barney fife.jpgI would never tell you how to run your follow-strategy on Jive. Never.

 

Except that's what I'm about to do.  Yes, I am. And you are free to take my advice, or to leave it. You can roll your eyes, hit the back button, and ignore me altogether. Except I don't recommend that because this is gold right here - Gold. I promise.

 

I see how some of you do this Jive thing and I love you, truly, but you're doing it all wrong!

 

I get it - you are tied to your email. Shackled. You have a little Stockholm Syndrome going on - you think you love it.  You think you need it. You think it does something for you that nothing else can do. WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITHOUT YOUR EMAIL?

 

Well, if you're me, you'd breath a sigh of relief.  Ahhhhh,

 

Now, it's true, Jive empowers you to decide how you follow content, how you follow people.  You can follow them all in your main connections stream. You can set up custom streams to help segment and organize what and who you follow. You have the ol' Jive inbox where you will get notifications right on the platform. And at the bottom of the list - the LEAST desirable way - is by email notification. Yuck.  Blech.

 

This blog post is about right-sizing how you follow stuff in order to optimize effectiveness. These opinions are my own based on my experiences in what works best, but I am sure there are millions - maybe billions - of social media people who would stand behind me wearing sunglasses with their arms crossed defensively as if to say "Yeah, what SHE said."  I think I have the right of it (but bear in mind, I usually do think that.)

 

FOLLOWING PEOPLE

 

You should really follow people only in your connections streams.  My default follow of an individual is in my main connection stream.  That means I go to that connection stream to see and read what those people are up to.  It's a casual kind of follow - some weeks I can check in and some weeks I can't. When I have time to visit my connection stream, I often filter down to "status updates only" because that gives me a glimpse of what's going on with the people I follow.

 

You may want to make a custom stream for some people - maybe those in your department, your peers, those you manage, your boss. That would be OK. I'd support you in that. <nods affirmatively, gives you a pat on your head>  Good job!  There are other custom streams that may be of interest to you. Perhaps key stakeholders or customers. Keep in mind that your connections streams can be set to follow people as well as content (groups, blogs, etc.).

 

You don't want to follow people in your Jive Inbox or by email notification. My goodness, it makes me cringe to think that someone may be following me by email notification. That means every time I do something on the Jive platform (and let's face it - I do quite a bit) you get notified by email. If I knew who you were, I might think about taking out a restraining order. Nobody needs to follow anyone that closely. Seriously. Go turn off email notifications for any people you follow. For that matter, turn off Jive Inbox notifications too. Do it for me.

 

Now take a deep breath - it will settle in. You'll go through some withdrawals but you'll thank me in the end. Trust me. You got this.

 

FOLLOWING CONTENT

 

Following content is a little different. You might follow some content in your streams - either your main connection stream or your custom streams.  But here is where the Jive Inbox comes in handy.  If you want to be notified, choose Inbox. I can't force you to forgo email notifications, but I'm shaking my head disapprovingly if you make that choice. Are you sure? Think about it. Think hard. Don't make me beg.

 

Content is a broad term. You may follow whole groups, or you may zero in on specific content, down to an individual document.  For example, if you follow a whole group via your Inbox, that means you get notified when something is added or changed anywhere in that group. Perhaps some of you don't want to follow everything in the group so closely, but you want to be notified if an important document - maybe a policy or an issues list - changes. You might decide to follow the group in your connections stream, and the important document in your Jive Inbox. See how that works? Nicely, that's how.

 

Perhaps there are a few witty and urbane blogs you like. You might want to follow those more closely, such as via Jive Inbox. (Still not recommending email. I WILL NEVER RECOMMEND EMAIL.)  If there is a group you or your team manage, perhaps you do want to follow that group in your Jive Inbox just to be sure you don't miss anything. You get to make that call.

 

What I'm saying is you need a stratified content-follow strategy. For documents, blogs, or groups you want or need to follow closely, choose Jive Inbox.  If you have one little thing that is uber-critical, like if you missed an update to that group or document the world would quit spinning on its axis, then I will not judge you for following it via email notifications.  But if you are following ALL the content via email notifications, I will judge you so hard. I'll still be your friend - I promise. I'll just try to change you, that's all.

 

Why, Linda, why? You might be asking yourself. Why do you care so much? Mostly it's because I want you to optimize your effectiveness and efficiency regarding how you use this social-business platform. Secondary to that, I always think I'm right about everything and want people to do things my way - all toward my goal of world-domination. But let's not talk about that one for now.

 

Here is why.  I think people undermine their effectiveness by setting up email notifications for everything. They get inundated with email - and who isn't already inundated, right? So they will train themselves to ignore those Jive email notifications, maybe filter them over to a folder, maybe they just stop seeing them altogether. They probably promise themselves "I'll get to them later." but they never do, and the email notifications just keep piling up, exacerbating the problem. Eventually, they're so overwhelmed with notifications, we have to send a rescue team of volunteers in to dig them out. Please don't fall victim to this tragedy!

 

Maybe you're worried that you have too many notifications in your Jive inbox and you'll never catch up there. That's why you went to email notifications originally - to avoid the Jive Inbox. Who wants a 2nd inbox to manage, right?  But see - it's all connected. You need to look at it strategically. 90% of what you follow should probably be in your connection streams.  That would make what comes into your Jive Inbox very manageable and then you won't let the paranoia of missing something force you to resort to email notifications.  It's a thing of beauty, this holistic approach.

 

Perhaps you wonder why I prefer Jive Inbox notifications to email.  Well, first of all, it keeps a collaborative conversation all together. The message shows up once in my Jive Inbox notification list (with an indicator telling me how many new comments have been added since I last opened it). I can easily mark that one thread read, or scroll through and mark it all my Jive Inbox content read.  And I never have to reply "Please stop copying me in on this!"while trying to keep the murderous tone out of my voice - I can simply click "Hide new activity" for that particular item and - whoosh - I'm out. If I never want to see anything from that particular group or blog again, I can unfollow it or if I just don't want it to notify me, I can change my follow setting from Jive Inbox to connections stream.

 

I know, I know - you can mark things as read in your Outlook inbox, but you can't unsubscribe from a discussion without requiring other people to take you off their replies. And you can't easily shush a conversation in your inbox unless you're moving things to folders or setting up rules and filters.

 

OK, I'll stop now. It's too much already. I'm quite sure you fell asleep three paragraphs ago. (You didn't miss that part about my plan to dominate the world, did you? I'm kind of hoping you did - that was a little arrogant of me, plus it's supposed to be a secret plan.)

 

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I know my way isn't the only way and there are a lot of good reasons to do it other ways that I've never even considered. The truth is I wouldn't be very good at world-domination anyway so it's not really a serious pursuit.  Having gotten all bossy up there, maybe the best way forward is to have some dialog - what tactics work for you on how you follow and manage messages on Jive?

 

Please share. I promise I'll listen with an open mind.