How to enable and use audience targeting for SharePoint pages and news

anonymous person with binoculars looking through stacked books

Note: This article pertains specifically to SharePoint Online (M365).

Audience targeting can be used to surface relevant information and resources to specific groups of people throughout SharePoint. This post will focus specifically on enabling audience targeting on your site’s pages and news so that you can create individualized experiences for users based on their identity or role.

The overall process consists of three steps:

  1. Enable the audience targeting ability for all content in your Site Pages library.
  2. Specify the appropriate audience(s) for specific pages/news items within the library.
  3. Modify any existing web parts (news or highlighted content web parts) to enable audience targeting (simply meaning to utilize any audience targeting configurations that have been specified for the content surfacing in that web part).

Step 3 is not required if you only wish to have audience targeting “seen” on the SharePoint start page, mobile app, or other non-customized areas where news may surface.

How audience targeting works

If you specify an audience for content, it will be shown in relevant areas (SharePoint start page, mobile app, news or highlighted content web parts using audience targeting, etc.) to members of the audiences only. This is not a security feature – the content is still discoverable by other users – just not surfaced upfront conveniently for them.

If you are a member of an audience specified on a news piece, you’ll see that news wherever it’s being called up. If you’re not, you won’t see it but can still search or browse to find it.

If no audience is specified for an item, it will be shown to all users. Or if a web part (such as a news web part) has disabled audience targeting, any specified audiences on individual pieces will be disregarded and the content will be shown to all through that particular web part.

Here are the detailed steps to set up audience targeting:

Enable audience targeting for Site Pages (and news)

1. Go to your Site Contents > Site Pages library

2. Select the settings gear > Library settings

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3. Choose Audience targeting settings

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4. Check the box for Enable audience targeting and then click OK.

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Specify an audience for SharePoint pages or news

1. Now return to your Site Pages library and select a page or news item to which you wish to add audience targeting.

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2. Open the details pane (i icon) in the upper right

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3. In the Properties section, enter up to 50 M365 Group names, user names or emails, etc. to whom the selected content should be targeted. Notice it also adds the specified audience in a column in the library. Your additions are saved automatically.

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Modify web parts to utilize audience targeting where available

1. Edit the page on which you’ve placed a news or highlighted content web part.

2. Click the edit icon (pencil) on the particular web part for which you’re enabling audience targeting.

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3. In the Filters section, toggle Enable audience targeting on.
(Note: News source must be This site or Select sites. Recommended for current user doesn’t have audience targeting settings).

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4. Republish your page when ready.

This can take some time to fully update in your site, so check back after a while to confirm functionality.

After completing these three sections, you’ve now

  • allowed content within the pages/news library to be used in audience targeting scenarios,
  • chosen specific pieces to which you’ll apply audience targeting,
  • and modified the web parts where content will surface to utilize those pieces’ audience settings when appropriate.

Check out this article for more information on SharePoint audience targeting, including more than pages and news.

Solution: SharePoint document library links/shortcuts to other documents go to a blank .aspx page

Today I ran across an issue where someone had created links within a classic document library that redirected users to documents stored in a different library. This is easy to do, but for some reason those links were now leading users to blank .aspx pages instead of the intended document.

Note that users weren’t taken to an “invalid” or “can’t be found” error page, but a completely blank page with a URL ending in .aspx. If you’re being redirected to anything other than a blank page the following solution probably won’t apply to you.

I figured out that, somehow, the library in question no longer had the “Link to a document” content type included. You normally can’t delete a content type that is in use, but with the right permissions and perhaps a migration tool or script, anything is possible. Without the content type on the library, the links that once worked under that content type now could not.

Important: The links are not necessarily broken – do not delete them. Once the content type is added again, they should work unless the original URLs have actually changed.

To re-add the link/shortcut content type to the library, follow these directions (same as if you were adding it for the first time):

1. Go to Library > Library Settings

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2. Choose Advanced settings

3. Set Allow management of content types to Yes.

4. Click OK to save changes.

5. Under Content Types choose Add from existing site content types

6. Select Link to a Document and Add >.

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7. Click OK.

Now check your links, and they should work!

A better way to display “today’s events” from multiple calendars in SharePoint on your intranet home page

today at LMH

Below on the left are two traditional, out-of-the-box solutions for showing Today’s events in SharePoint. Notice how both take up a lot of extra space repeating today’s date (which we don’t need to see at all in a web part called “Today’s Events”) or showing gray space where there are no events. Soak that in – prime real estate on your home page goes to non-existent events. These also may require overlays and other manual labor processes that need adjusted every time a calendar is added or removed.

But on the right is what you could have. It uses search instead and displays events from all calendars a user has access to in one place. It shows only the necessary information on the home page and links to full details. And with a little CSS included in this post, it can look polished and themed. Imagine all you could do with that saved space on your home page…

Also seen above: Adding local weather to your SharePoint intranet home page
and a “this week’s menu” button for your intranet

Continue reading “A better way to display “today’s events” from multiple calendars in SharePoint on your intranet home page”

Upgrade your image slider on SharePoint

Your image slider is okay. But you’d like it better if it had a makeover (50 points to whoever can guess the commercial reference).

This post will show you how you can take your out-of-the-box content search web part slideshow from this:

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to this:

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This solution supports multi-line descriptions that don’t get cut off. It gets rid of that dreadful partially transparent overlay and gives you more of your photo uninhibited by messy design. It’s more modern, lighter and sure to impress. At the end, be sure to adjust the CSS to match your own color scheme and size needs.

Continue reading “Upgrade your image slider on SharePoint”

How to create a dynamic “this week’s menu” button for your intranet

People jokingly (or not) sometimes tell me the only reason for which they use the intranet is the cafeteria menu. So on a recent draft of a redesigned homepage, I introduced a prominent “Menu” button that would always be linked to the most recent menu uploaded by dining services.

menu

Previously people would click a link which took them to a document library where the current menu lived, and would open it there. 2 clicks.

I had two goals for this project.

  1. Get it down to 1 click.
  2. Never have to manually update the link for the button. Set it, forget it.

Note: this could easily be applied to newsletters, updates, meeting minutes, etc. Anything that is published on a regular basis that could benefit from an always-current hyperlinked button.

Continue reading “How to create a dynamic “this week’s menu” button for your intranet”