Editor’s note: This story is taken from Ragan Communications’ distance-learning portal Ragan Training. The site contains hundreds of hours of case studies, video presentations and interactive courses.
Often at a business networking event, a few well-connected people seem to know everybody.
As soon as you talk to them, they have ideas for the right people you should connect with, says Brian Duke, senior manager for communications channels and operations at Thermo Fisher Scientific.
This person will say, “You should talk to John or Sally or Sue, because they’re doing something in your space, and it would make sense for you to connect,” Duke says in his Ragan Training session, “Use the power of Yammer and SharePoint together to create communities that foster connections, collaboration and communication.”
This is how Duke—whose team includes four business managers and two email specialists—views the role of community manager.
Community managers help define the strategy, because they have a finger on the pulse of the organization, he says. They’re hearing what people are saying and connecting them with one another.
“That person models and encourages the kinds of behavior we want to see others do,” he says.
Here’s how your community manager can keep Yammer humming in your organization:
1. Hand-hold with your execs.
It does no good to drive people to your internal social channel if the bigwigs blow it off. Yet some leaders see Yammer’s Facebook-like design and functions, and yawn, “I don’t do Facebook.”
Yammer isn’t Facebook, but communicators have to overcome such misperceptions and explain why, from a business value perspective, it’s important to participate, Duke says. Benefits include enabling teams to collaborate, allowing open work, aggregating experience and simplifying file-sharing.
“It’s really important for them to work with leadership and to get leadership comfortable with these tools,” he adds.
2. Make it safe.
All right, no digital mugger is going to steal your workforce’s wallets and purses on a corporate platform. Still, setting the appropriate tone will help guide staffers who are used to the verbal histrionics of Twitter.
The community manager must cultivate a safe and encouraging atmosphere, unlike what social media denizens might be accustomed to in their personal feeds. The community manager can post good content, model helpful responses, highlight examples and nudge people to come out of their shells, Duke says.
“When you’re home, it’s you,” he says. “You control your image—your brand—if you will. When you’re at work, you might have a different one or want to be careful of what you say, because certain things can be taken the wrong way.”
3. Monitor content and facilitate disagreement.
Thermo Fisher has never had to take down a comment. Still, it can happen that people take extreme stances or get worked up about disagreements, Duke says. The community manager keeps an eye out for problems or squabbles on the platform.
4. Keep Yammer thriving.
By articulating the value of the platform with a strong voice, the community manager prevents unanswered questions, missed connections and unresolved conversations. Otherwise, your workforce might abandon it.
5. Organize groups and content.
Without a community manager, large organizations sometimes end up with overlapping groups on their internal platforms. You could end up with three, four or even five groups serving the same purpose. People become confused and don’t know which to join, so they don’t participate.
The community manager notices that and can say, “Hey, you guys should consolidate together and make this a one-stop,’” Duke says.
6. Surface significant posts.
Hundreds of people follow Thermo Fisher’s community manager, Duke says. If she comments on or “likes” a post, it gets noticed.
“She is the face of our social network,” he says.
7. Connect people seeking answers.
Sometimes employees post a question that is overlooked or ignored. The community manager—who knows everyone’s roles like that helpful person at a networking event—can nudge an expert.
“They might say, ‘Hey, there’s a question about this. Does anybody have an answer?’ and tag a few people who know—which, again, helps pull people to contribute,” Duke says.