Yammer 201: Yammer as Internal Podcast Platform

The fact that we’re in the 200-level courses doesn’t mean we’re done with the 100 level, but that we’re talking about an unorthodox and somewhat creative use of the Yammer platform.

As I indicated in Yammer 110, Yammer now allows the upload and sharing of documents or files. And it’s not just limited to PDFs, spreadsheets or Word documents. You also can upload mp3 files, and I did one of those that was 18 MB.

That got me thinking: what if a company decided to use Yammer as a way of distributing “podcasts” to its employees?

It would be unconventional, which is why I put “podcasts” in quotes. A podcast is typically considered a series of audio or video files to which you can subscribe via RSS. By that measure, a Yammer “podcast” wouldn’t exactly fit the definition.

So I’m coining a new term:


A yammercast is an audio file you distribute through Yammer, and it has some significant advantages over other means of distribution.

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Yammer 110: File Sharing with Yammer

In Yammer 104 I wrote about how Yammer can be an all-purpose GTD reference filing system, and not just for individuals but for a company. You can write relatively brief posts about a topic, and can include hyperlinks to external Web sites or to intranet pages.

But what if the information you want to share is in the form of a document, not a Web site URL?

After my return from the Thanksgiving weekend, and as I was posting something to my personal journal in Yammer, I noticed an interesting feature that provides a great answer to this question:


An “Attach File” icon was at the lower left of the text box! So I decided to upload a document to another group I’ve formed, for our Social Media Team. And here’s what that Yammer post looks like:


So my team members can just click the link to the attachment and download the PDF I posted. I don’t need to send the PDF as an email attachment, but my team members know the document is there to be reviewed if they want to download it.

This is a really well-done feature, with an interface that matches the conventions we’ve come to expect for uploading files. And it makes a significant step toward making Yammer the all-purpose knowledge-sharing service for the enterprise.

The updated version of Yammer’s iPhone application supports viewing the attachments that are included in Yammer posts. That’s well integrated, too, although I couldn’t view Word documents as I can within the iPhone Mail application. But for viewing PDFs it was fine.

I uploaded a few different file types as a test: PDF, Word (.doc) and even a couple of mp3 files. The largest file I tried was 18 MB, and it worked flawlessly. Maybe the Yammer team can fill us in on the file types that are supported, and any size limitations.

But meanwhile, if you haven’t yet tried Yammer, I’d encourage you to explore it, and the SMUG Yammer curriculum can be your step-by-step guide. I’m impressed at the way Yammer is continually improving its product and adding important and useful features.

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Yammer 109: Yammering Your Personal Journal

For the last several years I have kept my personal journal in a series of month-based Microsoft Word documents, with a naming convention of 08January.doc, 08 February.doc, etc.

I don’t always do the greatest job of keeping it updated, and of course it’s not searchable. If I want to remember when something happened that I had written about, I have little choice but to open each of the documents and search. And keeping it all in one document was unworkable; I had started with just one file, but found it necessary to later move to the monthly files.

With Yammer’s new Groups feature, I think I have a better solution. I’ve formed a group called Lee Aase’s Journal that is private and not listed in the company directory, and I’m not inviting anyone else to join (and therefore no one can request to join, either.) No one would know the group even existed if I hadn’t written this blog post.


So in essence I have a time-stamped private journal that I can add to quickly and easily. Unlike Twitter, I’m not limited to 140 characters. And if I want to find a particular reflection, I can just search Yammer.

Here’s my first post:


I’ve done some subsequent posts with my current weight, the time it took to run those two miles, and other tidbits of a more personal nature. I’m pretty transparent, but hey, there are limits to personal disclosure!

I’m just starting this “Yammering My Personal Journal” journey, but I think it’s going to be a great way to make journaling part of my daily activity. And not only journaling to get the thoughts out, but to time stamp them and make them easier to retrieve.

I’ve set my journal (and other Yammer groups) as one of my bookmarks in Safari, and I believe that will help me keep journaling front-and-center as a daily (if not more) activity.


I’ll keep you posted as I develop more experience with Yammering to myself.

What do you think of this idea?

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Yammer 108: More Yammer GTD

The David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) workflow is an excellent model for maintaining your sanity in the midst of the daily onslaught of “stuff” that comes your way, demanding your attention.

The five basic steps of GTD are:

  1. Collect
  2. Process
  3. Organize
  4. Review
  5. Do

Yammer, or a tool like it, can be particularly helpful in implementing GTD because it can eliminate some of the “stuff” before it gets to you, and because it can make collecting, processing and organizing your information more automatic, not just for you but for all of the people with whom you work.

As a tool for Collection and Processing, Yammer can be great, particularly if you and your colleagues use it for your regular communication with each other. The GTD principle is that you should have as few collection buckets for your “stuff” as you can, but as many as you need. Yammer ties in extremely well with email, and lets you easily share and store information and links to Internet or intranet resources.

To the extent your work unit’s conversations can start in a posting to a Yammer group (a minor change to your habits that is actually easier, once you get used to it) and be continued through email (no change required), I believe you can make significant gains in productivity.

In the Processing phase of the GTD workflow, you go through your email Inbox and decide whether messages require action by you or others, now or in the future (Do, Delegate or Defer). If it’s not actionable, your choices are to Delete it or file for future reference.

We’ll get into the Delegate or Defer actions in a future post, but one of the beauties of handling the non-actionable items in your Yammer email inbox is that Deleting and Filing in general reference are exactly the same action.

Why? Because if the email has been generated through Yammer, the content already has been archived.

So instead of having to move the message into a General Reference folder in your email client (such as Outlook, Entourage or Apple Mail), you can just quickly read and delete all of your Yammer messages, knowing that you can find the content later if you need it.

When you read a Yammer message, all you have to do is ask whether it is actionable: Should I do anything with this? If it isn’t, just delete it.

I also recommend setting your email client so that it has a preview pane, so you can quickly scan through your emails (including those from Yammer) and go through the read-and-delete cycle. That way you don’t have to double-click to open messages, and wait for them to pop up.

Effective use of Yammer groups and tags can help ensure that the email messages you get are more relevant to you. And as more of your colleagues use Yammer for more of their messages, the value will increase.

In a future post, I will examine how Yammer groups can help you create a personal GTD system, even if your colleagues aren’t yammering.

Yammer 107: Avoiding Yammer Email Overload

A couple of colleagues have mentioned that with the recent upgrade to Yammer they have been getting many more emails than they had previously. This post is intended to show them how to prevent the overload, and how to be sure they get the emails they want.

By default, the new Yammer has you subscribe to your general network feed (in our case the mayo.edu network.) That may be fine when you only have a few dozen members who aren’t especially active. But as the numbers grow, and as people start yammering incessantly, you don’t want to get an email message every time.

So, to preserve your sanity (and to realize the promise of Yammer to make your emails more targeted and relevant, not overwhelming), here’s how I recommend adjusting your settings.

On your Yammer home page, click the little (i) next to My Feed

Then, when you see a window like this, be sure to uncheck the top box, next to your Network feed (the one that refers to your email domain’s general feed)

Then click the Members, Groups and Tags links to select the updates you do want to receive by email. You may want to follow your manager or assistant, for instance, under the Members tab. You will definitely want to receive yammer email updates for a Group established for your work unit. And as described in Yammer 103, you’ll want to follow some tags about particular topics, even if they aren’t from a member of one of your groups.

Then you might want to go to the email settings tab and choose to get not only “My Feed” sent by email, but also to have new groups you join added to your feed. That way you don’t need to remember to update your email settings whenever you join a group.

And you wouldn’t join a group unless you wanted email updates, would you?

Once you’ve got these settings in place, it’s a matter of all users learning to Yammer in the right place.

  1. If you have a general observation or information that would be helpful for reference, Yammer from your home page, with tags as appropriate (by adding a # in front of key #words or #key-phrases.) That way, people who aren’t part of one of your groups can have access to the information.
  2. If you want to send a message to a specific group (e.g. the Department, your division or one of your project teams), post your Yammer from that group page. All group members who have their settings right will get the message. They can reply by email and have their responses logged by Yammer. Everything will be saved in chronological order, and you can delete the messages from your email inbox, knowing that you can search for them later in Yammer if necessary.

In this way, Yammer can make it easier to collaborate and share information within a group (and keep the discussion limited to that group) when necessary, but can enable broader discussions and access to information when the need for confidentiality isn’t as great.

Let me know how these settings work for you, in reducing unwanted emails. Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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