Using Yammer to Communicate Within Our Company

January 7, 2009

Yammer is a private version of Twitter meant to be used by organizations large and small. Employees post their activities, thoughts, and interesting finds, allowing everyone to keep up to date on what others are doing. It's less like big brother and more chatting with your neighbor.

Everyone in the office are pretty avid Twitter users (follow me), but those feeds are very public and also are clogged by other people we're following. We wanted a way to be able to instantly update each other on what we're doing, but only let our team see it. Yammer seemed like the perfect fit.

The real impetus for this service was our growth as a company over the past two years. In that time, we've grown from 2 guys selling and making websites, to a full service web design and development firm that has built over 200 websites and now numbers eight in staff. We're each scattered throughout the office in our own little worlds, and with frequent travel and some people working remotely, it only made sense to have a central way to share information and stay up to date.

This problem is exactly the one that Yammer is meant to solve, so we decided to give it a shot.

We're only five hours in, but so far everyone is really enjoying the service. We've already had a few dozen posts ranging from the tech team coordinating a project with scripts to me griping about a poorly writter RFP. The posts have been helpful, funny, and thoughtful.

There are some really killer features in Yammer that have already made it somewhat of a "sticky app," and quickly made us realize that their team did more than just copy Twitter and that this is a product with a longterm viability:

  • Instant Messenger Interface. Everyone in the office is on G Chat all day long, and it was a cinch to set up Yammer to interface with G Chat or any other IM client you might use. Now, whenever someone in the company posts to Yammer, I get a g chat with the post and the option to respond or send my own, separate post. Makes it so I can stay up to date with everyone without having Yammer take up any of my valuable screen or browser tab real estate.
  • File Attachments to Posts. You can attach a file to each post, which makes it extremely easy to share files across the office. When wanting team feedback on a design earlier, I simply posted the design and waited for the feedback to roll in. Very easy to do and guaranteed instant responses. All past files are neatly stored in a Files tab accessible from the main Yammer interface too!
  • Organizing Groups. One of the first thing our developers did was organize the Tech Group with the simple instructions: "Nerds only plz." Other NMC nerds (their words, not mine) can sign to receive updates from that group via SMS, IM, or regular Yammer. Also, members of the group can send out messages intended for that group only. This is helpful as I don't want to have to read nitty gritty technical details about scripts, jQuery techniques, or Kris' new PHP framework all day long. Now these posts will just go to their relevant audience.
  • Tags. Similar to Twitter, a # in Yammer denotes a tag for a certain event or topic. However, these tags also handily accumulate in a section of the Yammer site, allowing you permament access to posts about a certain tag. Want to jump to that post about a week ago on PHP? Just hop over to the Tags, find PHP and locate the specific post you're looking for.

As you can see, we've been very impressed with Yammer so far and are excited to keep kicking the tires and posting on the progress. So far, it seems ideal for smaller firms like ours, ranging from 5-25 people. However, I could see it working for larger organizations as well, as long as someone was willing to put in the time to set up groups. Has anyone else used the service and had an either good or bad experience?


 Jeremy Slade's avatar
Jeremy Slade

Yammer is a great concept implemented well. I don't think it's a good option for largely organizations, especially publicly-traded companies that have many more legal / privacy issues.

I wrote about Intel's experience with yammer, and the alternative we're looking at --

 Waynette Tubbs's avatar
Waynette Tubbs

Thanks for the posting to Twitter, Clay. SAS has started using Yammer internally. I've posted this article to our members as a bit more education. So far, we are enjoying it but only connecting members by means of peer-to-peer invite.

 Joel's avatar

Great writeup Clay. I am already shocked at how well this medium works for small companies/startups. We really should have done this sooner.

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