Yammer – Twitter for Business

By | September 11, 2008

Yammer (www.yammer.com) a twitter like experience for business users was initially recommended to us by Richard McKay http://www.richardmckay.com/ via twitter. Thanks Richard.

All those who share the same domain for their business email addresses can sign up and are automatically added to a private network for that domain name. You setup your profile, configure how you are going to use Yammer and then leave twitter like comments and respond to others, but Yammer goes so much further. This is a micro-blogging tool aimed at the business world.

What was a pleasant surprise was that you can also interact with Yammer via jabber, aim or gtalk instant messaging clients and there is also a adobe air client, blackberry client and an Apple client on its way (awaiting apple approval to be in the store).

Another feature which we liked and that Twitter doesn’t have is automatic notification via your browser windows of new updates. Saves you having to click to check if there has been an update.

Yammer provides the ability to tag and search messages / threads. To write a message with a tag and then for people to explore all messages in the company network for that tag is fantastic. Allows new people to the company to get up to speed (acting as a knowledge base), understand issues and people’s involvement more, then engage in discussion if they want. You can also use the system as a company directory allowing workers to find people and their contact details.

So what are the negatives? Trust obviously. You are trusting a third party service to manage your data securely, have backups, trusting their team and hoping major security issues don’t arise that make your data vulnerable. However it is entirely your fault if you put something sensitive there and an issue arises. However you will notice you are using a https connection when logged into Yammer via your browser.

Obviously if you do use the service, don’t go posting passwords etc and evaluate what you and your fellow employees should post or discuss via the service. Create your own inhouse guidelines before posting.

What are features we would like to see? Well the service only launched yesterday so I am sure new features will find their way onto the service over time. The ability for users to create ‘sticky’ messages would be good. So even if a message has not been active recently, it stays at the top of someones profile. A way for comments to be marked urgent or important. An xml export feature for messages would be nifty. Perhaps a way to create private groups within the business network.

The service has a fantastic feature that twitter doesn’t have also. It sends you an email when someone responds to one of your messages. Twitter only does this when someone responds to a private message. Obviously this might not be scalable in the long term as the network grows, but we will wait and see.

This overview also doesn’t do the service full justice as there are paid administrative features as well for you to consider and they are very reasonably priced.

I think Yammer is something Small Businesses should consider, especially those with remote workers. Oh and by the way Yammer took top prize at TechCrunch50 yesterday. Congratulations Yammer!

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