Topics and Hashtags in Yammer

Published Nov 09 2020 11:47 AM 17.6K Views
Microsoft

Yammer powers communities, knowledge, and employee engagement in Microsoft 365. At Microsoft Ignite, we shared how Yammer is investing in three areas for knowledge: capturing knowledge with questions and answers, organizing it using topics, and spreading it across the organization with Project Cortex.

 

Today, we are sharing the first updates to our new topics experience—which lays the foundation for future improvements and greater distinction between topics and hashtags.

 

Topics and Hashtags today

Currently, Yammer has two related features available for categorizing knowledge: topics and hashtags.

 

Topics are a useful tool to organize, curate, and reference knowledge within and across communities. Anyone can affix a topic to a conversation by using the “Add Topics” option during or after posting. If a topic exists already, it is presented as a suggestion. Topics are metadata that apply to the thread, not individual messages, whereas hashtags are part of the message itself. Clicking a topic takes you to that specific topic’s page.

 

Hashtags are a great way to encourage and promote participation in campaigns and conversations across communities. They also provide a creative way to express yourself. You can include a hashtag in a message by simply adding the ‘#’ symbol before the text. Posting a message with a hashtag automatically adds a topic of the same name to the thread. Clicking a hashtag takes you to the topic page of the same name.

 

What’s changing

While topics and hashtags each have many uses, organizations have been eager for a clearer distinction between the two. The current behavior of automatically adding a topic when posting a hashtag can lead to confusion.

 

Moving forward, we are drawing a sharper distinction between these features so that topics power knowledge curation, management, and referencing while hashtags continue to be used to support campaigns and user expression.

 

This means the following changes in the coming weeks:

  • Topics will no longer include the ‘#’ symbol before the topic making them visually distinct from hashtags. This should make topics in Yammer easier to scan for in a feed, and match how topics look across Microsoft 365. Hashtags will continue to look the same.
  • Posting a hashtag will no longer automatically add a topic to the thread. One can continue to manually add a topic to a thread.
  • Clicking a topic will open the topic page. Clicking a hashtag will initiate a search for all messages that include that hashtag.

But don’t worry -- all threads that have been marked with topics will continue to be marked with topics. And all messages that include a hashtag will continue to have that hashtag.

 

YammerHashtags.png

 

Future of topics

We intend for topics to be an excellent tool for organizing, curating, and connecting knowledge across communities in Yammer, and even beyond in Microsoft 365. In the future, you will see these updates to topics in Yammer:

  • Create descriptions for topics that show on the topic page and topic picker
  • Add a filter to topic pages to see all questions marked with the topic
  • See the most used topics within a community
  • Ability to delete topics

 

To make the community knowledge from Yammer broadly accessible and support a cohesive experience across Microsoft 365, Yammer and Project Cortex will be tightly integrated. This means:

  • Topics will mean and refer to the same thing whether in Yammer, Project Cortex and elsewhere across Microsoft 365
  • Project Cortex topic cards will surface when hovering over topics within Yammer
  • Project Cortex topic cards will include content from Yammer such as question and answers, and conversations
  • Project Cortex topic pages will gather content from across Microsoft 365 including Yammer questions and answers, and conversations marked with that topic

Future of hashtags

We will continue to evolve hashtags to support organic expression and internal campaigns as part of larger conversations at the organization.

For more details on topics and hashtags, please see this support article.

 

28 Comments

What's the expected future behavior when you click on a hashtag?  Does it go to a "Topics" page? Or does it initiate a search for that hashtag?

Contributor

Hi @Kevin Crossman

 

Did you see this sentence in the post? I think that has the answer.

 

"Clicking a topic will open the topic page. Clicking a hashtag will initiate a search for all messages that include that hashtag."

Thanks Cai, I see that now.

Occasional Contributor

Will the yammer api be updated in the same timeframe? The current endpoint for topics https://developer.yammer.com/docs/topicsidjson
"Topics can be added to a thread either by a user posting a message with a hashtag or by adding the topic after the fact (see parameters for manipulating messages above). Topics, along with their ids, can be retrieved using search or autocomplete"

Microsoft

@Daniel Karlsson Hi Daniel, yes, once the change is fully rolled out over the coming weeks, we'll update that API documentation. You'll be able to add topics to the thread manually while composing the thread, or after posting it. Posting a hashtag in a message will not add a topic to the thread.

Super Contributor

The post is inconsistent. Under the Hashtag bullet it says

 

Posting a message with a hashtag automatically adds a topic of the same name to the thread. Clicking a hashtag takes you to the topic page of the same name.

 

Later it says

  • Clicking a topic will open the topic page. Clicking a hashtag will initiate a search for all messages that include that hashtag.

 

@Rob O'Keefe 
"Hashtags today": Posting a message with a hashtag automatically adds a topic of the same name to the thread
"Hashtags in the future": Posting a hashtag will no longer automatically add a topic to the thread. Clicking a hashtag will initiate a search for all messages that include that hashtag.

 

Super Contributor

I swear I read that post 3 times... it seems very clear now! :suprised:

@Rob O'Keefe You and me both, brother.

Deleted
Not applicable

Can I just check that there will not be any changes to the Power Automate 'Post to Yammer' Action.

You can currently add in up to 20 Topics in a post. I assume this will still stay mapped to Topic in Yammer post

Occasional Visitor

@Kaleem Rahman While Clicking on a topic will open the topic page within the Yammer app in MS Teams it lacks the option to limit search within a specific channel. Also if you have a long list of conversations, I'm missing a easy way to search on keywords in the Yammer app in MS Teams

Senior Member

Hi @Kaleem Rahman ,
Thanks for the information.

 

Two questions:

1. Do you have specific release dates for changes in the coming weeks?

2. With this update, what would be the endpoint to get all posts with a particular hashtag?

 

 

Regular Visitor

In the new user experience, how do you get the the list of Topics? It is currently not accessible:

https://www.yammer.com/<networkname>/topics

 

Super Contributor

It seems like a bunch of things that should "just" be hashtags are getting turned into Topics. So for example, we often use a #kudos hashtag, which now is a Kudos topic. But it's not really a "topic". 

 

In the future, will we be able to edit this and stop some Topics from being created from Hashtags?

@Rob O'Keefe  Yes, that's the whole idea around this change. If you simply type #kudos it WON'T be turned into a topic automatically anymore. Topics are added/edited outside the message body to show a different intent.

Super Contributor

Thanks @Kevin Crossman for the quick reply!

 

I get that, sorry my question was not clear. From us using #Kudos in the past, we now have a Kudos topic. Can I delete Kudos as a topic across the board? Maybe that comes later in Cortex-ville?

 

Super Contributor

Thanks for allowing multi word topics, that is a big plus. How about acronyms? I get you want to standardize the tags and topics, but if internally we have a program called ABCD and it show up as Abcd, that is weird user experience.

Frequent Visitor

Is there a way to edit the topics ? 

We are a bilingual organisation, but not all people are bilingual.

It would be glad if Yammer admins have the right to manage topics. For example editing a topic by adding its translation. Or manage acronyms and abbreviations.

It is not useful to change topics in each conversation.

Thanks for advices :)

Microsoft

@Nel Vandelannoote Network admins today can rename topics. And soon there will be descriptions that can also be managed. 

 

And with the work with Project Cortex, the facility for synonyms will also become available ☺️

@Kaleem Rahman The API documentation is still not up to date (and do not get me started on the lack of version control - the sooner Yammer use the Graph APIs the better ;)) The issue is that developers and vendors who have built automation that leverages "hash tag becomes a topic" functionality have been subjected to a breaking change without notice. Whilst I understand the desire to separate hash tags from topics there is a learned behaviour that drives people to use hashtags. It is that learned behaviour that vendors and developers (and community managers for that matter) have tapped into. It makes adoption easier.

 

I am not saying that the change needs to be reverted but there needs to be an end point for hashtags and a way for searching for them. There also needs to be clearer communication as the Message Centre post talks about UI changes and it is only inferred that the API will change to. 

 

MC225505.png

Contributor

I'm with Simon on this.

I knew this change was coming but didn't realize it would completely break the way we track hashtags. I recognize Microsoft wants to distinguish Topics, but you've left us in limbo in the meantime. As a community manager, this feels like a huge setback. How do I tell my users to track their campaigns? We can't pivot to Topics because it's still half baked. It's bad enough I've spent the last X amount of years saying 'hashtags are Topics in Yammer' to now reverse course only to add that hashtags are now worthless? I'm one person, and I have no interest in manually tracking hashtags via Excel. I've championed Yammer despite a lot of changes, but this one --- makes no sense.

Super Contributor

@Kaleem Rahman where can Network Admins edit Topics?

Senior Member

@Kaleem Rahman, I'm happy that @Simon Denton and @Dinorah Flores raised this issue because it also had negative consequences for our business.

 

Just want to provide some background. Our platform – Sideways 6 – help Nestle, Balfour Beatty, AstraZeneca, and other multinational companies to capture ideas from employees on Yammer, Teams, and other corporate platforms, manage through the pipeline and implement the best of them.

 

This change completely broke our integration and workflows of our customers, since we were synchronizing ideas with certain topics (topics were equal to hashtags). Currently, we are rebuilding the integration using /search.json endpoint, which btw not ideal for our use cases.

 

It would be really great if you could:

  • Communicate all the changes upfront, provide technical details of each change and precise dates of rollouts
  • Keep updated Updates section on https://developer.yammer.com/blog. The last update was about a month ago, a one before – 2 years ago
  • Hold online webinars with partners about the upcoming changes, so we can ask questions and provide information on existing use cases
  • Start using versioning of API

I really hope that you will find this feedback useful and we will keep a productive partnership in the future.

 

Thanks

Occasional Contributor

There are two questions up there that have gone unanswered:

 

  1. In the new user experience, how do you get the the list of Topics?
  2. Where can Network Admins edit Topics?

I just tried the New Yammer and the lack of functionality around Topics makes it quite difficult to develop content around topics in a purposeful way.  (It's more incidental than purposeful.)  There doesn't appear to be any centralized access to topics that we would like to highlight.  There is no way to drive users to specific topics.  You may only stumble across topics on some existing conversations and then use those threads to find other conversations with the same topic.  Searching for topics is difficult because you cannot narrow it down to a specific community.  And how do you know which topics to search for in the first place?  We have topics with very specific names for which we want to develop content; they are not topics users will be able to guess at effectively.  

 

Also, the Files section leaves a lot to be desired.  It's just a huge flat list with no structure.

 

I think SharePoint and Teams cover all the bases better than Yammer.  In Teams, conversations are organized into Teams and Channels.  Channels are a way to group conversations by subject matter, and each conversation (group of replies) can have its own subject.  That is three levels of organization already.  Furthermore, you can search Teams messages by subject, date, Team, Channel, User Mentions, and whether they have an attachment.  In SharePoint, you can post an article about a specific topic, and then you can have a conversation about it (in a widget at the bottom).  This way, the comments and the topic are kept together naturally.  Also, files can be shared and organized in a structured folder hierarchy.

 

In conclusion, Teams is better for natural conversation, and SharePoint is better for creating content around specific topics.    It would be great if there were some way to better marry the two realms.  If only ad-hoc conversations could be linked to specific content about topics (e.g., composed articles), while articles about specific topics could link to conversations about the same or related topics.  Composed articles and free-form conversations should exist in harmony, and it should be possible to drive traffic between them effortlessly.

Occasional Contributor

@Kaleem Rahman the new user experience for Topics in Yammer is not great. 

 

Firstly, people are not able to browse by topics in the new Yammer experience, although people can search topics but a lot of people prefer to browse than to search.  It would be great if Topics can also be added to the LHS nav on the new Yammer.  This will solve the browse by topics issue.

 

 Secondly, it is not easy to navigate to the Topics that you follow.  It would be great if My Topics can also be added to the LHS navigation in the new Yammer experience so people can easily go to the conversations of Topics that they follow.

Contributor

@Joseph Leiba - FYI - you can edit a topic. Just  go to the topic and then there's an edit option on the right (using New Yammer).

Super Contributor

@Kaleem Rahman we have not heard from you since January. Can anyone from Microsoft comment on this thread?

 

You make such a big deal about Topics and Hashtags and then you drop off the planet. It's about 1/3 implemented in Yammer and then you'll come around and say we need expensive Viva Cortex licenses to manage Topics. Is that the case?

Microsoft

@Rob O'Keefe @FeliciaA Yes, we hear you on these issues. We want to address both of these in the new Yammer: the ability to browse the topics in your network in a meaningful way, and provide ways to better keep track of content in the topics that you follow. We just cannot commit to any timelines at the moment. Please stay tuned to the blog for updates to our topics experience in the coming months.

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