At Sideways 6, we’ve talked with more than one hundred large organisations about how they use Yammer and how that is working out for them. Our ‘Yammer Success’ platform is in use at some of the UK’s most well-known companies and, over the past years, we have accumulated much knowledge and experience with regards to increasing engagement.
Why care about engagement on Yammer?
McKinsey finds that, today, almost 70% of companies use enterprise social networks and that the improved collaboration can lead to productivity increases of 20-25%. However, McKinsey also identifies a minimum engagement threshold for “reaping the real benefits“. At least 30-40% of staff would have to be using these networks for their daily work in order to unlock productivity increases.
However, unfortunately, most firms’ Yammer networks do not make it beyond the threshold. Research by Simply Communicate finds that more than half of Yammer-using firms in the UK report engagement levels lower than 30%.
3 Steps for increasing Yammer Engagement
We identified three fundamental steps that help with driving up engagement on Yammer. All the steps focus on making sure that people know why and how they should be using Yammer (or any other enterprise social network for that matter).
People have to know what Yammer is for and why they are using it! After all, the #1 reason why employees fail to adopt Yammer is simply because they “don’t see collaboration and engagement as a good use of their time“. Any organisation I’ve encountered that achieves high levels of Yammer engagement actively encourages the use of Yammer and clearly communicates to its employees why they should be using Yammer and what they should be using it for. Otherwise, Yammer engagement is confined to your techies, innovators, early adopters and some modest organic growth. That’s never going to get you above the 30-40% threshold for getting value out of Yammer.
They’re not a client of ours, but I’ve always seen the case of Gatwick Airport as good practice. Their Yammer network was largely unmanaged and it didn’t get them beyond only a small share of their workforce. However, they used the 2012 Olympics to give Yammer a clear purpose: having real-life conversations on “how they were delivering during a critical time for the airport”.
Employees were encouraged to share and read relevant information at this challenging time. This raised engagement substantially and Gatwick saw “an explosion of people posting comments and photos”. It’s a great example of how giving employees a purpose to use Yammer leads to substantially higher engagement. Interesting fact: after the Olympics, Yammer engagement at Gatwick continued to grow.
I work very closely with many Yammer-using organisations—including one whose Yammer network is among the 10 most engaged in the world. What I can see is a consistent pattern: the most engaged Yammer networks are those that are not simply left to employees themselves. Instead, leaders get engaged and join discussions, departments organise YamJams and ask employees for ideas and feedback. This instils life into the Yammer network. Also, I think this is particularly important in an age where employees feel that their leaders are distant and out of touch. On the other hand, employees who trust their leaders perform much better as well!
At Sideways 6, we were able to experience how supportive on-boarding to Yammer increased the engagement of first-time Yammer users by 55% at one of the largest UK companies. It was this customer that asked us to develop a feature that allows them to automatically send out mass-personalised messages when people join their Yammer network or when they complete certain actions on Yammer, e.g. commenting on a post.
So for instance, if you just joined a Yammer network, you could get a message such as:
“Hi Amy, welcome to Yammer. We’ve got a number of Yammer groups (XYZ, ABC) and people (XYZ, ABC) which you might be interested in. Why not join and follow today?”
“Hi Donald, did you know that you can find our Yammer introductory video on YouTube? Here’s the link.”
or, upon your first post, your Yammer network might say
“Hi Emily, thanks for posting. It’s great to see that you’re contributing to our discussion. Keep it up and encourage your colleagues to join the discussion.”
In essence, this supportive on-boarding makes new users familiar with the purpose of Yammer and how it works. We now include this feature for every customer.
About the author:
Armin Kammerlander is business executive at Sideways 6, an UK-based employee ideas platform that connects to Yammer to source, analyse and manage ideas. For more of his articles, go to sideways6.com/resources.
Sideways 6 is a Yammer success platform and a Telegraph Top 5 Apps for Business Strategy. Sideways 6 connects to Yammer via its API and adds essential features for managing communication campaigns – including post management, automatic communications, analytics, social recognition, post review functionality. This enables the organisation to effectively engage and interact with its employees on Yammer, turning their Yammer network into a success.