Our SharePoint and Yammer integrations

I am a SharePoint developer who works in a SharePoint consultancy so you won’t be surprised to hear that I think SharePoint is the best document collaboration application out there. I also feel Yammer is the best enterprise social network. When well integrated and used in conjunction, productive collaboration gets a real boost.


Yammer is not just like Facebook, its more than that, it provides a platform for conversation and activity streams around your documents and across your projects.

While Yammer can be used for one-to-one chat, the biggest benefits come from open conversations around a document. While email hides information and decisions, Yammer surfaces exactly whats going on during a document review or after a meeting. Everyone in your team can benefit, and participate.

Beyond connecting colleagues and sharing documents and updates, Yammer empowers communities as project groups can be created, or communities of practice (CoPs) can be created to cover the whole organisation.

Yammer is always available on any computer, and can be accessed from any device such as iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry. Some people (like field workers) may never really use Yammer in the office, but they can love Yammer on their smartphone as it keeps them in touch with their colleagues.

Yammer and SharePoint integration solution

SharePoint plus YammerIntegration between Yammer and SharePoint is not so good by default; people have to copy and paste document URLs into Yammer to start conversation, and not everyone is confident in grabbing the documents web address.

In our SharePoint work, we often create Yammer like and share buttons for clients, to help people share content from SharePoint with their colleagues.

In the upcoming Office 365 Group feature there will be some integration improvement, but not everything on our wish list will be improved. Good news is that we have the great Yammer API (Application Programming Interface) to do whatever we want; it will help to increase productivity and help to achieve the best integration with SharePoint, as follows:

  • We can create a Group in SharePoint and Yammer at the same time, and can enable people to start a Yammer conversation in SharePoint.
  • Any SharePoint content can be liked or shared in Yammer.
  • Single platform for both social and collaboration, in SharePoint by default we have Message Attachment, Post, Reply, Like/Unlink, Mention, Tag, Search, Profile, Follow/Unfollow and Relationships. The features that can integrate with Yammer are Groups, Open Graph, Invitation, Real Time, Networks, Suggestions, Notifications, and Auto Complete.
  • We can track users, groups, documents or any other SharePoint content from Yammer.
  • We can provide fully managed document collaboration and Yammer conversation for each document in one place. Its what everyone expects Microsoft to provide, but we end up creating this integrated experience.
  • When Yammer is available directly next to a document, its easy for a reviewer (or anyone) to open up a chat window and check some detail with the document author. This sort of instant messaging cuts down on time wasted in email.
  • We make sure that our Yammer integration works on mobile, so that your mobile SharePoint intranet offers a rich experience.

These sort of rich features that we build can help a SharePoint intranet feel intuitive and useful, and so increases adoption. We have to make SharePoint and Yammer easier to use, and more useful to people if we expect employees to be engaged within the digital workplace.

You may also want to read our earlier article, How Microsoft is integrating Yammer into SharePoint 2013

Yammer and gamification

Notes from our webinar, led by guest expert, Scott Ward. Play the video to watch or listen to the conversation.

Gamification products / services: Badgeville; RedCritter; Big Door; Bunchball. But theres a lot you can do with just Yammer.

Were talking about behaviour here, but Scott says that Gamification is really about data, and storytelling with data.

The gamification products you can buy and use can be quite expensive, it can be more practical to build your own gamification elements.

ROI can be in the millions when you decrease collaboration costs and communication delays, and increase sales.

Gamification incentives:

    • Status awards and visibility
    • Access to senior management or other perks
    • Power enable autonomy
    • Stuff prizes.

Weather map dashboard

Scott has used a stock market report to show which departments and teams are making the best use of the tools. Weve used a weather analogy to display stats encouraging people to reduce rain clouds and increase the sunshine. Visual representation is clear and fun.

Scotts used animated green and red fish on digital displays around the organisation. Staff knew that they wanted to see more green fish while visitors dont know what the digital fish indicated!

Theres always a sense of pride around the number of followers you have.

Quests are a good way to encourage behaviour.

One idea convert praise into beans that you can use with the coffee shop downstairs for coffee.

Green fish indicate 'on target'For an external example of leader boards, take a look at rise.global now.

(The conversation gets derailed as we discuss Nerf guns and the foam ammo.)

Weve found that leaders can get really enthusiastic about the stats and leader boards. Theyve driven engagement.

Further, weve found that key motivators are status and praise. Specifically, weve asked employees to nominate colleagues who have done something brilliant that exemplifies the company values. The kudos of making the nomination, and receiving nominations, was highly valued.

Different people, different cultures, like different incentives. Designers like badges, while IT people like levels levelling up the leader board.

But all this is just to express the user-journey the work and mastery of the employee.

Badgeville's motivation modelSee Badgevilles motivation model (blue and green boxes).

But you should also consider Daniel Pinks motivation theory (autonomy, mastery, purpose).

When to use extrinsic motivation and real incentives? When the process youre rewarding is dull or unpopular. But youll need to improve the reward over time, as prize value erodes for these unpopular tasks.

To disincentives behaviour, take away their SAPS reduce their status, take away their red-carpet access, disempower them, and take away their stuff. The carrot and stick debate rages on   disincentivising is a contentious matter, and may come across as punishment rather than discipline.

(Imagine the serious side compliance matters. Disincentivising dangerous or financially risky behaviour may well be appropriate.)

People learn how to game the game. So you have to find the goal that cant be gamed.

A 7-point framework for employee engagement in the digital workplace

Modern organisations are using a number of clever techniques to accelerate internal change and make it stick. This free e-book puts forward a simple and effective 7-point framework to use to deliver change campaigns and programmes.

Scott says he’s had complaints from people about the gamification criteria, and sometimes the complaints have been valid, and things have needed to be tweaked, but often the complaints come from people who need to improve their behaviour if theyre to match company standards.
I am Ethicon awards

[Read more about our ‘I am Ethicon’ awards and gamification.]

You must take a look at BJ Foggs models he says you need a motivator, the ability to act, and a trigger to start you off. If youre gamification can provide the motivators and triggers, then all you need to ensure is that people have the access, skills, training, and general ability to perform.

Trigger? Think notifications, alerts, and internal communications. A trigger might only encourage a small behaviour further triggers are needed to continue the journey towards the strategic goal.

Scott Ward: Building competitions

Id like to ask you how people might feel if they are a bit late to the party and cant catch up to those employees high up on the leader boards or those who have thousands of followers and get loads of praise. How can we best manage the risk of disengaging people who dont prioritise following quests? What do you think?

Take a look at how we’ve helped clients with Yammer and SharePoint.

Establishing an ESN

Sharon O’Dea, of Standard Charter and 300 Seconds, tackles the different needs of networks and communities, and how you can better roll-out and support your enterprise social network.

RipplesEnterprise Social Networks (ESNs) are typically established in one of two ways: top-down and bottom-up. Top-down networks are conceived and rolled out with senior management support; they typically have strong governance, rules and formal community management from the start and so exhibit more gesselschaft-type features. This contrasts with the bottom-up approach used by freemium ESN products, where networks can be created by groups of employees themselves, existing as gemeinschaft-type groups before being adopted and scaled by management, where governance, roles and rules are imposed.

The latter approach has for good reason fallen out of favour in the digital workplace world, replaced by models which focus on identifying and delivering replicable use cases for social and collaboration. But thats been at the cost of the strength of group identity and purpose, leading to a failure to realise wider engagement benefits.

Successful social networks outside of the firewall have long since recognised the need to cater for both weak and strong social ties and groupings. Facebook, for example, allows you to restore gemeinshaft by delineating between friends and acquaintances, or by creating your own closed and secret communities which can turn a blind eye to their terms of service.

For global organisations in particular, collaboration and communication tools are fast becoming essential.They enable communication to scale, and for big companies to feel smaller and more personal. But enterprises succeed when they foster and deepen personal, collaborative relationships albeit ones which operate and speed and scale, across distance, thanks to technology to create a common sense of identity and purpose. In other words, they thrive when they function as both networks and collections of functioning communities.

A shift in approach

To drive greater value from an ESNs, companies need to take a similar approach to Facebook and create the conditions for more gemeinshaft-type communities to exist, characterised by close social ties and shared purpose, within the wider network.

This approach requires a shift in mindset in the use case approach to ESN rollout. Here are three ways in which standard adoption models could be adapted to allow for more grassroots growth, in order to create groups with stronger social bonds and shared purpose:

1. Find existing strong communities and give them the tools to deepen those bonds

When rolling out any tool, the temptation is to focus on fixing problems in collaboration between existing (dis)functional teams. By shifting this focus to groups who are already working and collaborating successfully and allowing them to build on that success, we can create advocates for the network and identify ways in which it can add value.

This contrasts with one of the stated aims of social within the enterprise that of breaking down silos. But such as approach presupposes that silos are entirely bad; in many instances what can be seen as a silo is in fact a well-functioning group. The aim should instead be to grow or replicate the success of that group rather than destroying it.

A 7-point framework for employee engagement in the digital workplace

Modern organisations are using a number of clever techniques to accelerate internal change and make it stick. This free e-book puts forward a simple and effective 7-point framework to use to deliver change campaigns and programmes.

2. Create a beachhead

In Crossing the Chasm, Geoff Moore recommends establishing a small, narrow beachhead to scale up from early adopters and cross the chasm to the mass market. This beachhead is a small slice of the mass market a gemeinshaft community. By identifying and taking over this thin edge of the wedge, you establish a basis on which to grow adoption and use.

This approach forms part of the recommended use case-focused ESN rollout plan recommended by many vendors but taken alone providing cookie cutter models of group types, that can be deployed multiple times across the organisation, can add to feelings that the ESN seeks to reduce people to interchangeable resources. The beachhead strategy could reduce those feelings of atomisation.

3. Let communities grow from the bottom up

Finally, there is a need to recognise the value of groups that emerge from a companys grassroots. These often have stronger group bonds and a clearer sense of purpose than models imposed from the centre. In this qualitative study of one large organisation [PDF; 400KB], employees saw the ESN as a tool full of possibilities.

But its only when users begin to understand and use a tool or information system that they begin to place it in the context of their own work and understand how they might use it within their own group context what the researchers called interpretive flexibility. That is, for systems to be adopted, people need to begin to use them, interpret them, and finally place them in their own context, tweaking as necessary.

Adoption of Enterprise Social Collaboration, the paper notes, benefits from users finding their own affordances for the tool in the context of their own work and relationships, which helps to build networks effects (what wed call viral take-up).

Affordances depend not just on what a person perceives they can do with an object or system, but all of their goals, plans, values, beliefs and past experiences (what sociologists called sociomateriality). People look at systems or objects and think of their uses in the context of other tools theyre familiar with in the case of an ESN, they might think about its potential by considering what they do with networks such as LinkedIn, and sites on the external web, but also their experiences with self-service HR systems.

To allow people to understand the possibilities and affordances the ESN provides, we need to give people the space to experiment, and in doing so enable them to understand the potential uses and affordances, and to contextualise them.

This requires taking a different approach to rules and governance an acceptance, for example, that a grassroots-up community has very different ideas about brand guidelines than those at the corporate centre but creates the conditions for groups that have a strong sense of purpose and engagement to emerge and thrive.


By taking a different approach to establishing and rolling out an ESN that allows for and builds upon the existence of strong social groups and ties, we can allow them to function as both networks and successful communities, enabling our organisations gain greater value from their investment in social tools.

Sharon O'DeaSharon O’Dea

Sharon is Head of Digital Communications for Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore and spends her weekends travelling.

Sharon is part of Intranetizen and co-founder of 300 Seconds.

A version of this article was originally published at SharonODea.co.uk.

How Microsoft is integrating Yammer into SharePoint 2013

===update 27th May 2016===

With the demise of Yammer Conversations what looked like quite a cool initiative to bring Yammer comments into Office Docs and vice versa you might be forgiven for thinking that there’s not been much progress in integrating Yammer into the wider Office 365 suite.

I just returned from a Future of SharePoint session held at Microsoft’s London office for SharePoint consultancies. The talk was hosted by Jeff Teper, VP of SharePoint and One Drive. He’s the man with the vision when it comes to SharePoint. In the last month we’ve seen some really quite exciting announcements about SharePoint – it seems Microsoft is starting to really invest in this tool. However, what was surprising about this talk is that there was zero mention of Yammer.  I went and spoke to the host at the end and asked him what are the plans for integrating SharePoint with Yammer.

First, I was assured by the SharePoint team that Microsoft is not going to kill Yammer and that they are actively investing in it. Before any serious out-of-the-box Yammer integration can go ahead the team are rebuilding the back end of the application. This is so that it can be hosted in Microsoft’s various Office 365 data centres around the world. Once this is done they are going to look at hooking the two tools together. For example, we can expect to see a ‘share on Yammer’ button next to files in SharePoint and OneDrive. In the meantime, we are going to have to continue working with custom integrations and the Yammer app all mentioned in our original post from August 2014 below.

Dan Hawtrey


Microsoft is working tirelessly to integrate Yammer with SharePoint 2013. We take a look at the features you can expect very soon that will make your intranet more social.

Continue reading “How Microsoft is integrating Yammer into SharePoint 2013”

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