How to Take Advantage of Microblogging


Over the past couple of weeks, a tool/service called Yammer has been picking up traction where I work.  Yammer is basically a corporate version of Twitter–it allows for “walled” microblogging or, to put it more simply, the ability to post short notes that only people with your company’s email address can see.

(Side Note: If you’re wondering, yes you can follow me on Twitter.)

Whether you use Twitter or Yammer, Microblogging has a number of benefits, perhaps the most beneficial is ambient awareness, and is just one way for friends or employees to stay connected.  It’s also become a great way for people to get instant answer to questions that might not be available elsewhere in the company or through as quick of means (e.g. “Has anyone else figured out how to apply multiple categories in Outlook 2007?”).

Here are a few ways to fully leverage the power of Microblogging via Twitter, or internally at work, Yammer:

How to Take Advantage of Microblogging

1. Post Short Entires That Don’t Justify a Full Blog Entry.

This is what made Twitter popular at first.  As a blogger, sometimes I have short ideas that don’t require a 300+ word entry, and aren’t fully formed like (most of) these posts are.  In fact, I’ve started “yammering” short jokes at work as a way to lighten the mood (and satisfy my need for puns).

2. Follow a Specific Person or Subject

Following a specific person is a great way to stay up-to-date with what they are doing.  My friends follow me on my personal account and can get a sense of what I’m doing from day-to-day.  You can also follow a company, suggest as CNN, to see late-breaking news.

One of the cool features of Yammer, and kind-of available in Twitter, is the ability to tag a post (simply by adding a #).  Anyone can make a post and tag it, and then as a reader you can choose to follow that tag.  For example, the various jokes I post, I tag as humor (by adding “#humor” at the end of it).  You can then choose to follow the #humor tag, and then whenever I, or someone else, post something with that tag, you’ll get it.

3. Get Updates on a Project.

Imagine you’re working together with someone on project.  It would be helpful to know when they’ve completed parts of the project, or when they need help.  If you’re both on Twitter or Yammer, and following each other, you can make simple posts to update your progress.

Why wouldn’t you just use Instant Messaging?  Well imagine, now, instead of 2 people working together on a project or common goal, it’s 50 people.  Instant Messaging isn’t much help–but Microblogging becomes even more powerful.

4. Get Help on a Problem.

Probably the most prevalent use of Yammer at work is someone asking a question and getting (nearly immediate) responses.  It’s like Yahoo! Answers on steroids.  You ask a question, and then people following you can provide their perspective or point you in the right direction.

Getting Started with Microblogging

Obviously none of the above ideas would be feasible if the system weren’t easy to use.  Luckily both Twitter and Yammer allow for a number of ways to make and follow updates.  You can use email, text message, a web page, or download an application for desktop or Blackberry.

I personally prefer the desktop app that sits in my tray and lets me know of any updates.  Whenever I come up with a joke, I can this just open it up, type it in, and hit enter, and magically all the people following me are then delivered the wonderful gift of a laugh (or a “wow, what’s wrong with him?”).

But rather than describe the different ways to get started here, just head to the home pages for Twitter and Yammer, check the FAQs, and start tweeting or yammering away.

(And don’t forget, you can follow all the fun at Humor That Works on Twitter.)

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