Twitter vs. Yammer in the War for Workplace Knowledge Sharing

Apr 20, 2009
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

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.

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.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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