Yammer-as-Distribution Group-featA couple of weeks back, I was given the opportunity to write for the The Microsoft MVP Award Program Blog. I had been in conversations at the time about the email features of Yammer.
For my post, I wanted to use the opportunity to share some steps that would help improve the email experience of Yammer networks and groups. In partnership with the MVP Award Program Blog, my blog post was published on the Microsoft Press Blog. Here is an excerpt from the blog post.

“We have a number of communication tools available to us now via the different Microsoft platforms and services. Many of us belong to multiple email distribution groups and receive messages from them daily. Distribution groups are used for group communications, notifications, reporting and asking for help “to find those lost keys”.

In this blog post, I take a look at Yammer, the Enterprise Social communication platform. I discuss briefly how communication differs from that of email. But then I introduce a few steps to help us get the best of both, using Yammer via email and through conversation posts on the Yammer website. We can make Yammer behave like a Distribution Group.

Yammer can be most simply described as a private collection of places for conversation for your organisation. Conversations are in a forum format. The different places for conversation are called Yammer Groups. The collection of groups are called a Yammer network.

Conversations are most commonly started by visiting a Yammer group from your web browser and posting a conversation in the group’s conversation feed. It is very much like posting the start of a conversation or a question on a forum. People reply to the posts and to each other’s replies.

Groups in a Yammer network can be Public or Private.

  • If a group is public:
    • Anyone in the Yammer network can join it.
    • Conversations and posts to the group are open to the rest of that Yammer network.
  • If a group is private:
    • Members need to be invited to join the group. Others can request to join, but won’t be given access until a group admin grants membership to the group.
    • Conversations and posts are kept within the group. They are not visible to the rest of that Yammer network.

Email distribution groups that use Microsoft Exchange can also be configured as Public or Private. These are Open or Closed distribution groups. Most distribution groups are created as closed groups. Members can only be added to the distribution group if an admin adds the member. But the lesser used Open distribution group allows people to discover the group from the Global Address List and join the group.

The main difference between a distribution group and a Yammer group is the discoverability of conversations.”

Read the Full blog post on the Microsoft Press Blog.


I aimed to keep the blog post focused on a comparison between traditional Distribution Lists, Yammer Groups and email interaction. However, what should be mentioned is that Distribution Lists themselves are undergoing a radical change. With the introduction of Office 365 Groups to Exchange Online, we have a way to quickly provision the most common collaboration tools to a group of people.
One of those collaboration tools is a conversation space that takes the place of a Distribution List – Office 365 Groups ‘Conversations’.

If you’d like to read more about Office 365 Groups, please take a look at a few blog posts I have written on the subject. I use a couple of other tools to help illustrate my discussion. Namely Office Mix and Office Sway.






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