How’s the ESN heartbeat in your company?

I was recently reading the ViewDo Labs blog and came across John Puopolo’s post where he’s reaching out to the community… Tap Tap Tap is this thing on.  I really saw it a bit as a doctor wanting to put the stethoscope out there to check the pulse…  I want to address his questions, but also give some background on how important engagement is.  You can’t just ask for it… The passion comes from the heart of the community that’s being built… it’s so much about momentum and passion and then the technology just needs to get out of the way.

In his intro he questions… “few of us are engaging in a meaningful way.

In any community there’s an evolution.  In the beginning it’s few few people carrying the burden of producing compelling content, but as everyone gets more comfortable things change.  Now the stage is not just for the few, but for everyone.  There will always be lurkers.  On top of that there are many communities that are created, but there is no heart beat, no life.  On the other hand there are communities of all sizes that very much have a pulse with a healthy beating heart.  Who forms that inner circle that help create cohesiveness really really matter.  Let me pick on one of my favorite communities… SPYAM.  The Yammer network for the SharePoint, Office 365 and Yammer communities.  It’s got great gravity and has great engagement based on my experience.  The network nearly has 5000 members and great participation.  Let me break it down for you.

Here are a few of my favorite messages posted and self selected by number of replies…


This illustrates these conversations bring in a lot of different perspectives and participation.  They start with a question and those in the network chime in.  The network has steadily grown for over the past year and a half.  Conversations and driven by the community.


  • Does your company offer an ESN?


  • Who champions the ESN in your company?

Traditionally I see it mostly as Marketing and Sales, (sometimes IT, but often they are also detractors) but there are distinct ambassadors that really have taken to it.  So it is definitely individuals, but certain departments more than others.

  • Do the executives use it to communicate effectively?

They are experimenting

  • Is there a formal initiative in your company around enterprise social networking?

Semi formal.  I never hear goals, but I do hear encouragement for incorporating it into our culture.

  • What types of business decisions do you or your company hope to make based on ESN usage?

Speed of information.  Answering questions that don’t fit in existing processes.  Sharing news.  Status updates.

  • If your company offers an ESN, do you engage, actively, every day? If so, please share your story! If not, why not?

I think they expectation is that the individuals will set the pace, with notification integration, the engagement will grow.

  • Are you working on a project where the ESN fosters collaboration? Is it effective? Why or why not?

Yes.  Yammer helps us communicate and builds on what gets lost in email.  The project team helps decide what should live in yammer… it really helps for retention and helps for ramp up for new team members.

  • Is it “just easier” to use email? Is the ESN “just another” system to keep track of and “deal with?” or do you see benefits?

The benefits are there.  In the beginning it can feel like just another collaboration or communication system, but the energy of the community and the knowledge that gets shared there is what makes the difference.  Email suffers with a lot of weakness of conversations being lost, and really security is becoming a bigger and bigger problem with the status quo of email.

  • Do you believe that if everyone used the ESN to maximum effect that your company would experience positive outcomes more frequently?

Yes, I believe it would speed up the information flow and all individuals who have another way to tap into the collective mind of the company.  What better way is there to engage over distance?

The SharePoint on Yammer Social Experiment Continues with Early Success #SPYAM

If I had to make predictions I would have said we would have a good crowd using Yammer. It’s been exceeding my expectations. At the end of day 2 we have more than 350 invites with 245 participating. This network is active. At work I’m in a network of around 2000 and the richest thread is around 70-80 replies. I’m seeing that happening easily by the end of the week. Can you believe we are getting nearly 50% or more participation? Those numbers are unheard of!

If you look at our SharePoint Yammer early adopter group you’ll notice that we have a lot of first timers, and then a group who have really loved it, and then those who are giving it a second chance.

(Image was an early community contribution by Dan Kreitz, MBA, MCITP, SharePoint Administrator, Business Analyst)


I’ve been more liberal in the invitations based on the great conversations that are happening. We have already had some challenges…

  • How do we manage group creation?
  • What about people who want to speculate about SharePoint 15/2013?
  • I’m confused… What’s the difference between Yammer and SharePoint on Yammer Communities?
  • Some users have created 2nd accounts. It’s better to use your corporate credentials so you end up with single sign on across communities.

Join us:

SharePoint Community on Yammer (request an invite)



Yammer Community on Yammer (open invitations)



The YamJam will be happening next Monday. I’ve decided we should have it happening on both of the platforms mentioned above. If you sign up for the YamJam at EventBrite, we’ll send you a reminder, otherwise join us on either Yammer network at 10-11am Pacific!

Social Experiment: SharePoint Community Platform Pilot Based on Yammer

We have come a long way in our use of various networking technologies. I’m especially proud of how we leverage Twitter and we keep each other up to date not only on what we are doing in our jobs and careers, but day to day challenges and in sharing technology. We’ve come a long way since the days of Newsgroups as the main way in the technology world communicated. I believe our next step of evolution as a community is a communication platform of our own. I’ve been envisioning a platform for the community similar to twitter for years. I believe now is the time for adopting a platform of our own.

I’m not asking anyone to delete their twitter accounts or abandon blogs. This is evolution of desk phone to cell phone… you will still want both. This will provide all sorts of options we never previously had. I am asking people to abandon their bias, and get on board. That’s really what I’m asking for is a united community behind this platform choice.

Linked in groups, Facebook groups, and Twitter conversations all happening in a common platform and one where it was focused on SharePoint.

High Level overview of the Proposal

TheSharePointCommunity.com – The SharePoint community on Yammer.com. Much of the conversations we have on Twitter.com can be happening in an environment that is easily searchable. It will bring all the best of enterprise microblogging to the community with things that you’ll find will provide ease of use such as type ahead for @mention users, and without the limits of the 120 characters. You’ll have a platform to promote your posts. Groups to gather your users groups, with rich conversations that have since been spread across facebook, linked in and more. One of my favorites is the rich profiles where you can provide your role, Picture, Bio, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, and so on. The beginning may be a little slim as we get critical mass, but this is why I’m reaching out to the leadership to help accelerate the vision I have for the community.

25 reasons why I think Yammer is the right platform for the SharePoint Community

1. Private conversations amongst the community can stay private

2. Discovery of user groups will be easily found in groups

3. Rich profiles can even be richer when you know it’s only other SharePoint people looking

4. Conversations can actually be more threaded and captured and last a lot longer

5. Tagging of posts after will allow conversations to stick around longer

6. Rich Polling, Questions, and Answers with Type Ahead will make a stronger knowledge base

7. SPAM will be nearly eliminated as it will be moderated and governed (SPAM deleted and users put on probation or blocked)

8. By having a consolidated place for conversations we can have richer conversations

9. Content created by the community can be easily searchable

10. Analytics will help us understand the most important issues and hot buttons.

11. Use of Yammer in the community will increase Yammer adoption and bring awareness to SharePoint and Office 365 integration with Yammer

12. Feedback, polling and surveys can be more easily captured

13. People search for our community will be richer than it’s ever been possible

14. Role based groups will help roles that otherwise often get overlooked and no attention

15. Seeing how Yammer is leveraged by the community will help promote best practices and real world usage.

16. Organizing community events and announcing things will be much cleaner and more easy to mention and pull people in

17. Daily digests and weekly digests will help provide awareness of the conversations and issues. Way better than twitter…

18. Replying to conversations over email will keep the conversations going

19. Mobile, web, and desktop integration scenarios will be a good sell as it relates to SharePoint stand alone

20. It’s a technology we should all learn… why not do it together?

21. Rich profiles that we can better manage

22. Yammer Groups with rich conversations for User Groups

23. Much better mechanisms for communicating with the community such as events, calls for speakers, and gathering speakers into a group after you’ve organized a list. Communication will become much, much more efficient.

24. Expertise provided in simply the using of the technology which will benefit you in your career. The development API means you can integrate with the community platform.

25. A platform where we can really do Live Blogging. I hope to really show off the power of this at SPC.

Really I think it just takes a few experiences… if you like Twitter or Facebook it shouldn’t take too much convincing. The key to this social experiment is momentum and critical mass. I think the community will take over from there.


I invite early adopters to join me in kicking the tires, build out the infrastructure, create the right groups, and laying the foundation. Yammer is a turn key solution, built in minutes, but what you’ll find with any social community what you really need is something to discuss and this will definitely come. Let’s call this the pilot, it’s the beta. We’ll help clear the way for the rest of the community.

Below request to be part of this early adopter group. I will be limiting the pilot group to a maximum of 500 for the first four weeks and qualifying the users as real SharePoint Community members. I’m looking not for lurkers, but for those that really want to test out this platform and prove out that this is something we can use. There is definitely rules that need to be established and guidelines to work through.


  1. Register at http://SharePointYammer.eventbrite.com
  2. We will validate your request which may take a day or two.
  3. If selected you will receive an invitation for the Yammer platform early adopter program or notifed you’ll be included at the 2nd wave



Recommended Reading:

Jeff Shuey – Yammer and Microsoft a Match Made in Heaven

Joel Oleson – 10 Reasons Why Yammer and Microsoft Make a lot of Sense