“How can we get people motivated about using Yammer without using any authority? How to ignite the flame and probably even more important, how to keep it burning?” One of the questions being asked by a participant in the week online prior to the webinar with Allison Michels, change management and training analyst at Yammer.

Allison’s response: “Give them reasons to keep sharing. Answer “What’s in it for THEM”. Start small and get a win. Showcase the win to other teams and move team/group to group. It’s a bottom up AND top down approach. You need the groundswell of contributors BUT you also need a nod from the top as well.” And probably this is one of the key questions using social media tools for internal knowledge sharing we all try to address in practice.

Before we dive into the content of the webinar, let’s share the process we used to learn together. On the 27the of March, we had a webinar planned with Allison Michels, meant for people interested in using Yammer for learning purposes. With an interactive webinar in mind, focusing on participants’s questions, who thought of a way to involve people beforehand. For previous webinars, we experimented with a blogpost and inviting participants to respond on that prior to the webinar. That works very well, but we were up to something new. This time, we came up with the idea of using Yammer to facilitate the exchange and get our learning process started already on that platform. Allison was enthusiastic about the idea and was very much willing to join. Great! In the days leading up to the webinar, she posted tips, facts, questions and lots of answers. And the conversation was guided by a ‘Today’s Topic’:  security, Yammer-trivia, following, groups, using Yammer in existing training programs and facilitating a Yamjam. How did this work? So much happened in the days before the webinar. We got to know each other a bit, participants were experimenting with Yammer, asking questions related to their own practice, thinking along with each other, links to valuable blogposts and video’s were shared. And we, unintentionally, ‘made’ the agenda for the webinar together.

“How to get these colleagues into the routine of visiting and using Yammer??” Allison: “I think a way to do this is by making Yammer a content hub. With lot’s of Yammer only updates and content. But for that to be successful there should be some commitment from the participants. Another way to do this is by making Yammer the place where certain key-activities should be done. Whatever these activities may be.”

Some key points from the webinar with Allison Michels:

  • Don’t be scared of social. It’s not that hard.
  • Don’t be afraid to play.
  • Avoid the ‘fire hose’ syndrome: join groups that are most relevant to you.
  • Bring awareness to the c-suite (CEO, management) about importance of being online – share the success of how their organization is already being social and how it’s working.
  • Bring Yammer and other social tools into the workflow of your organization – don’t reinvent the wheel: evaluate current processes and see where Yammer could fit.
  • Must be driven by business, and not by IT.
  • Build a team of influencers: ySquad, Yambassadors, LoneNutes
  • Help your organization to build a decision tree of when to post what and where – make it easy for people to know when you use which communication tool.

As we are, Allison is a patron of facilitating online knowledge sharing as well. What would be the role of the online facilitator? Start a conversation by posting weekly. Be a thought leader. Ask the ‘hard’ questions. Continue to create a positive environment. Help others solve problems. And hold a Yamjam. It was a great webinar, with a lot of energy and enthusiasm by the participants and by Allison.

After such an intense knowledge sharing process, it would be a little abrupt to end our process with the webinar. And also as a way to capture our afterthoughts, we used Yammer for some discussion afterwards. Allison posted three questions around leadership (one of the key topics that came out of the conversation in the webinar as so important to think of….) and she started a poll for some evaluation. Although interaction online was much less after the webinar then before, it was valuable to have the opportunity to meet each other online for some time.

Want to read more? Here are some interesting links about Yammer and learning/training:

Is your training social?

Training people how to use Yammer.

Livebinder with a collection valuable video’s about Yammer.

How to use Yammer for project management.

Allison Michels op Twitter.