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June 29, 2021

What’s New & Noteworthy in SharePoint Online

The truth about online content is that nobody really reads it, the majority of people just scan through articles. Studies have shown that only 10-20% of readers actually make it to the bottom of the page.

That is why it is important for us to do something about, ensuring important information does not go unnoticed. In the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, SharePoint is the hub of all communication resources, integral to corporate communication. Let us walk you through some exciting new features in this space and how to use them to improve engagement in 2021.

What's Exciting in SharePoint News?

SharePoint News is a content distribution system that offers visibility far and wide in your collaborative environment. News can be viewed across all these platforms: SharePoint start page, inside Microsoft Teams sites, SharePoint communication site, Hub sites, in Microsoft Teams and SharePoint mobile App, on, within the SharePoint App Bar, in your inbox through Auto-news digest, Microsoft edge and also within a particular team or yammer community when shared on them. Phew…that list seemed endless.

Given this, Sharepoint News can reach audiences all over such platforms, what is an efficient way to actually get the content noticed?

Tips to Improve Content Visibility

  • Designate an Organizational News Site – identify sites as “official” corporate news sites, and any news article coming from that page gets a special branding and a colored banner depending on the theme of the local site which helps draw attention.
  • Choose the Source of the News – In order to engage people you want to show things that are most relevant to readers. So you should choose the source of news to improve engagement, the source can be from a Hub, or select SharePoint sites, or only those that are defined as organizational news sites.
SharePoint Online News - Select New Source
Image: SharePoint News - Choose the Source for News
  • Choose the Layout: It is important how everyone views the news and there are a variety of layouts available, from a rotating carousel to tiles, lists, and more.
  • Choose what you Display: Display the most relevant bits of the news articles. You can control the visibility of aspects like the number of views, author,  first published date. Users have the ability to filter news to show specific items, and authors can target news to audiences by order or pinning news to the top.
SharePoint News - Choose what to Display
Image: SharePoint Online News - Choose What to Display
  • Give news a Display Boost: Not all news announcements are equal as some are more important than others. In an Organizational News site, you can boost news articles. You can elevate it in all newsfeeds until the individual has seen it or until it reaches a specific number of impressions (1-20 impressions) or up to a specific time.
sharepoint online news - display boost
Image: SharePoint Online News - Display Boost

Types of News Articles

There are two kinds of article options:

  1. News Post – A News Post is something that you create your own, like a flexible page on the SharePoint site to which edits can be made directly on the page.
  2. News Link – This is the option you use when there is news that you want to surface but don’t have any commentary written on it, so the easy way would be to create a link. With the link, you can link to an article on another site in your tenant or on the web. It is in the form of a structured page on your site, where you can only edit the title, thumbnail image, and description.

For a complete understanding of how to make the most of SharePoint News features like scheduling pages, audience targeting, News organization, and creating a News digest, get guided by Microsoft MVP and SharePoint Information Architect Consultant, Susan Hanley, in this informative recording:

In the meantime, here are a couple of tips to get you going:

  • Create templates and embed your news best practices directly in the templates, you should use different templates for different types of articles to maintain clarity while also being consistent.
  • Make news pages easier to manage by considering displaying the ‘first published date’ so that you can easily find scheduled pages.
  • Make sure you display ‘Version’ in the site page view so that readers are updated.

Measuring Engagement Outcomes in SharePoint News

All efforts to improve visibility are futile if we are not able to measure its impact. So you need to focus on making connections and adding value. Therefore, just page views are not enough so have other proxies for actionable outcomes that are measurable. For example, likes and comments indicate that people are actually engaging.

These are some of the metrics and insights that are available at the moment:

  • Look at what pages were viewed the most, how many unique views it had, platform/devices or used to view the page
  • Insights about when to post your article to get the best engagement results
  • See which articles engaged by showing like count and comment count in views
SharePoint Online News - When to Post
Images: SharePoint Online News - Analytics on When to Post

If you require to dive deeper into metrics, use more advanced analytics to see more: 3rd parties, Microsoft 365 Usage analytics, Audit logs with PowerBI.

But there is more being added to the SharePoint News metrics. Soon you will be able to see individual page analytics on each page. There is also the option of having a page analytics digest sent to each author a week after publishing with recommended actions to boost readership!

The Role of Yammer in Corporate Communication

In the conversation spectrum, Yammer is still very relevant to corporate communication. Unlike MS Teams where ephemeral conversations live, Yammer is the home for knowledge that you want to capture for the long haul.

The platform is built to scale leadership by providing access to leadership voices through communities. It plays a key role in fostering the work culture as it is a space for social causes as well. Yammer supports peer-to-peer knowledge exchange, communities around particular topics and gives room for ideation, as well as democratizing conversation within the enterprise.

Leveraging Both SharePoint and Yammer

On one hand, SharePoint News is a rich storytelling experience, where you can add additional metadata, while also making most of its scheduling experience. On the other, Yammer is for amplifying those stories and engaging your users.

Once you publish content through SharePoint News and you can extend the message around that news article directly within Yammer while also adding questions, polls, and rich text to garner more interest from readers.

Valuable Yammer Features for Corporate Communication

Here are some noteworthy features of Yammer that make it such a powerful tool in Microsoft 365:

  • Live Events:  An immersive experience in Yammer that shows video alongside conversations, allowing producers to moderate comments, questions, and answers before they are available and visible to everyone.
  • Centralized Search Experience: You can now surface Yammer conversations outside of Yammer, such as –
    • From SharePoint – A separate search vertical allows you to see any conversations within Yammer, MS Teams, and Outlook, as long as the user has appropriate access to these assets.
    • From Microsoft Teams – By adding the Communities App to MS Teams, you can Yammer conversations and get notifications about Yammer announcements and mentions.
  • Priority Announcement:  Admins can boost the visibility of important announcements by sending notifications to the inbox of all community members.
SharePoint Online News - Yammer to Boost Announcements
Images: SharePoint Online News - Leveraging Yammer to Boost Announcements
  • Featured Conversations: Improve engagement and add emphasis and longevity to news and campaigns by setting a conversation as featured. Featuring a conversation also increases its prominence in the Yammer discovery feed, for people outside the community.

Measure What Matter in Yammer

Yammer too allows you to analyze engagement and performance of content shared through various metrics. There are some exciting new analytics capabilities coming out within Yammer:

  • Community Insights: These help admins and users can view activity, measure engagement and find valuable insights.
  • Conversation Insights: Such insights show impressions, total views, click-through rate, and breakdown of reactions.
SharePoint News - Yammer Conversation Insights
Image: SharePoint News - Yammer Conversation Insights
  • Q&A Insights: Q&A trends are a powerful way to measure a community’s health. You can use insights within the community to monitor engagement, and insights on the organization level to measure the impact of communities.

Stay Updated on SharePoint, MS Teams & More with Orchestry

As an Microsoft Teams-first platform, Orchestry is dedicated to staying up to date with all that’s new and exciting in the Microsoft 365 ecosystem.

Orchestry is built to empower organizations to define a winning Microsoft 365 adoption and change management strategy. Created by SharePoint MVPs and Microsoft 365 experts, Orchestry helps organizations formulate the roadmap of ‘what to use when’ in the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. It enables businesses to increase their technology adoption with empowering governance and simplified intelligent provisioning organization-wide.

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