Do You Use Yammer at Work? And Why Not SharePoint?

2 minute read

There was a question a while back on the Microsoft MVPs LinkedIn group (YAFSN! – see below) wondering “Do you use Yammer at work?”

I’m still trying to figure out how much I want to use Yammer. As when Google+ came out, I’m trying it. I pretty much abandoned G+, and Yammer may well go the same way for most things.

I got into Yammer via an invitation into SPYam from Bjørn Furuknap with my USPJA email address. Now I’m trapped into that identity for SPYam (the network for SharePoint discussions that Joel Oleson set up – ping me if you’d like an invitation) but have to use my work email address to access the SharePoint MVP network into which Microsoft has seemingly decided to move all communications. That tying of one’s identity to a single email domain (it seems you can’t combine domains into one über identity) is my biggest beef with the Yammer platform. I’m sure they will work that out, though. (Yammer probably could have done it in a few weeks. Now that it’s a Microsoft product, maybe in Yammer 2016, and you’ll only need to add a three server farm to enable it.)

I read a constant stream of complaints about other aspects of how Yammer works in – natch – Yammer. Sure, there are some true annoyances (no Shift-Enter in post entry, no parity between clients, Adobe Air!) but I could give you a litany of similar annoyances for every single YAFSN. User interfaces seem to always have annoyances. The important thing is how fast the people who develop the platform can react to consistent complaints and improve.

Everyone seems to think we need YAFSN (Yet Another Fantastic Social Network), but each new one that comes along simply fragments the landscape further. Who has the time to check dozens of these damn things? Social in the workplace must be a performance improvement, not a detriment. (I’d argue we should hold our personal social network use to the same standard. LOL catz!) if I have to check four or five social networks constantly in order to be well-informed, that drags down my efficiency.

I’ll keep using Yammer for the MVP stuff because I don’t have any choice, of course. Gotta get all those “secrets” somehow. It really makes me wonder, though, why we don’t use SharePoint to talk about SharePoint. It seems that in the vast majority of cases, SharePointilists prefer to use a different technology to communicate about SharePoint. That, to me, raises a far more important question: “Do you use SharePoint at work?”

Oh, I almost forgot to answer the original question. As a solo practitioner, there’s only me at work, so I don’t really need Yammer. I already have excellent tools in place to enable the voices in my head to converse.



  1. We use both SharePoint and Yammer at work. Yammer works well at our 26,000 employee firm. It’s not perfect, but it provides a semi-private environment for meeting people and conversing across many different teams, something that hasn’t been as easy to do in SharePoint by itself. It doesn’t replace entirely what SharePoint does nor does it replicate other public social networks. It’s a complement to the other platforms we all use.

    • Joel, you say that Yammer doesn’t replicate other public social networks, but to me it looks very similar to private groups in LinkedIn. Could you elaborate on the differences you see between those two?

  2. I am also a solo practitioner. When Microsoft bought Yammer, I decided to open an account for my company, for two reasons: first, because as a Microsoft product, it might end up being integrated in some way with SharePoint and I’d better get familiar with it; second, because it could be the right tool to communicate with my partners and customers.
    Why Yammer and not SharePoint? In my case the answer is simple: with Yammer I can host 500 people for free. Doing this with Office 365 for example would cost me thousands of $ a month. My current question is more: why Yammer and not a private group on LinkedIn, where everybody already has an account?

    • Christophe:

      For fast and easy external collaboration for a small organization like yours or mine, I agree that getting up and running with Yammer for free is simple and effective. The cost of SharePoint can be ridiculous, though Office 365 is making that far more palatable as time goes by. For instance, there are PAL licenses (which I only recently learned about) that let you have up to 500 external users for free, depending on your plan. See (check Appendix B).

      The fact that you point out LinkedIn as an option is part of a much larger challenge for Microsoft: there are extremely effective, free options out there that *aren’t* Microsoft-owned properties, and people are flocking to them all the time as part of the whole “consumerization of IT” thing.


      • I learnt about PALs when I took the free partner training back in March, but at that time it was more restrictive. It seems that the limits increased in May. Thanks for the input Marc, that’s very helpful!

        I spent some time on LinkedIn and SPYAM this week. What I find challenging is how to categorize posts and navigate past conversations. It seems to me that, just like twitter, these tools are a good fit for instant communication, not for long term actions that involve capturing knowledge. SharePoint on the contrary offers multiple options to slice and dice content, like metadata, views, etc.


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