Yammer is a fantastic tool that is increasingly used by internal communications as part of their digital communication tool set. Yammer is not primarily designed for use by internal communicators, it’s actually a social collaboration platform that everyone can use, but it allows for a more personal and informal approach to communication.
Yammer offers strong opportunities to drive an informal and impactful approach to messaging, particularly for leaders. It also allows you to engage staff through dialogue and asking for feedback, an element particularly important for some engagement-led campaigns. Yammer can further boost more formal messaging on other channels such as your intranet.
In this article, we’re going to look at seven tips for using Yammer that can help internal communicators get the best out of the tool.
Work out how Yammer fits with your other digital channels
Yammer is a versatile tool that can be used for internal communications, engagement, gathering feedback, Q&As, employee resource groups, Communities of Practice and more. Because it is so flexible, it really helps to define how it relates to the other digital communication channels you have at your fingertips, and in particular what it brings to your digital communications strategy. Spending some time to define how internal communicators can best use Yammer for messaging or to amplify items on other channels can help everybody get the best out of it.
One way to do this is to define a digital communications matrix that sets out message type, purpose and intended audience, and matches these to the best tools to use. For example, perhaps Yammer is the best place for peer shout-outs and targeting success stories to specific groups, while also amplifying more formal communications that are on your intranet. By giving some thought to the detail, you can encourage effective Yammer usage.
Encourage participation and dialogue
Although Yammer is not really a formal IC channel, it can be a very effective way to get people to engage with themes and topics in an informal and natural way that often resonates better than more traditional, ‘corporate’ news. For example, if your CEO wants to get a message across about a topic like sustainability, wellbeing or purpose, then this could work well as a Yammer discussion. During the pandemic, a more discursive, empathetic and informal approach to some employees’ communications has worked consistently well. Yammer also creates the possibility of dialogue – a far more engaging and valuable communication process that delivers useful insights for leaders.
Integrate Yammer across Microsoft 365
One huge advantage of Yammer is that it’s part of Microsoft 365, making it super easy to integrate with other 365 tools such as Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. This not only makes it easier for employees to access Yammer from multiple places within your digital workplace, but also means you can present Yammer threads and messages in context with other content. For example, you can embed a Yammer feed from a particular group as a tab in a relevant Teams space, or into an appropriate SharePoint page on your intranet.
Integrating Yammer with other Microsoft 365 tools is a powerful tactic for internal communications because it not only means messages are more likely to be read because they are directly in the flow of work, but you can also add value to Yammer conversations themselves. For example, if you have an engagement-led campaign around some themed content, an embedded Yammer feed can work well on the relevant SharePoint intranet page.
Use hashtags and @mentions
Never forget that Yammer is a social tool, so you can use hashtags and @mentions to help broaden message and conversation reach, bringing key people into the discussion and allowing employees to follow specific themes. You can use hashtags centred around different topics to drive hashtag campaigns and encourage more people to communicate, and you can display discussion feeds based on individual hashtags.
For example, if you were building an engagement campaign around customer service, you could ask people to contribute their customer success stories using the hashtag #keepthecustomersatisfied. You could then compile a Yammer feed of all posts with that hashtag on a thread displayed in the customer service area of your intranet.
Work out your Yammer groups for internal communications
Yammer is designed to be an organic platform that evolves naturally with employee need; it is intended to allow people to create new groups quickly and easily. When you want to use Yammer as a core IC channel, you generally need to take a more structured approach to creating the right group to match messaging needs. For example, you might want to create a specific all-company feed for news and announcements, and match key groups for specific communications targeted to different locations and divisions. You may also want to create specific groups for less formal types of communication like employee and peer shout-outs and success stories, or have themed channels around your company values.
When you create these Yammer groups, another element to consider will be whether some or even all employees are entered into these groups by default so they can automatically view the messages posted.
One tip is not to create too many Yammer groups, as this can cause confusion and make it harder to find the right discussions.
Keep governance light
When you use Yammer for internal communications, you can expect to receive opinions and reactions. This is one of the strengths of the platform, and you want to generally make sure you keep any governance of Yammer light so it doesn’t impede people’s ability to access or post messages.
A few years ago, when Yammer and enterprise social networks were less mature, it made some risk-averse stakeholders nervous about misuse. Actually, the overwhelming experience of Yammer usage is that you can trust employees when using it. Generally, the only pieces of governance you need to have in place are:
- Making sure all contributions are attributable with no anonymous posting
- Making sure there is a process to report misuse or questionable posts, with clarity about what happens subsequently
- Having a social media usage policy that people have to sign up to
- Having a clear owner and admin for each group.
With these steps in place, you minimise the risk of misuse. Some of these, like assigned group admins, are built into the management of the platform.
Coach your leaders
Yammer can be an excellent tool for leadership communications, allowing your C-suite and senior management team to deliver more informal and personal communications, as well as interact with employees. Here, senior leaders can get a real impression of employee sentiment which can be both insightful and refreshing. Certain formats such as sharing videos, seeking feedback and even organising Ask Me Anything sessions can all work.
Interacting on Yammer doesn’t always come naturally for senior leaders, so it’s worth spending time coaching your leaders to give them the know-how and confidence to communicate on the platform. When they are comfortable, it can genuinely revolutionise the way they communicate with employees. In turn, these good habits and behaviours can trickle down to other layers of management for even wider impact.
Yammer for internal communicators
Yammer is an excellent tool for both employees and internal communicators, and we hope you’ve found these tips useful. If you’d like to discuss how Yammer fits in with your digital communication strategy, then get in touch!