What is Yammer and Why Use Yammer for Business? A Look at Yammer Functionality
Whether or not you use social media, there’s no denying that it has become ingrained in our everyday lives. Australians are some of the most active social media users in the world at 79%(1), and well above the global average of 42%(2). In line with this, half of Australian businesses (52%)(2) are now using social media as a way to a) connect with new potential customers, b) communicate and stay in touch with existing customers and c) communicate internally within a business.
These statistics show that views are changing about where social media fits in the workplace. Traditionally, employers have viewed social media as a distraction and have often blocked access to social media sites as a result. Organisations are now beginning to embrace technology such as Microsoft Yammer and other forms of social media, as they provide a useful alternative to traditional email, minus the clutter, enabling businesses to stay connected with their employees and customers. Social media has moved beyond being just a tool for external communication and has become an important tool for internal communication and collaboration.
What is Yammer?
Yammer is often referred to as the ‘Facebook for business’, where your ‘friends’ are replaced by ‘colleagues’. Instead of posts from friends about what they did on the weekend along with sponsored ads, content is specific to your organisation and is contributed by your fellow employees. The platform has a high adoption rate particularly in larger organisations, with 85%(3) of Fortune 500 companies using it.
Microsoft Office has always been the go-to business software, and many enterprises are adopting Office 365 to take advantage of the latest suite of tools which includes cloud storage such as SharePoint and OneDrive, Planner, Flow, Teams and social networking tool Yammer.
Yammer was developed as an internal communications tool for businesses and their employees, enabling users to collaborate and shares ideas within groups, such as departments, securely and as an alternative to email communication. It has further evolved into a platform that connects organisations with clients, contractors and vendors.
Yammer is a great platform for improving and promoting communication between organisations, departments, employees and external parties, allowing parties to offer their opinions and insights on projects and initiate discussions on things going on in their department. With one in three Australians now regularly working from home(4), tools like Yammer enable flexible communication and provide a means for keeping up to date with important announcements on-the-go and out of office. Similarly, Yammer functionality can be helpful for organisations that operate in multiple time-zones.
There are a number of key features built into Yammer that are designed to facilitate collaboration and communication, which include the ability to;
- Post company announcements, events and industry news
- Like, comment and follow posts and content
- Create sub-groups for collaboration on team projects
- Send and receive private messages
- Share files to be collaborated on, powered by SharePoint or OneDrive
- Quickly and easily create polls for real-time feedback
- Change notification settings to suite your preferences, similar to LinkedIn or Facebook
- Embed feeds into other business applications such as your SharePoint landing page
- Gauge and measure interaction and interest via “Seen” counts and post reports
- Tag specific parties using @mentions
Yammer can be a great vehicle for strengthening workplace relationships, building community around a common interest, cultivating executive and employee engagement, driving ideas and innovation, engaging customers and providing a means for escalation of concerns. There are some great business use cases out there to draw upon.
Why Use Yammer for Business?
Contrary to traditional views of social media held by many businesses, when implemented correctly Microsoft Yammer has the ability to not only improve communication and collaboration, but also organisational efficiency. So, why use Yammer for business? Here are a number of ways Yammer could add value to your organisation.
Work-focused social media
Many companies block traditional social media platforms (i.e. Facebook) from their network as it can cause distraction for employees, thereby impacting productivity. As Yammer is a work-driven solution that’s part of Office 365, organisations can take advantage of social collaboration without the distractions derived from personal connections.
Alternative to email
One of the biggest challenges in larger organisations is the amount of emails that assault a person’s inbox each day. For non-critical announcements, Yammer is a great alternative to traditional email – sort of like a message board. Posts and announcements could include anything from an FYI about internal marketing activities, to a relevant industry article, to upcoming events that may be of interest.
Internal collaboration and fast answers
Companies with offices spanning multiple time-zones will benefit from using Yammer Groups, to collaborate in a way that connects everyone and transcends time-zones. It provides a platform to receive prompt responses from team members. This is facilitated by the notification function, which provides the option to receive a popup or email notification depending on your settings, when another user responds to a query or post you have made. This means people can get their answers faster, work can be completed sooner, thereby maximising productivity.
Secure and compliant
Other than the obvious negative impact traditional platforms, such as Facebook, could have on work productivity, the other major concern organisations have is potential security and compliance risks. Yammer has the level of enterprise-grade security that you can expect from a Microsoft product including the ability to set password policies, have multiple levels of admin roles and control file uploads. Yammer also comes with built-in features for GDPR compliance, control of data retention policies, the ability to generate compliance reports and more.
Promote external collaboration and workplace culture
Office camaraderie is harder to come by when employees are spread across cities and locations, but with a platform like Yammer, connection and culture within an organisation can be fostered and nurtured more easily. Not only for employees, organisations can create an environment for collaboration and communication with contractors, vendors and customers.
Integrated Office 365 apps
Yammer functionality integrates seamlessly with all the Office 365 apps you should be using, including Microsoft Teams, OneDrive and SharePoint. In Teams you can choose to follow particular Yammer groups and be notified of new announcements and/or conversations. Yammer feeds can be displayed in your chosen Teams channel, with the ability to click and view conversations in Yammer or have discussions within Teams about particular yammer posts with other community managers.
With Yammer’s SharePoint Online integration, you can easily include a Yammer feed on your SharePoint site, giving users the ability to communicate and engage in conversation without having to leave SharePoint. For SharePoint Server, you can use a Web Part to achieve the same effect. Other integrations with Yammer that Microsoft offers include Trello, Twitter, WordPress and Dropbox to name a few.
Yammer in the real world
Although Yammer might not be as well-known as other more prominent social media and collaborative tools, there are a plethora of highly regarded companies that are effectively incorporating Yammer into their daily operations. Global vaccine producer Sanofi Pasteur, utilises Yammer effectively to “crowdsource ideas from everyone in the company to further improve and develop vaccine production”(5). Other renowned companies that use Yammer include Finnair, Carillion, 7Eleven. As users develop a greater understanding of how different Office 365 apps integrate and compliment each other, more and more companies are expected to adopt Microsoft Yammer and its complimentary apps in the coming years.
So why use Yammer for business? When it comes down to it, Yammer is a social site that focuses entirely on your business, allowing your staff to communicate better. Learning about Yammer and how it could help your business and accommodate the needs of your organization could change the way that you do business, uplifting your staff and improving communication.
A strategic and knowledge information management professional, Michelle has vast experience in design, implementing and delivering bespoke SharePoint and RecordPoint solutions, for clients in both the private and public sectors.
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