Like every successful social media site, the more you put into Yammer, the more you get out of it.
Gatwick Airport has more than half of its 2,600-strong workforce signed up to the enterprise social network.
But, despite the undoubted success, the Gatwick comms team faced the same challenges that are commonplace across the IC community when dealing with social media.
Importantly, the airport’s 11-strong executive team had been relaxed over the development of Yammer – trusting their IC experts to make the right decisions to ensure the platform’s successful introduction.
Caroline Coomber, Airport Communications Manager, said the exec team were supportive – but needed to be carefully guided on how to maximise the opportunities on Yammer.
She said: “They’re very busy people and they often just don’t have the time to get their heads around it.
“Execs can post things that none of us know about, even though we sit near them, and it’s so fascinating.”
However, despite the invaluable buy-in at the top level, other tiers of management did have reservations about using a channel that is primarily driven by users.
Caroline approached the situation in a logical manner – promoting trust in their workforce while retaining clear guidelines in case anyone did step out of line.
She added: “They [the exec team] were quite relaxed – it was more the senior leaders below them who showed concerns about people saying something silly.
“My advice was that we’ve got to trust our people and it helps to have some clear guidelines.
“Sometimes I have to step in and give a debate some gentle moderation, but we always approach it positively and thank them for getting involved.
“The worst thing you can do is keep saying ‘you can’t say that’ as that undermines people and what you’ve told them Yammer is for.”
As it turned out, the concerns about behaviour were largely unfounded.
Gatwick Airport employees embraced Yammer fully, understanding its value as a source of information.
With the concerns over conduct proving to be almost a non-starter, it allowed Caroline’s team to focus on another challenge – engagement.
She said: “You think the challenge is going to be people’s behaviour whereas it is actually getting people to engage.
“It can be difficult to judge. Sometimes we can say something and it gets no response. Other times it really blows up and everybody gets involved.
“We do a lot around the fun side. The airport business is quite fun and we have a lot of passenger and staff events. The fun side is when it becomes really social.”
Careful planning and keeping a watchful eye for popular postings have helped drive audience figures even higher.
Caroline added: “We find the teams that people are interested in and encourage them to share what they’re working on.
“What happens a lot is we get converts – those who weren’t too sure on Yammer get into it as somebody has ‘liked’ their update or asked them a question. Then you see them really take to it and start to enjoy it.”