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Breaking free: Yammer announces embeddable activity feeds

Users of Yammer, a social networking service for enterprises, can now embed Yammer feeds and activity streams into just about any business application through the use of embed codes, the company announced today.

The feature functions similar to the way YouTube users embed videos on other websites. It’s a few lines of code that fit snugly into an HTML or JavaScript code. The site then calls out to Yammer to pick up any information about a specific feed and publishes it into a widget built into the website. The feed works both ways, too — any information entered into the widget is sent back to the main Yammer website.

It’s a feature you probably wouldn’t find on Facebook, the most popular social network in the world, because it could pull users away from the main Facebook website or mobile application. But that’s because Yammer’s business model is quite different from Facebook, which relies on having users on the Facebook.com website as long as possible to generate advertising impressions. Instead, Yammer makes money by charging companies for premium features and additional control over the enterprise social network.

The company uses a freemium model — which gives companies a free taste of a stripped-down version of Yammer in order to hook employees on the service. Yammer charges $5 per user per month for a “gold” subscription that offers additional control and support from the Yammer team. Yammer then converts around 19 percent of its free Yammer users into paid users. The companies either find value in the service, or it becomes so widespread among employees that the companies need a way to control the flow of information and make sure there are no leaks.

Yammer also announced a few new features, including an activity feed that is similar to Facebook’s news feed. The feed collects “stories,” such as when users join new groups within Yammer or when they change parts of their profile. Yammer is also releasing a number of application programming interfaces (APIs) that let other companies create stories that will show up in the Yammer activity feed as items that can be liked and commented on. And Yammer is letting companies define what email addresses on Yammer are allowed to see the stories when they appear on the activity feed.

The company is also releasing an open graph protocol that is, again, similar to Facebook’s open graph protocol. The feature basically adds “like” buttons and a number of other ways to interact with a piece of content that links back to Yammer. That can include commenting, sharing or interacting with it in additional ways. Facebook pioneered this by adding a “like” and “share” buttons to many sites across the web — Yammer is basically trying to do the same thing for any site within a company’s intranet.

Yammer has picked up around 2 million verified corporate users and 80 percent of the largest companies in the world on the Fortune 500 list have deployed the enterprise social network. It’s one of a number of stars in the enterprise 2.0 space — along with companies like collaboration service Huddle and cloud storage provider — that are taking a lot of the lessons learned from Web 2.0 applications like Twitter and Facebook to the enterprise.

[Update: It looks like Yammer has retired the silver model. In order to clear up any confusion, we've adjusted the wording in the headline to more closely reflect the content of the story.]

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