4 ways to @mention in Microsoft Teams to get attention on your posts and replies

You may already be familiar with the concept of @mentioning – it’s generally how we “tag” someone in social media. For example, if you wanted my attention on Twitter, you might write a post that @mentions my username such as “Hey @chambernate – have you ever run across this error?” This makes sure I get a notification and know to go look at your post.

@mentioning is also how we tag people in Microsoft Teams. When you’re composing a message (whether it’s in a channel, a meeting, or a group chat) you might write “Hey @Nate Chamberlain, can you review this outline?” This achieves the same result as in social media – making sure I get an Activity notification and am more likely to see your post and reply.

What happens if you don’t @mention someone? No @mention means the chat or channel that you’ve posted in will just be listed in bold for all other members. No activity notification, just a bold channel name or chat name that stays bold until I open that channel or chat, as seen below with NC460 Sales in the Retail team.

NC460 sales is a channel listed in bold, meaning there’s unread activity there.

If you mark a message as important, the channel or chat name will still be bold, but will also have an exclamation point as seen with PNW Coffee Social Campaign below.

PNW Coffee Social Campaign has unread activity, and some of that activity includes a message marked as important.

And in chat specifically, you can mark messages as “urgent” which does send activity notifications to recipients every 2 minutes for 20 minutes until they read it (or the 20 minutes ends). While handy as a way to get attention, we want to be careful not to overuse urgent.

In the remainder of this post, I’ll detail the 4 ways to @mention others in Microsoft Teams to get their attention in a direct and professional manner without using urgent:

  • @mention an individual (i.e. @Diego Siciliani)
  • @mention a team (i.e. @Human Resources)
  • @mention a channel (i.e. @Talent Acquisition)
  • @mention a tag (i.e. @Managers)

Let’s start with @mentioning individuals.

How to @mention an individual

To @mention someone in a chat message or channel conversation post, simply type the “at” sign (@) with no space after it, then begin typing the person’s name. (i.e. typing @Nate would suggest my full name you could then select). Once selected from suggestions, the name should show as a purple hyperlink that, when hovered over, gives you that person’s contact card.

If you’re typing a name and it’s not showing up as a suggestion, it could be they’re not a member of the chat you’re @mentioning them in or, if it’s a channel conversation, they may not be a member of the team to which the channel belongs.

You also don’t have to tag someone’s full name. It can feel overly formal to tag @Nate Chamberlain when you’d rather, more casually, say @Nate. To just use a first name, simply tag the full name as usual, but then backspace to remove the last name – as long as the first name is still purple, they’ll still be tagged but your message reads as more casual and personable.

Click to enlarge – shortening an @mention from full name to first name

@mentioning an individual is the most direct and specific way to get attention and a response from someone.

How (and when) to @mention a team

You can also @mention teams such as @Mark 8 Project Team – this sends an activity notification to every member of the team.

Use this to generally inform all members of your post – just keep in mind that in large teams you may not get the best response from a general @mention like this. The principles of diffusion of responsibility tell us that when 30 people get the same notification, they may feel less responsible for response or action. So to encourage specific action, we want to use more specific @mentions (consider it a form of “knowing your audience”).

Otherwise, @mentioning the entire team is a great way to make broad announcements, share FYIs, etc. where immediate action or response may not be the first priority so much as communicating something.

How (and when) to @mention a channel

You may choose to @mention a specific channel for two reasons:

  • You want attention from the team on a particular subject
  • You’re @mentioning members of a private channel (which has unique membership compared to the parent team)

Since standard channels don’t have unique membership from the parent team, an @mention of a particular channel does the same thing as @mentioning the team – every member of the team gets a notification when you @mention a standard channel. The difference is that you’re specifically calling attention to the topic of the channel. For example, if you work for a sales team and your boss mentioned @Sales Team – that’s pretty general and may include 50 people. But if they mention @East Region (a channel in Sales Team), and you happen to help manage the East region, you’re more likely to feel obligated to reply since that’s something in your wheelhouse.

Private channels have unique membership – while the parent team may have 50 members, the private channel can have a subset of that such as 10 of those 50 members. So @mentioning a private channel gives a notification to those 10 members instead of all 50.

Click to enlarge – Admin is a private channel with a subset of members from its parent team.

How to @mention a tag

Since @mentioning standard channels and the team do the same thing functionally, our only option to send activity notifications to subsets of our team members (other than by utilizing private channels) is to use tags.

You may need to be a team owner to create tags for your team members – this setting is determined by your team owners via the team’s settings > tags.

Click to enlarge – Team owners who manage your team settings specify who in the team can create/manage tags.

If you have proper permissions, use the team’s ellipsis (the team for which you want to tag members) and choose Manage tags.

Click to enlarge

Assuming you don’t yet have any tags to manage, click Create tag.

Add the tag name (i.e. Nurses, Managers, Trainers, etc.) and who should be in that tag. Click Create when finished (you can always add more later).

Now when you are creating a post or reply in a channel in that team, you’ll be able to @mention your new tag’s name to notify only the people tagged with that tag. Other team members will still see a bold channel name for unread activity, but won’t receive the activity notification from the @mention. So, in the previous screenshot, Nestor Wilke and Patti Fernandez will each get an activity notification when you @mention Managers.

Click to enlarge

You can also use tags created for your teams as a way to start new chats (Ctrl+N in desktop, or just use the new chat icon when on the chat node of Teams).

Click to enlarge

Alertus integration in SharePoint via Microsoft Flow

I’m by no means an HTTP request expert, but the requirement of being able to integrate business applications is common and, in this case, important. I took some time to figure out how we could implement Alertus integration and am sharing what worked here.

Background

Alertus is a program we use at LMH Health to push mass-notification desktop and mobile alerts to the organization during times of severe weather, evacuation procedures, or just software downtime.

Image from alertus.com

We use SharePoint as a supplement for “breaking news” by adding a banner to the top of our site during times of urgency. We wanted to integrate Alertus with SharePoint so that when an alert fired, it created a breaking news banner in SharePoint as well. This makes sure users who aren’t on a managed device, such as working from a home computer, are still able to get important news if they happen to be on the intranet.

In times of emergency, it’s best to utilize as many channels as possible to inform your users. Integration of these two services meant there’d be minimal delay in broadcasting a single message through all available channels.

How it works

To send the Alertus alert data to SharePoint, we needed something capable of receiving an HTTP request so Flow came to mind first. Once configured, your Alertus administrators will just send alerts as usual, being sure to include SharePoint in the alert profile.

  1. Create and send an alert in Alertus
  2. Flow receives HTTP request with alert data
  3. Flow creates item in SharePoint list used for breaking news

And, of course, with Flow we could then do any number of actions including additional HTTP actions, sending to email or phone, etc.

Note: This works for SharePoint server and SharePoint online. If using server, you’ll need the on-premises data gateway so that Flow can connect to your environment.

Setting it up

We need to do a few things to get this working:

1. Start creating a Flow (to get the HTTP POST URL)
2. Create the Alertus Service for “SharePoint”
3. Add the Alertus Service “SharePoint” to any Alert profiles for which you want to include SharePoint for distribution
4. Finish the Flow
5. Test

Start creating a Flow

1. Create a new Flow with the When a HTTP request is received trigger

2. Paste the following into the Request Body JSON Schema

{
    "type": "object",
    "properties": {
        "Content-Type": {
            "type": "application/json"
        },
        "id": {
            "type": "string"
        },
        "clientName": {
            "type": "string"
        },
        "clientVersion": {
            "type": "string"
        },
        "sender": {
            "type": "string"
        },
        "message": {
            "type": "string"
        },
        "sentDateTime": {
            "type": "string"
        },
        "expires": {
            "type": "string"
        }
    }
}

3. Expand Show advanced options and make sure method is POST

4. Copy the HTTP POST URL at the top of the step using the copy icon

Create an Alertus alert service for SharePoint

1. Go to Alertus, then click Configure System > Alert Services

2. Click +Add Alert Service

3. Select HTTP Request for Service Type, then name and describe the service.

4. Configure the rest of the alert service as follows, pasting in the content provided below

Click to enlarge

Activation Headers

Accept: application/json, text/plain
Content-Type: application/com.alertus-v1.0+json

Activation Body

{ "id":"${alert.originId}",
 "clientName":"${alert.clientName}",
 "sender":"${alert.sender}",
 "message":"${alert.text}",
 "sentDateTime":"${alert.sentDate.yyyy-MM-dd'T'HH:mm}",
"expires":"${alert.expirationDate.yyyy-MM-dd'T'HH:mm}"
}

5. Click Save Alert Service

Add the service to alert profiles and/or preset alerts (optional)

Your service is now available to be added to alert profiles (pre-selected sets of services to notify under certain circumstances, such as an evacuation) and preset alerts (customized alerts and notification groups).

Alert profile example of adding the new SharePoint service we created
Preset alert example of adding the new SharePoint service as a delivery method for the alert

You could, alternatively, choose not to include it in anything preset and only use it manually upon creation/configuration of an alert.

Finish the Flow

1. Go back to the Flow you started.

2. Add a HTTP Response step and make sure the Status Code is set to 200. This lets Alertus know the request was received and prevents an error from occurring on the Alertus side.

3. Add a SharePoint: Create item step and connect to the site and list for which you want to create an item from the alert details.

Test

From Alertus, do a Custom Activation of a test message just for the SharePoint service/delivery method.

In the example below, I also threw in an email alert as a step but you can see the whole process in Flow’s run history still only took 2 seconds.

Check in SharePoint that the item was added. In my case, we use custom script to display the most recent list item as an active alert.

Additional Configuration (optional)

Now that you’ve done the basics, you may wish to make adjustments.

  • Check out Alertus’ Knowledgebase (must be a customer with login credentials) at https://my.alertus.com/ .
    • Search for HTTP Request (Documentation) where you’ll find additional placeholder variables you could use in the Activation Body and JSON Schema fields to send additional details.
  • Add additional steps in Flow
    • An approval process before posting the details
    • An email or text message to a person or group
    • Update a spreadsheet/log
    • Post a message to Teams

Set and manage notification alerts on SharePoint discussion boards, lists, & libraries

In both modern and classic SharePoint experiences, you can navigate to any discussion board, list, or library and set a custom alert just for you (or for others if you’re an admin) to get emails on new items, modifications, and more. All of the setup and management guidance below is classic, but modern is almost exactly the same except for how you initially access the “Alert me” options.

Set up a new alert

First, navigate to the list or library. Once there, you’ll see “Files/Items” and “Library/List” at the top. In the example below, we’re setting an alert on a document library so our options are “Files” and “Library.” Click the second option for the library, then “Alert Me.”

Select “Set alert on this library/list”

In the first part of the dialog, choose the Subject line of the email notifications (Alert Title), who should get it (just you if non-admin), and how they should get it. Your administrators may not have text messaging set up, so that may not be an available option.

Finally, choose what you care about (new items, modifications, deletions), the context/criteria for notifications, and how frequently you want emails (immediately, daily, or weekly). I find the daily option is great for discussion boards so users aren’t overwhelmed with back and forth discussion and can instead read a digest and catch up in a single email.

Click OK.

When ribbon menu isn’t there (classic)

Sometimes when you’re on a page with multiple web parts, you won’t see the Files/Library or Items/List menu options. This is because you need to “select” the relevant web part on the page by clicking in “white space” on the web part. The ribbon menu should then appear. And unless settings were changed by your site owner, you can sometimes click the title of the web part to go to just that app where you’ll see the menu as well.

Modify existing alert (end-user)

From the email notifications you receive, you can just click “Modify my alert settings” to see all alerts you have on that particular site, and be able to delete them or edit the settings.

You can also get there the same way we started. Ribbon menu –> List/Library –> Alert Me –> Manage my alerts

Manage all user alerts (admin)

Go to site settings

Under “Site administration” select “User alerts”

Choose for whom you’re modifying/deleting the alert(s) and click Update

You’ll now see all alerts that user has set up on that site (or alerts someone set up on their behalf). From here, you can delete any unwanted alerts, or report back to the user or interested party on frequency and topics/lists with alerts.

“Notify your team” option when you upload files to SharePoint

A newer feature in SharePoint allows you the option to “Notify your team” after a new file is uploaded. Your upload process is the same, but then your “upload complete” dialog now has an additional option:

When you select “Notify your team” you’re presented with options like sharing with SharePoint groups, or just individuals manually entered.

When finished, click “Notify” and the intended recipients receive a link that only works for them when logged in.

If you attempt to share with someone not in your tenant, you will receive an error as you can only notify people with existing access.

For these external users, you can instead separately share via the usual “Share” dialog when a file is selected. Here you’ll also find a newer feature that allows for blocking downloads if the “Allow editing” box is unchecked. This would prevent people making edits offline and creating multiple versions in silos.

How to create a SharePoint modal pop-up message on page load

2018-05-15_07-55-34

This solution involves two files:

  • The aspx page that holds the content of the pop-up
  • The script that loads the aspx page in a modal dialog upon page load
  1. Save this .aspx page to your “Site Pages” directory.
    -OR-
    Copy and paste the following into a new .aspx page in your Site Pages or Pages (Settings wheel –> Site Contents –> Site Pages or Pages) directory:

    Wrap this block in style tags:
    [code]
    h1 {
    color: #ed7522;
    text-align: center;
    }
    h2 {
    color: #ed7522;
    text-align: center;
    }
    p {
    color: #1f2844;
    font-size: 1em;
    }
    input {
    font-family: “Segoe UI”;
    font-size: 1em;
    }
    [/code]
    Paste directly beneath (no additional tags):
    [code]

    [/code]

  2. Modify the content in the aspx page beneath the modal-content div and above the input tag to include your own images, formatting and message text.
  3. Save this javascript file to your Site Assets (Settings wheel –> Site Contents –> Site Assets) or scripts folder
    -OR-
    Copy and paste the following into a new javascript file in your Site Assets:

    Note: Wrap the following in script tags:
    [code] _spBodyOnLoadFunctionNames.push(‘showPopup’);
    function showPopup() {
    var options = {
    title: “Notice“,
    url: “https://sharepointlibrarian.sharepoint.com/SitePages/HomePopUp.aspx” };
    SP.UI.ModalDialog.showModalDialog(options);
    }
    [/code]
  4. Update the script to include the URL of your newly saved aspx page and a title for the pop-up window (optional).
  5. Add a content editor web part to the page on which you’d like the pop-up.
    1. Edit page
      editpage
    2. Add web part
      insert web part
    3. Edit web part
      editwebpart
    4. Paste URL to the javascript file in your Site Assets and click “OK”
      content editor pop up
    5. Save page/stop editing
      stopediting

That’s it! Your pop-up should now function upon page load. When/if you wish to “turn off” the pop-up without deleting the files (so you can reuse later easily) just add “//” before line 7 in the javascript file and save to “comment out” the function. This prevents the pop-up from loading. When you’re ready to use the pop-up again just remove the two slashes and save.
comment out

I recommend using SharePoint Designer to easily access and modify the ASPX page and/or javascript file.

Generate and send reports, files or lists regularly with Microsoft Flow’s “recurrence” trigger

Capture.PNG

Automatically create and send reports, files and lists on a regular schedule using Microsoft Flow’s recurrence trigger. Whether hourly, daily, weekly or monthly you can deliver the most current and relevant data from SharePoint or OneDrive to interested parties via email without lifting a finger. Combine this with calculated columns in SharePoint and conditions for some awesome possibilities:

Alerts Calendar Relevance Routine
Report costs or expenditures above a certain amount Current month’s birthdays and/or workiversaries to your secretary Send expenses per department or individual to that department or individual Budget and salary or payroll figures weekly
Notify when an open ticket is idle for a week or incomplete Upcoming events per location Share evaluation status with supervisors for just their employees Recently closed deals and contracts
Survey responses or reviews under 3 stars Upcoming deadlines per department Client info and updates to proper salespeople based on location or product Distribute new hires’ contact/location info to the organization in weekly batches

Continue reading “Generate and send reports, files or lists regularly with Microsoft Flow’s “recurrence” trigger”

Alerts/notifications for SharePoint site newsfeed webpart posts & replies

newsfeed3.png

One of the greatest business value features of a site newsfeed webpart would obviously be to know when people are participating, asking questions, etc. This way moderators or other interested parties could go in and respond in a timely manner. And while there’s no straightforward way to get these notifications from the webpart itself, there’s a workaround. Follow these steps once you have a newsfeed webpart on your site (by default, most team sites have them already).
Continue reading “Alerts/notifications for SharePoint site newsfeed webpart posts & replies”