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In a recent post, we looked at Yammer’s user adoption challenges in the workplace. How can IT leaders answer the “why” question? Why should they use it? If it’s just Facebook in corporate clothing — as it has been sometimes presented — what value can it bring?

In this post, we focus on the “when” and “how.” In which situations is it most effectively used? How can it help increase productivity? We asked Joe Puckett, Vitalyst’s director of training, for his thoughts on using Yammer to communicate and collaborate more efficiently. Below are his top five tips:

Avoid the distribution list deluge of replies by creating a Yammer group. (Click to enlarge.)

Avoid the distribution list deluge of replies by creating a Yammer group. (Click to enlarge.)

1. Preventing the Reply All storm

When you are about to send an email to a distribution list and are dreading the Reply All storm, create a Yammer group instead. View the discussion when you want, and add email alerts and bookmarks to ensure you don’t miss important conversations.

The how-to: Create a new group in Yammer (Microsoft article); Change email notification settings in Yammer (Microsoft article)

2. Getting input from the best company source

When you are looking for input on a topic but are unsure of whom to ask, search for Yammer groups related to your topic. Your search will help you identify colleagues who are actively engaged in the topic even if you have never met them, and it can also help you locate information that is already available. If you cannot find information related to your topic, post a question in a group.

If you find a group relevant to your topic, take note of the associated tags. These can lead you to more information and groups.

The how-to: Search (Microsoft video)

3. Finding answers quickly — without having to prairie dog over the cubicle wall

Instead of peeking over your cubicle wall to see who is available to answer a question, search Yammer. You can search by expertise, department, education, project experience and much more. Even if the people you find are not available at that moment, you can send direct messages to pose questions to individuals and groups. Your reach will extend beyond neighboring desks, but will still be targeted to people who are likely to have the information you need.

The how-to: Add some color to your Yammer profile (Yammer.com article)

4. Catching up and contributing on your own time

When you are trying to schedule a meeting, but participants are not available at the same time even with Lync, create meeting-related content directly in Yammer with notes, links and attachments. You can catch up and contribute when you are available.

The how-to: Share conversations, files and notes in Yammer (Microsoft article)

5. Making meetings meaningful

When you want to schedule a meeting that includes brainstorming, set up the brainstorming ahead of time with Yammer. The idea exchange is not limited by time constraints, and your actual meeting will be shorter. Using Yammer can also improve your results, particularly when the group is larger and the less outgoing people may tend to fade into the background. Other benefits include improved depth of thought, as people have more time to develop their ideas, and a clearer understanding of ideas with the help of links and other background materials.

How do you use Yammer? Tell us in comments.

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