It’s Social, It’s Local, It’s Yammer

[Originally posted on Digital Union Blog]
By TED HATTEMER | Published: OCTOBER 27, 2010
Quick. What is the most popular social media platform within Fortune 500 companies?

If you said Facebook, you’d be wrong. Private enterprise-level social networks are the up-and-coming way for employees to share knowledge, collaborate, and keep projects moving forward. While Facebook and Twitter are sometimes seen as distractions in the workplace, platforms like Yammer,, and Sales Force’s Chatter add value by limiting the social conversations to coworkers and focusing the power of social networking on solving organizational issues.

At their core, social media networks are both microblogging and push notification systems. Microblogging is the regularly updated nuggets of information submitted by users of the network. Collected over time and focused on areas of expertise, these “status updates” and “quick hit FYIs” have the potential to create a bottom-up searchable resource or knowledge base. Push notification, either through email or text messages, remind users to return to the platform for updates and information sharing. Other features recently rolled out on the Yammer platform are surveys and polls, events, and questions–all intended to help manage the knowledge within an organization.

Ohio State’s Yammer platform is two years old this month. There are more than 4,000 posts by 860 members and 37 groups. People are participating in what’s turned out to be a free-for-all experiment. No one is leading the mission or goals of this platform other than the users who populate it with content day after day. At some point our relationship with Yammer may need to become more formal; policies and procedure will probably need to be implemented. Currently Ohio State doesn’t “own” the data being input into the Yammer platform. We would need to pay a monthly licensing fee for that privilege. While that’s not a big deal for a fledgling technology, over time the university may want to archive and protect content produced by its faculty and staff. For the time being, this information sharing is happening organically, bottom up, and is growing by word of mouth.

The question that lingers for me as a frequent Yammer contributor is, “How will the university formalize this platform and keep it vibrant at the same time?” It remains to be seen. In the meantime, forward-thinking colleagues all over the university are online and using social media at work. What they are talking about in this new space just happens to be… work.