How to host a business-to-business event on Yammer

Microsoft Yammer is a popular enterprise social networking platform. What you may not realise is that Yammer also supports the concept of external networks.

Unlike an internal (“home”) network in Yammer, which is limited to users with verified corporate email addresses, external networks enable collaboration between those inside and people outside of the organisation with different email domains, such as customers, suppliers, or investors.

There is very little technical difference between a Yammer internal and external network, however access is invite-only for an external network. This means you need to use a different approach to engage with these users that is matched to the purpose of your external network.

For example, we recently assisted an industry association with using a Yammer external network to support a face-to-face event.

Our client wanted to create a structured, online collaborative environment that would host external participants and stimulate a simple ideation process, which would turn ideas into qualified research projects.

This process included allowing participants to submit their submissions and discuss industry trends prior to the face-to-face event. This was intended to offer the opportunity for all attendees to access and review the propositions before they were presented the event, as well as to provide a means for post event follow up.

We helped them to achieve this outcome with Yammer by helping them to design the right plan, processes and configuration for their external network.

yammer-tips-ripple-effect-groupIf you are thinking of hosting an external event using Yammer or another enterprise social network, here are ten tips based on Ripple Effect Group’s social experienced design practices:

  1. Nominate a Community Manager – Identify an individual who understands both Yammer and the business objectives, to help drive the right engagement activities in your external network.
  2. Recruit champions – Find other people who are already familiar with platform to help support the Community Manager and build momentum for the upcoming event.
  3. Don’t forget the fine print – Publish participant guidelines and moderation rules prior to initiating the external network and if necessary ensure it links to the host event’s website terms and conditions.
  4. Identify existing users – Determine if invitees already have an existing email account on your platform and verify the correct email addresses.
  5. Educate – For those users less familiar with the platform, host a dedicated “How To” webinar before inviting them to the network.
  6. Streamline on-boarding – Look for a user export function. Most platforms that can produce user reports that identify when users have joined and their current state.
  7. Create the right groups – Create a few common interest groups for new members to explore when they are first invited into the network.
  8. Use meaningful imagery – Provide images that are meaningful and relevant to each group to drive interest and engagement.
  9. Share relevant content – Participants judge the value of a network by the quality of the content shared. Keep the content aligned to the objectives of your event.
  10. Work Out Loud – If you platform supports it, try streaming your feed online through Twitter and at the event on large screen displays.

Want to generate more engagement prior to your next event?

Do you have an external event coming up? Looking for better ways to drive valuable engagement from your participants?

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you leverage social networking platforms for business-to-business collaboration.