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What Is Yammer, and What Can It Do For Your Company?

With many employees have been uprooted from their normal work environment, staying connected is more important than ever. Workers need to connect they are social distancing onsite or are isolated in their home offices. If your company uses Microsoft 365, you already have available to you a great tool for workplace connectivity. What is Yammer? Yammer is a social networking platform that's often referred to as "Facebook for business."

person working at home

What is Yammer?

Yammer is specifically designed to function as social media for the business workplace. It was originally developed in 2008 as an internal company communication system. In 2012, Microsoft paid $1.2 billion to acquire it. It is now an integral part of Microsoft 365, and is in use at more than 85% of Fortune 500 companies.

In many ways, it is a typical social network. However, it is specifically designed for business use. It allows both employees and management to engage with one another across the organization.

Yammer Groups, for example, allows a worker to follow specific topics they are interested in. Additionally, they can post questions and comments and quickly get input from others in the company. Group members can directly collaborate on shared Excel, Word, and PowerPoint files. There's also a news feed that allows users to stay on top of events and information updates that affect their work. Lastly, there's an instant messaging tool to facilitate one-on-one communication.

Benefits

The overriding benefit is that encourages and facilitates, both structured and unstructured communication among all the employees of your organization. Additionally, it is a closed platform that can be accessed only by employees within your corporate domain. Here are some of the specific ways Yammer can benefit a business:

  • Enables company-wide communication — Executives, managers, and other leaders can post announcements, information updates, accolades for achievements, questions, and requests for feedback or suggestions in a medium that's accessible to users across the entire organization.
  • Keeps employees informed and engaged — It provides a platform for company news feeds, as well as interactive discussions that help employees feel that they understand and are actively involved with what's going on in all departments of the organization.
  • Allows workers to get input from the community — Even when an employee isn't sure who to ask for the specific information they need, Yammer allows them to post a request to the entire organization. Whoever has the needed information can then respond either publicly or privately.
  • Fosters a sense of cohesiveness and community — It helps employees integrate on an individual basis, and with the organization as a whole.
  • Helps groups manage their projects — It provides a communication avenue for inter and intra-group communication, as well as for one-on-one messaging and chats. It is particularly useful for projects that span departments or larger organizations within the company.
  • Provides an avenue for obtaining vital feedback from employees — Not only can it provide management with valuable information from employees, but it also helps workers feel that their voice is being heard.
  • Facilitates onboarding of new employees — With its informal, non-threatening social media "feel," it is the perfect platform for acclimating new employees to the culture of the company.

person remote work

Yammer vs Teams

With many employees now working from home, companies today are using Teams to facilitate online communication and collaboration among workers and project teams. If yours is one of those companies, you may be wondering what benefits Yammer can provide beyond what you already have. Let's take a quick look at the differences between Yammer and Teams.

The first thing to know is that Yammer is closely integrated with Teams. For example, you can add a Yammer tab to Teams that allows users to browse Yammer communities or engage in Yammer conversations. So, there's not an issue of having to choose between Teams and Yammer. Rather, the question is how to make the best use of each.

Teams are designed to facilitate rapid, direct, back-and-forth interchanges between users. That makes it the ideal tool for collaborating on group projects. Yammer, on the other hand, is best for company-wide communication that may not be oriented around any specific project. For example, Yammer is a great avenue for publishing information, or for distributing surveys and polls to gauge employee sentiment throughout the organization.

By design, Yammer is less privacy-focused than Teams. When it comes to information that needs to remain private and secure, Teams is the better option. If it's information you want everyone to know about, Yammer is the way to go.

Murali Sitaram, the Yammer general manager, sums up the differences in focus between Teams and Yammer this way:

"[Yammer] is about building community at scale across organizations… It is not a product you go to build a small team or group, or a channel, or to do instant communications with people within your immediate team. That's the purpose and goal of Teams."

Costs

Yammer is bundled into most Microsoft 365 enterprise plans (except for Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise). Similar to Dropbox, Yammer is based on a "freemium" financial model. You can use its basic features at no cost. However, to get advanced capabilities you'll need to upgrade and pay a monthly fee. For example, Yammer Enterprise standalone, which provides additional support, administrative tools, data analytics, and security, is currently available for $3 per user per month.

Yammer Can Make a Difference in Your Company

Kelly Meeker, Community Manager at OpenSesame provides a good example of the benefits Yammer can bring to businesses like yours:

My company (OpenSesame) uses Yammer to share articles about emerging technologies, blog posts from other organizations, status updates about what we've been working on, and also silly videos and cartoons from Oatmeal.

We've found that our posts keep each other up to date in an almost effortless way and that using Yammer is less intrusive than sending mass emails or the like.

The real value is… in creating an easy-to-use workplace social network that enables easy collaboration and information-sharing.

If you'd like to know more about how Yammer can help build your business, please contact us.

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