Microsoft Viva Engage (Yammer) Review: Is an Enterprise Social Media Network a Competitor to More Famous Team Chats?
Microsoft has made it clear that the enterprise market is one of the company’s main focuses going forward.
By expanding its Teams platform to include more and more features, acquiring Skype and LinkedIn, and executing a number of other acquisitions, Microsoft has strengthened its position and dominated the market ever since.
Among Microsoft’s elaborate enterprise app offerings is Viva Engage (formerly Yammer): an enterprise social media network that helps employees connect, chat, and organize in all sorts of ways.
But, what is Viva Engage’s place in the Microsoft ecosystem, especially in comparison with Teams? And, how does it compare to some other team communication apps like Slack?
Let’s go through Microsoft Viva Engage’s most important features and answer some questions about this app.
Table of Contents
What Is Viva Engage?
Viva Engage is Microsoft’s social media platform for enterprises, where employees can connect, see each other’s profiles, chat, and collaborate in different ways. It is part of the Microsoft Viva suite, which is a set of tools designed to enhance employee experience and productivity. Viva Engage is the successor of Yammer.
Yammer had a modest beginning: it started as an internal communication platform for the commercial genealogy website Geni.com in March 2008. Six months later, its founder, David O. Sacks (one of the key people behind PayPal’s success), brought the app to TechCrunch50 to get more attention from possible investors.
The app then underwent a series of redesigns, perhaps the most important being introducing features like chat, polls, Q&A, events, topics, and others in 2010. It reached four million users the following year, quickly growing from one million users in 2010.
In 2012, Yammer was acquired by Microsoft and integrated into Office 365 plans. The app was redesigned several times and its position in the Microsoft enterprise ecosystem gradually shifted to accommodate the changes that happened on a larger scale within its parent company.
In March 2023, Microsoft rebranded Yammer to Viva Engage, keeping its features and capabilities. The shift came with a new logo and app icon. The rebranding was necessary for better alignment with the Microsoft Viva platform, which is aimed at an enhanced employee experience and engagement within the organization.
How Can You Get Viva Engage?
You can’t download Viva Engage on its own, without having a Microsoft 365 or Office 365 plan.
You also can’t get Microsoft Viva Engage as a private user – you need to be a part of an enterprise and you need to have a company email to access the platform.
That tells us a lot about Viva Engage’s purpose: it’s intended for businesses (mostly larger companies) that have a lot of employees. These employees might not even know each other personally so they need a way to connect, become more familiar, and collaborate on projects.
However, as we’re about to see, the platform is very limited when it comes to task management and advanced collaboration, so we can safely say that its purpose is more social than organizational.
Let’s go through its pricing plans in the next section.
Microsoft Viva Engage Pricing
You can find Viva Engage under the pricing plans of Microsoft 365 and Office 365.
These plans are as follows: Microsoft 365 F3 ($8 user/month), Microsoft 365 E3 ($36 user/month), Microsoft 365 E5 ($57 user/month), Office 365 E1 ($10 user/month), Office 365 E3 ($23 user/month), and Office 365 E5 ($38 user/month).
All of these prices are for annual commitments and, as such, they’re more affordable than monthly payments.
One of the most significant differences between these plans is the fact that the Office 365 E1 plan doesn’t allow you to have desktop versions of Office apps. You also don’t get advanced threat protection (a significant safety feature) until you upgrade to the other tiers.
Viva Engage (Yammer) Review: User Interface and Key Features
In terms of the user interface, Microsoft Viva Engage feels like a social network (much like Facebook).
Your Home page looks like a feed that you can scroll through and see all the updates from your network. Just like on Facebook, at the top are the stories. Whenever someone posts something in a community you’re a member of, you’ll see that update on your Home page.
On your feed, you can leave comments, “like” posts, share them, and more. On the right of Home, you can see the Communities and Storylines tabs. Selecting any of these will change what you see in the main window.
Communities look a lot like Facebook groups or pages: they have a name, profile picture, description, and similar elements. Clicking on a community will show you only the content posted by its members. There is also a separate tab within the community where you can view all files, download them, or upload your own. On the Storylines tab, you can post and see stories, and view your general and Following (the colleagues you follow) feed.
Overall, you can say that the design is pretty intuitive, given the fact that it uses a lot of elements that many users will be familiar with.
Viva Engage: Team Chat or Employee Experience Platform
However, Viva Engage doesn’t really give off that unique team chat feel.
Unlike apps like Slack, Microsoft Viva Engage doesn’t have a dedicated team chat or channels where you can send messages in real time. Instead, this happens in community conversations and looks like comments on Facebook. In an era where we’re all used to instant messaging and chat bubbles, this can feel a little awkward.
Even the Inbox feature doesn’t feel like a modern inbox but more like something Facebook would have done five years ago.
On the other hand, Viva Engage is filled with useful team communication features.
For example, you can use the “Praise” option to express your support or admiration for a colleague. You can tag them, choose a cute icon, and write a message to celebrate their success with the rest of the team. We already mentioned the “Poll” feature that allows you to post a question and include answer options to gauge the opinions of the group.
Viva Engage can also be used to make announcements to the rest of the network. That can be useful for notifying everyone of company-wide news and big milestones.
Dealing with files is pretty easy since you can upload, download, and preview them in communities and the file upload limit is 5 GB. This should be more than enough for everyone apart from video editors and designers who work with large open files. You should be able to share all standard media formats: videos, images, pdf files, etc.
Microsoft Viva Engage Safety
Data safety is often among the most important concerns when we’re talking about enterprise communication. Employees are not only worried about their privacy but there are important questions about how data is stored and whether or not it can be approached by third parties.
Similarly to the most popular secure chat apps, Viva Engage encrypts your data both in transit and at rest, regardless of which platform you’re using to access the app (smartphone, web, desktop).
It also has an Admin Center which you can use to set password policies, create and configure retention policies, and manage compliance policies.
Overall, the Viva Engage app can be considered safe both in terms of data encryption and the level of admin control you get.
Viva Engage User Reviews
In a lot of the review websites, the app is mostly praised for its useful and natural integration with the rest of the Microsoft products. Sharing files and speeding up communication by integrating with Outlook is made easy for all users. Some users also point out how the app is effective for connecting people throughout the organization, wherever they are.
On the other hand, the brunt of the criticism in Viva Engage (Yammer) reviews is directed towards the mobile app. A lot of the negative reviews mention that the smartphone app isn’t user-friendly, has constant bugs, doesn’t load, or doesn’t show feed in chronological order.
Brosix: A Safe Network With More Features
When it comes to safety, Viva Engage is a pretty elaborate solution, with lots of admin control and an encryption protocol. However, its lack of real-time communication features and organization tools might lead you to consider some Viva Engage alternatives.
One of those alternatives is Brosix: a real-time team chat app with industry-level safety protocols and advanced collaboration features.
Next-level collaboration and team chat
Like Viva Engage, Brosix gives you an incredible level of admin control through the Web Control Panel. You set up your whole Private Team Network and you get to control who has access to which features, who can communicate with whom, and set password security levels.
The Final Word: Viva Engage (Yammer) Review
While Viva Engage is an innovative employee engagement solution that helps your employees connect in an interesting way, it makes little sense to invest in Microsoft 365 or Office 365 just to get it. You might also be underwhelmed by its UX and the lack of real-time communication.
If you’re looking for an equally safe but more efficient way to communicate, consider Brosix. You’ll get a similar level of admin control across the whole network but with more advanced communication features including video calls and real-time group chat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Finally, here are some questions we found a lot of people online have been having trouble with.
Is Yammer being discontinued?
Yes. The Yammer brand is being discontinued as it transitioned to Viva Engage in March 2023. All functions and features of the app stayed the same with minor upgrades.
In 2019, Microsoft redesigned Yammer from the ground up and infused it with new social media features to empower leaders and communities to share news and communicate.
Who is Viva Engage for?
Large enterprises that have offices in different countries could find Viva Engage useful. Especially during the current global situation where things like international team buildings and office parties are unlikely.
Additionally, the platform makes a lot of sense for companies that rely on the Office 365 suite. Those companies could find sharing files, scheduling appointments, and chatting more natural with Microsoft Viva Engage than with many other apps.
What is the difference between Teams and Viva Engage?
Teams and Viva Engage exist within the same ecosystem and they’re both used for team communication but there are some obvious differences between the two.
First of all, Microsoft Teams is much more streamlined and focused on task organization and team coordination. Viva Engage is more laid-back and better suited for announcements or less formal conversations.
Microsoft Viva Engage is also structured more like a social network while Teams looks like a typical group chat app.
Can Viva Engage be used externally?
You can add external participants to your Viva Engage conversations easily. Simply start typing your message (or a reply to an existing message) and type the email address of the external participant on the Cc line. Similarly, you can send a private message to external participants by going to Inbox, clicking on Create Message, and typing their email into the “Add more participants” field.
Additionally, if you have permission, you can create an external network with people from outside of your organization. Make sure to check with your admin if you can do this.
What are the components of Microsoft Viva?
The components of Microsoft Viva include Viva Topics, Viva Connections, Viva Insights, and Viva Learning. Each component serves a different purpose in improving employee experience and collaboration within organizations.
What is Viva Topics?
Viva Topics helps people put knowledge at their fingertips by automatically organizing information and expertise across an organization’s existing Microsoft 365 apps and services.
What is Viva Connections?
Viva Connections is an intranet within Microsoft Teams that brings together news, conversations, and other important resources to improve communication and engagement among employees.
What is Viva Insights?
Viva Insights provides individuals and organizations with actionable insights and personalized recommendations to improve productivity and well-being. It helps individuals understand how they spend their time and identify areas for improvement.
What is Viva Learning?
Viva Learning empowers organizations to facilitate learning and development opportunities for employees. It integrates with various external learning platforms to provide a centralized hub for training resources and personalized learning experiences.
How can Microsoft Viva Engage enhance the employee experience?
Microsoft Viva Engage provides a social-community app where employees can connect, collaborate, and share knowledge. It fosters a sense of community and engagement, leading to improved employee satisfaction and productivity.
What are the new features introduced in Microsoft Viva Engage?
The new Viva Engage includes a range of features such as customizable communities, advanced analytics, rich content creation, and improved user interface. These features aim to further enhance employee engagement and collaboration.
Can Viva Engage be integrated with existing Microsoft 365 tools?
Yes. Viva Engage can be seamlessly integrated with existing Microsoft 365 tools and services, such as Teams, Flow, SharePoint, Connect, Embed, Dynamics CRM, and Salesforce. This integration enables users to leverage their familiar productivity tools while utilizing the enhanced engagement capabilities of Viva Engage.
How does Microsoft Viva Engage compare to other employee experience platforms?
Microsoft Viva Engage stands out as a comprehensive employee experience platform with its integration with existing Microsoft tools, intuitive user interface, and range of features. It offers a holistic solution for organizations aiming to improve employee engagement and collaboration.