Does Yammer Work For Mid-Size Companies?
“Your first month is almost behind you! Nice!” -a comment to a new employee on our Yammer home network.
The quick answer is yes, Yammer does work for mid-size companies. Source: The mid-size company I work for.
But what does “yes, it works” really mean?
Well, here’s our perspective, and some of the following is paraphrased from my own comment left on this blog:
We’re a growing, global training company with still fewer than 300 people. When we launched Yammer in 2014, we definitely had fewer than that.
Here’s what we use our Yammer Home Network for:
-Small projects among core teams.
-Large projects among multiple teams.
-Updates from departments.
-Learning who we work with beyond job titles and org charts.
The majority of our groups are public to allow for open collaboration.
We successfully launched a School Bullying Prevention campaign on our website and social media, with all of our files, planning, and conversations accessed through a public Yammer group.
We have a Photography group that our traveling trainers fill with stunning pictures of what they see all over the world.
We have an Objections group where our sales people post the challenging things prospective customers say, and brainstorm on responses.
We also have a Classifieds group where employees can buy, sell, or give away just about anything (I saw a burial plot offered for $8000). I did not buy the burial plot, but I did acquire this little charmer:
Yet I do believe a key facet to Yammer’s success depends on what happens offline. We’re all people using this and any other platform, not numbers. Our CEO has an open-door policy that’s actually true. Yammer supplements this by being just as open and accessible.
So if your company culture already allows for or is willing to try open collaboration, with its corollary of transparency, then Yammer will reflect that. When your employees see that it’s okay to talk about what they’re doing, from challenges to successes, you wind up encouraging and nurturing thought leadership, innovation, culture change, your org’s competitiveness, and much more. (And Scott Ward can tell you much more about what capital “L” leaders do in this realm of digital transformation and change management.)
But wait, there’s more!
“I’m new to your training and this Yammer network, and just reading through these first discussions, I’m more convinced than ever that your training is the missing link for parents and professionals supporting our children, youth, and adults with special health needs.” -a post by a customer on our Yammer External Network
We also use a Yammer External Network among our customer base. Currently we have just a bit less than 7000 global members.
When we started out, we totally had a different view of what our customers would use Yammer for! So many of them feel isolated in their companies, districts, or regions; for privacy, compliance, and a whole host of other reasons, we don’t provide lists of who’s where.
But if they themselves want to self-identify, that’s within their own purview. So we thought they’d use the platform primarily as a “Hey, I’m in Guam, you’re in Guam too!” or “We attended the same training class in 2016 on X date in Y location, remember me?”
Plus, you know, they’re busy saving lives, so initially there was a whole lot of “We built it, but will they come?” lurking in the forefront of our minds as we finished our soft launch and rolled it out for real.
Here’s what our customers use our Yammer External Network for:
-They brainstorm on training techniques.
-They help each other with specific challenges among staff and the populaces they serve.
-They share challenge-to-success stories that they don’t even think of as the most thrilling story ever* but just as them doing their jobs. *We back at HQ think these are the most thrilling stories ever.
-They champion each other as “walking the talk” through commitment to our mission and philosophy.
The secondary, natural byproduct of this Yammer External Network? Actual networking.
We do see the folks from Guam (there are two!) react in pleased surprise. We do have both a French Canadian and a French group for their respective speakers. They organize offline meetings and come back to Yammer to discuss results and next steps. But my eyeballs and analytics show that our busy customers are there to get what they need to get on with what they do.
I ran a survey late last year, and overwhelmingly found that because of this Yammer network, our customers not only felt more confident in their skills and knowledge, but felt closer to our company, looking on us as a community ourselves, not just a vendor.
Another great result for us is a wealth of customer insight that we can turn back around by producing resources they need.
Such has been my experience since 2014. I’ve often heard and seen it said that Yammer only works for much larger companies. It’s great to look into the future and know that Yammer will continue to work well for us when we also become a larger company!