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Three things you could use Yammer for today (but probably don’t!)

Microsoft’s purchase of Yammer ‘The social network for the enterprise’ in the summer of 2012 raised a lot of eyebrows at the time. Especially as Microsoft was just getting to grips with what enterprise customers really wanted from social features.

Three things you could use Yammer for today!

I remember attending the Global SharePoint Conference in November 2012, where the launch of SharePoint 2013 and its Social features was covered in great detail.

I actually thought Microsoft had done a very good job bringing the Facebook/Twitter type functionality to its enterprise clients that SharePoint 2010 and its predecessors lacked.

So why exactly did Microsoft need Yammer?

My guess is that Microsoft saw a natural connection. Plus, a huge opportunity to get Yammer’s eight million global users using SharePoint and vice versa.

As we have seen in the past, Microsoft is also not afraid to purchase a company to improve their existing product suite. Their acquisition of search company Fast springs to mind. 

Yammer will eventually replace SharePoint’s native social features, so what are some of the things you could start using Yammer for today?

Let’s look at three things you can do right now.

Projects

This is the easiest one to cover off. Using Yammer to manage projects is almost a no brainer.

Why more people are not using Yammer as an informal project workspace baffles me.

I say the word informal as I still think there are a host of reasons why SharePoint should be used in conjunction with Yammer, such as storing important project artefacts, for example.  

What you should use Yammer for is for anything that you would have had to email previously.

I like to tell myself that organisations of a certain size should have a definitive plan on what technology they use to manage projects. Sadly, most don’t. The reality is they end up using a convoluted mixture of email, Basecamp, SharePoint, DropBox and many others.

With good reason, however. Most projects are run by intelligent people and the reasons for this technology concoction are normally pragmatic (rather than ill-judged) for the following reasons.

  • Multiple entities need to access the content – a project team is often made up of client, partner, vendors and consultants.
  • Shared area – everyone needs a shared, central area in which to collaborate.
  • External sharing is not possible/difficult in SharePoint (pre-SharePoint 2013).
  • Web-based – you can access the content anywhere.

Use Yammer in projects

Yammer does all of that and more.

Yammer Group or Yammer Network?

If you do decide to use Yammer on a project, there are a few things to consider.

For a small project with a handful of people involved you should probably create a group and invite internal users within minutes. By default, your network is limited to employees with the same email domain.

However, admins can invite members to their network who do not share the same email domain.  This enables admins to involve contractors or consultants in your network.  Guest passes can be revoked by the admin at any time.

For a larger project which could be

  • a programme of work
  • contain multiple work streams

OR if you would rather external people were not on your network, you may want to consider setting up an external network and then create a group for each work stream.

Intergen has done exactly that for one of our larger clients and the clients love having one place to go for all information. It’s awesome seeing colleague and clients alike having project-related discussions on Yammer, which I would previously not have been able to see. 

There is no hard and fast rule or tipping point to any of this. Just use what method feels right. However, it is probably best to start small and build bigger if needed.

Once all set up you can use Yammer to:

  • Give project updates
  • Receive updates from clients / vendors / partners
  • Store useful project artefacts
  • Store details about the project
  • Chat online

All pretty useful on any project!

Replace distribution lists

In the true spirit of collaboration, why not retire your distribution lists and email groups with immediate effect?

At Intergen we have a range of Yammer groups where users can ask questions on specific subjects. We use the #topics so we can then also subscribe to the sub-topics that interest us, e.g. #InfoPath #workflow and so on.

I appreciate that this will be a slight behavioural shift but think this is the right thing to do for the following reasons:

  • Q+As are searchable – you have a great talent base and pool of resources and are probably asking and answering the same questions daily within your organisation via email.
  • Pick up the discussion any time – when email is the primary communication tool, you have to have been on the initial thread or know someone who was who can forward the email. How good would it be for a new employee to be able to tap into some of the previously asked questions?
  • Yammer Search – as an end user, I think Yammer search is awesome. It splits out the type of content available on the network, as you type. You will see that when I type the term ‘SharePoint’, it shows me Groups, Files, Topics and web links. It will also highlight your search query in the results.

Use Yammer to replace distribution lists 

Replace email

Stop…. Yammer time!

Before you send your next email… stop. Don’t send it.

Look three months into the future and think: Is there even the slightest possibility that other people further down the line would find this content useful, in any way?

The truth is that we all think our emails are more confidential than they actually are and, rather selfishly, we don’t think about the value of the information we are creating and how it could be useful to others now or in the future.  

Some high profile companies have binned email altogether, so how would you cope without your daily email fix?

For items that you absolutely must prove you have sent and/or are official records, carry on using email.

For everything else, look at some of the options below.

Get set up

You wouldn’t get email if you didn’t have an email client like Outlook etc. So think of Yammer in the same light.

There are a few things you should probably do if you want to get the most out of Yammer and make it a viable alternative.

Desktop notifier

Firstly, download the Yammer desktop notifier. This will create a ‘pop-up’ when someone mentions you or sends you a message.

Yammer has a desktop notification tool

Mobile App

You should also download the respective Yammer mobile app. Android and iOS versions all exist on the respective stores.

Post to a group

Use Yammer to post to a group

Once you start using Yammer, you realise that you have a choice in how you share information. If you’re anything like me, a quick analysis of your sent items will probably tell you that around 80% of your email traffic could have been useful on Yammer to a respective group.

Before you send that email, think: Is there a Yammer group that could benefit from this information? If there isn’t one, create one!

As you will see from the screenshot above, you can still notify individual people and add attachments.

Private Messages

Use Yammer to send private messages

Like Facebook, LinkedIn etc., you can send direct messages in Yammer.  

Notifications 

For those of you that cannot ‘ditch the itch’ to email, you don’t have to.

You can change your settings so that you get email alerts when there is new activity in the Group. To do this click Settings  > Edit Profile. Then from the profile page, click Notifications. Make sure the group that you want to receive updates on is ticked. Also pick the settings that you want for other general notifications.

Configure Yammer notifications to suit your needs

Post to Yammer via email

In the same vein as notifications, if you still want to use Yammer from the comfort of your email client Yammer has a cool feature that lets you post directly to the conversation thread by clicking ‘reply’ to the email.

Post to Yammer via email

This is particularly useful if you’re on the road and need to fire off a quick response or have a relatively unstable internet connection.

As with any tool, there will be pros and cons to using Yammer. If you have any questions about how you think Yammer could help your organisation, or how to get more from your organisation’s use of Yammer, we’d love to talk with you.

Posted by: Lee Stevens, Solutions Specialist, Product Management & Marketing | 26 February 2014

Tags: Social Networking, Collaboration, Community, Yammer, Social


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