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Understanding social networking in SharePoint

From: SharePoint 2010 Getting Started

Video: Understanding social networking in SharePoint

Now because SharePoint has sites organized around documents, sites organized around teams, sites organized around meetings, or even entire companies, it only makes sense to have the sites organized around you, or potentially every individual in your organization. Now the other view of this is that this is the SharePoint way of handling social networking. Whether you're a fan or not, the idea of that things like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter forms of networking are powerful and vital features and if used correctly can actually help you find people.

Understanding social networking in SharePoint

Now because SharePoint has sites organized around documents, sites organized around teams, sites organized around meetings, or even entire companies, it only makes sense to have the sites organized around you, or potentially every individual in your organization. Now the other view of this is that this is the SharePoint way of handling social networking. Whether you're a fan or not, the idea of that things like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter forms of networking are powerful and vital features and if used correctly can actually help you find people.

What you'll find is that regardless of what site you're on, you'll see your name up at the top right. Depending on how your system administrator has configured things, you may have an option under here for your profile and for My Site, what it says is your personal homepage. Now there are a lot of ways to get to the same content here, but know that there are really three things that you can look at when you're looking at this whole personalized area. You have something called your Newsfeed, which I'm looking at right now, something called your Profile, and then optionally a section called My Content.

The only thing that could actually be considered a SharePoint site on its own is really you're My Content area. In fact, the first time you click this link SharePoint will look for a Web site, it won't be able to fond one, and it will make one just for you. It's a very simple site that really has a couple of places for you to put shared documents and personal documents, some that will be publicly viewable by people and some that won't. You don't want to put too much in your personal documents area. Bear in mind that these will be visible to you and administrators for the server.

But this idea of this link that says My Content really is a personal Web site just for yourself. Well, what are the other things then? Well, on the My Profile page, which I've obviously edited to include a little bit, you do have a link under your own name. It says Edit My Profile where you can start building your information, a little bit of biographical stuff. It will try and pull as much information as possible from active directory or wherever else your user information is stored. But you can fill out more information. You can choose a Picture.

You can put in some topics for people to ask you about. You can put in Contact Information, location, Past projects, that kind of thing. Towards the bottom of this, you have a section that says Activities I am following that you are interested in Status Messages and New blog posts and Memberships and Tagging. Now these are all selected, by default. What it actually means is whatever you have selected as an interest will control what appears in what's called most your Newsfeed. Now if you have used RSS Readers, most people think that their Newsfeed is something that they change and they change their own setting.

But really, in SharePoint your Newsfeed is automatically filled based on the settings you have in your own profile. So the Newsfeed, and the Profile are very closely linked. Under your Profile you'll also find things like Organization. Again, this will try and read information from your current user store. So if your own user profile information has things like who is your manager. you'll also automatically add your colleagues, because SharePoint will look at people who share the same manager.

You have a Colleagues section that will try and read that information as well. You have Memberships. You have Content. I won't really see anything here, because I'm not sharing anything, and I don't have a personal blog. And you have a section called Tags and Notes. The idea of Tags and Notes is that on any SharePoint page, whether it's a Library Page or a List Page or a Site Home Page, you have these options up at the top-right. You can either say I Like It or Tags & Notes. These things are very closely related.

I Like It simply add what's called a tag that says I like it. What does that mean? Well, if I see that my Tags and Notes section here is kind of shown up in hot pink, it simply means that on this page I've added the tag I Like It. It's one of the few built-in ones, but what you can start to do is add your own. There are no rules about the words or the phrases you use for tags. If you wanted to tag things with the product names like SharePoint, you can do that. Based on what other people are tagging in the system, you might see some suggestions pop up.

You can use your own phrases if you want to say you thought this was useful, you just enter that in yourself. If you want multiple tags, you just separate them with semicolons. I am going to hit Save, and it starts to tag your content. And what does that mean? Well, as you start to move through SharePoint, you start to use this stuff. What will happen is back on your own Profile page, you'll actually start to see a tag cloud start to build based on want content you have tagged and what you've said about it. So I've tag quite a few things with the word SharePoint.

So if I clicked that, I'll see a whole bunch of things that I have tagged with SharePoint, including what I just tagged right now. If I were to refresh this page, I actually see the fact that I have got a very small tag there called useful, because that was the first time I'd used that word. Now what will happen is as I start tagging, that would count as an activity. So do be careful about the words you used for tagging, because unless you mark them as Private, they are going to be publicly seen. When your colleagues look at their own Newsfeeds, they will see the fact that you tagged content with that particular word.

The Newsfeed, which is also sometimes referred to as the Activity feed, is in essence quite close to the idea of something like a Facebook Newsfeed. Based on the Colleagues it thinks you have, it will show you content that it thinks you want to see. Your Profile page somewhat closer to a LinkedIn idea. You're giving information about projects you've worked on and skills that you have. Above your photograph you have this area, which is clickable that you can change, which is closer to the idea of a Twitter feed, just a very short status message of what's going on.

Of course, like any social networking site, the real power of this is only if multiple people start to use it. But when they do, SharePoint will do its best to bring all that information together and to show it to you in a way that makes sense.

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SharePoint 2010 Getting Started

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