There is no way that you've heard anything about the newest release of SharePoint without hearing about the new Social features. With this release of products, the SharePoint team has put a huge emphasis on social and how it works within the environment. After being here at SharePoint conference, I think the best summary of the Social features that I can give is that this release of products simply highlights things that users already do. Wait! Before you stop reading because you think I am flat out wrong, hear me out.
Social is a word that describes our society in general. We are living in a world where a huge percentage of our time is spent being social and interacting with the rest of society. We buy movie tickets online and then we are prompted with an email to give feedback and ratings so the rest of the community can then see what we thought.
Between Facebook and Twitter it never takes long for breaking news to hit the wire and spread out to the masses. We are emailed weekly coupons that we can download to our frequent shopper cards and then have immediate access to the deals while in the store. While watching TV #hashtags are often displayed so that you can give live commentary on the program as you view it, it has simply become a large part of who we are. As new generations age, this can be seen so much more clearly, students who are now entering the workforce probably can't remember life before Facebook.
I share all of that because the truth is, the new features for Social that come with SharePoint 2013 are really just ways to naturally implement the things that people are already doing. Social -- in many cases -- can tear down the walls that often exist with internal communication and can drive the business towards success. Every company is different, but it simply isn't fair to say that your company isn't social. Your workforce may not have internal tools that foster their ability to communicate naturally, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't thrive if given the right set of tools that enable them to naturally approach things at work the way they do outside of work.
The Social Tools
When you think about Social tools in SharePoint you have several different options, including: