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31 Days of Yammer: How Cbeyond Created a Spark in its Yammer Community

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The following is a guest post by Rashida Powell, internal communication leader at Cbeyond. 

In October 2012, Cbeyond reached its one-year anniversary on Yammer. We decided to do something special to recognize the occasion. Our Yammer community had come a long way in a year. In November 2011, one month after launch, we had 400 employees in the community; by August 2012 that number had grown to 1,470; and as we approached our one-year anniversary there were 1,600 employees signed up on Yammer! We wanted to celebrate this growth, and we wanted our celebration to be meaningful and help our Yammer community continue to grow; that is how “31 Days of Yammer” was born. We put together a month of activities that encompassed the following.

What we did:

Daily Tip: Each day in October a daily Yammer tip was featured in our all-employee feed. We started with basic tips and worked our way up to the more advanced tips as the month progressed.

Tip Team: We recruited a team of employees from every department – frontline to executive – to be on our Tip Team. Each day’s Yammer tip was posted by a member of the Tip Team. This helped get more people involved than just the Yammer community managers and avid users.

Weekly Contests: Each week, we held a contest on Yammer that correlated with one or more of the tips shared that week. For example, the first week’s “Post Your Mug to Get a Mug” contest prompted users to upload a picture to their profile to be entered in a contest for a company branded mug. And during the third week, to be eligible for a prize in our “Get Your Yam on from ANYWHERE” contest, employees had to download Yammer’s mobile app. The last contest of the month correlated with our yammer tip that read: “Have fun!” Employees were asked to upload pictures of themselves, their kids or their pets dressed for Halloween in the Water Cooler group with the #Halloween2012 tag. We held five contests total, and in each contest large groups of employees who participated won a small prize while one employee was randomly selected for a grand prize each time.

Yammer Header: To brand the “31 Days of Yammer” we created headers to promote the campaign and some of the individual contests.

Training: During the month we held two trainings: Yammer 101 which covered the basics and Yammer 201 for Teams, Groups and Collaboration on Yammer. These sessions were hands on and participants applied what they learned on the spot.

Promotion: We sent one email each Monday to promote the contest of the week and used Yammer, our digital signage and e-newsletters to promote the daily tips and contests throughout the month.

Partnership with Yammer Customer Success Manager: Our Customer Success Manager was instrumental in helping us determine which tips and contests to include in the campaign. We wanted everything to be measurable, and with her help, we were able to select activities we could quantify.

Incorporation of Company Initiatives: In October, we hold our “Week of Service” when employees from all of our 15 markets engage in volunteer activities in their communities. This year we asked employees to post pictures of them out volunteering with a #2012WeekofService tag. This created a huge spike in engagement and number of file uploads that week, and because more people were going to Yammer to see and load Week of Service images, they also got involved in the “31 Days of Yammer” activities. Below is the header we created for Week of Service:

Results Achieved:

We wanted “31 Days of Yammer” to be fun, but we also wanted to increase participation and help our users understand how to incorporate Yammer into their daily work lives. We are happy to report the following stats:

  • 15% increase in engagement in October with 700 of your 1700 users being engaged during the month
  • 3% decrease in unengaged users and a 3% decrease in lurking
  • 32% have uploaded their profile picture – a key metric to increasing user activity/engagement
  • Water Cooler conversation quadrupled – this isn’t an increase in non-work related conversation. This is conversation that was already happening in the All Company group being redirected to the right place.

Lessons learned:

Here’s a summary of lessons learned through our 31 Days of Yammer campaign:

  1. Be ready. Launching a campaign that has daily and weekly action items that involves multiple people can be challenging to coordinate. Have support teams established before the launch. For example, select your Tip Team in advance, have a team of people who will help distribute prizes, etc. It also helps to have headers and any supporting materials ready to go at launch.
  2. Use contests to drive people to your groups. One of the challenges we had was the considerable amount of conversation happening on our main feed. Once we shared tips on how to use the groups and held contests that required people to make posts in specific groups, the conversations on the main feed decreased drastically.
  3. Make it easy. If Yammer isn’t part of one’s job, it might not fall high on the priority list, so make it easy for people to help in the campaign. We provided members of our Tip Team with ready-to-go posts, pictures and videos that they could copy, paste, and post. They had the freedom to edit the post to match their personal voice; some chose to do that, some did not.
  4. Make it rewarding. We thanked members of our Tip Team publicly on Yammer, sent them an email to share the results of the campaign and gave them a Yammer shirt. We wanted them to know how much we appreciated their efforts and we wanted to share how their contributions helped make a positive impact in our Yammer community.
  5. Keep the momentum going. “31 Days of Yammer” required a lot of output on our end. We realized that after 31 days of nonstop promoting, celebrating and information sharing we needed to step away let things settle down a bit – but not for too long. Once you’ve got their attention, keep it. Have a plan in place for what you’re going to do next.

What’s next for Cbeyond?

We have developed a 2013 strategy that consists of monthly themes. January is the “Month of Health and Wellness.” We will use this month to share information about our benefits plans, health and wellness initiatives, and articles and information from third-party sources. We will also host fitness challenges. Other “month of” themes include collaboration, innovation and safety. We have a set of seven objectives that we have established for our Yammer community and all of the activities we plan will support one of those objectives.

The overall health of our Yammer community is solid, and we will continue to develop programs to keep the momentum going in the year to come. Our “31 Days of Yammer” was a great way to create a spark – now we just have to keep the flame going! 2013 – here we come!

About Rashida Powell:

Rashida Powell is an internal communications leader at Cbeyond – the technology ally for small to medium sized businesses that delivers cloud services and communications through its enterprise network and data centers. At Cbeyond, her role includes the development of communications strategies that connect employees with business goals, drive behaviors, and increase engagement on social enterprise tools. Rashida has nearly a decade of marcomm experience in both internal and external roles, at both non- and for-profit organizations. She is passionate about helping company’s reach their business goals through the use of strategic communications and about the contributions that social tools make in this endeavor. You can find Rashida on her own blogTwitter and LinkedIn.

 

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4 comments
  1. Great post and well done to Rashida!

    It is pretty easy to sit back and watch the community grow naturally, but to really spark excitement and engagement effort is needed. I can imagine many other organizations would have settled with just sending out an email or post on Yammer recognizing the one year milestone and stop at that.

    • Thanks Federico!

      It did take effort and lots of energy but the excitement and results that it generated made it worth it!

  2. Jay Chittenipat

    This is a great post, Rashida – I had a question on measurement – how do you define engagement? Also, how did you identify lurkers? ( as in, are you getting consumption data from yammer – is that on demand, or is it from the dashboard?

    • Hi Jay,

      Sorry for the late response back. Engagement was any instance where someone posted or liked content. Our Customer Success Manager at Yammer helped us identify the lurker rates. There is a dashboard we access for some analytics but Yammer can help when we want to dive deeper into the numbers and behaviors.

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