Yammer at COSI (Part 1 of ?) - What is Yammer?

Last week I had the fun experience of leading a couple of internal training sessions at COSI about Yammer. As a service to those who were unable to attend and as a resource to those of you who don’t work at COSI, I will be blogging through the content we covered in these sessions. At any point, you may also elect to go rogue and just read the tutorials and help documents at www.yammer.com (which conveniently enough is also where you sign up for Yammer…but that will be covered in my next post).

Part 1: What is Yammer and why is COSI using it?

Yammer is a lot like Twitter in that it is a microblogging service that allows you to send quick brief updates to other people that you are connected to through the service. The primary difference between Yammer and Twitter is that Yammer groups users by email address domain (which is mail.cosi.org for us at COSI). As a result, you become automatically connected through Yammer to those who work at your company, enabling you to share things with your coworkers. Only people with the same email ending as you will see your updates on Yammer, so Yammer becomes a great tool for internal organizational communication!

For many organizations like COSI, the primary way in the past to communicate something to everyone has been through an all-team email. While appropriate in some instances, it might not be deemed efficient to fill everyone’s inbox with the daily lunch special or a notification that an elevator is broken. Not only does Yammer provide an ideal communication method for these important but non-vital announcements, but it also opens a new level of communication where people can stay informed about all sorts of things that we’d never send an all-team email about.

The prompting question that Yammer asks is “What are you working on?” A quality answer to this question will inform others throughout the organization in a way that we could never do even with a thousand all-team emails (and who wants to delete all of those anyways?). By knowing what other people are up to, we can anticipate how other projects may affect us as well as show interest in projects we may like to be involved in.

Some of the Yammers at COSI that I have become a fan of include attendance updates and stories from the floor staff. Since I work in a cubicle hidden away on COSI’s fabled third floor, I often don’t have a very good sense of what is going on in the visitor areas of the building. Up here, I can’t tell the difference between a day with 500 visitors and a day with 5,000 visitors, so when our Guest Services team sends a Yammer that says the following (actual Yammer from Saturday), I get a very real sense for what the day was like in the building:

Attendance Update 11/8/2008 - Approx. 2800 GP and Members, 300 “Elmo Event Guests”, 30 Group Guests, and Expected 2500 for AEP Open House tonight!

A couple weeks ago, Steve Whitt (one of our Master Educators) Yammered:

I did an unscheduled [Electrostatic Generator] show for a group whose lead teacher asked very nicely. We’re doing “Launch Into Space” this week, but she’d prepped her kids for EG. So I did the show and the kids loved it! Now I’m off to do the 3:10 space show.

How cool! I would have never known about that if it weren’t for the magic of Yammer!

So what do I Yammer about? I usually send an update when we post a new blog entry with a link to the blog where the entry can be found. I will sometimes note when a major update has been made to COSI.org. I may let people know I am working on a new and exciting project (like the new home page layout that will be coming very soon). Hopefully others find such information somewhat interesting and helpful as they do their part at COSI…I know I like hearing what they are up to!

Next Post: Signing Up for Yammer