A guide to following colleagues – Twitter-style

Central to most enterprise social collaboration platforms, like HighQ Collaborate, is the activity stream. This is extremely important for staying aware of what people in your company are working on and what they are talking about. However, if you have many people in your system, your activity stream can become flooded with information that isn’t relevant to you. This is where following comes in.

Most collaboration platforms offer the option to follow individuals, Twitter-style. If you don’t use this feature already, this post explains what following is, how to use it, and why you should use it.

What is “following”?

The activity stream on your team collaboration site will show a live feed of activities of people within your site. What is displayed on the default stream depends on the collaboration platform you are using; on HighQ Collaborate, the default activity stream shows the activity of everyone within your site.

While it is very helpful to be able to see a full view of what everyone within your site is doing in one place, there can be a lot of information displayed in the activity stream and some of it may not be relevant to you. To help you see what you’re interested in, there are a number of ways to sort and filter your activity feed.

In Collaborate, you can sort your feed by Content, Sites and People – this is where following comes in.

By default, your People filter is set to All – showing all activity by everyone within all of your sites. You can filter this by All of your Company (excluding external people or clients who may have access to your site), Mentions Me (which pulls together any instance where you have been mentioned), and importantly Following and Followers.

As their names suggest, Following shows you only the activity of individuals you follow, while Followers filters activity by individuals who follow you.

How do I follow someone?

On Collaborate, you can easily follow an individual by visiting their profile and clicking the Follow button. The individual will receive a notification that you are following them. Their activities will now show up automatically in your Following feed.

Likewise, you will receive a notification if someone follows you, and their activity will show up in your Followers feed.

Who should I follow?

Follow people whose activities are relevant to your work. You could use your Following feed to keep up with the activities of members of your project team or department. You could follow your senior team to stay aware of what they are focussing on.

It can also be useful to follow people who you might not usually keep in contact with but whose activities may be of interest to you. For instance, say you’re hoping to reach a new target market in the Pacific, so you might want to follow the activities of a colleague based in the Sydney office to keep up to date on company activities over there.

You can also see who other colleagues follow and who is following them (by looking at their Following and Followers lists visible on their profile) to discover interesting people who you can follow too.

It’s best to keep the number of people you follow manageable, so you might like to triage your Following list regularly to keep it relevant. Otherwise, you might risk swamping your Following feed with updates from too many people. (Don’t worry, if you decide to unfollow someone, they will not receive a notification.)

Why should I follow colleagues?

Following allows you to focus your activity stream and concentrate relevant information. If used carefully, following also allows you to collate related activities, information and communications in one place.

It also means that you can save time searching for relevant colleagues’ activities and at a glance you can get an overview of what you should be seeing without having to search through a bulk of irrelevant information.

Above all, your Following feed should give you information that is informative, interesting and appropriate to you and your work.

Download: The complete guide to microblogging for the enterprise

Susanna James

Susanna specialises in social business and content marketing. Her expertise lies in helping companies streamline the way they work and improving how they collaborate through enterprise technologies and social tools.

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