Why is Yammer so bad? Top 7 problems and how to fix them

Sei Mani insight

Why is Yammer so bad? Top 7 problems and how to fix them by Freya Crawshaw, 6th December 2018

Yammer, Microsoft’s enterprise social network offering, has taken a bit of a beating over the last few years. The perception that Yammer is outdated and out of touch has almost become meme status. Most of all, the rumour mill that Microsoft will be shutting Yammer down, has been going into overdrive. Internally, this can do no favours when you are making a business case for Yammer. Especially when the internet is littered with questions like “Why did Yammer fail?”, “Is Yammer a waste of time?” and “Is Yammer any good?”.

In the coming year, Microsoft has announced they are making the biggest investment in the Yammer platform than they have ever done before. Perhaps a response to Workplace by Facebook’s success in the market, but a move that shows their commitment to the ESN as part of their suite.

So, we’ve delved into the top Yammer problems and practical ways to solve them.

1. Yammer ROI

Yammer is often part of the o365 package or a freemium product. So, when we ask about Yammer ROI we’re often met with shrugs. As there isn’t a monetary investment in the platform, there isn’t an investment in resources. Adoption falls by the wayside, technology doesn’t take the time to configure, and with no one person leading the efforts, Yammer slips into the technology graveyard.

Invest in resources to drive Yammer adoption and get the buy-in from senior stakeholders from the get-go. Creating use cases of real value, tracking key metrics that are important to your company and values, and communicating stories company-wide is a great way to start thinking about the investments.

2. Yammer vs SharePoint vs Teams vs Outlook

Yammer can feel like a lost puppy in the Microsoft world. SharePoint is the mainstay in the majority of large enterprise organisations, Outlook isn’t going anywhere any time soon (no matter how much we complain about full inboxes), and Teams is the new kid in town, competing against the likes of Slack. So it can often be confusing when to use Yammer and when to use the multitude of other tools available to you to communicate and collaborate with your colleagues.

It’s key to position Yammer clearly alongside its “colleagues” and help your people understand how they can all live harmoniously together. It may need some time and some behavioural and cultural shifts but it will be worth it in the long run. We looked at Yammer Vs Microsoft Teams a little more in depth here.

3. Yammer features: Getting the Basics right

The complexity of some Yammer features can often feel like the barrier to adoption, but in a digital world getting the basics right can be the real difference between loving a platform or turning your nose up at it. You would expect something like rich text formatting to be available from the outset, although the Yammer team at Microsoft have promised this feature in H1 2019.

Keep the faith and communicate functional changes to your people, it’s a great way to hook them back into Yammer if you have already lost them, but also an easy way to keep people engaged.

4. Yammer Ghost towns

Here’s the stickler, to get people into Yammer there needs to be content there that interests them. And to get interesting content in there you need people to be there creating. We see these ghost towns all over and unfortunately, there’s no quick win.

Creating a network of champions initially can help to drive engagement in the platform. But developing specific use cases with teams to get them using Yammer will give you long-lasting engagement. And when you think you still have a ghost town, check the metrics to see the good stuff that’s happening in private groups.

5. Yammer Email notifications

What do we want? Fewer emails.  When do we want them? As soon as we figure out how to turn these damn email notifications off…

Each day, the average office worker receives 121 emails

It’s a fine balance of helpful nudges to come back to Yammer and spamming the email inboxes worldwide, it’s been suggested that almost 50% of emails received are considered spam. A simple one, but one that ultimately will impact that first kiss and your long-term adoption. From day one, give your people clear instructions on how to get the most out of their notifications. Simple tips sheets or videos (or GIFs) making it easy for them to choose how and when they are updated will make all the difference.

6. SharePoint, OneDrive, Yammer: The X files

If you’ve ever uploaded a file into Yammer, you’ll know the pain of figuring out where it came from and where it went. There are simply too many options in Yammer for file storage, I’ll never fully understand why Yammer has its own storage when SharePoint and OneDrive do a great job already.

Luckily, Microsoft has also noticed this as from early 2019, all files uploaded to Yammer will be stored in the accompanying SharePoint group so we can check that one off the list.

7. Stability

Not only has its outdated reputation preceded itself, Yammer stability often comes into question. As I write this, some Yammer functionality has been down for 4 days. That’s not to say that’s its always user impacting but as an Admin it can be hugely frustrating.

The solution here is obviously to create a more stable platform, something that Microsoft is investing in for 2019. But, that doesn’t help you now, right? The short-term, stick a plaster on it solution is Communication. Your people’s frustration is triggered because they don’t know what is happening. Clearly, communicating that there is an issue, keeping them updated throughout any issues and a bit of a post-mortem after can go a long way.

Just look at the Basecamp issues in November 2018, their post-mortem went viral because of the honest and frank tone. They’ve also included references to their updates throughout the 6-hour outage.

Throwing Yammer out the window

These little niggles, over time, can amount to a full-scale Yammer mutiny. That can often be avoided. And, before you think about throwing Yammer out the window, consider how you might be able to rescue your sinking ship. The introduction of a shiny new technology might bring renewed engagement to a collaboration initiative, but consider this: Will your people feel the same about a shiny new tool a year down the line as they do now? The key is not to throw Yammer out the window but to address the underlying issues that have caused that mutiny in the first place.


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