My first encounter with Yammer was when our FlatLabs mentor told us to create an account on it to have our own private discussions area, I followed her advice and created an account for Elam team and started inviting them. We never used it again after.
I didn’t see a difference between it and the secret Facebook group we were using to have our sort of fun/social discussions related to work (I know Facebook is distracting when it comes to work) but this is what we thought back then.
Now things changed, Yammer Joined Microsoft, I joined Microsoft too, and then I had my account on Yammer and had to use it. Let’s admit, it is much better now than when I joined it first time, things are working better and the product looks cool, but I still didn’t find a need to use it, and I wasn’t very happy when I was responsible to increase engagement of our subsidiary and co-workers on it.
We tried different things, competitions and riddles, posting exclusive content, cancelling the internal mailing lists for non-important stuff (Yes we have that) and other techniques. All of this and I still feel no need to use it.
Why? I don’t know, maybe because I think social and work don’t mix! Maybe because I want to post memes and comics like Googlers (They have internal memes generator and comics intranet), but I can’t do that at Microsoft (No obvious rule, but not sure of the reaction). Or maybe because I wasn’t motivated enough to see the usefulness of the product!
Yammer reminds me a lot of twitter, 40% of twitter users never tweeted, and many of the people I know signed up for twitter, didn’t understand it, left it, and few months after, they came back and started using it. What people do on Yammer is a bit similar, yet for people like me I never came back.
And these are my top 3 reasons Social means the people I love, and Yammer doesn’t encourage me to invest in finding the people I am interested in at work. Unlike for example something like Quora which tries to make you follow people and topics you are interested in which drives you to come back. There is no encouragement to make me share content and invest in my profile on Yammer.
The mailing/notifications system does not drive engagement with other users and especially the people I am following. What I am thinking? Focus at the beginning on making me follow the people I am interested in.
There is always a minimum amount of investment users must do to be committed/addicted to a product, for example people start using twitter after following 25 people. That’s why it keeps pushing you in the beginning to follow more people.
One way to do this is by using the company hierarchy which Yammer already know, it can suggest other people in my department, subsidiary, or people responsible for things I am interested in (e.g. Windows Phone). I think it is the current way.
A better way to do it is by creating an outlook plugin that fetches the emails of the people I interact with at work, since outlook is the repository of all the work interactions, then people I talk to will definitely be in one of my email folders. It can also be a built in feature in outlook that works if the company has Yammer.
This will also make sorting those people in terms of relevance easier since Yammer will know how many times I interacted with them. To drive posting & engagement Make questions and asking for help separate. I don’t have a scientific analysis of what people post on their Yammer feed but I see a lot of the posts fall into the categories of “question” or “seeking help”, I see separating those two options from the normal post type will increase engagement as they trigger the “helping people” motivation.
Plus they will encourage newbies to post and if they got help and answers they will be very satisfied with the product. Fix the mailing system Update me with what the people I am following are doing, especially if they posted links. I suggest making this daily and preferably 7 AM so people can read the articles before starting work. And please don’t post the link in plain text, add the title, thumbnail, and caption of the link to drive clicks.
Trending Posts: It is important to show me the timely relevant posts posted either by people I follow, in groups, or company wide. Trending posts can be determined by number of people commented/# of people saw the post in X time since it was posted or any other way.
In big companies like Microsoft, give me the ability to follow topics, and get new suggestions for groups based on topics. I love Windows Phone and I know there are a lot of great people working on it who interact daily on Yammer, but I don’t know where they are and how to join them. Please make following topics possible. Emoticons, Emoji’s, Gifs, and Memes. We are humans at the end of the day.
Remove the praising feature, I feel it is the Yammer version of Facebook Poke. Make the design neat. It feels 90s. You can hire Ashraf. I did not want to make the post very long speaking about Gamification, but I still see it as another way we can improve Yammer and make it better in the same context of what I mentioned earlier.
Badges and ladder for: Following the minimum number of people that makes Yammer addictive. Points and badges for helping others and answering their questions. Points and badges for posting the most interesting content based on users’ feedback (likes/comments/shares/clicks…etc). Mayorships of groups for being most helpful/useful…etc. Colors representing the Yammer ranking of each user. And telling users what to do to move to the next level.
That’s it for today! Until next time…