Move over, Twitter: Enterpise #Microblogging in SharePoint 2013

Microsoft SharePoint Consultants have long struggled with developing user-friendly social computing in SharePoint. It’s hard to blame SharePoint when you consider that enterprise web architecture and social networking are competing from two ends of the computing spectrum. On the enterprise side, the concept of least privilege takes precedent: you want to respect the chain of commands and proper governance.  On the other hand, social computing is all about user generated folksonomies, divergent blue-sky thinking, rapid information transfer, and instant gratification. One of the biggest changes to SharePoint 2013 is the use as an enterprise social networking solution, and we’ll take a deeper look specifically at the Microblogging component.

Microblogging in SharePoint 2013 should be somewhat familiar to most as it implements some of the same functions as Twitter, except it is

Use SharePoint's Microblogging feature instead of email for quick messages

Use SharePoint’s Microblogging feature instead of email for quick messages to one or more coworkers

maintained on the controlled environment of the SharePoint system. Once enabled, users are able to interact with the Newsfeed controls and begin posting. If a user posts information on a My Site Newsfeed, it contains the activity in that Newsfeed. You can also link photos, documents and videos into the post.

Microblogging Tags 101

Like we said, the functionality is nearly identical to Twitter, especially when indicating a specific user or topic:

  • The @ symbol is used to designate a specific user as in @TheUnbounded
  • The # symbol is used to as a hashtag to designate a category or topic, as in #SharePointTip

Note: Tags are non breaking, and will be see as on hashtag until reaching the first non-breaking space – So #SnowDayAlert works, but ‘#Snow Day Alert’ would break after ‘snow’

Despite SharePoint 2013’s microblogging breaking the mold of a traditional enterprise collaboration, there are several limitations.  Some of the noteworthy shortcomings include:

  1. You can only link @Users, not sites.
  2. You can only interact with activities that are Microblogs, not other notifications.
  3. There isn’t a private messaging functionality, requiring you to use email instead.
  4. You can’t create a custom activity stream based on specific tags, users, or other things (so, no #HelpDesk stream).

It is important to note that Microblogging is not appropriate for every organization as many companies will find themselves not needing that level of social control with their user base.

SharePoint consultants recommend looking into Microblogging early in the architecture of a new system, but consider implementation later on (at least after My Sites) given that for most systems, it will be a ‘want’ more than a ‘need’.  Make sure My Sites are properly configured first, as Microblogging features extend off of them.

If you think Microblogging would take your SharePoint environment to the next level, Microsoft’s TechNet has a few great articles on how to properly configure it.

Have you experienced additional issues using SharePoint 2013’s Microblogging?  Let us know in the comments section below.

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