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The BBC and Yammer

October 19, 2008

Lucy Hooberman writes about the BBC’s new use of messaging/micro-blogging platform Yammer to improve communication across the organisation outside of email.

She’s absolutely right. It is very useful. It appeals to my inner-Utopian view of the BBC: All BBC staff are equal; you never know who could be the next radio/TV/web producer.

Those of us in need of radio/TV/web producers rely on such social networking tools. We are shameless. We leave no stone unturned and insodoing annoy all and sundry in pursuit of our dreams.

Given that reasonably mediocre confession, it should come as no surprise that whenever I interact with Yammer on the BBC network I’m nearly always convinced that I’ve missed the point of it.

I use it to shamelessly pedal my poor attempt at fluff and so-called wit in the hope that people across the organisation might feasibly see a potential use for my skills.

There’s a simple analogy: throw as much paint at the wall and you’re sure to see that some of it sticks.

Only last week, a copy of BBC rag Ariel in my hands, chortling uncontrollably to myself, I penned a posting for my BBC network blog dedicated to gently ridiculing an associate who had appeared in the publication talking through his favourite wardrobe.

Typically smug at the resulting how-ever-many-hundred-words which shared my recent successes in finding the best supporting underwear I’ve worn in a long time, I immediately went to Yammer and fired off a smarmy “call-to-action” *.

“Who wants to read about my pants?” was the submission. I was certain people would flock to the resulting missive as a result.

Feedback was mixed, all of it concise.

The subject of the ridiculing blog post (not left as a comment, I hasten to add) was flattering: “I *really* enjoyed that blog posting”, he messaged me.

The online editor of said BBC rag was predictable after which came an anonymous posting: “Why do we have to waste our time reading this?” **

If ever there was a timely reminder about the BBC it’s how the Corporation is embracing it’s new communication tool.

Don’t get me wrong. Yammer is a very useful tool. It brings people together in a way which can only be to the benefit of the various different disciplines who adopt it.

But like any playground or pub or trendy wine bar, there are rules of engagement. Advice is simple: Be sure to familiarise yourself with them before you jump in without a care. Don’t do what I always do and assume that the way to people’s hearts is to make them snigger. It’s a sure fire way of guaranteeing a frosty response.

 
* That’s what they’re called in the multiplatform business.

** Or words to that effect.

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