When is the right time to get social on SharePoint?

In his AIIM.org blog post of the same title, Rich Blank provides a solid overview of the business reasons for considering the move into the social computing features in autoupload-earth-planet-1099695-oSharePoint 2010. He touches on some important scoping questions, such as understanding budget, time and resources (traditional project management concerns); understanding the scope and scale of your SharePoint platform; and recognizing that social tools will help (most companies) realize the potential of SharePoint, i.e. why you moved to the platform in the first place.

I wrote on this topic a while back over on EndUserSharePoint.com (What Drives Social Media in SharePoint?), but focused more on the driver for all things social: metadata.

While I agree with Rich’s comments, and agree that a key part of any SharePoint expansion into the social computing realm must include building credibility with management, I believe that your strategy should be tempered with an understanding of three things:

    1. Social computing is another layer to search.
      This is the point I was trying to make in my EUSP article – social computing is another way in which end users can apply, reorganize, and search through metadata, improving the overall search experience within SharePoint. As such, the social features should be considered as part of your search optimization strategies. The biggest complaint about SharePoint is the inability to find content. Social tools help end users surface the right data.
    2. If your culture will not support social computing, don’t deploy it.
      While there will always be a few energetic folks out front in your company, wanting to push everyone into the latest, greatest, bleeding-edge technologies, you need to recognize that not every company is ready to go social. It could actually inhibit adoption if it doesn’t fit into the way that people are already working. A good sign that people are ready for social (though scary for your CIO) is that they’re utilizing commercial social tools to do business. Obviously, you want to protect your intellectual property, and have visibility into what people are doing, so give them the tools that will help them be more efficient and effective. If these tools are counter to the culture, hold off – or at least start slowly.
    3. Governance is the key to success.
      Having a governance strategy is the answer to many problems within SharePoint, or knowledge management platforms, in general. Rarely can something be set up once, and operate autonomously. Maintaining the effectiveness of your SharePoint environment takes time and effort. It’s an iterative process. So go into it with your eyes open, and understand the roles and responsibilities necessary to keep things moving forward. (Read my article on ‘How to Jump Start Your Governance’)

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of revealit.io, a blockchain-based video technology company.