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Enterprise social networks have many benefits, some of which include higher productivity, less time in meetings, career advancement, greater visibility and overall job satisfaction and engagement. But of course, you will only get out of it what you put into it, and the worst mistake is to assume that an ESN will solve all your problems for you. Taking some time to think through your personal success plan is critical.

Today’s workplace tools are easier to use and understand than complex and cumbersome systems of yesteryear – and a lot of the ESN principles are based on general foundations of consumer social. But don’t be deceived by the simplicity – while the mechanics of using a product like Chatter are simple, the way you apply it to your existing work takes a bit more forethought than posting an animated GIF on Facebook.

1. Start with Why

As a first step on your Chatter journey, take some time to understand your company’s vision for Chatter -- as well as your team’s vision. Why is your team using it? What critical business processes are involved, and what other teams do you work with? Just as importantly, how can you use Chatter in your job? No one needs “yet another tool,” so make sure you can bake it into your daily routine.

2. Put your best foot forward

Enterprise social tools, as well as their consumer counterparts, are all about connecting people to each other. How do you know that someone is worth your time? A well-written profile is usually the first thing they see, so make sure you are putting your best foot forward. Your profile is like your virtual business card on Chatter. It’s what people use to learn more about you, connect with your expertise, and to decide whether or not to help you and amplify your message. People are more likely to work with people they trust – so make it easy to get to know you.

Upload a recent photograph of yourself; make sure it clearly shows your face and is in good taste. When filling out your profile, make sure to write a descriptive bio that includes education, skills, job history and interests – and include links to your social accounts and external blogs. Your profile is searchable, so you definitely want to come up in a search for someone looking for your expertise.

chatter best practices

3. Look around

Don’t feel pressure to start posting right away. In fact, it’s always better to listen and get the lay of the land. Exploring your Chatter network will help you observe how others are using it, and start connecting to relevant content and people. I always recommend using global search to explore your areas of interest. If you are working with healthcare customers, why not search for just that? Salesforce’s global search, so you can discover posts, groups, people files and objects including your chosen keywords.

4. Take control of your feed

The Chatter feed is a stream of everything in your network that’s relevant to you.

Your feed is made up of posts made by people and objects you follow, and groups you are a member of. You have full control of what goes into it by following relevant content.

Join groups. Groups help organize content and discussions. Think of them as containers of knowledge. Each group can be public or private. Each group has its own feed, and by joining a group, you get all posts from that group in your Chatter feed. You can also proactively navigate to any group and check out what’s there – as long as you have the right permissions, of course. To find groups to join, peruse your network’s most active groups, use search, and check out what groups people you follow are members of.

Follow people. When you follow a colleague, you will get his/her posts in your “Followed” feed. You can check out your colleague’s profile to decide if you want to connect with and/or follow. It’s a great way to get connected to people you have never met before – and stay in touch with the ones you have!

Follow topics, objects, files, and more. When you follow a file or an object, any change to that item posts to your feed. It’s a great way to stay abreast of things important to you. Files and business objects are where work happens in your company. Just like people, files and groups, you can follow objects so that any changes and conversations can post to your feed. An object can be an opportunity, a record, an account, a campaign – or anything that’s important to your business.

chatter tips

5. Contribute

When you are ready to post, just go for it. Don’t overthink it. It’s important to get started so you can experience the feedback loop that working socially introduces. Try to vary your content through a mix of statements, questions, answers to others’ questions, files, photos, links, industry news and updates about what you’re working on. If you expect people to help you, spend some time helping others. 

When asking a question, search first to see if this topic was talked about already.  You can often find great information that you can help update -- make sure to post your improvements. If what you’re looking for doesn’t exist, use your search results to find the right people and groups to collaborate with. Drawing on expertise of others yields better results than if you were to do it alone. 

There’s no such thing as a perfect Chatter post. What’s works in one company may not work in another – and effectiveness even varies across teams and departments in the same company! However, the most engaging posts have this in common:

  • Short: no one wants to read extra long posts. Get to the point!
  • Media rich: photos and videos get more engagement than text --- as long as they are relevant.
  • Valuable: will it leave the reader better than before?
  • Shareable: will people want to share it? To be shared, it has to make the reader look good.
  • Have a topic/group: by posting to the people who are receptive to the message, you increase likelihood of success
  • @ mention people: don’t just pile on everyone you know
  • Have a clear call to action: what do you want people to do at the end of the post?
  • Invite participation: are you talking at people, or working with them. When you leave room for collaboration, that’s what you will get

Where you post is just as important as what to post. To make sure the right people receive your post and it gets saved to the right place for reference later, post to a group. You can post to a public group or a private group, so make sure your content matches the privacy settings. Anyone can navigate to a public group and see your message, even if they aren’t members of it. In private groups, only members of this group will be able to see it.

When not posting to a group, you can post to your followers. Anyone following you will see your post in their feed. If you post to someone else’s profile, people following that person will get it in their feeds.

chatter tips

6. Don’t be afraid to “like”

Sometimes a simple “like” is enough. It’s a easy and low-friction way to let people know that you:

  • Agree with what they’re saying
  • Like what they are saying
  • Have seen the message

7. Get started!

While it’s important to have a sound personal strategy, there’s no substitute for learning through doing. Here are some things you can do right away to get started:

  1. Introduce yourself
  2. Working on something?
    1. Search on existing content
    2. Post file to get early feedback
  3. Post a question to start conversation
  4. Post an article or something interesting
  5. Answer a question from the feed or group
    1. Answer yourself
    2. @ mention someone who may know answer
  6. Share what you’re working on each week to your team group

Learn more about Chatter with this free presentation.

Salesforce Chatter User Guide from Salesforce