Why Yammer is not Facebook

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What’s the big deal? Everybody loves social media … right? So why is it so hard for users to jump in head-first and start collaborating? They even made the user interface similar to another famous social media site … yup, you guessed it ... I’m talking about Facebook. I often hear, “Isn’t Yammer just a Facebook for companies?” and I respond – *drum roll* – no, far from it! And a social media tool will often end up with failed user adoption if you think so.
As I already mentioned, there are some similarities between Yammer and Facebook: the blue color, the newsfeed in the center, groups to the right and a live feed on the left. But still, it's not Facebook for companies. Read on and I will point out why.


Spam is bad for you!

First of all, on Facebook, you socialize with friends. On Yammer it’s your colleagues, which makes a huge difference in the way we behave and socialize. We are not used to socializing with our coworkers on social media platforms. We have spent so many years teaching people good email etiquette because we all know, spam is bad for you!


"With Yammer we encourage people to share their ideas and knowledge with their coworkers. This is not spam—it’s called collaboration!"

I know this will confuse many users, and I often see that they struggle to figure out how to behave. Users will often ask themselves, When should I post something to All Company? Is it okay to create a Yammer Group without asking for permission? And will people see it as spam when I mention them in a comment? So before you roll out Yammer, we will help you create a crystal-clear guideline for the users, so they know how to behave on Yammer, and you can ensure smooth user adoption.


Enterprise communication has changed

“Hey, how about we just start an Office 365 group? Nah, let’s just have a SharePoint team site … or maybe we should create a Yammer group?”

It can be very confusing for the users to figure out all the options Microsoft has to offer. Often people will just go back to what they are used to, and I can’t really blame them! After all, we have a job to do, and can’t spend too much time learning new ways to work. A question I often here is, “Why use Yammer when we just can send an email, or go to our colleague’s desk and have chat?” The answer is quite simple: Because enterprise communication has changed.
The pace of business means that people no longer have time to go to their colleague’s desk and ask for help, or wait for a person to reply to an email. We need answers quickly. We need to share our ideas and collaborate in real time. This is all possible thanks to Yammer – which makes it possible to address the communication gap and accelerate collaboration, productivity, and socializing at the same time.

7 Replies
Excellent article. Thank you!

Thanks a lot Tom :) 

I echo @Tom Kretzmer: This is excellent!


We emphatically stress that Yammer is NOT Facebook, both internally with coworkers and externally with our customers. We also don't call it social media. "Social networking" is dicey enough! 

Instead, we term it a "professional development" or "professional learning" network. Because that's what really happens once your company or your customers start using it. From the softer side of a Photography group to a robust project group, it's so cool when you see people adding their input from all over the company.


And sure, networking happens--but naturally and seamlessly.



Could you please tell med the difference between social media and social network? Not sure I quit understand the differece? and espicially not with Yammer.. 

thanks in advance :) 

"Social media" is an overall term that can have an unfortunately derisive stigma; perhaps the easiest connotation is that of time-wasting. It can bring to mind cat memes or posting pictures of breakfast, of click-bait headlines and "I'm just here for the comments" motifs, and anything that the person feeling the stigma toward it deems ridiculous.


One fun (for me) example is that I put my company on Pinterest. The knee-jerk impression of Pinterest that I still hear to this day is that "I thought it was just for recipes!" or things of that ilk. Nope! It's worked amazingly well for web traffic from my boards on bullying prevention, autism, Alzheimer's, teacher resources, and etc.  


"Social networking" is a step up from "social media," or at least tries to convey more of a purpose: You're using X platform for definitively Y reasons.


Yet linking those two terms together can still make people think of Facebook where they shouldn't, or wonder what place this has in a corporate setting. I'd rather people compared Yammer to LinkedIn if they have to compare it at all.  


So that's why I try to drop "social" from talking about Yammer, because just as with only reading a headline, it can stop people from investigating this truly awesome resource further.


Mind you, this is all my anecdotal opinion! 

I think I understand your point but what if coworkers already use a Facebook group to privately share content related with a work project (no cat memes or anything else).


Why would Yammer be better for that case? What benefit would they get from using it over Facebook?

Well, my point was agreeing that we shouldn't conflate the two terms ("Yammer is Facebook for companies") because of unfortunate stigma, not about choosing one platform over the other. That's a separate conversation.


Short version: Can the X that we're doing be done better on a different platform?


Longer version: 


I'd say it's up to the individual organization. What are the goals, short and long-term? Does a Facebook group, or Facebook for Work, suit their needs and help people get their projects done?


Or would it be better to have everyone put their projects in an ESN such as Yammer instead, because of the integration with other products, or they're already paying for O365 anyway, or they like how you can put a project on Yammer in a "public" group for the whole company to see, not just invite-only, and watch how the collaboration skyrockets with contributions from unexpected sources...? 


If Facebook works for the org, that's great! In the end, the platform is secondary to the people in it; good direction and nurturing are key; and there is no one-size-fits-all.