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WHEN SOCIAL TOOLS GO VIRAL IN
A YAMMER CASE STORY
Senior Innovation Manager
According to research from Gartner (2011), most
social media initiatives fail due to a host of
misconceptions…the worst being ‘provide & pray’.
However, the public domain is full with one-sided
and sometimes rather hyped reports on how
quickly social tools spread in organizations and
how many positive effects they brought about.
Critical reports with detailed analysis and
reflection seem rare.
This encouraged me to share the story of how
Yammer spread virally until its discontinuation in
our organization in 2011.
The lessons learned back then guide our work
today and are hopefully of use for others.
MOTIVATION FOR SHARING
half-empty or half-full?
The viral spread of Yammer in Novozymes was an episode
which left mixed expriences behind:
On the one hand, many new users embraced the tool
quickly as a new way of networking and knowledge-
sharing and almost all posted content was work-related.
Good practice on how to increase signal and reduce noise
started to spread.
On the other hand, many new users seemed to remain in
the initial state of confusion about the high-density traffic
in the company newsfeed. Good ‘social practice’ on how
to filter relevant content or how to follow relevant people
did apparently not spread sufficiently during the short
duration of the episode.
Eventually, a decision was made to discontinue the use of
Yammer in its free version due to concerns on content
access and ownership.
The lesson learned regarding adoption is simple:
In a case of such viral spread an organization has to
decide quickly: either to jump the bandwaggon and
provide guidance & training to enable sustainable
adoption or to stop the spread immediatelly. Otherwise
one may end up with a split-perception dilemna which will
pose a challenge fo future initiatives to introduce social
tools in a proper way.
YAMMER WENT FROM ‘GRASS ROOTS TO VIRAL’ IN
NOVOZYMES BETWEEN MAY AND JUNE 2011
Plateau reached in July:
Decision to discontinue Yammer in its free-of-charge version.
VIRAL SPREAD – HAPPY OR NOT?
THE LEVEL OF SOCIAL READINESS IN YOUR
SOME DISCOVERED THEIR PASSION & TALENT
FOR SOCIAL AND REACHED OUT…
BUT MANY OTHERS FELT AS IF IT WAS RAINING
RADIOS, PLAYING ALL CHANNELS AT THE SAME TIME
AND AT FULL BLAST
ESSENTIALLY IT CAME DOWN TO LEARNING
HOW TO TUNE YOUR SOCIAL RADIO!
LOTS OF NOISE, LITTLE SIGNAL
MANY POSTS IN NOISY CATEGORIES…AND
LITTLE IN DEDICATED GROUPS
”WELCOME TO YAMMER!”:
IN COMPANY NEWSFEED:
…AND FEW THREADED OR INFORMATION-RICH POSTS
OR WITH HASHTAGS:
POSTS WITH EMBEDDED
CONTENT (URL or ATTACH.):
THE MAJORITY OF REAL CONTENT POSTS DEALT WITH
IT & Communication
R&D, IT and Communications topics were most frequent. Although no official
guidance on intended use was given, we observed that most people used
Yammer in a work-related and professional context. They exchanged insights,
shared knowledge and connected across the organization and across sites.
Science & Technology
ALL TOP TOPICS WERE WORK-RELATED
Yes, even ‘indian-restaurants’ was work-related since it adressed an increasing
need of Danish managers to build high-performance teams with new Indian
1% OF USERS DROVE 43% OF TOTAL
THE 15 TOP CONTRIBUTORS GOT:
• most posts
• most likes
• most replies
• most replied to threads
Almost all of them were
professional communicators from:
• Innovation functions (R&D and IT)
• IT Relations
• Corporate Communications
• Customer Communications
• Stakeholder & Media Relations15 top
MANY GROUPS WERE FORMED TO DISCUSS WORK-RELATED
TOPICS BUT ONLY A FEW SHOWED SUSTAINED ACTIVITY
sustained activity groups
Users being members of groups: 348 (25% of total)
Messages posted in groups: 212 (8% total)
Groups with at least 5 members
and at least 5 posts.
Posts/member ratio > 0.5
All other groups not fulfilling
GOOD PRACTICE EXAMPLES:
COMMUNITY-MENTORING & KNOWLEDGE SHARING
DILIGENT & RESPONSIBLE KNOWLEDGESHARING
Users switched communication
channels routinely when the content
of dicussion became potentially
SPREADING SOCIAL COMPUTING SKILLS
Certain users got quickly
recognized as Yammer adoption
mentors, sharing ‘social skills’
with the community.
Provide a first aid kit for inexperienced users:
how to manage in-box notification settings
how to use hashtags, mentions and follows to filter relevant content
how to create, join, manage topic groups
which lead-users to contact for help & guidance
inspirational examples of good practice
(e.g. finding experts & answers, sharing insights, etc)
clarification on prohibited use and prohibited content sharing
Quickly assess IT-safety and clarify data ownership
Quickly reach a decision on continuation or discontinuation
In case of continuation implement a change process aiming at sustainable
adoption – starting with e.g. assessing the level of social readiness in your
organization. Engage professional adoption consultants.
In case of discontinuation, explain your reasons to the organization and give a
perspective on future steps.
IN CASE OF VIRAL SPREAD OF SOCIAL TOOLS: