Developing your Yammer group

There are lots of guides out there on using Yammer, the internal social networking tool – how to set up a network, build your profile and so on.

However, that’s not all there is to Yammer and a key skill is community building, particularly if you are running a group.

Now, Yammer is a pretty easy to use bit of software. Many of the ways of making your group work as an effective community however, are nothing to do with software and everything to do with human behaviour.

Here are five tips to designing a Yammer group to succeed. A lot of the advice can be applied to any online community, too, so even if you don’t use Yammer, it ought to help.

  1. Make it look fun

This is key. If you want people to join your Yammer group and get engaged with it, you want to make it an attractive looking thing to do.

Things to consider:

  • The name of your group – make it sound nice and welcoming and don’t be tempted to make it sound all corporate and dull
  • The image you use as the group’s icon – again, avoid the dull corporate approach. Is there a fun joke you can make with the image? Pop culture and retro TV references are always a winner
  • Your short description – you only have a few words to make your Yammer group sound like the sort of thing a normal person would want to join. Use them wisely!
  • The longer information text you can add to the sidebar – this is where you can go into more detail, and perhaps add in some of the more serious work stuff that your group is about
  1. Start small and grow organically

It’s very tempting when starting something new to be excited and enthusiastic about it – quite right too! However, with any online community, it’s a good idea not to shout too loudly, particularly in the early days.

After all, when it has just started, your community is likely to be a bit short of content and activity. You don’t really want hundreds of visitors to stop by and perhaps be disappointed by what is on offer.

The way to get around this is to start small when it comes to inviting people in. Don’t do a big launch but gradually get more people involved, so that the levels of content and activity in your group are in sync with the number of people visiting.

  1. Engage the engaged

As part of the start small approach, who should you get involved first? You might be tempted to reach out to new people, to instantly get a return on your new group by being able to point to new audiences being engaged with your work.

However, it’s far better to get people involved early who you can rely on to make a strong contribution. Much of the culture of an online community is set by early members, so make sure the people you encourage to join will exhibit the sort of behaviour you want to encourage in your group.

  1. Give people a reason to join

If you are at a stage where you want to give your membership a boost, how do you get people to sign up?

One way is to make it so people have to be a member to get something they want.

As an example, say you run some training and want to share the slides and other resources with those that attended. Rather than emailing them around, why not upload them to the Yammer group, so that people need to be there to be able to access them?

  1. Keep up the flow

As a community manager, it’s vital to keep up a flow of activity. How quick that flow is, and how much of it you need will depend on the topic of your group and the personalities of those involved.

You will be in the best position to decided what the best flow for your group is – how often new discussions ought to be seeded, for example, or how many times documents ought to be shared for comment.

You don’t want the flow to dry up – people will lost interest – but then you also don’t want it to become a flood because people will be scared off.

New free Think Digital webinar – 8th September, 11am

There was a lot of interest in my last webinar on Think Digital, where I talked through the ten principles fairly briefly, just to give folk an overview of what I am on about.

I think it’s time to go into more detail about how you can make this happen, so over the next few months I will be running a webinar on each principle.

The first of these will be taking place on 8th September at 11am BST. It’s on the topic of strategy, leadership and capability which are the foundations of the Think Digital approach and are vital to get right if digital transformation is going to take place.

Sign up for your free place here!

Digital transformation

The term digital transformation is being bandied about rather a lot at the moment.

That’s fine – people often argue about words and phrases and what they mean and whether they are helpful.

Usually they aren’t perfect but do a job as a sort of shorthand that everyone has a broad – if occasionally divergent – understanding of.

However, if by transformation people are meaning making a lasting and sustainable change in the way an organisation works (which is how I understand it), then I don’t think transformation is what you really want.

It’s a bit like words such as disruption. Disruption is a good way of getting people to notice something – but it’s not always in a positive way, nor in a way that will convince people to come with you.

Transformation to me feels big, and quick. Maybe that is what organisations want. I don’t think it is what they need though.

Developing the culture of an organisation is hard work, and it takes a long time. For digital transformation to happen, it needs to be incremental and slow. It has to be given time to bed in, for the laggards to catch up, for everyone to be comfortable.

It also has to take place in small chunks, not trying to fix everything at once.

Remember, ‘digital’ is all about small changes, made responsively in line with the needs of users. Not frantic efforts to build giant edifices.

Organisations need to use the mindset, skills and tools of digital to make digital happen, otherwise it makes no sense, and just won’t work.

So, if you’re planning a digital strategy, or are in charge of digital transformation, make sure you start small, iterate, don’t promise too much, and don’t be tempted to go for big, flashy high profile activities. They might make a short term splash, but won’t change much in the long term.

Reminder – if you need a hand with this stuff, the 10 Think Digital principles might be useful. Check out the slidedeck or the webinar recording.

Think Digital – free webinar 28 July

Thanks for all the interest shown in the 10 Think Digital principles so far. I’m working on building on them to make them even more useful.

Part of this is to run a webinar explaining them in more detail, and giving people a chance to ask some questions.

It’s on Monday July 28th at 11am. You can sign up at the link below.

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1958729747205688577

Think Digital

I’ve found myself banging on a lot recently at events and other engagements about pretty much the same stuff.

It’s what organisations need to do to grasp the digital opportunity – but which isn’t about actual tools on the internet. At least, not just about that.

Embedded below is the first attempt I have made to write it up. I would really welcome feedback on this. If you can’t see the embed, download the PDF direct here.

The strategy graph

I rather like this diagram that appeared in a post talking about Microsoft (which is well worth reading in and of itself).

strategy-graph

It describes all the elements that make up what an organisation is and does. At the top, there are fewer words and they don’t change very often. At the moment, there are a lot more words and they are subject to regular change.

Strikes me as being a useful model to use to think about this stuff.