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Two updates in this Sunday’s deployment that have been a long time coming!

The “Popular Content Widget” and “Social Sharing Counts”.

One of the early propositions of the new SCN platform was that we would use the platform itself and community activity to help expose the “best content” in the community.  As community members spent more time reading interesting blogs, “Liking” content, engaging in discussions on interesting topics, sharing content with colleagues, and so on, that the system would then use that behavior to tell others in the community “hey check this out – here’s some good content you don’t want to miss”.

There are several ways we have been doing that in the community:

Related Content Widget.jpg

  • Your Activity Stream is a great way of seeing the things you care about.  People you follow, topics you follow, and individual blogs, or discussion threads all show up here.
  • Featured Content – we’ve had these widgets in managed spaces from the beginning.  They’re manually curated by each individual Space Editor and show some of the best and most interesting content in the space.
  • Related Content from SCN – We added these widgets just a few months ago and they’ve really helped lower the barriers between different spaces in the community.  Spaces ordinarily only show content about a specific topic like CRM, ABAP, or HANA, but the Related Content widget shows content from anywhere within the community that happens to be tagged with social tags related to that space.  So the example to the right shows the related content widget in the Cloud space pulling cloud content from SAPPHIRENOW, Portal, UI Development, SAP Services, and the Virtualization spaces because the authors tagged their content with “cloud”.  That was a huge breakthrough to expose related content in the right places.
  • Top Rated Content widget – this one has been a bit of a disappointment frankly.  We have many of these currently in community spaces, but they are not very intelligent in how they show content.  For example, a blog that has one 5-star rating will show up above a blog that has 20 5-star ratings and one 4-star rating.  Too easy to game and not much value.

The Popular Content Widget

Popular Content Widget.jpg

Which brings us to the “Popular Content widget”!  This is a widget that uses a combination of content views, likes, ratings, and bookmarks to show recent content that is getting attention in the community.  We originally wanted to use these widgets all over the community to show really good content.  However, in preparing for launch, we found it to be a serious offender in our chase to improve system performance.  In load testing, the popular content widget sucked up resources and brought the system to its knees.  Ouch.

So, we’ve been working with our IT team and with Jive engineers over the last months to get the performance problems solved.  And several weeks ago the Jive team declared success.  Since then we’ve run the widget through our own set of strong load tests with our (massive) data volumes and it’s performed very well!  So finally, we decided it was a “go” for deployment and as of this Sunday morning, the Popular Content Widget is now available to be used in spaces.  We will initially deploy it on the main welcome page in SCN and then have a plan to deploy them into individual content spaces over the coming weeks (watching carefully to make sure they don’t cause any performance issues).

Social Sharing Counts

For many months now we have wanted to improve the community’s ability to share content to their social networks.  I’m sure you noticed a couple of months ago we redesigned our social sharing buttons:

  • We separated social sharing buttons (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+) to make them distinct from the community sharing, liking, and bookmarking functions (on the right side above “Actions).
  • To do that, we moved social sharing buttons putting them “inside the content” just under the title of each blog, discussion, and document.  (See example below.)
  • We also repeated the sharing buttons at the bottom of the content (to make it easy to share when you’ve read through to the bottom of the blog for example.)
  • When we first launched the new platform, if you weren’t logged into SCN, you couldn’t share even to your social networks.  We fixed that so now even if you’re not logged into SCN (say you just came to something through a Google search), you can still share content with your social networks.

Social Sharing Counts.jpg

We also very much wanted to include “previous share counts” to make it clear to readers when content was becoming popular and being shared widely to people’s social networks. This has become standard practice for most content, publication, and news sites.  However, laws in some countries are not clear about when you can or can’t use these social sharing counts, so we had to do some additional development so we will show sharing counts in most countries, but will not show sharing counts when members were accessing SCN from countries where it’s not clearly defined if these new capabilities are a concern.  (So for example, share counts will not show if you are accessing content from Germany.)

Bottom line, most of you, as of this morning, will now see social sharing counts right next to the social sharing buttons in your blogs, discussions, and documents in the community!  See image to the right and check it out!

We’re looking forward to hearing how you like these new features.  Watch for Popular Content widgets over the coming days and weeks and social sharing counts are up there today.

Chip

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4 Comments

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  1. Tim Guest

    This is all excellent and will really help SCN members to find good material. All we need now is to encourage EVERYONE to Rate and Like posts! I’m doing my bit in the Business One space to promote this, and I’m sure lots of the other active members are doing their bit. 🙂

    I do like the whole “Organic” type community but people need to treat it as interactive and not just one way information gathering.

    Thanks Chip

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  2. Ben Carlson

    Chip, the non-profit organization I work for isn’t ready to tackle social sharing counts, but we’re wrestling with how to differentiate our social share icons from our social follow icons.  Currently, our social follow icons look like SCN’s (in the lower right corner of this page); they’re little squares and they’re accompanied by a brief descriptive phrase (SCN uses “Follow SCN” whereas we use “Connect with FUF”).  Our social share icons look like yours minus the counters; each icon is accompanied by a word such as “Tweet” or “Like” that makes its sharing function clear.  But we’re considering the possibility that people prefer the smaller footprint of those little squares, in which case we might make our share icons identical to our follow icons, and rely on a  descriptive phrase such as “Share this content” to differentiate them from the follow icons.  But we’re wondering whether the identical sets of icons would confuse users.  I haven’t found guidance about this.  Can you provide any?  Is it better for  share icons to look different from  follow icons, as yours do, even when that means they take up more space?

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    1. Chip Rodgers Post author

      Hi Ben,

      You do need to differentiate so people know what will happen when they “push the button”.  Will it share this article?  Or will it have me follow this site account?  Two different actions and you want to make sure something helps suggest what will happen.  It could be by including descriptive text as you suggest, or it could be by physical placement on the page. Either works, as long as it’s clear.

      BTW, the share counts are really important to show “social proof”.  It helps liven your content so people understand how popular something is — and when content is popular and has already been shared by others, people are more prone to sharing with their followers as well.  (a bit of a bandwagon effect if you will.)

      Good luck with your site!

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