Salesforce.com ChatterChatter has been available now for 2+ years and it continues to be a key aspect to Salesforce’s vision of the Social Enterprise. I wanted to share some of those experiences working with Chatter and integrating it into different use cases.. It is an amazing tool but there are some lessons learned, and I hope to share some aspects of these lessons both from a business and technology perspective.

From a business perspective, here are my top 3 lessons learned with implementing Chatter organizationally:

1. Don’t under estimate the learning curve and cultural change associated with a social collaboration tool. Today’s workforce is making the transition to communicate in the Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn mode, but it takes time to move away from email.

2. Chatter should be a tool to solve a problem, not a tool in search of a problem. Organizations shouldn’t assume chatter will solve world hunger. But if you are struggling with something like customer communication or the need to create collaboration spaces for diverse and distributed teams, Chatter can certainly help facilitate that.

3. Think beyond the Sales and Service Cloud. Chatter has many use cases and opportunities beyond just the existing Salesforce platform data and information. The example from Dreamforce with the GEnx Jet Engine sending performance data into a Chatter feed was fantastic.

From a technology perspective, here are my tops 3 lessons learned related to implementing Chatter (I am going to get a little nerdy here, so I apologize):

1. Use JQuery and Chatter REST API to create robust applications, support mobile and develop 3rd party integrations. JQuery is one of the most popular client-side scripting libraries used to develop rich web applications. Combining this with the Chatter REST API, which provides access from multiple platforms, Chatter can be easily extended and integrating into applications like portals, mobile applications or integration with non-Salesforce platforms like ERPs, financial planning systems or business intelligence applications.

2. Customizations are easy to develop and make Chatter fit your application needs. If you are building a custom application that integrates with Chatter, you can pretty much do what ever you want. For example, provide custom highlighting using cascading style sheets (CSS) when specific hashtag terms are used. This came in handy to distinguish user messages versus system-generated messages that include specific hashtag words.

3. Know your limits! As always with Salesforce, you need to understand the limits in which you need to work in a multi-tenant environment. There are two types of limits to understand:

a. Feature limits like the number of records you can follow, groups that you can start (?) and join, characters in a post, favorites, and file sizes for attachments.

b. Rate limits on the API usage. Prior to Winter ’13, the Chatter API rate limit was 200 requests per user per application. Starting in Winter ’13, the limits were changed and assuming you follow some standard guidelines in your application, they provide higher usage rates.

These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg in our lessons learned with building social applications using Chatter. Our suggestion is to dive in and start experimenting and building applications that integrate Chatter to discover what works and doesn’t work for your organization, both technically and functionally.

What have your experiences been with integrating Chatter into your organization? Have you embraced the concept of a “social enterprise”?

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