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Exploring Microsoft SharePoint 2013: Social Computing

Social computing is a big investment area in SharePoint Server 2013, which now offers Facebook-like and Twitter-like functionality. This chapter describes the new social functionality; explores the three hubs, Newsfeed, SkyDrive, and Sites; and briefly looks at the integration of Yammer with SharePoint.

Social computing is a big investment area in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013, which now functions like Facebook and Twitter. SharePoint 2013 includes a number of new social features that can assist users in your organization to share ideas. Some of the most significant include the following:

  • Microblogs
  • Hash tags and @mentions
  • Company, site, and personal newsfeeds
  • Hash tag trending and other social analytics via the new search engine
  • Community sites
  • Richer SharePoint user profiles populated with useful social information
  • Gamification (users can now earn badges to promote engagement)

The other significant social computing event that occurred in the middle of 2013 was Microsoft’s acquisition of the office social network site, Yammer, which is a tool for making companies and organizations more productive through the exchange of short frequent answers to one simple question. At the time that this chapter was written, there was no out-of-the-box integration of SharePoint Server 2013 and Yammer.

SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise social networking

The social and collaboration features in SharePoint Server 2013 help users to connect and communicate with each other and find, track, and share important content and information. These features are exposed through the use of My Sites, Team sites, and Community sites. Community sites are created from a new site template, Community Site. My Sites and Team sites are centered on people, feeds, and following, whereas Community sites are centered on discussions and reputations; for example, What’s Happening displays how many members, discussions, and replies the community has. Also community features can be activated on existing collaboration sites.

User profiles and My Sites (also known as personal sites) have been around for a number of SharePoint Server releases. A user profile is a collection of properties that describes a single user. The User Profile service application maintains the policies and other settings associated with each property. User profiles help identify connections between users in an enterprise, such as their common managers, workgroups, group membership, and common websites. They can also contain important information about a user, such as the products a user works on, the user’s interests or areas of expertise, and a user’s place in the organization’s structure. User Profile properties are displayed on a profile page, which is separate from a user’s My Site. User profiles provide the basis for social computing in SharePoint Server 2013. Some of the ESN features that user profiles support are as follows:

  • My Sites
  • Profile pages
  • People searching
  • Organizational charts
  • Expertise search
  • Social tagging
  • Audiences

Organizations can decide whether to allow users a profile page or a profile page and a My Site. If a user has a profile page but no My Site, many of the social computing features of SharePoint Server 2013 will not be available to them; however, they will be able to do the following:

  • Visit and edit their profile. Users can enter any information about themselves that they want, including adding a photo.

  • Follow people. Through their People page, users can see and reply to the latest Microblog posts.

  • Visit the profile pages of other people.

  • Have people @mention them, which results in the user receiving an email.

Users who do not have a My Site will not be able to do the following:

  • Create any root microblog posts.

  • View Microblog posts of people they are following in the consolidated feeds Web Part.

  • Redirect from the Newsfeed page to their Profile page.

  • Follow content.

  • Follow tags.

  • Aggregate tasks.

  • Upload documents or complete any My Site activities.

  • @mention somebody.