Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Yammering On; Others Yammer Back

"This morning, for the first time ever, I checked Yammer before I checked my email. Should I be worried?"

This quote came from a post on my yammer feed on Friday.   It was from an employee in my company who I never met and don't even know by name or reputation.   According to his profile, he is an engineer.  I don't know why this post showed up in my feed. We must have both joined the same group.  Or maybe we are just following the same topics.   That is the way it goes with social media.  You are able to connect with people who you might otherwise never have met or spoken to in the course of your work day.  Anyway,  I am grateful to him for capturing my attention with this post.  Now I am one of his yammer followers.

I've been thinking about this quote a lot over the last few days.   It says so much about how I have been feeling about social media these past months.   The first part of the quote tells me that my new friend in engineering has turned a corner.   Instead of waking up and checking his email to get a pulse on what is going on that might impact his day, he turned to our social media network first.   What a simple but profound change that is.   Social media displacing email in this man's daily routine.   I still check my email before yammer, but I spend a lot of time during my day thinking about how we can reach people through yammer to provide information that might help them with their jobs or personal development needs.

The second part of the quote is also fascinating. Clearly, he is questioning whether or not this new change of routine is a good thing or a bad thing.   I go through the same feelings of cognitive dissonance when I think about trying to promote yammer as a tool for informal learning.   When I first proposed the idea to my staff of using yammer as a learning medium to reach our target audience,  my suggestion was greeted with a long silent pause and a few rolling eyes.   But I convinced the team to humor me for a while, and in the short time we have been implementing our yammer strategy, we have each been able to report back on some interesting events that have occurred.

My staff member who has been posting information on dealing with change reported that one of her followers replied to her that she was finding comfort in the messages.  They were helping her to see that she was not alone in what she was going through in dealing with change.  This prompted further dialog that gave my team member the opportunity to share additional resources with her and other followers.

Another staff member caught the eye of the corporate communications department with a thread of her posts about managing virtual teams.   They contacted her about incorporating her posts into an article for the company newsletter, giving her messages greater reach and impact.

A third staff member has been posting messages about project management.  He recently got a reply from a VP who is very influential with key stakeholders for many of our projects.  His reply enhanced the credibility of the project management messages and helped to increase the number of followers on this topic thread.

When faced with skepticism from others in my organization, my belief about the viability of social networking as a learning tool inside my company sometimes wavers.  But the instances cited here provide reinforcement that tells me to keep pressing on with our plan.   The number of participants on our social network is growing every day.  As more users join in, we want them to find content that will be of value to them, and that will encourage them to share some of their own.

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