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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.
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.
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.