What Is Microsoft Yammer Good for & Why Companies Use It

What Is Microsoft Yammer Good for & Why Companies Use It

Are you curious about Microsoft Yammer?

The truth is, many companies (especially large ones) use Yammer in their day-to-day operations on top of using other tools like Teams or Slack.

In this article, let’s discuss what Microsoft Yammer is good for and why companies use it. I’ll also share how it integrates with SharePoint and other Microsoft apps.

Let’s get started.

What is Microsoft Yammer?

Do you use Facebook? Or maybe even LinkedIn?

If so, then you will have an easy time understanding Yammer since it’s basically like Facebook or LinkedIn for companies.

The only difference is that instead of friends and families, you will see posts from colleagues, and instead of ads, you will see company announcements and reminders.

Technically, it’s an enterprise social network (ESN) platform that connects members of the same organization (and even outsiders) and enables them to engage with each other.

A little history here:

Yammer didn’t really originate from Microsoft. It was created by Geni (an online community of casual and expert genealogists) for internal communication.

The success of the tool made it its product and company and attracted a lot of buyers. Then, in 2012, Microsoft acquired it and has included it in Microsoft 365 suite since 2014.

Note: Yammer stayed in the background for a few years until 2019 when Microsoft revealed an updated version of it.

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    Why do companies use Yammer?

    The question is — we already got the traditional email system we use as well as the almighty Teams, why do companies use Yammer?

    In fact, there are so many alternatives back there that are more popular, which makes you ask why companies still use Yammer.

    Below, you will find why others like it so much and why you might think about using it too in your own company:

    1. Direct line to whoever can answer the question

    In the corporate world, asking a question might mean not getting the answer, especially if you don’t know who the right person is to ask.

    What normally happens is that you can send the question to someone via email (usually) or some other medium.

    Then, the person whom you sent it will pass it to another person if he or she doesn’t know the answer and doesn’t know who to ask.

    This happens for a few cycles until the question finds the right person. Sounds familiar?

    With Yammer, employees can get the answers fast by simply posting on a Yammer community. People in charge monitor their Yammer community to answer questions right away.

    With this, questions get answered fast which leads to faster decision-making, and in business, speed can sometimes mean profit.

    2. Great alternative for email newsletters in the company

    Do you receive the usual company-wide email newsletter every week?

    It’s usually sent by some intern in the admin at the same time every week to announce something or update everybody on some progress.

    The same email that nobody reads — and probably deletes right after they got it.

    On the other hand, things might be different if you use Yammer to share some news or announce something that’s typically packed in a single newsletter.

    In addition, the intern in the admin office won’t need to do it every time. In fact, employees love it even more if the leadership posts the updates and announcements themselves.

    The good side to this is that employees may be able to react and even comment on it. It’s also more fun to engage when there are images included.

    3. Provides a good platform for informal employee training

    Did you notice that sometimes, while scrolling through Facebook or LinkedIn, you walk away with some new random learnings?

    The same can happen with your employees when they use Yammer.

    During training, you pour lots of information on their heads. While they may remember some things, they will likely forget the majority.

    But imagine if while they’re scrolling through their Yammer feed, they would come across graphics and quotes that remind them of what they learned during training?

    Even better, what if they learn new things simply by scrolling through them as they do on social media platforms?

    4. Keeps employees connected with some doses of fun

    Did you know that some of your employees have their own email chain where they share funny jokes and videos?

    Yammer is a good avenue for leadership to share announcements and events. On the other hand, the platform is informal enough for employees to share cat videos.

    It’s a great way to build a fun culture within the company and allow everyone to communicate internally and even join in on the fun.

    If you have some outside contractors or sister companies, you can also set it up to allow those people to safely collaborate with your employees.

    Best of all, you can track what’s happening and what’s being shared (unlike with some email chains where you won’t know what’s being talked about).

    5. Showcase achievements and build people up

    Did someone do some innovation that helped the company in some way? Did the sales department perform astronomically this year?

    If so, better share it on Yammer and showcase the achievements for everyone to see. It’s a good way to motivate these people to even do better next time.

    As you may know, showing others that you appreciate their efforts has a good effect on their morale and motivation.

    It makes them feel recognized and how it was all worth it (even if many of these achievers may deny feeling good about being recognized).

    What are the features of Yammer that may interest you the most?

    Now that you know some of the reasons why companies like to use Yammer, I want to share with you some of the features that I like the most about it.

    Starting with what you can post:

    1. Post a discussion, question, praise, or even a poll

    I wrote earlier that with Yammer, employees can directly post a question and leadership can post announcements and even showcase the achievements of the employees.

    Well, in Yammer, you can create various types of posts:

    • Discussion (default)
    • Question
    • Praise
    • Poll
    Different types of post in Yammer

    Discussion posts are simply text-based posts. This type of post is useful when you want to share something with the community.

    Since it’s a text-based post, you might think it will look boring. But no — like Facebook, you can use images to spice it up.

    Question and praise types encase the question or praise post in a frame with an icon at the top. With praise posts, you can even select the icon you want to use.

    The poll type allows you to ask a question and include a maximum of three answers for the users to choose from.

    2. Move a post to another community

    Did you experience someone on Teams posting something on the wrong channel (or even worse, on the wrong team!).

    Unfortunately, the best you can do with that is to delete the post and ask the person to share his post with the right channel or team.

    With Yammer, you don’t have to worry about a single thing if one of the members posted something on the wrong community.

    That’s because there’s an option in Yammer that enables you to move a post to another community.

    Button on Yammer that allows you to move a post

    The cool thing here is that the entire conversation itself gets moved to the other community.

    Yes, that means even if people started commenting on the post, you can still move the post as well as all the comments with it.

    3. Pin and close a conversation

    Let’s talk about pinning a post first:

    If you have tried pinning a message in Teams, you probably got disappointed when you saw that your post didn’t literally get pinned in the thread.

    With Yammer, pinned conversations literally appear at the top of the page. You can also pin files or links on the right sidebar so people will find them right away.

    A pinned conversation on Yammer and a pinned area on the sidebar

    There’s also another option that’s as important as pinning a conversation — the ability to “close” a conversation.

    Basically, you can enable this when you don’t want users to reply or comment on the post anymore.

    Handy, right? This one feature doesn’t exist on Teams and on other collaboration tools (though it’s present on most social media platforms).

    4. Feature a conversation

    How about a more powerful version of the pinning feature?

    This new feature that enables you to feature a conversation literally puts the conversation or post at the top of everyone’s home feed for a certain time.

    You are featuring a conversation options in Yammer

    The best part? You can choose the specific date and time that your post remains featured in the home feed.

    Your post is also included in the discovery email sent to all the users in the community.

    Just note that users who see it on their home feed once will not see it again at the top of their home feed (but they can still see it on your user page.

    5. Assign topics to conversations

    How about the ability to tag a conversation with a specific topic?

    That’s definitely possible with Yammer. You can assign existing topics or easily add a new one to your posts.

    Easily create a new topic in Yammer

    What this does is that it makes it easy for users to search for a particular conversation. It also helps organize the posts especially if you meant them as a guide.

    I will talk more about this below, but this feature is also helpful in displaying specific content in SharePoint using the Yammer web part.

    How does Yammer integrate with SharePoint?

    It’s important to ask how well Yammer integrates with SharePoint especially if you have company sites that make use of it.

    The answer — Yammer integrates really well with SharePoint.

    While in the past you needed to use the script editor web part, there’s no need for it anymore if you’re using modern pages.

    Note: If you want to learn about the differences between the class and modern experience, check out the article I wrote about SharePoint class vs modern experience.

    Back to Yammer and SharePoint — integration is now easier since there are two web parts you can use, one for conversations and one for highlights.

    Conversations and highlights Yammer web parts

    The conversations web part (new) will allow you to show either a feed or highlight (tiles) of various conversations in Yammer.

    This will literally bring over the conversations and post them as if the web part is the feed, with users able to engage with it right inside SharePoint.

    This is where the topic functionality plays its role — it’s one of the conversation sources you can select (along with the user, community, and home feed).

    Select conversation source for Yammer web part

    The other web part doesn’t allow for many choices when it comes to conversation sources as you can only select the group or community.

    Then, you can decide whether to show the top conversations (most popular), the latest ones in the community, or the ones you choose.

    If you want to show only the conversations you choose, you need to add the Yammer conversation link (seems a bit archaic).

    Whether you select the new Yammer web part or the old one, the fact remains that integration between Yammer and SharePoint is really great.

    How does Yammer integrate with Microsoft Teams?

    The next question is — does it work together with Microsoft Teams?

    Right now, Yammer and Teams can co-exist together quite easily. You can browse your Yammer community right inside the Teams app.

    That’s because there’s now an app in Teams you can use called “Communities” that enables you to fully experience Yammer inside the Teams app.

    Communities app on Teams application

    When enabled, it pins the entire Yammer community in Teams, which you can access via the left rail. Easy solution.

    With this, you can collaborate with your team inside the app and visit the Yammer app for social and fun purposes when you can.

    Previously, the only choice to do this was to embed the entire Yammer website in a tab. That was a bit of a hassle.

    Note: If you want to select only either Teams or Yammer, I wrote an article about Yammer vs Teams you can check out.

    Using Yammer requires strategy

    Without a doubt, Yammer is a great tool to use meant to break down silos and encourage employees to connect and engage with one another.

    It’s also a great place for employees, regardless of department or location, to connect on issues that affect their company globally.

    On the other hand, if you intend to use Yammer, you will need a good strategy, unless you’re willing to give everyone free rein on the platform.

    But if you want to use it properly, you need to know what buttons to push, how to make your posts engaging, and many others.

    If you have some questions regarding Yammer, comment down below so we can talk about them.

    For inquiries and concerns, send me a message through my contact page and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

    About Ryan Clark

    As the Principal Solutions Architect at Mr. SharePoint, I help companies of all sizes better leverage Modern Workplace and Digital Process Automation investments. I am also a Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP) for Office Apps & Services.

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