31 Mar

How BostInnovation Uses Yammer Topics As A Knowledge Database

By in Testimonials on March 31, 2011

This post was contributed by Maria Ogneva, the Head of Community at Yammer

I love talking to our customers and learning about the cool and innovative ways in which they are using the product. I could talk about best practices and ways of using certain features to their fullest potential. Alternatively, I could ask our customers to tell me their stories about how they are using it, illustrating best practices and creative approaches. I’m thinking the latter is far more effective. So without much further ado, let’s shine the spotlight on BostInnovation, a news organization focused on startups and innovation in Boston.

BostInnovation started because there was a pronounced need in Boston and on the East Coast in general to establish a community voice for Boston-based startups. With so many universities in the area, the city of Boston is ripe with innovation. BostInnovation was started with the specific goal of stimulating conversations around native startups. It’s a culture blog, of sorts, highlighting what universities are doing and what new startups are springing up. The cool thing is that BostInnovation doesn’t simply focus on web startups, but startups of any sort, such as food trucks!

So where does Yammer come in?

Use of hashtags makes Yammer a “dynamic CRM”:

BostInnovation has a hybrid model of core employees and editorial freelancers, and they use Yammer to communicate effectively. Greg Gomer, Tribal Leader of BostInnovation, says that one of the main uses of Yammer has been that of a knowledge base, almost a dynamic CRM of sorts. Because BostInnovation tracks companies and news and events associated with these companies, the team uses hashtags extensively to mark their own posts, guest posts, events and external articles. By using hashtags, Yammer places them into topics. If a team member was about to write an article about tablet technology, for example, he or she would simply navigate to the search box, pick the “tablet tech” topic, and browse through everything in it.

“Working in a newsroom requires our employees to constantly be in the know. Without Yammer, stories, leads, and other communications would simply get lost in email, creating a massive bottleneck. Yammer has streamlined our editorial process,” says Gomer.

Alternative to spreadsheets:

We’ve always seen Yammer as an efficient alternative to replace some of the email functions, such as: brainstorming, status updates, team updates, Q&A. BostInnovation has taken it a step further by using Yammer as an efficient alternative to spreadsheets! Gomer says that it creates a nice repository of everything that’s properly tagged, and you can go back to the first day the company yammed.

Using groups zeroes in on the signal:

BostInnovation also uses groups extensively. They use private groups for core, fulltime members. In these groups, they talk about management, strategy, and the business side of running the news organization. Public groups exist for all community writers to get story leads, exchange information and dig into the knowledge base.

Taking Yammer on the go:

The modern employee is on the go a lot. However, the BostInnovation crew is on the go more than an average team. Because they are in the field chasing and creating stories, the Yammer mobile apps and desktop apps are huge competitive advantages.  The alert system has proven out to be huge because of the time sensitive nature of BostInnovation’s work. Writers need to be alerted to anything pertinent to the story they are working on. Also, editors are often alerted when a story is done.

BostInnovation has been using Yammer for the past 9-12 months. They’ve been such fans of the product that they’ve even written this blog post. Gomer says that it was easy to pick up, but it took a little while to develop and document their own best practices and make sure that people adhere to tagging topics the same way. When I asked Gomer how he ensures company-wide participation, he told me that all writers are required to use Yammer to communicate across the company.

I hope you enjoyed this story! Do you have a story to share? Drop us a line in the comments; we’d love to hear it!

4 Responses to How BostInnovation Uses Yammer Topics As A Knowledge Database

  1. The ability to be able to communicate with other employees and like minded individuals privately is an amazing thing. I know email is instant but to be able to log an entire conversation amongst a group of people is great.

  2. Matt says:

    Great post that highlights the power of both topics and groups, both powerful features in Yammer. Thanks for sharing.

    • Maria says:

      Thank you for your comment, Matt! Topics and groups are definitely both very important. How do you use them in your work?

      – Maria

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