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.

————
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

Advertisements

My 30-Day Detach: 100% #AttachmentFree

no attachments evahhh

For the next 30 days, I’m going on a diet: I will deprive myself of email attachments entirely.  We can call it the 30-Day Detach.

Email attachments are the worst. The worst! They are not far behind fax machines in terms of value.  Sure, they were a neat feature in the year 1998, but we are so much better than that now – we’re so much better at collaborating online, now – that it’s time to move on.

What are you talking about:  I, Becky Webster, will be 100% attachment free for 30 days straight.  If all goes well, that streak may indeed continue, but in case something goes unexpectedly awry I’m going to publicly commit to a campaign of 30 days.

Why do you hate attachments/Freedom:  Because attachments are like loose-leaf pieces of paper that we xerox, hand out to each other, scribble on, fax to a bunch of people, get innumerable versions back, have a hard time keeping track of, and generally just cause  unnecessary chaos. They’re complete time wasters – especially given our options in today’s gifts of collaborative technology – and this madness must end.  I’ve tried thinking of a legitimate use case for sending an attachment, but I haven’t found any yet. None.

How on earth will you accomplish this:  Luckily, there is only one rule I need to follow and it’s quite simple:

I cannot send any attachment via email – personal or work – ever.  If anyone gets an email with an attachment from me, I start over at day 0. 

The only exception I’ll make are email signature logos, which would be a waste of time to manage in this way. I’ll do my best to remove them, but for the most part I’m not going to worry about them. [Incidentally, if you have graphics or logos in your email signatures and have the option of removing them, you probably should.  They translate as attachments which is misleading, makes it hard to find emails with actual attachments, and gives my thumb too much work to do when I’m reading on my phone. 8^) ]

How on earth will you accomplish this part deux:

  • “But, how will you send documents to other people? 
    • I’ll use one of my nifty tools like Google Drive and/or Salesforce Chatter and/or Salesforce CRM Content to send my documents. I’ll do this by uploading the documents to one of these environments, generate a unique URL address for the document, and send them the link. For example:
      • Google Drive:  example
      • Salesforce Chatter: example (also pasted below)
  • “But… what if someone sends you an attachment and asks for your feedback?” 

    • Then I’ll read it and email them my feedback. (I’d prefer to do this on Chatter, but if email is the only option, then email will have to do.)
  • “But what if they send you a document and ask you to make edits on the document itself and send it back?
    • I’ll use one of my nifty tools mentioned above to upload the document with my edits to Google Drive or my Salesforce environment, make them a collaborator, and then share with them the link. Ideally this would all occur in a single Chatter post …for example:
      Chatter Files equal awesome
  • “But what if it’s a confidential document?”
    • I’ll be sure to adjust the security settings of the document to meet the confidentiality requirements…kind of like magic:

Sharing_Settings

  • But what if you want to send pictures to your family?”
    • Easy breezy with Google+ and/or Facebook.

So, that’s it! Today – February 22nd, 2013 is my first day on this journey.  It almost feels like a cleanse diet, of sorts…but perhaps even better!  I’ll keep this updated with my progress & happily share any challenges or surprises that come my way.

Going on a diet by yourself is hard to do, right? So…. who’s with me that also wants to be #AttachmentFree?!

Seriously? These meetings need APPS … or need to go.



Well… not all meetings. But most of them. I’m not talking about the quick one-offs where you might be helping out a customer or colleague, or recurring status meetings, because those have specific objectives and generally meet the APPS criteria (below). [Although now with tools like Salesforce’s Chatter, the need for status meetings is quickly becoming obsolete.]

What I am talking about here are expectations for those typical, scheduled meetings that usually include 3>= people.

<Vent>

Worthy meetings have APPS:

    1. Agendas: Show me some love. Show me that you care. Don’t waste my time by asking me to attend a meeting without an agenda… or at least a known objective.  I also prefer to have time limits on each agenda item, but for most people that’ll probably be phase 2, so let’s just start with getting agendas in the invite well ahead of the meeting itself. 

 

    • Without an agenda or known objective why would I be inclined to give up my time?
  1. Products: Meetings should produce or build something–otherwise what’s the point? The product could be a decision, a document, a calendar with milestones, action items…something. Don’t waste my time by hosting a meeting where we discuss–I mean, ‘brainstorm’–with nothing to show for it. Even brainstorming meetings should produce an outline, or action items.
  2. Preparation: Nothing drives me crazier than when I prepare for a   meeting (such as reading through a content draft so that I come to the meeting armed with feedback) only to find out that I was the only one who prepared, and the meeting is actually spent “discussing” (or regurgitating) what everyone should have known ahead of time. So… read up, review, understand everything you can so your meeting group can hit the ground running.
      • A great tip for keeping your calendar organized and up to date is to actually schedule your “to-do” items on your calendar. So if someone invites me to a meeting, I’ll schedule X amount of time before the meeting to prepare for it. This (fantastic) HBR blog post goes into more detail and I highly recommend reading: To-Do Lists Don’t Work
  3. Structured discussion: Let’s use lunch time or even Chatter to brainstorm sans limit, and save valuable meeting time for structured, facilitated discussion that sticks to the agenda. It’s so easy to get side tracked and lose focus, so the meeting host or facilitator should ensure the discussion is indeed structured.

Also:

  • Don’t be a jacka**. If someone has taken the time to prepare and execute a proper meeting, don’t waste their time by checking your phone/iPad/laptop. Ever. If you absolutely must send that email, leave the room and come back when you’re ready to contribute. 
  • For meetings in which I play a key role please check my schedule before sending the invite. It’s pretty easy, and most platforms support this super advanced feature (Outlook, Gmail, Lotus Notes).  
With so much on our plates these days it’s ever so important for to exercise respect for each other’s time. If I’m asking for your time, you can bet your bottom that I’m going to do everything in my power to make it productive.

Historically I actually cancelled / rescheduled meetings where key people had to bail at the last minute or when it became clear that no one had prepared…so I rescheduled with enough time that everyone could commit to preparation.

To be clear: I’m totally not a meeting nazi, perhaps just a little revved right now. And I definitely am guilty of committing at least one, if not all, of these faux pas, but the point is that I recognize and actively try to avoid them. My goal is to aim for, you know…collective respect.


Because respect RULES! #ThxKBai



</Vent>