Social Media

All about Yammer

Fi Bendall /

Yammer is an often overlooked but useful tool for business owners. It is essentially a corporate Facebook-like service (not owned by Facebook, but our friends at Microsoft) specifically designed internally for businesses – a simple premise, but with endless opportunities.

In my experience, when we have best deployed Yammer for organisations, we have focused not just on its functionality but its ability to strengthen corporate culture and build employee rapport. 

One important business mantra: communication leads to clarification. What better way for different business units and departments to communicate and collaborate with instant feedback and group-wide closed activities?

In our experience a lesser-observed strength of Yammer is its potential for use in the franchise industry. Many franchised businesses we have worked with field complaints from franchisees about the lack of ability to connect and collaborate with other franchise owners. Generally with the franchising model, the franchisor provides an intranet to download forms and employee information and so on, then an annual conference for franchisees to meet.

When it comes to franchise business models, the success of the business as a whole not only depends on the franchisor, but also the franchisee. Making sure that there is consistency from store to store and that the supplier’s standards are met can be a difficult. Miscommunication, confusion and conflicting messages can all ensue when there are multiple channels disseminating different messages. Employees of the franchise of course will communicate with one another and build a culture particular to the one store, whilst others will be slightly different. These barriers can be to the detriment of a business and hinder the growth of a franchise greatly.

Yammer changes that model by providing a collaborative 24/7 space where franchisees can collaborate and share best practices, self-support as well as get valuable corporate resources in one place and download everything from uniform orders to employee contracts.

Yammer is proven software that is highly secure, whereby a lot of large organisations use Yammer for internal employee engagement. When you don’t have the resources to build a well-versed intranet or cross-communication platform for your business, Yammer allows for brand values and standards to be consistently executed across multiple applications for engagement with consistency. These capabilities allow for a strong corporate culture and, in turn, a cohesive business overall that will lead to growth in the long-term – these specificities are essential for a strong franchise model.

Yammer certainly makes sure common issues can be resolved. For an SME with a franchise model, there can be a lack of understanding when it comes to digital strategies, and resources can be tight across the total business. Of course, outsourcing is a great way to streamline this initial transition, but how do you keep these strategies active within the business model?

Using collaboration software allows for a collective knowledge that enables an organisation that thinks together and innovates together.

Create a project on Yammer. Make sure people work together from different sites to accomplish the project and watch as the progress happens, step in when consistency starts to drop and make sure the project is aligning with brand values – whilst also making sure it is delivered in a timely fashion. Simple right? Well it can be done and the only thing that this particular nifty function will do is improve the brand consistency across all sites, and ensure the downfalls of localisation don’t strike the franchise.

A great final note to wrap up on is the individual participation. Employees will of course want to contribute to the Yammer projects, discussions and forums, etc – which should be welcomed, but education is necessary. Make sure that all the employees throughout the network know that the use of Yammer is not a place for #catsofinstagram, rather it is a place for building the business and growing together. Have a policy something along the lines of ‘if you have something great to say, then say it – otherwise don’t.’

Yammer is here to stay, so Yammer away.

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Fi Bendall

Fi Bendall is chief executive of The Bendalls Group and a Westpac/AFR 2015 100 Women of Influence, who was described by CEO Magazine as 'The CEO's Secret Weapon'. An expert and pioneer in digital strategy, she has over 23 years’ experience in the digital and tech sectors.

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