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This week, EndUserSharePoint.com is celebrating the publication of its 1000th article on SharePoint. Mark Miller, Founder and Editor, talks about how the site was created, how it become one of the largest SharePoint communities on the internet, and how you might use those lessons on your own SharePoint site.

Overview

I get questions every week about how EndUserSharePoint.com has grown so fast. In less than 2 years, we have about 350,000 to 400,000 page views a month. The unique visitor count is a little over 80,000 per month. There�s almost 8000 people registered to receive the Weekly Newsletter. Hundreds of people a month participate in the live online workshops. Stump the Panel has become an essential resource SharePoint Site Adminstrators. Because of this, I get asked for interviews from companies like EventBrite who manage the ticket sales for my live online workshops, MindJet because of the work I�ve done with MindManager to create templates for SharePoint site planning, SPTechCon for the presentations I give at SharePoint Saturdays, and Bamboo Nation, asking about the background of EUSP and where it is headed. I�m just going to ramble for a couple minutes here to give you an idea on how all this came about and hopefully give you some ideas on how you can grow the audience for your blog or SharePoint site. Sit back, relax and enjoy the tangents.

How It All Started

When I started EndUserSharePoint.com I had a core group of people in mind that I wanted to reach: SharePoint End Users. As the site has progressed, I�ve broken that into three groups: Information Workers, Site Admin/Power Users and Site Collection Admin. If I were to be completely honest, I�d say that when I first started the blog, I was confusing Information Workers with End Users. SharePoint it so broad and deep, there are several levels of End Users, thus the differentiation. A pyramid gives the best visualization of how I think about End Users of SharePoint. At the bottom of the stack is the Information Worker, the person who must use SharePoint because it has been mandated within the company. This is the broadest base of users of SharePoint, but the hardest to reach because they don�t care about SharePoint; they care about getting their job done. The technology doesn�t matter. �Just show me what to do and let me get back to my work.� The second tier of users is the Site Admin/Power User. This is the group that has been �volunteered� to lead the charge on the use of SharePoint. In many cases, they requested access to a site for managing their projects or documents, IT told them that there was no such site available, but if they wanted one, they could have one. Sound familiar? You�re not alone because that�s the way most internal sites get started. The third level of SharePoint End User is the Site Collection Administrator. Again, this person is usually forced into the position because in order for there to be sites, there must be a site collection. I�ve heard all the talk about getting End User buy-in: �Manage your sites so it�s easy to find information�, �Get a good governance policy in place before you begin�, �Make sure you have a good Information Architect in place to build the hierarchy of sites�, �Provide great content to get people to come to your site�. Yeah, right, and while you�re at it, why don�t you bake me a cake, with my favorite frosting, but you�ve got to guess what kind of cake I like and what ingredients I�m allergic to when you make the icing. Come on, give me a break! I didn�t ask for this job. All I wanted was a place to put my documents. Let�s get down and dirty here. You�ve got a site that you didn�t want in the first place, but now that it�s setup and part of your responsibility, you want people to use it. Who are you going to try to attract and why would they come?

Comments

Tom Resing

Get People to Come to Your SharePoint Site

Mark,
I love it! Congratulations on your continued success and thanks for Sharing!
Tom

Posted 10-Aug-2009 by Tom Resing
IdoSP

Get People to Come to Your SharePoint Site

Pure gold!

Posted 10-Aug-2009 by IdoSP
Ricknology

Get People to Come to Your SharePoint Site

Mark,

I love reading about your success and how your site is evolving. It is a real inspiration whether the topic is SharePoint or not. I believe SharePoint buy-in is such an important topic. Thank you for writing about it. The more users that 'see the light' the greater the buy-in, and power users are carrying the flashlight. I wish I had more power users!

Rick

Posted 10-Aug-2009 by Ricknology
SharePoint Daily

Get People to Come to Your SharePoint Site

SharePoint for Social Networking, Google Previews Caffeine Search, Microsoft to Focus on Core Business... Top News Stories Using SharePoint as a Social Network Platform (SearchWinIT) With titles such as Madden...

Posted 11-Aug-2009 by SharePoint Daily
Joan

Get People to Come to Your SharePoint Site

Mark, Congratulations on the 1,000 article milestone and very best wishes for continued success!

Posted 11-Aug-2009 by Joan
Lawrence Liu

Get People to Come to Your SharePoint Site

Congrats, Mark! I know I still owe you that podcast or video interview, which I look forward to doing one of these days. Anyway, on the topic of how to grow a community, I added your post as an addendum to my thoughts at http://bit.ly/m044z

http://twitter.com/LLiu

Posted 11-Aug-2009 by Lawrence Liu
SharePoint User Group Blogs

Get People to Come to Your SharePoint Site

User Adoption Article from Mark Miller... A helpful article from endusersharepoint.com on how to get people to come to your SharePoint site, different...

Posted 12-Aug-2009 by SharePoint User Group Blogs
Rob Kronick

Get People to Come to Your SharePoint Site

Hello, Mark. Congratulations on your milestone of publishing the 1000th SharePoint article on EndUser.com, and my very best wishes for continued success! How timely your recent article in your EndUser.com magazine was for me. Actually, it was timely for me and one of my favourite SharePoint blogging people – Valerie Palmer. (Do you know her? I think she hosted Joel Oleson and his Africa travelling buddy, Eric, during Africa TechEd in Johannesburg). Of late, Valerie and I have been exchanging a ton of emails about SharePoint end users, and expectedly, your name and Joel Oleson’s have come up very frequently in our back-and-forth’s. If I remember correctly, you did a survey a while ago asking people to contribute their ideas about the different SharePoint user groups, and want to thank-you for adding so much to my SharePoint acumen.

Now to your article. Please allow me to begin with a quote from you; “I’m just going to ramble for a couple minutes here ... and hopefully give you some ideas.” So if you’re not completely fed up with this subject of user groups, please read on. I would love to hear your feedback.

Regarding your pyramid visualization model and user group definitions, I believe your model tacitly assumes a specific way SharePoint has been deployed in an organization; an assumption we did not make at our organization when we deployed SharePoint. It’s an assumption I believe is inferred in your statements; “the Information Worker … must use SharePoint because it has been mandated within the company”, and that this group is “the hardest to reach because they don’t care about SharePoint; they care about getting their job done. The technology doesn’t matter. ‘Just show me what to do and let me get back to my work’.”

Mark, what I mean here is that we did not assume the “Information Worker” would be “the hardest to reach because they don’t care about SharePoint”. What we did assume is, due to the nature of the jobs so common among these Information Workers – working in teams/groups, collaboratively creating content, trying to get that content reviewed, approved, and published/distributed/ whatever’d, etc. – that many Information Workers would “care about SharePoint”, and further, would “care about getting their job done” using SharePoint, if they were given the opportunity to learn the business value of SharePoint through effective evangelism, and more directly to them, if they were given the opportunity to learn how SharePoint can help them do their jobs more easily and productively through effective training. And while I agree with you “the technology doesn’t matter” to these folks, and as you subsequently said, they “don’t want to get a handle on SharePoint!”, I would prefer to articulate this in a slightly more granular way, viz.; “while they may not care about how the technology works, they do care about how the technology may help them work.” And rather than the Information Workers saying; “Just show me what to do and let me get back to my work”, we believed our evangelism would be effective enough to have them say; “Just show me [or ‘let me get a handle on SharePoint enough to know’] how I can use SharePoint to do my work better, and let me get back to my work so I can use it”.

I also want to point out our evangelism and training was not based on the idea that, as you put it, “SharePoint is just a tool Information Workers have to learn in order to do work they already do to their own satisfaction.” It was based on our confidence that once we showed them how they could do their work using SharePoint instead of how they did their work now, that their current way “to do work … to their own satisfaction” would in short order become ‘unsatisfactory’. After all, who would want to keep using Exchange Public Folders to share files once they saw SharePoint’s secure, managed, and shareable document repositories and were then taught how to use them? And regarding your comment; “My Excel sheets are working fine. I email them out every week and everyone is happy. Why in the world would I want to spend time putting that stuff in a new location?”, this is fine if no one else works on these spreadsheets or that person never has to pass them back and forth to the boss for reviews and approvals. But in our deployment, we ran across a lot of Information Workers involved with collaborative content creation and having to pass their content hither, thither, and yon, who complained vociferously about their difficulties keeping the master copies of their stuff pristine, or knowing who had the most up-to-date versions when it was being bounced all over the organization via email. It was these same Information Workers who jumped at the chance to keep the master copies of their content in a shareable but tightly restricted SharePoint document library, and to be able to force other staff to use SharePoint’s check-out, check-in, and versioning features to effectively manage and control this content.)

As it turns out, our assumption worked out for our deployment fairly well. However, just like in every other organization imaginable, we were still left with those who remained out of reach, either because they felt SharePoint really wasn’t relevant to their jobs (although I can hardly imagine what kind of jobs these would be - ), or because, regardless of the nature of their job, they still refused to join our herd no matter how good our evangelism and training.

Still, of these folks, not all of them remained lost to us forever. Eventually, our management cavalry arrived and simply wore some of them down by starting to send them emails with SharePoint links instead of attachments, and/or by starting to refuse emails with attachments instead of SharePoint links. These management-types, in turn, had been convinced by our executive that the lot of them was wasting way too much time searching for information. The organization absolutely had to adopt a consistent way of organizing information across the enterprise with a common tool used in a consistent manner. But sadly, even with this executive and management support, there still remained many, many employees who held out, who remained outside the SharePoint ‘collective’. And sadder still, even our executive and management buy-in, along with our assumptions, lofty beliefs, evangelism, and training didn’t prevent these folks from becoming our “broadest base of users of SharePoint” and the one that belonged at the “bottom of [our] stack” – referring to your wonderful pyramid visualization model again. We called this group the Content Consumers, i.e. those who merely wanted to absorb the information available on websites and nothing else, and who would probably remain so forever more. And since they knew how to use a browser (or probably knew by this point in their working life), we felt they wouldn’t need any SharePoint training. (Uhhh, I guess we made another assumption here: they were at least tech-savy enough to figure out things like SharePoint’s way of subscribing to content they’re interested in, and want to keep up with. Actually, I think there are a lot of employees in our organization where even this assumption wouldn’t hold up. Could it be that what we thought was the lowest common denominator of tech skill set wasn’t even low enough?)

Nevertheless, our broadest base of Content Consumers notwithstanding, we did find this substantive group of Information Workers out there who were more than happy to take full advantage of the SharePoint evangelical and training opportunities provided, and to subsequently leverage their newfound knowledge and skills to integrate SharePoint into their day-to-day jobs in a very beneficial way. In fact, there were enough of these SharePoint ‘converts’ in our organization to merit the distinction of becoming a separate group unto themselves, and to earn them the title of the “Business Users” group. We liked this name because it stressed the fact they don’t care about how the technology works; they just want to know how to optimize their use of SharePoint to do their ‘business’ jobs more effectively. They weren’t your Site Admin/Power Users, and had no interest in becoming so. I want to stress that. They only received a ½-day evangelism session and a 1-day End/Business-user classroom course, and then went off in their happy little teams to collaborate their little hearts out – creating Team Sites with user permissions, shared document libraries, alerts, task lists, meeting workspaces, and the like.

So, applying your pyramid model to our SharePoint deployment reality, we would change the group at the “bottom of the stack” to be the Content Consumers group I described above, a name we carefully chose but to us was really little more than a euphism for all those ‘unenlightened’ users –  – who will never adopt SharePoint no matter what. This moves your Information Workers group up one level in our pyramid, placing them in between the Content Consumers group at the bottom and the Site Admin/Power Users group one level above. That is, they’re keen enough about SharePoint to learn it so they can apply it to their day-to-day work more than the Content Consumers, but not keen enough to become Site Admin/Power Users – the “hardcore evangelists” as you call them. Accordingly, we would also rename your Information Workers group on our pyramid to the Business Users group.

Despite these changes, your pyramid model remains well intact in our organization, along with a belief that is in accordance with your own regarding SharePoint Information Workers not being “the most critical to End User buy-in because they are the widest audience at the base of the pyramid”. (Well, only one level above the base in our organization’s pyramid, that is.)

Mark, I truly believe I am not making an inconsequential distinction here with the additional group, and that with a deployment approach comprised of a well-thought-out marketing and training strategy, Information Workers can be sought out and successfully encouraged to adopt SharePoint in enough numbers to warrant the creation of another group, and the addition of this group to the pyramid – or atleast, the pyramid in our organization.

Finally, to your “main point of this diatribe”, I totally agree the Site Admin/Power Users in an organization become what we call here the “first point of contact” for the SharePoint business users in their proximity, instead of the IT Help Desk. Also, as you say, they are the most effective of all the groups under discussion in garnering End User buy-in; way more so on a per-person basis than all of the SharePoint evangelists and instructors you could possibly muster. (We have one right here in our own Branch; she is the Branch Director’s Executive Assistant. How great is that!). That said, and with our assumption and lots of planning and hard work in tow, we rolled our deployment along gathering the SharePoint buy-in of enough Information Workers to lead us to create a new End-user group for them.

I sure hope you can find the time to share your thoughts on this “ramble” of mine, and I’ll be sure to pass them on to Valerie Palmer, should she ever re-appear to me any time soon.


Rob Kronick

Posted 14-Aug-2009 by Rob Kronick
EndUserSharePoint

Get People to Come to Your SharePoint Site

To the Team at EndUserSharepoint.com,

Congratulations on your 1000th article, a tremendous milestone. What sets you apart from a lot of other sites out there is the content you are putting out, 1000 articles of thoughtful and very informative Sharepoint related information. Not all web sites can make this claim, well done. I’m grateful to have found this outlet and have been able to contribute.

Mark said we could write anything on this joyous occasion, so I thought I would take a minute to talk about the only thing on my mind right now.

Monday my wife and I had her 18 week ultrasound and found out we are having a boy! This is our first and will be the third grandchild on both sides of our family.

I see a chapter ending on part of my life while a new chapter is about to begin. I find it hard to put into words the things I am feeling but I’m sure all the fathers out there know exactly what I’m talking about.

eric
Guest Author and Moderator, Stump the Panel

Posted 17-Aug-2009 by EndUserSharePoint
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Get People to Come to Your SharePoint Site

[...] how it can be done. That shouldn’t stop you from pushing upwards. Get yourself in place. Get your local environment together. Understand the ramifications of the decisions being made at the local [...]

Posted 28-Aug-2009 by Admit it. Take the hit. Somebody did something stupid. | End User SharePoint
Tracy

Get People to Come to Your SharePoint Site

Thanks Mark! I finally understand where I fit into the SharePoint world...and what I have been doing all along is putting me on the right path. Keep up the great work!

Posted 01-Sep-2009 by Tracy

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