What is Yammer and Why You Should Use It
Launched in 2008, Yammer is an enterprise social network; this means that unlike other social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter – which are designed for public use – Yammer is designed for private communication for members within a given organization. It is a social network for businesses and companies. What’s so useful about this? The basic set up is free, easy to use, and, perhaps, most importantly, it provides a private, manageable, and secure online space for businesses to communicate. If your board room created a social networking site, this is what it would look like. For more about why you should be using this tool, check out 6 Things You Can’t Do At Your Office Without Yammer.
How to Get Setup with Yammer
If you’re creating a Yammer account for your business, you’ll need a valid company email address. You’ll be sent a confirmation email and then you can log into the Yammer system.
If you’re being invited to join a Yammer network, you’ll receive an email from the network’s administrator; follow the link, and you’ll be directed to Yammer’s main page.
After feeling strangely comforted by the Facebook-like blue and white colour scheme, look to the top right corner of your screen. Here, you will find a “getting started” box that will lead you through several initial steps including, completing your profile, adding your photo, inviting others to join your network, joining groups, and getting Yammer desktops or mobile Apps.
When creating your profile and adding your photo, remember that while Yammer looks and feels like a typical social networking site, it’s a business environment. Pick a work place appropriate user name and a photo where your face is visible.
Officially, Yammer refers to all communications that take place on the site as “Yams”. Yams are sorted into various feeds. A feed, if you’re new to social media, is a way of grouping certain kinds of messages.
Your main feed is made up of the Yams from the people you’re following and the groups you’re in. To post your own Yam, simply pick whether you are posting an update, question, link, poll or event, and fill in the necessary information and press update. People are able to “like” or reply to your post, and you are able to do the same with other people’s posts within your network. Every message in Your Feed has a button marked “more”; this will allow you to view a thread of conversation or bookmark a thread.
To the left of your screen, you can choose other feeds – or other ways of organizing the Yams which show up on your home page.
- Sent- Allows you to sort Yams into only the messages you’ve sent.
- Received- Shows all the yams @addressed to you
- Liked- A list of the Yams that you’ve liked.
- Bookmarked – A is the list of yams that you’ve marked as favourites.
- All – Will filter all non-private Yams within your network
- Groups – Will show Yams posted to your groups.
Like Facebook and Quora, Yammer has a private message function. This allows you to communicate with a specific user without having to share your thread with the whole network. Private messages, as their title suggests, are in fact, private and cannot be viewed by your followers or groups.
If you’re coming from other social networking sites such as Twitter, hash tags (#hashtags) won’t be new. A hash tag allows you to organize messages, find topics, and find people. Because Yammer is used for work, hashtags are an essential tool used to identify what posts are about. While some tags are Yammer wide, most will be generated by the needs of your business or company. For businesses, it’s a good idea to put together a glossary of tags specific to your Yammer network. For new users, it’s important to understand the hash tag vocabulary of your company’s Yammer network to help you communicate effectively, but also to find information quickly.
You can also choose to follow a tag when it appears in your feed by clicking the “follow” button. This means that you’ll be notified anytime there is any activity that involves that tag.
Groups and Communities
You can only join a Yammer network through invitation; however, within a Yammer network you can create or join groups and communities. On Yammer, a group is a way to communicate within subsets of a network. For example, you might have different groups devoted to particular projects or work areas, allowing the people within this group to communicate within a smaller and more specific “inner” network. You can also make groups private in order to focus conversation on a particular topic.
Communities, on the other hand, are external groups. They are networks which allow you to communicate with people outside your internal Yammer networks such as customers or partners.
For employees wishing to create a group, first take a look at existing groups to get a feel for the kind of groups on the network. Are there non-work related groups (perhaps, a group hockey pool)? If so, it’s probably okay to create non-work groups. If there aren’t any non-work specific groups, it’s a good idea to contact your employer to assess their comfort level with different kinds of groups in their network.
Even if you’ve only been on Yammer a short time, you’ll want to immediately adjust your email settings or you’ll find yourself bombarded by notification emails.
To adjust your email settings, go to “Account Settings” and chose notifications. You can toggle with the various notification settings to meet your needs. One very useful communication feature is to choose to receive a “digest” of message activity. This will send a daily or weekly email that summarizes the day’s notification activity. It’s a great way to keep track of messages, but not overcrowd your inbox.
Yammer allows you to choose to follow people or hash tags; however, following on Yammer is slightly different than other social networking sites. First, you can only follow people within your network, and only people from your network can follow you. When you choose to follow someone, you are choosing to view messages from them in “My Feed”. Following is not like a “friend request”. If you choose to follow someone, it isn’t automatically mutual, and if someone chooses to follow you, you don’t need to approve the request. When following someone or being followed, only public messages from groups and feeds will appear in “My Feed”. Private messages and groups remain private.
You can also choose to “like” a post by clicking the “like” button. While this can be a convenient way to communicate that you’re watching a thread or message, be wary of allowing yourself to slip into personal social media habits. Yammer is a workplace network, and as such, make sure you “like” messages pertaining to you, and don’t use it as a lazy replacement for a more lengthy response.
Yammer has a mobile app for iPhone, Blackberry, and Androids. It’s a relatively straightforward application that allows you to post on Yammer by sending SMS’s from your mobile device.
Yammer also as a desktop application that allows you to use most of Yammer’s features off your desk top, including directing messaging, posting to groups, and following people or groups.
There are also a series of Apps (Links, Questions, Leaderboards, Polls, Events, Charts) that allow you to see all the posts of a certain category from your network. For example, if you click on the “Links” App, you’ll get a list of all the links posted in your network.
How do you delete your account?
No longer part of an organization? To delete your account is easy; simply go to account and click “delete account”. However, if you’d like to also delete any messages you posted while part of that Yammer network, you need to sift through messages and delete each one manually.
Yammer can be a very useful virtual communication tool; however, the challenge for users is to remember that it’s a professionals setting. Because it looks and feels like other social networking sites, it can be easy to transfer bad Facebook or Twitter habits to Yammer. Some tips to help avoid this:
- Proofread your posts. They don’t need to be rhyming couplets, but grammatical errors don’t impress anyone, particularly in a work setting.
- Get a feel for your network and the kind of language that’s appropriate. Some networks may be relatively casual, but others might not be. Until you see someone else use one, resist the urge to pepper your posts with smiley faces.
- Be aware of your commenting and “liking” habits. In the same way it isn’t appropriate to drop in on conversations in an office, it also isn’t appropriate to get involved with threads that don’t pertain to you.
- Remember that public posts within the network are written records. If you’re upset about an issue, wait five minutes before posting.
- Private messages are a great way to communicate with a specific co-worker, but if you find a conversation veering away from work, take it to a personal social networking site.