Engaging teenagers with Yammer and SWOOP

The world’s best Yammer network for a large-size organisation is one with a membership of 34,000 predominantly 14 to 17-year-old employees spread across 650 KFC stores.

That may come as a surprise to many, as Yammer isn’t usually the social media platform associated with teenagers starting their first job, but there’s a tested recipe for success behind KFC’s Yammer community.

KFC Australia is the only large-size organisation to be among the top performers in SWOOP’s annual benchmarking of Yammer networks two years in a row, taking out the No.1 ranking each time.

What KFC boasts is a thriving Yammer network where employees are engaged, feel connected to leadership, inspired and motivated to deliver the best service and product to customers.

What is KFC’s recipe for success?

It sounds simple – keep Yammer fun and relevant for all, especially for the 14 to 17-year-olds who make up the majority of the workforce.

KFC Australia’s Internal Marketing Officer, Francesca Guidi, is responsible for managing the Yammer community and has revealed her recipe for keeping employees engaged.

1. Keep it fun

Francesca Guidi, Internal Marketing Officer, KFC Australia.

Francesca can’t emphasise this enough. Even if it’s some heavily-worded HR-type memo that every employee needs to see, keep the post fun.

No matter what the content is, put a fun and interesting spin on it.

“Even if you’re targeting adults or an older demographic, I don’t want to see long reports or stats, I want to see funny videos or funny stories,” she said.

“It’s just taking a light-hearted approach to everything. People are not going to go on Yammer if it’s all heavy and long articles and long videos. We still do have to post stuff on our network that is a bit heavy and they might have to read a bit but I try and word it in a way that has a reference to something fun or has an image that captures our eye.

“You can still have the serious posts but you can spin it in a way that makes it more appealing to the audience.”

Francesca says she finds something interesting to link with every post, regardless of the content and especially if it’s a topic most people would usually ignore.

2. Keep it relevant

Along with keeping it fun, Francesca says Yammer posts must be relevant to employees.

One of the ways KFC does this is by employing someone young, fresh and straight out of a store in the Internal Marketing Officer role. The role is then rotated every 12 months.

This movement is to ensure that someone with their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in stores, and someone who is connected with the teenage demographic, is managing this vibrant Yammer community.

Francesca is 19 years old and she moved from the sleepy coastal town of Victor Harbor in South Australia to KFC’s head office in Sydney in January 2019 to take on her new role.

“One of the major things we do to target this age demographic is have someone like myself in this role,” Francesca said.

“When I’m creating content, or thinking; ‘What will engage the team members?’, I’m pretty much thinking; ‘What will engage myself and my friends?’.”

Francesca said if she likes the content, she’s confident the whole KFC network will like the content.

Another way to keep posts relevant is to keep up-to-date with social media trends.

“It’s really fun that I go onto Instagram and TiKTok at work and I’m researching, I’m not just mucking around on my phone,” Francesca laughed.

“Keeping up with memes and the trends in social media is definitely what’s been keeping our network alive.

“Even if it’s a boring post, I try to tie in a reference or a photo or something that’s hot in social media at the moment to try and get that talking point, especially if it’s a bit controversial or a bit cheeky, and both sides of the argument will interact in the comments section.”

Francesca said her goal is to get people talking and interacting on Yammer, which also leads to face to face collaboration in store, and ultimately a better service for customers.

3. Use analytics to grow the network

Francesca uses SWOOP Analytics every day to track the health of KFC’s network, discover the most engaging post of the day/week/month, and to benchmark every store so she can see exactly which stores may need coaching to become more collaborative.

“It’s incredible to see the level of detail that SWOOP has,” Francesca said.

“SWOOP goes into every little aspect you could possibly imagine you would want your Yammer reporting to do. I’m a big fan.”

KFC’s SWOOP dashboard.

Francesca has developed a “Colonel Points” initiative based off SWOOP data where individuals and teams within stores are given points for their interaction on Yammer. She uses SWOOP to benchmark stores to see their levels of collaboration, not just how much they post and like, but how they are interacting.

“From the SWOOP benchmarking, they get Colonel Points, which earns them prizes,” Francesca said.

“I don’t want to just celebrate eventual success but celebrate that journey and the growth along the way and I can do that by benchmarking with SWOOP.

“So a lot of it is ‘most improved’. It’s not all about reaching the top of the leader board but to say; ‘Hey, you’ve had a major jump and that’s great, that’s fantastic, and here’s your incentive because you’re working towards 100 per cent’.”

She said if the prizes always went to the top 10 stores they would have the same winners every week.

“I want to celebrate the people who are working towards bettering their Yammer and themselves and their culture,” Francesca said.

4. Don’t flood the Yammer feed

Francesca says it’s incredibly important not to flood the Yammer feed as a community manager but instead allow it to grow organically, so collaboration and knowledge sharing becomes a part of the company culture.

She advised not to fall into the trap of thinking it is necessary to post on Yammer every day, and like and comment on every post.

“These team members cultivate their own culture on Yammer with their own liking and commenting with each other that I don’t want to clog their feed up,” Francesca said.

“I don’t want to confuse team members too much, so we don’t overshare and the stuff we do share is targeted towards them.”

5. Identify Yammer ambassadors

KFC has more than 500 Yammer captains spread across its stores. Francesca refers to them as a “little me” to help with Yammer support, communication, frequently asked questions or troubleshooting.

“It’s people in store who will lead Yammer from the forefront, increase engagement, increase participation, basically increase communication around Yammer in store,” Francesca said.

“Sometimes with initiatives and campaigns, we put it on Yammer but maybe not everyone will see it because they don’t get the notification, or they are not as active on it, but if we have that Yammer captain in store, they are talking about it, they are having these conversations and hopefully that will lead to better engagement and participation.”

Francesca created a “Colonel’s Guide to Being a Yammer Captain” – full of frequently asked questions, answers to trouble shooting and basically everything a captain needs to know about Yammer.

In the appendix are examples of posts, suggested guidelines and campaign input.

“Honestly, the Yammer captains have been amazing! I was a bit hesitant to see what they might do,” Francesca said.

“Maybe they will only post memes, or maybe they’ll only post funny things. But they have just taken my expectations and raised them completely.

“They are working together, they all post in the best practices group, in their own store, or they’ll post if they think there is other material that they think people might benefit from.

“They manage it themselves and grow it themselves and help each other. We’ve got a great group of people who always see the benefit of Yammer engagement and they’re working towards that common goal.”

Francesca asks the 500 Yammer captains to set goals and share those goals with her and she incentivises those goals with prizes in the form of merchandise.

“I’ve set up this whole campaign to keep them on track and busy and motivated, with things like the Most Engaged store, which I track on SWOOP,” she said.

The Yammer captain role is also a contingency for the next person to fill Francesca’s role in head office.

6. Keep interest with campaigns and competitions

KFC keeps its young employees engaged with campaigns and competitions on Yammer, with the ultimate goal of each campaign to provide better service and a better product to customers.

Francesca said there is almost always a competition where employees can win KFC merchandise, gift vouchers or “Yammer stardom”.

She said a few days before launching the campaign, she will post on Yammer to let team members know a new competition is coming up.

“Then I’ll do maybe three posts throughout the whole campaign, trying to keep it not too heavy so it appeals to a teenager,” Francesca said.

What are the prizes?

Francesca has researched (via Yammer) to find out what prizes employees want. Mostly it’s KFC hoodies. However, other suggestions have included KFC bed sheets and even a KFC car wrap!

The latest favorite is a car air freshener with the Colonel’s face eating chicken. But no, it doesn’t smell like fried chicken…

“Everyone loves hoodies. I did a post asking what merch do you want to see and they love hoodies,” Francesca said.

“If we want something done, we use hoodies. But really, they love anything with the Colonel on it. I could put the Colonel’s face on a lollipop and everyone would want it.”

There have been some amazing prizes on offer this year, including a trip to Kentucky, US and a Playstation 4.

Take a few minutes to hear more about KFC’s recognition campaigns and competitions in this video from SWOOP Chat Sydney.

7. Rotate the Internal Marketing Officer role

This is something perhaps unique to KFC Australia. Every 12 months, Francesca’s role is rotated, usually to a store supervisor who has shown a lot of interest in Yammer.

Francesca herself will finish up at KFC’s HQ in Sydney at the end of the year and return to Victor Harbor as an assistant store manager.

“It’s a huge advantage to rotate this position because not only am I young, and from store, but because we’re targeting Yammer towards team members who are in store so I have that fresh perspective with our new hires and my own team, I know what they’re interested in and I know what they aren’t interested in, and I can target Yammer towards that,” Francesca said.

“Even now, being out of store for nine months, I have kind of lost that disconnect with the 14-year-olds.

“I’m still fine with what’s good for my friends but I’m not sure about the younger generation – is it still hitting with them? Is it still funny? Is it still relevant to in-store activation?

“It’s good to keep a fresh perspective.”

From a personal point of view, Francesca said her role in Sydney has changed her career.

“I come from South Australia and now everyone knows I’m Yammertime and I’ve expanded my network of internal KFC connections,” she said.

“It’s a cycle of promotion and bettering yourself in a network sense.

“When you’re in store it can be geographically isolating, which is another reason Yammer is so important because it connects team members all around Australia with what’s happening as a company as a whole – whether it’s ops, HR or marketing – they all know it because they all have access on their phones to Yammer, which is our direct communication to them.

“Yammer is definitely a great way to not only network in your own store, because it definitely builds positive relationships and cultures, but also interact with KFC as a whole, even globally.

“What starts as a three-hour shift at your local KFC can also grow to be your next career, which I think is really cool, and this all stems from Yammer.”

KFC was the top performer for large size organisations in SWOOP’s 2019 Global Benchmarking of Yammer networks. Download the full report.

Learn more about KFC’s journey with Yammer and SWOOP and how it’s led to business value and better customer service.

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