When using SharePoint 2013, the new social features are apparent in everything you do, and the integration with Yammer shows promise as well. In this article, I’ll talk about the seamless integration of social functionality into your daily work. The recent improvements will be highlighted, as well as the incorporation of Yammer into Office 365, and how it changes work as we know it.
“Social” tools and features in SharePoint and Yammer are really there to make your day more efficient and help you collaborate with colleagues. Hopefully with this new wave of SharePoint and Yammer in the enterprise, this “social” will be embraced more by those who were previously under the impression that social equates to being non-productive. Just take the “social” word away and you have some new effective ways to get out of those silos and get your job done.
In SharePoint 2013 and Yammer, being social is seamless and is part of your everyday work, and it allows information to be promoted naturally and organically throughout SharePoint. These tools not only make it easy to participate within SharePoint, but they give you a voice in your organization. I’ll give you five examples of how you can be efficient and find that you have participated socially.
Example One - Following
The very first thing that I did when our company’s SharePoint 2013 environment was up and running was to start following my favorite sites. At the top right corner of each site, there is a “Follow” button to click. When you follow sites, they are added to your very own list of your favorite sites. The great thing about this is that no matter which computer or browser you are using, this list of sites is always available to you. Wherever you go in SharePoint, you can always click the “Sites” link at the top of the screen, in order to go straight to your favorites.
If you remember back in SharePoint 2007, there was something called “My Links” that went away in SharePoint 2010. Following sites in 2013 is a great replacement for that. Once you've followed your first site … congrats, you’re being social in SharePoint and you didn't even know it. You can also follow many other types of content, such as documents. Documents you are following show up under the aptly named “Docs I’m following” section of your Newsfeed.
Example Two - Likes
In other online communities such as Facebook, “Likes” have become a common, quick way to interact with content. No interaction is required from you beyond the quick click of a button to say that you like something. In SharePoint, every list and library can have this feature turned on, via the rating settings.
Alternately, star ratings (one through five) can be turned on. If you see a document that you like, click the “Like” button. These likes and ratings improve the relevancy of that document in SharePoint Search. This means that when that document is included in search results when a search is performed, it will be listed higher on the page than another document that is not liked or has a lower rating. By participating in this way, you are improving the SharePoint experience for everyone else. Likes are also pervasive throughout conversations (discussion threads) in both SharePoint and Yammer.
Example Three - Tagging
Now, the concept of tagging does require a bit more effort than following and likes, but it is still extremely simple to do. Why would you want to go out of your way to tag things? What is the motivation behind it?
Think about an example of company policies. If we have company policies floating about here and there in SharePoint, maybe each department has their own policies in their own site, how can we simply follow any “policies”? If each of those documents is appropriately tagged as a policy, then SharePoint users have the ability to simply follow that tag. This way, you don’t have to worry about where each of these items exists in SharePoint. As long as you have access to them (permissions), you’ll be able to see these files in your newsfeed.
Tagging also helps in search relevancy, so if an item is tagged as a policy, a search for “policy” will include that item, and the tag will make the item more relevant to that search keyword. There’s also the entire topic of Managed Metadata, but that’s a bit more involved on the admin side, and this article is really meant to highlight the ease of use from the end user perspective (whether or not you have a super organized metadata structure). I’ve even heard of companies getting employees involved in tagging using gamification. They created a contest around it, which made it fun and motivated people.
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