The current version of Yammer is almost unrecognizable from the initial release years back. It really has earned it’s place in the Microsoft 365 ecosystem as an enterprise grade communication tool right alongside Teams and SharePoint. As part of a digital transformation project, there are tons of use cases for Yammer and when used correctly, it can be really effective for communication and collaboration.
The flexibility and overall familiar “Social Media” feel to Yammer means adoption is actually much easier than you might expect. As with a lot of the Office 365 stack now though, Yammer can be brought directly into Teams to give users easy access so the cool features it provides. This is where the “Communities” app comes in. Communities is the name for the Yammer app in Teams. A user or admin can deploy the app to the Team client to give access to all of a users Yammer communities directly from the client itself, cutting out on switching between different web pages etc. This can be done manually or via Teams app policies.
This is a nice way to use Teams to obfuscate the back end tools and bring the functionality right to the user. While this is a nice feature, the real power of the communities app comes when it is added to a Team channel.
To add communities to a channel, we simply add a new tab to an existing or new channel in Teams and select ‘Communities’.
Then we can select which Yammer community or topic we can to link in that channel. For instance, we can link a particular project Team to the relevant community or topic to read or provide updates on project status to the business.
When we link a topic, we can follow any posts relating to the topic and reply. This works really well for tracking companywide updates on particular workstreams.
When we link a community, we can post and interact within the community. This works for Project Teams to provide updates to the business and discuss within the community.
These concepts aren’t new in the Yammer world but linking them in Teams, similar to the Tasks app really shows the power that comes with integration of the different tools in the platform. I find that as more tools are used together in Office 365, the value of each to the business increases exponentially.
Presenting each tool as a part of the whole collaboration platform is a key to user training and adoption. Our users don’t really care that there is an app called Yammer that does one thing really well, however, when we present the platform as a whole, the backend Yammer functionality becomes part of the ecosystem they work in every day. This allows users to leverage this functionality with minimal effort and uncomplicates the various backend considerations that IT need to be aware of.
As with any of the Office 365 tools, training end users on the use cases for each and helping to show the benefits of each communication tool is key to any deployment. Don’t underestimate the value of a true adoption & change management program.
For more information on the Communities app, check out the official Microsoft documentation here.