Information overload can be a serious, and oftentimes, paralyzing problem as most of us are using several social networks, feeds, blogs, etc! The only way to manage this going forward is to create infallible filtering strategies that are scalable and adjustable to match the way your work and interests change. I believe there are 3 parts to successful filtering: your personal filters, algorithmic filters and community etiquette that help others easier find the brilliant nuggets that you share. In this post, we discussed effective following strategies and other things you can do to ensure that you are getting only what’s relevant to you. Now it’s time to talk about how you share and establishing best practices to give you the highest return on your presence. We are going to focus this discussion on an enterprise social network like Yammer, but similar best practices can be extrapolated for consumer social networks.
Let’s start with intent. I think there are three main buckets of reasons:
- You have something brilliant to share that can help others. It’s either an article you found, an article you wrote, or a tip / trick that can benefit others.
- You are asking others for help by tapping into the “collective brain”. You may be crowdsourcing a solution, looking for an answer to a question, or proactively starting a conversation to enable others to show their brilliance (see bucket 1).
- You are sharing something about yourself, what you do, how you feel about the world and what you think. The goal here is to help others get to know you, and encouraging others to share their thoughts in response.
Intent is important because it helps you determine the best vehicle to sharing — which tool you will use and how you will structure your statement or query. At the end of the day, no one wants to throw stuff out into the “wild open,” praying for engagement — you want to get engagement and start and join great conversations. Knowing your target audience helps you understand where to post, what to post and how to best express yourself for the highest return on your sharing.
Posting public messages
Systems like Yammer have an open feed where employees (in the case of a company network) or community members (in the case of an external network) can share. Here, your message can reach the most people. Just like on Twitter or Facebook, it’s important to remember that people following you or following the groups to which you post the message, will get your message in their feed. Alternatively, someone can see your message if they go directly to the group to which you posted it. We do recommend doing that from time to time to maximize your “serendipity” of exposure to people you don’t know yet. Anyone can see your message, but because Yammer is a stream, there’s always a chance that the intended recipients may miss it. If necessary, to maximize the chance of the right person seeing your message, make sure to @ mention them in the message.
Etiquette tip: be mindful of the volume and content of your messages. Ask yourself: is this going to benefit others? Is it going to help people get to know me better? If I share this information, is there someone else who may want to know this information? Does this help drive our business forward? If not, think twice about posting. You don’t want to become so noisy that others stop following you.
Posting private messages
Posting in the public feed means that, well, your message is public. It’s there for everyone to see. If you aren’t sure if something should be public, make it private; this really goes for any social network out there — be it Yammer, Facebook or Twitter. In Yammer private messages, you can talk to as many people as you need to, so don’t feel like you have to make something public just so you can involve more than one person. Unlike Twitter, you don’t have to be following each other to exchange private messages.
Etiquette tip: The cool thing about Yammer messages is that you can bring in other people at a later point in the conversation — just be mindful of the prior content in that message and ask yourself if that content can be seen by people you brought in later.
If you want to share something narrow in focus, you should consider posting in a group. On Yammer, groups are a great way for people to find people to follow and get exposed to information. By joining a group, updates from that group publish to your My Feed automatically. You can even subscribe to group feeds via IM, email or text, making it a listserv of sort.
Etiquette tip: Please exercise your judgment when deciding if something is appropriate for groups or main feed. Keep in mind that everything you publish to a group automatically publishes to the feeds of everyone in the group.
Using taxonomy effectively
Taxonomy is basically the system of marking your text in predetermined symbols for ease of parsing and analysis; for example, you see symbols like @ and # in both Yammer and Twitter. In the context of an internal social network, you would most often use @ replies to draw someone’s name into a conversation, whether in a public thread or a comment to a public thread. Another example is a topic, which can be added by going to “more” under each thread or by using a #hashtag. This is similar to Twitter hashtags that have a similar organizing mission. If you post to particular topics, your posts will be easier to find for your intended audience. If you post with an @ name, you increase the likelihood of this person seeing it.
Etiquette tip: Please never abuse topics or hashtags. Because people follow them with an expectation to find relevant information, they are more likely to read your message. If it’s tagged incorrectly, it will annoy the reader and discredit you as a writer. Remember: no hashtag spam!
Broadcasting your news
Specific to Yammer, admins have an ability to send an announcement message to the whole network or to the group which they are an admin of. An announcement appears in the feed of everyone following that group, and generates an email notification. Thus, it should be used sparingly for key notifications that should be shared with the whole organization or with a particular group of people. If you have news that’s important to you, ask yourself if it’s important to everyone else. Corporate communications like CEO’s townhall, or a piece of crisis communication are definitely broadcast-worthy for most companies..
Etiquette tip: Avoid sending more than one broadcast per week as a network — prioritize what’s truly important.
Photo credit: MelissaCozyTeacup