This is a reflection on Yammer, an enterprise social media system. It’s a kind of Facebook for corporations and organisations. Yammer works using your work eMail address. Register with Yammer using your eMail and you are in a space with your co-workers. Yammer is owned by Microsoft and run from their Office division, so you might reasonably expect Yammer to come to a Trust near you in the not too distant future.
Why is Yammer important?
Yammer itself is not really that earth shattering. If you run a library Twitter account, Facebook page or website then you already know enough about social media to grasp Yammer. The big difference is that in an active Yammer environment you will find your target audience. The kind of target audience you might struggle to attract to Facebook and Twitter. It’s the difference between shouting your message on the street outside your office building hoping to catch some passing trade or shouting it to a room full of colleagues inside the building. This is new.
They key features of Yammer can be found on the Microsoft Yammer promotional web page here [ https://products.office.com/en-gb/yammer/yammer-features ]. Broadly they are Groups. For example NWAS LKS is a Yammer group. Conversations that take place within Yammer. Other social forms of communication, such as private messaging, sharing links and liking posts. You can upload files in all the common formats and share them in Yammer. You can also create a reasonably detailed personal profile with links and contact details. Group pages can include links pinned to the margin.
Yammer is an opportunity
Depending on the IT environment you work in Yammer is an opportunity to build an interactive environment that you control with rudimentary content management facilities. So if you run your own Library website it might just be an addenda to your social media offering. If you just have a static webpage on the corporate intranet or extranet it’s going to be a revelation.
Yammer does let you see for the first time the conversations that are going on in your organisation. It’s a very good source of intelligence to supplement the usual sources of information. There are opportunities to contribute from a professional point of view if you pick up an information gap or information need.
Yammer can also let you create groups to address specific needs. It’s easy to set up a Yammer group and invite people to contribute. Much easier for example to form a Yammer group for an ongoing discussion that to arrange a meeting. In geographically dispersed organisations this is a real enabler. In other words you can do things that would be too difficult to do face to face.
Is there any good practice out there?
It maybe that if you use Yammer already or another enterprise social media you can share some best practice. NWAS LKS can’t claim best practice but we have done the obvious things with Yammer.
So far NWAS LKS has created a home Group for the library and is a partner in contributing to a Research Group. The NWAS LKS Group is where the library posts daily to the NWAS LKS group of c130 members. It’s a good place to push out links and documents, not so much for interaction yet. The group is a work in progress, part blog, part file store and part noticeboard.
The other group NWAS LKS is involved with is the Research Group, was created working with a research colleague. The Research Group reaches across the organisation and at all levels from Diploma to Postgraduate. It’s gained some traction, about 60 plus members from a standing start. The Libraries contribution has been to post short articles on research methods and searching, and as far as possible to be active in discussions, posting links and supporting comments. This is in part to meet an emerging role to support research.
NWAS LKS can’t take any credit for this but the NWAS Librarian is a Yambassador, whose role is to welcome new members and to be a source of encouragement and advice. Put like this is sounds a lot like being a Librarian!
Learning points for early adopters
There are some fairly obvious learning points. They won’t knock your socks off but you have to pay attention to these to when you get started to get embedded in Yammer.
#1 You have to be in it to win it
It pays to get in early and to be an active user. There is a first mover advantage here. If you are already a fixture as a Group, new users will gravitate towards you as they begin to join in. It’s also gives a positive impression that the Library as innovative and willing to join in support of colleagues.
#2 Join in as many conversations as you can
Everyone likes a response to, or recognition of their contribution. It’s easy to generate goodwill by joining in with colleagues conversations. You hope they will reciprocate by joining in with you as well.
#3 Integrate with Twitter (and other social media if you know how)
It is possible to use IFTTT (and possibly by other means) to integrate your Twitter feed with your Yammer Library Group using a #hashtag. This offers the option to save time and generate content though two (Twitter and Yammer) social media channels.
#4 Master the technology
It’s not that hard to do but if you claim expertise in social media you are going to be up against some very clever colleagues who will be pushing the boundaries of the technology. You need to stay one step ahead of them. Invest some time in getting to know Yammer in depth. Features, settings and so on.
#5 Use Yammer as a management tool
With Yammer the medium is also the message. Using Yammer to manage teams or communication with user groups gives you experience with Yammer as a tool and an example to demonstrates its value to others.