What does Alfresco mean by Social Content Management?

For those who follow/use Alfresco content management platform, it is no secret that the product team is heavily working around this new phrase (social content management) and they are planning to release features starting with version 3.4.

When I first heard the word social content management –in the same sentence as alfresco–, I let the intuitive side of my brain to understand what it might mean.

  • What does social content management mean or rather what does it mean in the context of a content management platform?
  • Is it making the product more social friendly (UI improvements to ease up collaboration) or does it really mean managing content through different social channels like twitter, facebook, youtube?

Luckily, I had the opportunity to see the CEO’s (John Powell) presentation on the very same subject in one of alfresco’s solution partner’s client day and also had the opportunity to discuss it both with the CEO and WCM product architect (Brian Remmington). These are the things I extracted from the talks, not exactly things that was told.

There are new features coming with the next releases to make the product more social, more collaborative. These are mostly some UI improvements to make it more collaborative, they will simply provide a new UI based on Share for the existing social features like rating, blogs, wikis, etc. As you may know Share is the their new user interface that is based on Spring Surf (developed by Alfresco and adopted by Spring).

Besides UI improvements, one exciting feature is the Google Docs integration. I assume they also realized that it is very expensive to provide a better online authoring experience than Google Docs (also Alfresco is a content management product rather than being an online authoring tool) and decided to leverage Google Docs. As far as learned, it will be possible to author content on Google Docs and import them to Alfresco or the way around. They are even in contact with people from Google in order to be able to provide a better integration.

These are all good features but what about social content management? It is the same question, right 🙂 The difference is nicely put by Jeff Potts in one of his blog posts. Where is the emphasis in this phrase, is it more about social content management (managing the content collaboratively) or social content management (management of social content)? Personally I want to see something related to the latter one.

Apparently they will implement a publishing connector for different social channels like Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, etc. Now, this is a novel idea that can change the way we look at content managements systems. You may agree that marketing has also changed a lot in the last decade. Nowadays marketing for a product might also include, launching a Facebook page, tweeting updates, publishing product videos on Youtube, etc.

However until now these are the things done by marketing departments manually. All the marketing departments are already authoring content for different mediums/channels and why not reuse some of these content for social channels? It may even be possible to put a process into place in case of product launches, everybody knows the difficulties with product launches; every step has to be performed in a specific order and there is no margin for error (if something fails everything has to be rolled back).

I am really looking forward for this social publishing connector and I hope it would be flexible enough to introduce new channels easily.

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