Communicate Better Within Your Own Company

Yammer Helps to Facilitate Melcrum’s In-House Talk

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the rise of in-house social networks such as Chatter (from and Yammer. Both are based in San Francisco and are two of a number of new offerings in this field. (VMware, SAP, Cisco Systems, Jive Software and SuccessFactors are also promoting their products.) I then heard from our London-based member Melcrum about their usage of Yammer and had a nice conversation with online editor Sona Hathi who sent me an example of their Yammer homepage.

Basically, Yammer looks like a bit more serious version of Facebook. Where Facebook asks “What’s on your mind?” Yammer asks “What are you working on?” Where most people are smiling on Facebook, it looks like only one out of four people are smiling on Yammer. (The others have their company faces on.) Where Facebook talks about “friends,” “pokes” and “games,” Yammer lists “Company feed,” “communities” and “Groups directory.” But they both use “likes,” “followers” and “invites” and have a similar order.

“Yammer has changed the way we do things,” Hathi said. “There’s more collaboration between the teams—sales, marketing, editing—because of it. But you’re dependent on people using it. There will always be some people who are more natural users of things like that. They’re more outgoing; [they’re always on] Facebook and Twitter, the people who want to shout about things. Others are observers.”

Of all the companies that can judge a program such as Yammer, Melcrum should know best. Their customers are internal communicators at companies. So this is what they do. But that doesn’t mean they don’t go through the typical struggles. “It was quite slow at the start,” Hathi said. “But then it had some champions within the organization who just said, ‘We’re going to use it.’ Then it went viral.”

Like Facebook, Yammer gives you a list of all the messages with pictures of the people sending them. “At first, [we had everything] all in one place,” Hathi said. “But now we have groups—even one for non-work related stuff like lunches and after-work things. If you’re a member of that group, the message will come up.”

But there are no separate groups for editorial, marketing and sales, Hathi said, because they want one department to be able to see what the other is doing. An actual operational message might be, “I’m about to do this; is anyone doing something around this?” A process message could be, “Does anyone have a contact at Yahoo?” The idea is to draw on the staff’s collective knowledge.

Yammer can also be a place where people exult a bit. “Sales might shout out a big sale,” Hathi said. “An executive might praise a team. It’s an easy and public way for bosses to communicate, instead of walking into all the offices and having conversations. It takes the place of lots of email.”

As an international company, Melcrum also uses Yammer for communication between its various offices. “It’s more about conversation,” Hathi said. “Because we are global, it’s invaluable.”

Of course, Yammer wants to add more bells and whistles. “We’ve only built about 10 percent of what we want to build,” said David O. Sacks, Yammer’s chief executive. Hathi mentioned installing a widget so it pops up when someone puts something up [that you’ve checked interest in]. But she’s a little unsure as to how many other features companies really need.

“Do people really want that?” she asked “The extras that they can do. It works very well as is.”


Speaking of communicating with one another,
the SIPA’s Fall Publishers Conference will
provide great opportunities for that. It takes place
Tuesday, October 4 in New York City
at the McGraw-Hill Conference Center.

As a forum to discuss the issues that matter to you,
this day cannot be beat! So, join us October 4 to
discuss, share and learn about the topics that matter
most to you and the strategies to find solutions.

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