What is a Yammer? Why Do Companies Like It? In the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of working for a variety of companies across different industries. The one common thread between them all was their hurdles and barriers when it came to technology–particularly social media. None of them could figure out how to really take advantage of technology to help propel their organization forward.
I am a passionate advocate of a variety of tools across Microsoft 365, but the one that always comes out on top is Yammer. Its ability to add organizational value and cultivate culture is just unmatched. So, without further ado, let me tell you what Yammer is, why it’s exploded in the enterprise space, and how to get started using it.
What is a Yammer?
Editor’s note: Microsoft announced today that Yammer, the enterprise-focused social networking tool that’s part of Microsoft 365 is going to be absorbed by Viva Engage. The latter is an evolution of the Yammer Communities app in Microsoft Teams, which Microsoft launched back in July 2022.
Yammer is a unique social networking service designed with enterprise communication in mind. Yammer was created by a company called Geni with the sole purpose of helping employees connect and communicate across their organization. It was hugely successful, and was later expanded to become both its own product and company that was launched in September of 2008.
Yammer quickly caught the eyes of many eager buyers before it was ultimately acquired by Microsoft in 2012. Microsoft rolled the new product into their Office 365 (now known as Microsoft 365) suite in 2014, and today it is used by 85% of Fortune 500 companies worldwide.
You can think of Yammer as being the Facebook of the corporate world. An extremely inclusive Facebook, where friends are replaced with colleagues, ads are replaced with corporate reminders, and updates are related to events, questions, and problems colleagues are trying to solve.
Why Do Companies Like It?
Companies like Yammer because it’s easy to set up and adds value to organizations. Here are just a few of the ways Yammer adds value.
Yammer helps employees get answers fast even when they don’t know who to ask.
Yammer enables organizations—particularly ones with multiple offices—to collaborate across locations. Instead of sending an email asking who to ask about X, you can now just post it in a Yammer Group. Department heads keep an eye on their Yammer groups and respond to questions accordingly. People get the answers they need and work gets done faster. At AvePoint, we have entire Yammer groups dedicated exclusively to asking and answering questions, an initiative that has made us noticeably more agile.
Yammer enables informal employee training.
Have you ever watched national geographic and walked away with 20 facts about lizards? I bet you didn’t even realize you were learning! Yammer is somewhat similar. You read updates, you post updates, and over time you acquire niche industry knowledge you never intended to know about. It enables people to learn even when they might be on autopilot.
Yammer offers a platform to showcase Internal Achievement and helps departments build on the work of others.
Did someone just create a breakthrough tool or feature that could accelerate sales or product adoption? That belongs on Yammer. Did sales just close one of their biggest deals of the year? That belongs on Yammer.
It allows teams to showcase departmental innovations and achievements. It helps departments react to and build on the latest achievements of others, and lets employees feel recognized for doing something good. What’s not to like about that?
Yammer keeps workers connected and entertained.
If you get a large enough group together, there is bound to be fun. Yammer is informal enough to post gifs, jokes, and have fun, but formal enough to be perfectly suited for the workplace. It is a great way for each office to communicate internally while allowing other offices to join in via comments and get a feel for their colleagues’ culture. It also can be set up in a way that allows you to safely collaborate with contractors, customers and sister companies.
It fosters transparency.
One of my all-time favorite benefits of using open chat tools like Microsoft Teams and Yammer is that both have a way of fostering honesty and transparency in an organization. With Yammer, companies and department heads can create simple protocols for achievements and updates that their departments oversee. This ensures that everyone stays up to date on what teams are working on, who is moving initiatives forward, and what is taking place next.
Yammer is perfect for enterprise-wide communication.
Yammer is a place where an organization’s leadership can post updates, requests for feedback, announcements, and more in an open and transparent way. This makes it easier for employees to respond, provide suggestions, and ask questions using an interface that prioritizes previews of files like photos and documents. Yammer can also be used by leadership to hold org-wide town hall meetings.
Build communities inside and outside your organization.
Yammer is a great way for work colleagues to interact, even beyond beyond their work roles. Each user can join or create Yammer communities based on personal interests, locations, activities, and professional goals.
For example, maybe a Yammer user is into gardening or wants a place to share photos of their pets. Yammer communities are as individual as each employee, which allows each person to build community friendships in your organization.
Additionally, it’s easy to collaborate with external participants in Yammer. First, an administrator creates an “external” community–the first step to inviting outside collaborators to that community. External participants will log in with the email address used to invite them.
As with any online work group, privacy is key. Which is why Yammer communities are not searchable or discoverable by people outside your organization.
Find what’s relevant, not just what’s new.
Teams and email are great at delivering company updates. In Yammer, you’ll also see new updates, but also posts that are relevant to you–because the Yammer feed displays posts based on your activity, communities, and topics you follow.
Users can apply topic tags that showcase all the posts related to that topic. Over time, all those tagged posts can grow into a searchable collection, accessible simply by clicking the tag.
Another great way to surface information is by using the question feature. When someone posts a question, they can mark a given reply as the ‘best’ answer, which will stay at the top of the thread where others can easily find it.
Can’t remember a particular question or answer? No need to reinvent the wheel by asking again. Try entering a few key words or names into the search bar. You’ll get results from conversations, communities, files, people, and topics. This capability may be especially helpful to your new hires.
Use conversation filters inside Yammer communities to display the most helpful posts. These filters can display All Conversations, New Conversations, All Questions, or Unanswered Questions.
Each community can also access a SharePoint library for shared files. By default, the list of files is displayed by recent activity, so the documents most recently modified will be at the top.
Yammer and Teams—Better Together.
By now, we hope you’re excited to start using Yammer. You can Yammer online via your browser, on your mobile device, or even download the desktop app.
But . . . . if you’re already working in Microsoft Teams, check out the Yammer communities app. Within Teams, click Apps to head to the app store. Search for Communities to integrate Yammer activity into Teams.
Also, this new Yammer app is interactive—see, reply and react to Yammer conversations without ever leaving Teams.
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