News: Yammer has just been acquired by Microsoft.  Interesting development!

It hasn’t just been one client who’s mentioned that their internal social media site is a dying wasteland.  After the initial excitement of creating a profile, following others, and making a first post, sites like Yammer peter out.  Why?

  • You already communicate with coworkers daily via e-mail.
  • There’s rarely enough time during the workweek to research and post interesting new insight about your industry.
  • You can’t chat about dramatic topics like you do on Facebook.
  • If nobody else uses it, why should I?

These issues are similar to any workplace adoption difficulty.  If you want your internal social media site to flourish, it’s going to take the same steps used to manage a procedural or cultural change in the office.  Try these tips on for size:

  • Post company announcements on the site.  Send a company e-mail with a link to the internal site.
  • Ask for weekly volunteers to post industry news (and give them a headstart by providing some topics).
  • Post monthly pictures from around the office, such as company parties, conference presentations, and everyday interaction.
  • Encourage employees to post project success stories as well as lessons learned with difficult clients.
  • Ensure that department managers are commenting on posts at least weekly.  Buy-in from leadership is critical.
  • For minor company decisions, consider using the polling functionality.  (Where should we move the vending machine?)
  • Let employees use the site as a professional sounding board. Don’t discourage participation by heavy moderation, within reason.

If you try any of these tips, I’m eager to hear the results.