Using Your Inbox to Keep Up With Chatter: Part 2

Using Salesforce Chatter email notifications are monumentally important for anyone who wants to successfully use Chatter as a business communication tool.  In Part 1 of this blog post I explained why email notifications are important and how they can drastically reduce the number of overall emails that you receive and/or have to respond to.

Now that we can (hopefully) move past those common objections, I will reveal how I manage my Chatter email settings & notifications to ensure that I a) stay engaged and b) don’t miss anything important.

At a high-level, here are the steps I recommend to ensure that you remain as engaged as possible around important conversations and updates in your Chatter community: 

  1. Ensure you receive & manage personal email notifications
  2. Commit to a “Chatter thread subscription” strategy using likes and/or bookmarks
  3. Receive your personal digest on a daily basis
  4. Set ALL of your Group notification settings to “Every Post” or “Never”
  5. Set your “Default Setting for Groups I Join” to “Every Post”

I’ll go into more detail about each of these below.

1. Ensure that you receive and and  manage personal notifications
Almost all of these are enabled for me, with a few of exceptions that I’ll make a note of in a minute. But for the most part, if you disable these notifications you will not see posts/comments directed to you that would otherwise be sent to you via email, and eventually the people who posted these will be forced to send you an email with the same content. Best to not waste their time (or yours) and make sure you get these.

Here are what my personal settings look like, and what I recommend for most* Chatter users:

Personal Notification Settings

*This will work for most users; exceptions are those in the organization who have particularly high visibility (i.e. executives) and will gain high volumes of new followers, likes, and comments. If you’re an executive, think carefully about what is most important (the bottom section) and keep as much of the “mandatory” settings as you can handle.

2. Commit to a “Chatter thread subscription” strategy using likes and/or bookmarks
The strategy I describe below works for me, but could very well be tweaked and remain just as effective. I recommend this strategy as a starting point, and once you are accustomed to it you can tweak it to make it work for you in whichever way you need. Ultimately you should define and commit to a likes/bookmarks strategy.

  • Likes: I will like posts/comments not only to indicate that I actually like something, but perhaps more frequently to acknowledge receipt, i.e. let the author know that I read what they have to share. (This can be a powerful tool – think about the difference between seeing a post with 0 likes and a post with 20 likes… the post with 0 likes makes the author wonder if anyone saw it.) However, many of the posts that I “like” are congratulatory or are a discussion thread that I have no interest in or time to participate, so I’ve disabled notifications for “Comments on an item I like” so that I don’t receive endless, redundant, and/or irrelevant comment notifications.
    Like
  • Bookmarks: I use bookmarks to subscribe to – or “follow” – conversations, particularly those in which I have not yet participated (i.e. commented). If I receive a Chatter email notification with a new post and I want to make sure I am tuned in to the responses, I simply bookmark the post (often by replying to the email notification with “Bookmark”) so that I automatically receive notifications when someone responds. If the conversation gets to a point where I am no longer interested, I can simply remove the bookmark and the notifications disappear. The beauty of this is that no one else can see when I bookmark/un-bookmark conversations, so I don’t risk offending anyone by “unsubscribing.” Using bookmarks this way is basically a hack for following/unfollowing threads (like in Facebook). If/when Salesforce Chatter releases a comparable feature, I will likely shift how I use bookmarks. Bookmarks

3. Receive your Personal Digest on a daily basis
I also recommend receiving a daily personal digest on a daily basis. There are a number of areas in Salesforce where we can use Chatter but we cannot receive notifications (such as record feeds, other user profiles, and topics). It can be a challenge to keep up with these during the day, but your Personal daily digest will capture all of these conversations so it’s worth scanning every morning to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

Chatter Notifications Strategy - Personal Daily Digest

4. Set ALL of your Group notification settings to “Every Post” or “Never” – this is important!!
Chatter group email notifications seem to be a huge pain point for so many people, and in many cases it’s because of one simple issue: they elect to receive daily digests for each individual group in which they are a member. This causes inbox chaos every morning if you’re a member of more than a few groups (which most of us are). Remember that your personal daily digest will capture your group activity as well, so it’s redundant to also receive daily digests for individual groups.

To make the most of group email notifications, you should opt to receive notifications on “Every Post” or “Never,” period.

Chatter Groups are generally focused around teams, projects, initiatives, or on topical areas of interest. As a consultant, ALL of my project teams use Chatter rather than email to communicate throughout the day and with our clients, so it’s important that we are all seeing these conversations as immediately as they happen, otherwise Chatter would not be an effective email replacement.

However, there are other groups that I am a part of in my company that are interesting, but not critical to my projects or daily activity (such as some of our Partner groups or interest areas). For these groups, I never receive an email notification but I will see posts from those groups in my feed and in my personal daily digest, which is perfect.

People frequently join far too many groups to effectively keep up with, and my final recommendation for managing group notifications will help:

5. Set your “Default Setting for Groups I Join” to “Every Post” –  this is arguably the most important step of this strategy!

Groups I join default

When you join a group, you are doing so for a specific reason whether it’s your team, a new project, or a subject matter area you are interested in. If it is your team or a project group, you will want notifications right away anyway, so this setting will reduce the steps in that process. For all other types of groups, receiving notifications initially will force you to get a sense of the group dynamic, post frequency, and types of conversation, and from there you can make your decision:

  1. If you find that it is helpful/relevant to your day-to-day, you may choose to continue receiving notifications on every post
  2. If you are interested in the conversations but it isn’t relevant to your day-to-day, change the email notification settings to “Never” but remain a group member so that conversations appear in your feed and daily digest
  3. If you find that it is completely irrelevant or uninteresting, instead of changing the email notification setting to “Never,” use this as a prompt to leave the group entirely! If you remain a member of a group like this you will be adding “noise” to your Chatter feed. And remember you can always view public groups as a non-member or join private groups later.

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Annnnd that’s it! Just five easy steps that will change your Chatter experience entirely. You’ll be more engaged, more productive, and you’ll quickly become a new type of leader in your organization. I promise you that this overall notification strategy technique will go so far in helping you manage what you see in your Chatter feed. And if it doesn’t, I would love to hear why and what you do to fix it! If you have another second to spare, let me know what you think of this strategy in the poll below! 

Chatty is pumped

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Using Your Inbox to Keep Up With Chatter: Part 1

One of the biggest challenges for many Salesforce Chatter users is effectively keeping up with their Chatter feed(s) and ensuring that nothing important is missed. For any organization to successfully use Chatter as a communication tool, everyone absolutely must know how to manage and access the information and conversations that are important to them. Without taking the necessary steps to do this, Chatter feeds become chaotic, important conversations are missed by key players, and Chatter quickly loses its value.

But fear not, Chatter friends… I have discovered the secret ingredient to ensuring that you can keep up with everything important to you: Chatter email notifications. Yep, you read that correctly – as of today, our email inbox is the best tool we have to help us effectively track and manage our Chatter conversations.

Chatter plus email equals like

Yes indeed, I am a big fan of Chatter email notifications. They are a critical business tool, and if used strategically they will make your Chatter life so much easier.  Whether we like it or not, the truth is that we still live in an email-centric world: email is where most of us go first, last, and consistently throughout the day. Rather than trying to fight the email monster head on, let’s embrace our inboxes for the time being & make them work for us.

Emails vs. Chatter Email Notifications

Whenever I make this recommendation, the response I get 95% of the time is: “But isn’t the point of Chatter to reduce the number of emails I receive?” The answer to this question is yes, absolutely! Even with Chatter email notifications in place, the act of simply using Chatter will reduce the number of emails that you receive.

There is a critically important distinction between “Emails” and “Email Notifications” that everyone should understand:

  • Emails almost always require you to act and the sender chooses to subscribe you 
  • Email notifications do not always require you to act and you choose whether to subscribe

I’ll use this opportunity to share my absolute favorite video that demonstrates this concept (hat tip to vinJones Videos):


In summary: receiving a Chatter email notification is not the same thing as receiving an email, and is in fact preferable because the call to action is in your own hands.

Let’s dive a little deeper and do a side-by-side comparison of Chatter notifications vs. emails, by type:

Email vs. Chatter Notifications

As you can see, while Chatter email notifications are still hitting your inbox, they are drastically reducing the number of overall emails that you receive and/or need to take action on.  Other benefits of receiving Chatter email notifications:

  1. The ability to reply directly to the email notification to add a comment, like, or bookmark
  2. You can always flag/star notifications for later follow up, just as you would with normal emails (I do this constantly)
  3. You have the ability to forward the notification or reply privately if needed
  4. You are less likely to miss things that are truly important!

My goal with this post was to make the argument that there is significant value in using Chatter email notifications. With this foundation in place, my next post (Part 2) will reveal my specific Chatter email notifications strategy that make keeping up with Chatter feeds a breeze!

I would be interested know where you all stand on this (somewhat controversial) topic via the poll below: