Notes in the Margin

On the intersection of web apps, digital content and social media

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Social Platforms for Heterogeneous Communities: Yammer

If you’re looking to create an online working space for a group of people from a variety of organizations (that is, they don’t have the same domain name in their email address), there are many options. Your choice can be refined based on your particular requirements, and the features you’re looking for, such as file sharing, email notification, blogs / wikis, threaded discussions, and more.

While Yahoo Groups or Google Groups lead the pack as obvious starting points, along with a plethora of wiki platforms or file-sharing sites, a surprising consideration might be one of the emergent social platforms. Socialcast, recently announced the ability to host external communities, for example, though this capability is not part of their free service.

Yammer however does enable external communities in its free version, and the capability is pretty compelling. Like most of the new social platforms – including CubeTree, Socialcast, Convofy and a slew of others – Yammer provides a free social network for everyone who shares the same domain name in their email address. And, like most of these others, this enables the ability to share files and links, create groups, share images and videos, and more. In fact, Yammer goes beyond most of these others by offering polls, events, org charts and more. Yammer even has an apps directory, with third party apps beginning to appear.

But for the purposes of this post, what is most intriguing about Yammer is its ability to host groups of heterogeneous members – that is, not all from the same email domain. At no cost. The image below provides a graphic look at how it works:

As indicated, external communities behave very much like groups within the native or primary network. They cannot themselves contain groups (though this is available in the premium version), but enable most of the types of content available in the top-level Yammer network. One interesting difference between an external network and a group, which is cosmetic but somehow seems useful nonetheless, is that external networks have their own unique URLs, without reference to the parent network. So for example, while groups have long URLs such as, an external network can have a name such as (as long as that URL hasn’t been taken by someone else).

Upgrading to the premium version of Yammer reveals other functionality for external networks, including all the apps in the app directory plus things like Groups, Org Charts, RSS Feeds, Inline Document Viewer and Inline Video Player.

We’re just getting started on using Yammer in this way for our Softjoe projects, and so far it looks good. More updates in this space as we gain more experience.


Written by tstaley

August 9, 2011 at 11:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized