able to explain the many benefits to resisters. Senior leaders must be across these reasons and talk about them often, as well as sharing updates on Yammer instead of email. 
  • •  Appoint “Yambassadors” to talk up the platform, post juicy topics and help anyone with technical difficulties.  
  • •  Show that Yammer is better than email. Respond quickly. Answer every question asked on Yammer and reply/like every comment.  
  • •  As noted above, don’t try and control the content too much. Some difficult topics may arise but it’s better to address them openly and transparently.

Established properly and governed well, your Yammer social network can form a central pillar of social connection, cultural engagement and even innovation.  

If you are looking for a cost-effective, inclusive and – yes – fun way to bring your people together, or have tried to launch a new ESN and it has been a disaster, Contact Us.