If you were having people to your house for dinner, they would most likely arrive to find a beautifully set table, delicious food simmering on the stove, and a warm greeting at the door.
Sadly, too often we neglect to provide this same level of care and planning when sharing information in our Yammer groups. Maybe that is only because sharing information in Yammer feels so incredibly easy.
For instance, to create a new group, simply click on the “Create a New Group” link in the lower left hand corner of the page, give the group a name, indicate whether you want the group to be public to everyone in the network, or private to a smaller team, click OK, and you are all set to go. To share information in Yammer, just make a post, or upload a file to a group file library, and that information is visible for everyone to see.
It’s easy! It’s very easy. OK, maybe it’s too easy.
Making a website is much harder. We must first learn the technology (Joomla, Drupal, WordPress), then we must consider the information we want to share. How many pages should we create? What should be on each page? How will people navigate around? Where will resources be found? How will the search capability work? What will the branding of the site look like? Even a small website can require months and months of planning. Difficult though creating a website may be, meaningful benefit is realized because how information will be made easily available to site visitors must be carefully planned.
Too often, when information is shared in Yammer, it is done without a well considered communication plan. A group is created, a post is made, and frustration ensues when people are not engaging in conversation and resources are not being downloaded.
However, if before that information is shared, just a little thought is given to how that information will be presented, our chances for success will increase exponentially.
1. Don’t formally launch your group unless there is a group image, a group description, helpful information in the Info box, files and links listed in Network Resources, related groups, resources in the file library, and a few posts to inspire conversation.
2. Take a close look at the files in the file library. Are the files named clearly? Does the name of the file you really want people to read look something like “LG Health Eval. – 2017V2b no edits.docx?” If so, change it. Change it now so it is shorter, easier to read, and easier for people to determine what information they will find when they click on the file name. Perhaps the file could instead be called “Health Insurance Evaluation.docx.”
3. While we are talking about files, be sure to attach topics (hashtags). This may feel like an unnecessary step. but having a well thought out taxonomy for topics will make the information easier to find, organize and share. Planning topics is often easier if they are thought of in terms of file folders. If Yammer offered file folders, what would be the names of the folders the file would be stored in? Those might make for good topics. For our “Health Insurance Evaluation.docx” file, maybe use the topics #HealthInsurance, #PlanEvaluation, and #2017.
4. When your group is open for people to join, make sure people are aware the group exists. When people are invited into the group, tag them in conversations and resources. Send an email out with a direct link to the group. Make sure they understand what is being shared and discussed, and why.
5. Don’t be discouraged by a lack of activity. A new space takes time. Trust needs to be built, and the platform needs to be learned. Give it time, nurture your group and nurture your users.
Plan your dinner party well, and enjoy the meal. By the time the night is over, everyone will have had a good meal, and they will want to come back for more.