Intranet social networking for small businesses

Over the past 18 months I’ve been overseeing the implementation of Yammer (intranet social networking tool) in a small business. The goal was to reduce the amount of ideas, discussions and knowledge circulating in emails sent to a limited audience and increase knowledge sharing and learning.

It’s taken over a year for a majority of employees (and close partners) to find a place for micro-blogging in their daily communications. At first it was just myself and two other early adopters who jumped in and started talking. Then, as time passed, real-life conversations started to bring up Yammer conversations and shared links – increasing the curiosity and interest of non-active colleagues in joining our social network.

As Nielsen have pointed out, growing a social network internally isn’t something you do overnight. You have to have the patience to let it develop organically.

Everyone currently follows everyone else. It’s a small enough company to cope with that, but as the network grows, I’d expect people to begin being selective about which collegues they actively follow and for more groups (or side-discussions) to appear.

With Yammer, this small business now has a searchable database of ideas, links, conversations – company assets that would normally be lost in email. They also have the ability to do all this in real time; asking questions and sharing experience. For a small company with consultants who are often working across a number of client sites; Yammer has become an active hub, leaving the formal, structured intranet as a reference library.