Getting Lost & Found in Chatter
Getting Lost & Found in Chatter

Getting Lost & Found in Chatter

10/27/2011 by Jason M. Atwood (he/him)
Finding the perfect productivity mix for Chatter, some best practices and tips.'s Chatter which was launched about two years ago provides a great new tool for collaborating and bringing some social media concepts into the enterprise. For those unfamiliar, Chatter allows users to have profiles, feeds, follow records, and post statuses using mentions and topics like you would see on Twitter and Facebook. This brings a new paradigm of collaboration and moves things out of email and into where all the data you are tracking exists. I have been using Chatter since it was in beta and have found it to be a great feature and tool.

Along with this new tool comes a new set of places to go to look for collaboration information which can be hard for us who have spent so much time mastering Email (see my other posts). Unlike email you can't flag Chatter posts and there is no read state (Read/Unread) so you have no idea if there are 10 unread Posts or 10,000 when coming back from vacation. Even with the drawbacks, here are a few tips on how to use Chatter including the new Winter 12 features on the road to Chatter mastery.


5 Chatter Productivity Tips


1. Use Winter 12's Sorting
Before Winter 12 all Chatter posts were sorted by most recent post date so underlying comments on older posts would be lost. An old Chatter post could have a new comment and it wouldn't show up anywhere unless users went and looked for it. Winter 12 brings the new Sort By feature allowing users to now sort by Post & Comment Date so old posts, with new comments get bumped to the top. You will find this in most Chatter views now except for Chatter List Views.


2. More Mentions
The rules about what Chatter posts you and others see or show up in alerts can be a little confusing. It is a mix of what you follow, whom you follow, and what you have posted on in the past as well as your email settings. Unlike email, it can be difficult to know if the other person "got" the Chatter or saw it in their feed. This is where Mentions come in. Simply use the @ symbol and include the person you want to involve and they should both get an alert and it will show up in their @ Me feeds on the Chatter tab. The more critical it is, the more you should be using mentions (or not using Chatter at all, see last tip).


3. Use Your Apps
Another power tip is to make sure to use the different Chatter views that come from the different applications. Sure the main Chatter tab is great but using the iPad application or Chatter Desktop can really help in quickly reviewing Chatter posts and making sure that you have captured all the relevant data and are not dropping balls. Sometimes a different view of the same data on a different application can provide more clarity.


4. Put It In a Group
If you are looking to everyone about a great link or a job well done, you could just post it as an update, but realize only the people who follow you will see it. A better way is to head to the "All Company" group and post it there. Each user of the group can have different email settings so they are sure to find it or get alerted on it. This is especially true in bigger organizations where everyone doesn't follow everyone else. Go further by creating smaller groups for more targeted conversations and topics.


5. Email Still Works
The last Chatter tip is the anti-Chatter tip and that is there is a time not to use Chatter. Remember that Chatter is very much about user preferences, so people can turn off all the alerts, emails, etc. and might never see your status or posted file. Email on the other hand is ubiquitous, everyone has it and you know if you address an email to someone they are going to get it (although they might say the didn't). The more urgent the information, the more critical or crucial, go back to old reliable and send an email.


Hopefully these tips will you and your Chattering as well as give some inspiration for new features over on the IdeaExchange. I would love to hear your Chatter productivity tips so hit me up on Twitter @JasonMAtwood.