Following up on our review of the Social Features that are currently available within SharePoint 2013, let's highlight some of the features available within Yammer. This high level overview will get you thinking about the powerful things that your organization can do with the tools available within Yammer.
Many of my examples are coming from the social network called SPYam. This group was created as a way for our SharePoint community to come together to collaborate and share ideas. If you are a SharePoint user within your company, you should consider joining this community group so that you can engage with others who also work with SharePoint.
In this case, it would serve two purposes, you could connect and network with others as well as get some experience using Yammer. To join the group, check out the information post created by Joel Olsen (Group Creator and Admin) and follow his instructions for requesting an invitation.
Two Types of Yammer
Organizations that want to get started with Yammer have two options -- a free model and a paid subscription. The difference between the two models is mostly around access to additional administration features. More specific details can be found on the Yammer pricing page.
These two models give organizations the ability to quickly and easily set up a free community to try out the features with low risk and high reward. If usage takes off, then it's possible to upgrade to receive the additional features that can be used to help manage and ease integration with other systems in the environment.
Let's take a look at some of the primary features that are available with the free model -- we won’t get too deep into the extra features that are available with the additional subscription.
Conversations & Groups
Two of the main social features in Yammer are the concepts of groups and conversations. Users are able to join groups and then participate in threaded conversations. Whenever they access the Yammer site they are able to see a roll up of the conversations across all groups in their network.
Below is a screenshot of the SPYam network home page. You can see from the image that there are several different groups (listed on the left) and that the main feed (center) is a rollup of the content within all the groups.
In addition to having the rollup of content on the main page, users can elect to have notifications sent to them when content changes. These notifications apply at the Network level and can be customized so that a user can receive weekly, daily or immediate summaries of the changes within the network. This allows for users to create a custom experience that matches their needs and working preferences.
For each of my networks, I personally have different levels of notifications set, allowing me to be notified of the most important changes immediately and then having summaries of information less pertinent to the immediate tasks that I am working on sent on a daily or weekly basis. This flexibility allows the tool to work for me, based on my preferences.
Similar to other social tools, I can also send Private message to a select number of users or start a chat with any users that are currently online.
This chat feature allows you to easily interact with other users within the existing tool. A scenario where this could be helpful is if I needed to ask a quick question about something a person posted or if I needed something from a specific user. If you consider a broader scenario, you could also use these features to connect with different people based on their expertise.
The screenshot below shows an example of this feature in action. In my example, I completed a search on the term “InfoPath” and my results showed information about all conversations, members, groups and files that contain the term. Using this I can find all things related to my search term and then directly from the results interact with the experts by following them or directly sending them a message.
More Than Just a Conversation
The final component I wanted to highlight was that while most things in Yammer are focused around the idea of groups having conversations, there is still much flexibility in what that means. When I go to share an update with the group I am able to add text but also do much more, including adding a document to my post, creating a quick poll question, giving someone praise or posting information about an event. In addition, for each item you can add Tags to help classify the content and make it easier to be found later.
Being able to do these things allows me to quickly add rich media components to the tasks I am already doing. Because everything shows up in the feed, I can easily stay up to speed on every thing that's going on related to a particular conversation or task. As a user who wants to keep things simple, fast and effective I enjoy only having to look in one single location for updates.
An example of a poll that was posted in the network is shown below. We can see that 13 people responded to the poll and several users had comments on the poll itself.
We have just barely touched the surface of the actions you can take with Yammer, but hopefully this is enough of a high level overview to get you started as you start to look at the value of the tool and how it could be used within your organization.
Getting started and setting things up is easy -- just navigate to the Yammer home page and enter your work email address. From there you will be added to the Network associated with your domain. You will get an email with instructions on what to do next -- follow those steps and then start being social!
As you evaluate the tools available just remember to always keep your user in mind and focus on what is best for them and how they work. Be careful not to get caught up in the bells and whistles of any solution, but instead focus on how people typically work and how the tools you are looking at can enhance what they are already doing.
Editor's Note: To read more of Jennifer's thoughts on Yammer, take a look at SharePoint, Social and Yammer: A Way of Working, Not Just Tools