Selfies help fuel Yammer success at Sovereign

There are countless examples online of how organisations are using enterprise social networks inside their companies to bring about positive changes to the way they work.

Over the years I’ve featured numerous stories and highlighted the good, bad and ugly of “internal social media,” but today I’ve got a treat for you.

Will FoyI’m proud to introduce Will Foy (pictured) as a guest writer on my blog. Will and I met onboard the Communication Directors’ Forum (aka ‘The Boat‘) back in 2010 and we’ve kept in touch since.

He’s now Head of Internal Communication at Sovereign Housing Association in the UK. This week he sent me a note to update me on the good work that has been happening there and how they have been using Yammer.

So many companies focus on the tools and tech rather than behavioural changes and get tangled up in what they’re doing rather than why they are doing it. This example stood out for me and we thought we’d share it with you.

The other reason I like it is because their CEO has been actively involved, and the organisation has felt the ripple effect.

If you have an enterprise social network, how active are your senior team? Do they join and start conversations? As ever, if you have a story to tell or tips that other communicators could benefit from, please see my guest article guidelines and get in touch if you have an idea.

Over to you Will…

How can you use Yammer to help connect employees around a common purpose, event or goal? We’ve been experiencing some successes recently here at Sovereign.

We had a number of pressing objectives that needed to be achieved by Q1 2014, such as launching our new strategy, values and purpose – alongside really encouraging collaboration (one of the core values) through social media (one of the IC objectives).


Sovereign Housing AssociationTo cut a very long, but interesting and insightful!, story short, we were able to achieve all of the above and more at our All Employee Conference in June.

The biggest success for us in internal communication was the social media engagement via Yammer.

We used the platform as the main channel for asking questions, leaving comments, and taking part in a selfie competition.

(Am sure readers know what a selfie is, but if you don’t, it’s typically a photo of yourself taken at arm’s length – like the ones on this page from Sovereign’s All Employee Conference. My phone is full of photographs of my two-year-old daughter who has discovered she can turn the camera round and has been snapping herself – Rachel).

How was this managed?
All this was managed via a dedicated app we developed in-house. We saw over 400 selfies, which were still being submitted two weeks on, over 98% engagement in the channel and an increase of nearly 40% in people subscribing and using it.

The theme of the conference was TV and this meant it was a totally new approach for the business. It gave everyone the opportunity to try something different.

So what about the senior management team?
The Exec Team got really getting involved as the ‘cast’ and they were all champions of Yammer on the day.

Our CEO was the instigator of many of the selfies.

The Exec Team were ‘Yamming’ as soon as they arrived on site. Their behind the scenes information was all part of the teaser campaign for the event itself. (I like this – could this work for your company? Could your senior team do this? – Rachel).


So what can you learn from what we did?
I understand and empathise with IC teams who are trying to get a social platform off the ground.

We were gifted with such a huge event that we were able to channel everything through Yammer.

This was helpful and the energy on the day meant that if you weren’t using it you were in a minority and needed to get involved.

What happens next?
The feedback has exceeded all our expectations and we’re now just waiting for the formal feedback.

Post author: Will Foy.

Thanks Will. Your point about IC teams trying to get a channel off the ground resonated with me. I’m contacted by communicators weekly who are trying to do exactly that and are looking for advice and guidance.

If there’s one piece of advice that I give more than any other it’s this…

Everything you do has to be aligned with your business strategy.

It’s as simple as that.

This is not a “comms thing” or an “IT thing,” enterprise social networks have the potential to fundamentally change the way a company operates. They need to be invested in, both in times of thought, effort and money.

But more than that, you need to have a crystal clear understanding of the behavioural changes associated with them and why you’re exploring it in the first place. I could write a lot more on this topic, but instead will point you to resources I’ve published to date.

Want to read more I’ve published on enterprise social networks?

Post author: Will Foy and Rachel Miller

First published July 2014.

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