(or: How to get up to speed with social)
(or: Stop suffering social)

Gastbeitrag von Conny Roloff (Microsoft Technical Specialist Collaboration)

The wrinkles around my eyes tell everybody that I am not a natural member of the "Digital Native" generation. In my private life I am using social networks not much, even though my 13 years old daughter just joined Facebook and I forced her to accept me as a so called "friend".

The social story becomes more interesting for me if we look at enterprises and how social networks influence our daily work. At Microsoft all employees have a personal site with a newsfeed, communities and SkyDrive hosted in Office 365 since almost three months. 

SharePoint Newsfeed, SharePoint Communities - just more noise?
 
Many of us don't see a benefit - on the contrary many feel swamped by just again more information streams. At the same time they are already at the limit what they can handle. Microblogging is often seen as useless babbling to the world without any purpose.
 
So what is the hazzle all about? In this article I'm trying to point this out for all who rather see a pain than a benefit in our own new social environment.
 
The following questions came into my mind when I got my new personal site: 

  • What is this good for? I already get more information than I can handle
  • Do I have to post permanently what I'm doing at the moment? I hate this.
  • The posts I see are not useful, so what? I don't want to waste my time with this. I was wondering how much time many colleagues have…

 

Good arguments for selling social
 
Since I am a Information Worker tech sales person I also have to sell it. I am so happy that we have a compelling social story now. But what are the real benefits behind for an enterprise? I have to look for answers to the following questions:

 

  • What are the use cases for my customers?
  • How increases it productivity, knowledge sharing, finding experts?

 

You might have different and more questions - please let me know!
 
I'll get the best arguments for my customers if I feel the benefit myself. Let's enable it for all of you!

 

The benefits after 3 months!
 
To be clear: After not just 3 months I'm seeing big improvements in my daily work rising. That is the reason for this blog: I'd like to share my positive learning curve with you. 
In fact today I'm getting more useful information and less noise than ever before except by email which is still a mess. Most important improvements are 

  • I get lots of interesting posts
  • I don't get lots of useless posts
  • I found experts for my important topics and read what they are posting to others
  • I can ask questions and I get answers from skilled people
  • I feel that I can now unsubscribe from several mailing lists 
  • I think this is a promising start. I believe that there will come up more changes over time.

How To!
 
So what have I done? Not much and it was easy - the main tasks are: 

  • Let others know what you are doing by activating activities in your profile
  • Look for community topics you are interested in and join
  • Follow the community experts. You can find the top 5 contributors on the right of the community main page
  • Look for #tags with topics you are interested in and follow. How to find a useful tag? Just edit your profile, look for "… - Newsfeed" and in "Followed tags" enter a #-sign followed by a term, e.g. #lync. You will get suggestions. Chose what you think fits best. If somebody enters #lync in his post text you will get this post in your feed regardless who it is.
  • Unfollow people who spam your feed with uninteresting content
  • Make your Newsfeed your homepage in your IE. O365 allows you connect to it wherever you are. Check the "Keep me signed in" box.

 

That's it. Over time you will find your "Follow" feed filled with interesting and useful posts. You will see when one of your experts starts following others and you can check if this is an interesting person for you as well and follow. You will be part of a group of people who are interested in you and who you are interested in.
 
You will love checking your Newsfeed from now on!
 

Do's and Don't's
 

Of course there are several rules I suggest to consider: As a starting point I want to stress just a few:

 

  1. Use tags in your posts only for real posts. In Microsoft one bad example is tagging a demo post to #SharePoint2013 for customer demo purposes even though he tag is intended to deliver useful information. Hopefully all demoing people will learn that they don't bother anybody if the use #demo instead (or any tag they can create by themselves by just typing it in). Since I'm not following #demo it won't bother me nor anybody else who follows #SharePoint2013
  2. Post quality! If you post into a community - only post a useful content and only ask questions if you could not find answers in other sources.
  3. Like posts by using the "like" button so that your followers can see that you think it's worthful content for everybody.
  4. Don't use the "Like" button just because you like the person. You should really like the content.
  5. In communities chose a Best Reply if you think there is one. It helps to rank content and the author better for other users.
  6. Don't babble! Or at least, if you want just babble don't tag it with useful tags so that I can unfollow you and your babbles will not spam my tags feed.

 

Do you have other rules like this? Please let me know!
 

Do you have more Best Practices?
 
There may be other useful capabilities and features we all can use. Share your experience!