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Following in SharePoint 2013

By Ben Wilde and Robin Miller, Program Managers, SharePoint Engineering team

With following in SharePoint 2013, we feel that we’ve provided a very compelling experience that keeps you connected to the things that you care about the most, while also setting ourselves up for even more success in the future. But we’ve heard a lot of questions about what actually happens when you follow something.

What can I follow?

There are four things that you can follow: People, Documents, Sites, and #Tags.

The vision for this release was that when you follow any of these four items, three things would happen:

  1. You’d have a rich, aggregated view where you could easily access the set of followed things and see additional information about those things.
  2. You’d promote serendipitous discovery of new people and content through the posting of a “User is now following Item” post to all of your followers (if your privacy is set accordingly).
  3. You’d see future updates about what you followed in the Following view of your Newsfeed.


Following people provides a rich set of activities in your Following view, including showing you things people say, things they do, and things that happen to them (for example, job title changes). 


Figure 1. Notifications seen by people following Allie Bellew

You can choose which activities you want to share with your followers in the edit profile experience.


Figure 2. Activities you may share with your followers in the newsfeed.

If you choose to share your participation in communities, your followers are notified when you join, post a discussion, reach a higher achievement level, or have a post marked as the best reply to someone’s discussion.

We also have a page where you can view all the people you’re following and all the people following you. From that page, you can see the latest thing that they said, follow people who are following you, and click the “…” to see even more and to interact with them.

Figure 3. A view of all the people following me


Following a document provides a few key activities in your Following view, namely an indication of when the document was modified and an indication of when it was shared with others.

Figure 4. Newsfeed notification for a followed document 

The Followed Documents page is pretty obvious, letting you go to a single place to access all of the documents that you care about, regardless of where in SharePoint they live or what device you’re on. 

Figure 5. Mobile apps for followed documents


Following a site brings all of the conversations that happen on the site’s Newsfeed into your Following view.

Figure 6. A conversation that happens on a site you are following also appears in your newsfeed

Like documents, you can easily get to all of the sites that you follow from the Sites hub.

Figure 7. Sites hub


Following a #tag brings conversations to your Following view that include that #tag, even if you have no idea who the person is that posted the conversation. This is a great way to indicate interest in a topic and be exposed to conversations around that idea.

Figure 8. Newsfeed notification from a followed #tag 

You can see all of the #tags you’re following in your Edit Profile experience.

Call to action

Start following these various things and use them to get work done. Create and follow sites to collaborate on projects. Follow documents that are shared with you. Follow people who you want to stay connected with. Follow tags that relate to the projects you work on. Then, provide feedback about what you’d like to see in the future in the comments section of this post!

Ben Wilde and Robin Miller are Program Managers on the SharePoint Engineering team, focused on social and user experience.

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