This post started out as a comment on Andy Mulholland’s post about Yammer on our CTO Blog, but I decided to promote it to a full blog post, because I didn’t have time to write a short and essential comment. And that is exactly what I wish to discuss here: the length and purpose of messages that we broadcast using different social media.
With the term ‘message’ I mean any text a person can leave behind on a social medium. It could be a blog post, a comment on a blog post, a tweet, a yam, et cetera. A message always has a sender. The sender sends messages to convey, well, a certain message to a certain audience. The sender can use different social media to convey different messages to different audiences.
Social media come in different types each having different purposes. There is quite a lot of social media we can choose from these days. To name some instances I frequently use myself: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Netvibes, Digg, del.iciou.us, the blog you are reading, my own blog on blogspot, Backtype to help my followers track the trail of comments I leave behind on the blogs of other bloggers, a number of communities on Ning and, lately, also Yammer.
In spite of the plethora of social media available, I think we can split messages into long messages (e.g. blog posts) and short messages (e.g. tweets). Putting the essence of what you wish to say in a short message takes more effort than writing a long, incoherent rant which I am hopefully not writing right now (Mark Twain already knew this long before social media existed, and Tris Hussey had the same insight some time ago too).
The crux of communicating through social media is in choosing the right medium for the right type of message. Or put the other way around: the crux is in using social media where it is intended for. And now I am finally getting to my point: The length of a yam doesn’t seem to have a limit! This confuses users into choosing what to use Yammer for. To rant or not to rant?
I definitely see all the benefits of Yammer that Andy names in his blog, but I am not liking Yammer (yet) for the above mentioned reason. The 140 character limit of Twitter is exactly the thing I value most about microblogging. I find that the corporate yams I receive are too long to be able to get most of its message from a quick glance. It would be great if the max. yam length could be configured through the Yammer admin software (if Capgemini has claimed ownership of the capgemini.com yams already, which they should). I am not alone in this criticism: http://forum.yammer.com/topic.php?id=321
So, I strongly suggest we keep our yams short. And if you don’t have the time to write a short yam, then write a lengthly rant (like I do) on your blog and broadcast a nice, short yam that links to your rant.