Yammer promises to reduce e-mail overload, boost productivity and turn dry internal communications into useful messaging
If your company’s e-mail is crammed with extraneous info blasts and Twitter doesn’t provide the privacy or flexibility you need, a new tool called Yammer might be the proper avenue for your internal communiques.
If you’re familiar with Twitter (see previous Ragan stories here and here), you’ll get the Yammer concept. It’s a way to send short messages about your current project or what’s happening in the office—including doughnuts in the conference room.
Like Twitter, Yammer is free. However, companies that pay a minimal fee ($1 per month per user) can get access to administrative tools, such as password policies and customization.
David Sacks, CEO of West Hollywood, Calif.-based Yammer, is quick to point out how Yammer is not like Twitter.
“We’ve outgrown our Twitter-like roots,” Sacks said. For one thing, he explained, there’s no limit on message lengths. (Twitter messages can be 140 characters, max.) And Yammer, which launched in September, has begun rolling out tools to make its service for friendly to corporate users—such as group messaging and the ability to add attachments.
“We wanted to take a consumer technology and make it just as easy to use at work,” Sacks said of Yammer’s origins. Ease of use is key, Sacks said, adding that wikis and other corporate tools have fallen short of their hype and can be daunting for workers to use and access. Yammer doesn’t require that kind of ramp-up time.
What do people Yammer about? Anything of interest or relevance to co-workers—such as alerts about brainstorming sessions, a noteworthy Web link or maybe an after-hours gathering.
“Before Yammer, all of these conversations would take place on e-mail,” Sacks said. “Yammer moves these discussions out of e-mail; it’s kind of a company discussion board. You can then reserve e-mail for communications that require a response.”
Yammer can also encourage people to comment on internal discussions or a salient trade journal article that another person has posted, Sacks said. They might be hesitant to issue a mass e-mail and clutter everyone’s already overstuffed inboxes. With Yammer, they can post a quick opinion with a clearer conscience.
Manage PR accounts with Yammer
At the Omaha ad agency Ervin & Smith, it was the barrage of non-urgent e-mail messages that spurred the adoption of Yammer.
“The president of our company talked about all the e-mail that she’d get if she left the office for just an hour,” said Misty Wendt, a senior account executive at Ervin & Smith. “We thought that we’d love to find a way to communicate without those all-audience e-mails.”
Cindy West, VP and director of operations at Ink Inc. PR in Kansas City, Mo., said she loves Yammer’s ability to bring a sense of community to a far-flung staff. The company has offices on the West Coast and employs many telecommuters.
At Ink Inc., West asks Yammer users to limit messages to business topics—so, no messages about doughnuts in the conference room. “Our office is small—we can just yell down the hall.”