Twitter vs. Yammer in the War for Workplace Knowledge Sharing

It’s only April but I’ve already failed to keep my New Year’s Resolution. Back in December I vowed to consolidate my digital footprint. (If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you already knew that.)

Like the Berlin Wall, I was going to tear down the divider between my business and personal life. If my cousin wanted to LinkIn with me or my client wanted to friend me on Facebook, I resolved to accept every invitation. I updated my Facebook wall with my Tweets from my cellphone and posted the items to my blog and LinkedIn profile.

Unfortunately, like the marketing professionals trying to assess the ROI of social media, I haven’t necessarily seen any value at consolidating or keeping up with everything. Am I just trying to keep up with the times?

I bring this up as an intro to Yammer, the social networking site launched last September that’s focused on connecting employees within the same company. Here’s an excerpt from its Wikipedia page:

If Twitter asks: “What Are You Doing?”, Yammer asks: “What Are You Working On?” The purpose is to allow co-workers to share status updates. You post updates on what you are working on. You can post news, links, ask questions, and get answers for people in your company. You can see most the most prolific people and the most followed people. It is a good way to discover who is the most influential in your company.

Unlike Twitter, one needn’t stay within the 140 character limit on Yammer. TechCrunch reported that 10,000 people and 2,000 organizations signed up for Yammer on the very first day it launched.

In January it raised $5 million to launch a stand-alone model to run inside a corporate firewall.

The data on the graphs, from Google Trends, is scaled to the average search traffic for each term (represented as 1.0) during the time from January 1, 2009 through April 18th.  Letters correspond to news references for each term. So for instance, Yammer a,b,c, represents: “Yammer ups bet on the Twitter for business market,” VentureBeat, Jan. 20, 2009; Yammer Asks, “What Are You Working On,” Instant Messaging Planet, Feb.19, 2009; Who Needs to Twitter When you can Yammer,” This is London, Mar. 30, 2009.

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With Twitter in the news daily (Ashton Kutcher just surpassed 1 million followers) and offering people an opportunity to “Group Tweet” by forming a private group, my guess is that Yammer is going to face a hard time winning the internal knowledge sharing wars. I find it difficult to find the time to keep my status fresh across the digital frontier, and my efforts at consolidation just diluted the interest level of whatever I was posting.

A recent search shows I’m not alone. Here’s an excerpt from Ogilvy PR blogger Tanya Chadha: “I found Yammer useful when looking for immediate feedback or to quickly connect with colleagues. However, after a few weeks, I just could not find the time to continue updating my different statuses on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., and Yammer. I’ve switched back to airing my thoughts and communicating with colleagues full time on Twitter.”

As for me, I’m going back to segregating my virtual updates, secure in knowing that Twitter and Yammer are both running far behind Wolverine.

Jody Ordioni is the author of “The Talent Brand.” In her role as Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Brandemix, she leads the firm in creating brand-aligned talent communications that connect employees to cultures, companies, and business goals. She engages with HR professionals and corporate teams on how to build and promote talent brands, and implement best-practice talent acquisition and engagement strategies across all media and platforms. She has been named a "recruitment thought leader to follow" and her mission is to integrate marketing, human resources, internal communications, and social media to foster a seamless brand experience through the employee lifecycle.

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4 Comments on “Twitter vs. Yammer in the War for Workplace Knowledge Sharing

  1. As an alternative to Yammer, I recommend giving Socialcast a try. You are right that it’s challenging to constantly update your status in various locations, and when you’re working, it can be downright disruptive.

    We have created our tool to unify much of your activity on the web into one place. You can integrate Twitter and Facebook status updates with your Socialcast updates, and you can find and share links from the web without ever having to log in. You can also install a Google Gadget in your Gmail inbox to keep tabs on what’s happening without having to log in every day.

    Twitter is great, but it’s not private. Ultimately I think this is why there will be a clear need for enterprise-ready tools that serve the same function.

  2. Jody,

    Thanks for including Yammer in the article! We really appreciate it and just want to add some additional comments:

    Yammer integrates with Twitter and other social networks in various ways. Read here:

    http://blog.yammer.com/blog/2009/03/yammer-integrates-with-twitter.html

    Check out Ping.fm and AlertThingy as well. They’re applications enabling people to post a single status update simultaneously to multiple sites including Yammer, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

    Yammer also offers various ways to send and receive messages, seamlessly fitting into your existing work flow. Some are:

    Desktop App
    FireFox Extension
    Blackberry App
    iPhone App
    Android App
    Email
    SMS
    IM
    Web Client
    etc.

    We really view Yammer and Twitter as complements to each other. Twitter is great for external or public communication. We even use Twitter for that purpose. Follow us here:

    http://twitter.com/yammer_team

    However, we would never use Twitter to communicate company sensitive information. Twitter is simply not secure enough. Reason being, Twitter was not developed as an Enterprise tool, but rather a Consumer tool.

    Yammer ensures privacy by automatically partitioning networks based on email domain. Besides the added security, you’ll also be automatically funneled into the same network as your colleagues. On Twitter, you would have to actively follow all of your colleagues. Not to mention that you would need to know who they were first. Yammer has connected employees within global companies, whom would have never met if they weren’t automatically funneled into the same network, and helped them solve problems together. Yammer also enables you to create or join Groups within the network, but the network is what really connects employees, and it’s done automatically.

    In regards to security, Yammer offers additional Admin tools to paying customers. Read about them here:

    http://www.yammer.com/company/claim

    Here are some helpful links to better understand the power of Yammer and exactly how it works:

    Video Tour: http://www.yammer.com/company/tour
    Product Overview PDF: http://www.yammer.com/company/resources
    http://twitter.com/yammer_team/favourites

    Once again, thanks for the mention and let us know if you have any additional questions, comments, or suggestions.

    Thank you,

    Keith McCarty
    The Yammer Team

  3. At ERE, we use Yammer for our internal communications, and my experience has been that it does not compete with Twitter in any real way.

    Different situations call for different tools, and there are plenty of communications that I want my entire team to see, but not post to the world on Twitter. Yammer has filled that niche nicely.

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