Last week, we (Ensoné) presented at the Yammer Ignite Prague re-delivery organized by Microsoft Belgium. The reason I’m writing this blog post is because we actually managed to use Yammer to boost our event. (Funny: “An event about Yammer, on Yammer”) We succeeded in our mission! With 20 participants, we had more than 100 conversations, 250 replies and 200 likes in just one day!
The magic of enterprise social networking happens when you can use online and offline elements to interact with each other. We hosted the Yammer event where we aimed to cover as many content as we could in that limited time. You can’t talk about everything, especially if you dive a bit deeper into “enabling engagement”, talk about SSO and some more technical goodies like the REST API’s, licensing (Office 365, Yammer Enterprise.. you know!), …
What we wanted to achieve was really simple. We needed a collaboration platform for the event. Why? It’s not about “raising your hand and asking a question“, it’s more than that:
- People are shy, and definitely here in Belgium. If you don’t believe me, ask other conference speakers about the enthusiastic audience! An enterprise social network has a low barrier, so it’s really easy to ask your question.
- Interrupting the speaker is off course allowed, but as I mentioned before, there was a lot of content to be handled that day. So the more interruptions, the less content. It’s as simple as that.
- We needed a place where we could gather feedback during and after the event. On Yammer, you have something like a ‘Poll‘, where we can ask questions to the attendees like “how helpful was this session?“. This is a good metrics for us, the organizers of the event.
- We wanted an archive for us, but also for the attendees. At events, when someone’s asking an interesting question followed by a decent answer, you definitely need to keep track of that. Either by writing it down, or just keep it in your memory. If it’s on an enterprise social network, people have a place where they can consult information this information when they’re back at home.
- The social aspect: Getting to know fellow attendees! On Yammer, everyone (should) have profile picture. You also have additional profile information like the company that person is working for. On an enterprise social network, it’s a typical behavior to follow people so you can easily get in touch with them.
- An enterprise social network provides the functionality of uploading files and additional information to the network. Attendees have a single place where they can consult this information. Gone are the days of sending emails with links to the location where the slide decks are uploaded.
- Include external people (Yammer or Microsoft people). If there was a question where we, as a partner, didn’t have enough information, we could easily invite the correct people to answer the question!
Create an External Network in Yammer. An external network is basically an online workspace to collaborate with people outside of your company’s Yammer network. On your home network, click the “Create a new network” link on the left sidebar. Just follow those 3 steps:
Be sure to select the correct permissions. If you select “Open‘, people will be able to invite other members. So if we’re talking about a private/exclusive event or training with content that may not be shared, select the “Closed” option. That way, only you (or other admins of the network-to-be) can invite other members.
It depends how many attendees you have for your event or training. In our case, we decided to send an “invite” the day before the event. Half of the attendees accepted the invite in less the 30 minutes! Don’t send it too far in advance, because people will tend to “forget” to accept the invite as the event is still far away in time.
To invite people, click on the ‘Add‘ button where you can enter the email addresses:
Note: At the keynote, we took some time for the attendees who didn’t had to chance to accept their invite to let them connect to the network.
Next to that, think about a nice on-boarding experience. What do you want your visitors to experience when they accept the invite to join your network? If there’s absolutely no content, people will simply close the browser. Instead, make sure that there is a nice welcome message with some additional information about the network for example the goal of the network, some practical information like the time and the location of the event/training. It’s just about those small things that will make the attendee feel comfortable.
In the keynote, we presented “2 simple Yammer Rules”.
- Use Yammer as much as possible!
- Make use of the topic’s feature. We introduced two topics: “Question” and “Answer“. If there was a question, attendees added the “Question” topic. The person who answered the question replaced the topic with “Answer”. If the answer was not suitable for that question, or it was not relevant, the topic could be replaced to “Question” again. (just like the Stack Overflow answer-mechanism works)
The results were impressive. 100 conversations, 250 replies and 200 likes in just one day! Of course is not about the numbers (quantitative) but also about the quality of the conversations (qualitative). Let me use a piece of an interesting blog post of Peter Van Hees to explain:
Quantitative vs. Qualitative Actions
It’s important to understand that there are 2 types of measurements in Yammer:
- The “Quantitative” measurements simply focus on counting occurrences of a specific action. The most basic example would be to measure the frequency a user connects to Yammer: how many times has the user accessed the platform in the last day, week or month?
- The “Qualitative” measurements concentrate on the quality of a specific action. The easiest example is a user posting a new profile picture in Yammer; is it a good quality, recent and professional picture?
If you use an automated solution, it’s easy to perform the quantitative measurements. The qualitative measurements are challenging. In order to address this, it’s important to train your Yammer Community Managers . The goal is define mechanisms – for example using topics – to ensure that qualitative information is identified manually, which can then be measured automatically.
People were asking some interesting questions like:
Something that I would additionally like to mention is YammerFall. This is third party application that displays a feed of live Yammer messages. As people followed the sessions they posted questions to the Yammer network, and they were displayed on a second projector in the room.
Note: At this time of writing, YammerFall is offline. It was actually developed by a Yammer employee who left the company, and they are now re-writing some pieces. So expect an update soon!
We’ve had some positive feedback about the usage of Yammer at the Yammer ignite event. We uploaded all slide decks and decided to keep the network open for the next 3 months. People are actually still posting questions to the network which is a good thing!
If you decide to use Yammer yourself at an event or a training, you will not disappointed!