I admit, I was once in the same situation. Staring at the CEO of an international company that has over 15,000 employees and trying to explain SharePoint Social to him and his board. My first and biggest mistake was trying to explain it with examples like “It’s like Facebook for the Enterprise” or “It’s like LinkedIn.”
That was three years ago with SharePoint 2010 and since then, I have learnt my lesson. Social is very hard to measure a return on, though not impossible.
What is SharePoint Social? Know what you are selling
Before you can attempt to explain to someone what SharePoint Social is and what they can expect from it, you need to understand it yourself. Let’s look at what fits under this giant hat of Social in SharePoint.
Microblogging and feeds
One of the long awaited features for SharePoint has been microblogging. What exactly is microblogging? The ability to post a message, participate in conversations with comments and replies. But also tagging and mentioning others using the “@” symbol. Showing that you agree with something someone else said by clicking on “Like”.
But because it’s built in to SharePoint, you can actually even click on Follow Up and have it create a Task in your My site for you to follow up.
As part of Microblogging, you can also “Follow” Sites, Documents, People and Tags to stay current on everything happening, kind of like subscribing.
This is a new Site Template that arrived with SharePoint 2013, it’s called Community Sites. This new template is an attempt to replace the old Discussion Board that wasn't so popular in previous versions of SharePoint.
The Site allows users to have discussions and questions on topics that are relevant to the company. It also includes a reputation and badge system to reward active members and incites them to keep participating. What’s fun is that the Discussions leverage all of the Microblogging features mentioned above.
Interesting as well is that there is a Community Portal that pulls all the Community Sites together for easy navigation.
A few people think My Sites have disappeared and that it is now called SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro — this is false.
If you want to learn more about SkyDrive Pro I invite you to read this complete definition: What is SkyDrive Pro in SharePoint 2013. My Sites are still the same, a personal Site Collection each user gets. There has been many improvements to the User Interface to make it more intuitive and has some cool features thanks to the Microblogging and the new Search engine.
Once My Sites are deployed, they become the default Save location for people running Office 2013. Push them to use the My Site or “SkyDrive Pro” library more and more.
Sharing is now Security Management
To make it easier on users and manage security on files and folders, the “Share” button has been introduced.
The notion of “permissions” is hidden or reduced from the average SharePoint User and replaced with a very social-like “sharing” concept. “I would like to share this with John so that he may view the document”.
Newsfeed Web Part
Though we have already covered the Microblogging feature in SharePoint 2013, I think we can isolate the Newsfeed Web Part into its own category. That’s because the Web Part can be added on any page and offers the Microblogging features mentioned earlier.
And when the Newsfeed Web Part is used on other sites, it still shows up in the users main Newsfeed if they follow the site. In the picture below, you can see the message posted earlier in the Community Site.
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