For the last two weeks, I’ve been head down tapping away on my keyboard creating a Community Managers Program for a client’s Learning and Development team. Although I cannot share the details of how I created this or what elements I used to do so in the blog due to confidentiality, it’s been an opportunity to get back into Yammer and revisit this social networking platform. (However if you follow me on Snapchat you can see snaps where I talk today about creating business metrics for communities. Scan the code below and check it out as it will be ‘live’ for next 24 hours).
Many may recall that when I was a salaried employee, I used Yammer as my main tool for working, connecting and learning to share my work and learning openly and publicly across the organisation I was working for at the time. I used it as a way to tap into various parts of our business, to start conversations with people who could help me in my own work and to understand my part in the overall organisational strategy. At the time, there were thriving and robust discussion and collaboration happening in the Yammer groups and newsfeeds so there was always something new to learn every day. It also helped that more people were joining Yammer every day due to the constant campaigning efforts and senior leaders who were also using, espousing and role modelling its use.
Yammer was always open on my PC. It was the first place and the last place I visited every day. Meanwhile, my email application usually remained closed for most of the day.
Working like this had its ups and downs. Namely, there were some people who simply wasn’t across what I was doing in my work because they weren’t on Yammer. (For example, there was doubling up with having to send hefty documents via email to them. My solution to this was sending the URLs to where these documents and the conversations were around them in Yammer. Some found this action annoying because I was forcing them to change their behaviour which they did not appreciate. It wasn’t as simple as opening a document in an email. Others found it useful because at a glance, they could see the commentary that went with the document without having to trawl through many emails).
Since then, Yammer has undergone many changes and although I still have people ask me, “is it still relevant after Microsoft got rid of it?” my answer is still the same.
The value you get out of any social networking platform is dependent on the value of the conversations and the people that are in it for your particular professional or personal development needs at the time.
Ever since I left the organisation, my use of Yammer waned. Even though I joined various Yammer networks such as O365 and specific Yammer training groups, I was accessing it irregularly over time, only checking when I needed to find a particular answer or person I needed to speak to. My interests moved to the open social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and now Snapchat as well as some closed groups such as specific communities like the Change Agents Worldwide who use SocialCast and others who are using Slack.
To me, the platform or tool is really quite irrelevant, it’s the quality and value of the people and conversations that are helping me support my own work and learning which is the key. At some point, communities reach their use by date for you and it’s time to move on.
However, too often we don’t even get to that point!
Instead, we find convenient excuses and reasons to continue doing what we’ve always been doing. Rather than investing a small amount of time to learn the tool, share our work through it, inspire others to contribute and participate solving a workplace problem together, or just even TRY IT OUT, we shrug our shoulders because it’s easier and quicker to do what we’ve always done.
“No one’s on it so why should I?”
“I don’t have time to learn it.”
“When I see my manager using it, I’ll start using it. Until then, I’m sticking to email.”
“There’s only a few of the same people using it, and I don’t want to associate with them”
“People are sharing photos of what they had for lunch. How is that related to my work?”
“Yammer’s a fad. Wait until something else comes along, everyone will jump on that. Why would I bother wasting my time?”
“I joined up but then I got hundreds of emails and notifications in my inbox that I panicked and deleted the account!”
“My boss thinks I’m wasting my time on it.”
So this week, as I run the webinars for the Community Managers Program, I am recalling these convenient excuses and incorporating these into my work because Community Managers will need to respond to these objections from the business if they already haven’t been thinking of these secretly themselves. I know I certainly did in my early years when I rattled off exactly the same excuses until I realised one thing… that the social networking community will never be given the chance at the onset with this thinking anyway.
Isn’t it time to change our thinking? After all, that’s the root of the entire problem.