The Broad Comms Ecosystem

Sample Company Communicator post

I’ve been talking to corporate communications teams more often recently, and the bag of new (and not so new) tools that we throw at them these days has created some more “which tool when” confusion. I’ve found the following explanation goes over a treat, so thought I’d share broadly.

The tools I’m talking about are:

  • Viva Connections. The new app that brings your corporate “front door” (your intranet) to the front and center in the place where your staff are probably spending most of their time now: Microsoft Teams.
Viva Connections
  • Company Communicator. A piece of open-source code that’s all the rage with Microsoft Teams-adopted large organisations. Sends chat announcements to large audiences. Customers like Ernst & Young and NHS England are using it to send direct messages outside of email to 100,000’s of people every month.
Ernst & Young case study of Company Communicator
  • Yammer. Is 14 years old. Take that in for a minute. What’s the role for Yammer in all this? I thought it was about “broad comms”?

The simplest way to think about this is to remember what we do outside of work. We hear about something first in a direct message: a chat from a friend, a newsletter, a social media post. Usually, there’s a link to learn more on a blog post or news article somewhere. Finally, we share and discuss the details on a social network. The Office 365 ecosystem is not very different.

You hear about The News first in Company Communicator. Teams is where we’re living, some of us now more than in email. It’s nice to get all my broad comms in one chat stream so I always know where to go in Teams to get the latest important broadcasts. They’re also not filling up my already too-full inbox.

Sample announcement in Company Communicator

That message can include two links, the first of which is an invite to “Learn More.” This takes me to a SharePoint Online page on the intranet with all the relevant details, video content, links to related news, and more. It’s the same page I can probably see promoted on the home page of Viva Connections if I’ve gone there first instead.

The other link is “Talk about it.” This leads me to a social network post on Yammer, started by the comms team just before sending out the Company Communicator announcement. There, I can discuss the details I’ve read, ask follow up questions, and upvote other’s ideas on the topic.

The comms team can get analytics on how many viewers have seen the original announcement in Company Communicator, how many views of the SharePoint post, and how many views, likes, and comments on the Yammer post. This data can help them adjust their delivery and or emphasis on each channel.

SharePoint News
(The Details)
(The Discussion about it)
Company Communicator
(The announcement that links to the other two…)
Key Use CasesOrganization-wide, departmental, team, and community news items 
Not usually time-sensitive
Organization-wide, departmental, team, and community discussion 
Not usually time-sensitive
Important messages for front-line workers
Often time sensitive
Immediate action buttons
NotificationsEmail digest, News feed in SharePoint global bar and appEmail digest, Yammer, and/or Teams appPersonal chat
TargetingAudiences can be targeted using Azure AD GroupsGenerally open to all, but members of community notified if posted as an announcementCan be sent to everyone or to members of selected Azure AD groups
SchedulingCan be scheduled in UIUI for scheduling coming soon. For now, use Power Automate.Available in one branch of this code project
AnalyticsBasic reporting available to site admins in UI
Additional reports in Power BI for tenant admins
Partner offerings for depth
Yammer Community Insights and Thread InsightsAvailable with the branch mentioned above
SupportPart of your Office 365 support agreementPart of your Office 365 support agreementCommunity-supported (open source)
CostIncluded in all Office 365 plansIncluded in all Office 365 plansFree code: Azure costs start at $75/mo
Table: how all the pieces align
all three channels available from Teams, linked to each other
Figure: all three channels available from Teams, linked to each other