Drawing on SWOOP’s research, and our own experience and case studies, here are some top tips to help drive leadership engagement with Yammer.

According to research from SWOOP into how Yammer is used, one common trait of high-performing businesses is having senior leadership active on the platform.

Where do you start with building senior team engagement?

Having leaders active on the platform signals permission to be there, so select a visible and charismatic leader and get them involved right from the start.

Invest in a systematic training approach, showing them exactly how to do things on Yammer. Start with simple but highly impactful actions like Praising.

Can you “teach” someone to be good on social platforms? 

Undoubtedly, YES! Leaders are often nervous or think they can’t do it – after all, it’s often a very different way of communicating for them. Convince them that it isn’t a Yammer problem, it’s a business problem over what to say. Help them to learn what sort of things to talk about. What keeps them awake at night? What questions do senior leaders have? Be prepared to seed the conversations.

Make it less daunting and timetable a regular 30-minute hand-holding session. Curate a list of topics and posts (from Yammer) that might be worth them commenting on or adding to the conversation.

Leaders worry that it’s all too time consuming and they won’t be able to deal with the responses and questions and challenges that could arise.  

Reassure them that on social platforms like Yammer, you can share ideas without any expectation of further involvement and certainly not an expectation of immediate response. Remind them that most set piece leadership events are hugely demanding on time and resources, but Yammer can give visibility and build engagement in moments.

Try to make Yammer part of the everyday, just part of the job. Little and often.

Let them see that everyone is equal on Yammer and this level playing field makes it easy for people to take part in conversations that they may not be as comfortable doing face to face. Visibility on Yammer means they are not strangers when they do meet at site visits or events.

How can I help our leaders keep up their Yammer activity?

Set some realistic expectations to start with. Perhaps start with a weekly expectation of 1 x post; 1 x praise; 2 x comments and 3 x likes.

Introduce each activity one at a time: start with Likes, Praises, then Comments, then @mentions and Hashtags. Or find a specific use case that lends itself to a particular action. As an example, using an @mention is an excellent way to help the onboarding process of a new hire, or to single someone out for recognition or particular expertise. Research shows that posts with @mentions generate 73% more responses – it’s a powerful way to draw specific people into conversations.

How do you educate colleagues about the appropriate use of a social platform?

First and foremost, make it clear what the platform is for and what it is not for. In particular, make the purpose of each group clear.

Decide what the right balance for your business is between work and non-work groups. It’s still about connecting people so as long as the purpose of groups is clear, having a mix is healthy.

Be prepared to moderate, move or delete posts if absolutely necessary and speak to individuals who are not posting appropriately.

What do you do when someone asks a question you would rather not have been asked publicly?

Embrace the opportunity to respond with the facts and leadership authority to close the conversation down.

Don’t ignore it! Encourage the right person to respond and suggest an alternative and more appropriate forum to have the conversation.

As a community manager, how can I best support leaders on Yammer?

Don’t dominate. Get good at tagging the right people, drawing leaders into conversations, suggesting opportunities for leaders to post, praise and comment.

Provide them with useful analytics so they can see for themselves the impact they are having.

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Marc Wright, simplycommunicate founder & consultant

Marc started his career in television. He wrote and produced the drama 20 Steps to Better Business for the BBC, and his passion for the way organisations work led him to run a series of agencies including Crown and MCA which was sold to WPP in 2001. He is author of the Gower Handbook of Internal Communications and is a former President of IABC EMENA. He founded simplycommunicate in 2005.