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  1. I'm excited to reveal that we are making Invision Community native apps for iOS and Android! For the past few months, our staff has been using an internal test build right here on our community. Now we are ready to widen testing to a larger pool of customers. Information on how to become a tester is at the end of this post. But first, let's take a look at the app itself. Technology Preview We have a lot of exciting plans for the Invision Community app. We wanted to take full advantage of a clean slate and build a brand new experience that embraces a native app's interfaces. While the app is unmistakably Invision Community, it features new ways of interacting with your content. We want the app to help shape the future of Invision Community, and we're asking for you to help. What we are opening up for testing today is a technology preview. This slim app covers the essentials with a view to much more expansion later. The technology preview is locked to our community. The app we will release will be a 'multi-community' app; a directory of communities users can browse and save. We’ve taken this approach because the app stores have clamped down on ‘template’ apps, and the cost involved in building and maintaining a separate app per-community won’t be an option for many of our customers. A multi-community app is a great approach for most: simple setup, minimal cost, still fully-featured, and a great way for new users to find your community too. What The App Does For the initial phase of this technology preview, discussions are the main focus which is the foundation of every Invision Community. Also available are profiles, streams, search and notifications - including (at last!) push notifications. Any areas that the app does not currently support will open seamlessly in a web view within the app. As we build new functionality into the app over time, users will encounter fewer of these hybrid views. Your feedback will allow us to target the highest priority areas during the technology preview phase. RPReplay_Final1568062287_1.mp4 Pricing Note: The information below outlines our current intentions, but may change as we finalize the app's release to app stores. The good news is we intend for the app to be free to both our customers with active licenses and their end-users. In time, we will offer a premium option to communities. This funding will secure the app's long-term future. The premium option could enhance their listing in the directory, or provide special functionality when users use that community in the app. Availability We intend to release the app alongside the next significant point release of Invision Community, expected to be 4.5. Communities will need to upgrade to this version to allow their users to use the app. Questions? Why not a PWA (progressive web app)? Invision Community 4.4 already supports several PWA features. However, until iOS supports Push Notifications (and other features) in PWAs, we don't feel they are a fully-rounded solution to using communities on a phone. Building native apps allow us to experiment with new interfaces and approaches. As PWA support improves in the years to come, we'll feed what we learn back into the main product for the benefit of all users. Why now? Those with a long memory will recall that we've had a few attempts at providing an app in the past that weren't successful. We are great at building apps with web technologies but creating native apps ourselves wasn't sustainable. Enter React Native. React Native is an open-source technology for building native apps. React Native allows teams to build native apps using web technologies, but crucially, React Native doesn't build hybrid apps. They are compiled into real native apps - not browser wrappers, but native buttons, text, dialogs, animations and more. A year or so ago, we started experimenting with React Native to see if it might be a viable approach for us. And it was. Finally, there was a technology that enabled web engineers to build delightful cross-platform native apps. As we can build native mobile apps using the technology we are familiar with allows us to incorporate mobile app development into our existing processes. Why just forums? Invision Community is a large, fully-featured platform, and building the entire platform in a native app from the get-go didn't seem to be the best approach. Instead, we've focused on the most active area of most communities - forums - with other areas still supported in the app via webviews. Over time, additional features and tools will be built into the app so that it eventually reaches feature-parity with the web version. We'll take feedback from our customers to determine which areas to support next. How will I add my community to the app? The next significant point release of Invision Community (expected to be 4.5) will have app support built-in. Including your app in the directory will be as simple as enabling the feature in your AdminCP and configuring a few options. Is the app ad-supported? There are no ads of any kind in the app right now. We may include ads or allow communities to run their own ads as a premium option in future. Can I get a white-label version for my community? We aim to offer a white-label option in the future. Will my plugins work in the app? Probably not. We're intentionally building the app to work with standard Invision Community features and apps right now. If your plugins add new UI elements or change the functions that users interact with it's likely they will not work with the app. What about themes? Themes won't work in the app because the app doesn't use HTML. However, some branding/customization will be available via the AdminCP, and we may expand upon this in future. Have other questions? Let us know in the comments, and we'll answer them! Sign Up For Testing For the next stage of our testing process, we will be inviting several customers to try the app and provide feedback/bug reports. As part of the sign-up process, we'll ask for some information about your own community. We'll use this to select further testers once we begin testing of the 'multi-community' version of the app later. The answers you provide will not affect your chance of testing the app on our community. Interested in joining the testing group? Click here to sign up. RPReplay_Final1568062287_1.mp4 View the full article
  2. The term "flame-wars" was coined way back in the 1970s when computer scientists talking in the first electronic discussion boards noticed that here was "an escalation of critical comments and an increase in the frequency with which people would respond with short negative messages." For anyone that has ventured into the comment section of Youtube, read Twitter for more than a few minutes or frequented active forums will know that our behaviour hasn't improved. Sherry Turkle, Ph.D., a psychologist and professor at MIT, conducted hundreds of interviews over 15 years and found that "we allow ourselves behaviours online we never would in person." These interactions aren't just restricted to strangers on social media as Turkle notes that "we do things online that hurt and damage real relationships". Why is this? Tom Sander, executive director of the Saguaro Seminar project on civic engagement at the Harvard Kennedy School, explains that having the ability to be anonymous "can be a real attraction if no one knows you have a drinking problem or depression. The Internet can be useful in allowing people to anonymously 'come out' about their problems and get support. But it is also an Achilles heel. If people don't know who you are, you are much more likely to say things in a nasty or snarky tone. In general, we invest less in our reputation in online groups because it is easier to exit them and join other groups. In real space, if you don't get along with your neighbour, you're less likely to say something really nasty, because moving out of town is costly." A lot of toxicity is from those who just like hearing themselves talk, or feel better when they put others down. Some people think they are clever and witty by using sarcasm and pointing out the flaws in another's argument. Here's a few ways to manage negativity in your community. Model your ideal behaviour The simplest and most effective way to manage negativity in your community is to be the behaviour you seek. Ensure your replies and friendly and polite. Be fun where appropriate and learn about your regular members. Make sure your team is visible and post regularly so the community feels well run and someone is on hand to deal with issues when they arise. Your community will follow suit and replicate your behaviour. When your community is positive and helpful, toxicity and negativity find it very hard to get a foothold. Your members will weed it out and correct those members for you. Have clear guidelines Socious's Senior Director of Community Management, Katie Bapple advises moderators not to be impulsive when dealing with toxic members. "Controversial community members should not be dealt with compulsively; have reasonable guidelines and policies in place that draw a clear line, so you know when it's been crossed." A clear and well-written community guidelines document won't stop trouble from occurring, but it will provide your team with clear boundaries and protocols to follow. Have a light touch with moderation tools It's easy to reach for the moderation tools when you see toxic or very harmful posts in a topic. It only takes a few clicks, and you can remove it from view and pretend it didn't happen. However, much like a child trying to get his parent's attention, the more you try and silence them, the louder and more insistent they will be to get heard. They'll very likely return more inflamed and vitriolic than before. Unless the content crosses the boundaries you have set for your community; it is often more productive to post a polite reply gently guiding the discussion back on track and thank contributors for their input so far. If this doesn't de-escalate the situation, then: Make it private Open a dialogue with the offender to try and calm the situation. Often this act alone makes the member feel valued and transforms them into a happy and productive member of the community. Just remind them of the boundaries set out in your community guidelines. At least you will stop the member from continuing to post in public areas and derailing topics. Use the appropriate moderation tool Invision Community is packed with tools to help manage toxicity and negativity. However, reaching right for the ban button may not be the best course of action. Consider a warning, which the member must acknowledge before posting again. Keep it friendly and polite and to the point. If the behaviour continues, then consider a short term block. Often an enforced 48 hours away from the community is enough to regain some perspective. Don't assume it'll go away The truth is people love drama, and most people are drawn towards negativity. We can't help but look when we come across a vehicle accident, and sadly, it's largely the same in a community. It might be tempting to keep on scrolling and hope that it all sorts itself out. Likely, it won't, and intervention will be required. That might be a polite, friendly reminder to get the topic back on track, or contacting the member in private. Either way, the best approach is to nip it in the bud with a light touch before it spins out of control, and more forceful action is required. You can't please everyone It should be a last resort, but your community may not be a good fit for everyone. If that is the case, then you can consider a permanent ban, or demoting the member into a read-only member group. Ultimately though negativity and toxicity are pretty rare in an upbeat and productive community. Most quarrels are fixed quickly, and it's rare to find a troll determined to corrupt your community. Identify your boundaries and educate your community on what is not acceptable and be proactive when issues arise, and you'll keep sentiment positive. If you run your own community, I'd love to know what tips you can share on dealing with negativity and toxicity. Let me know below. View the full article
  3. When your customers buy or use your products, they will have many questions. They may have issues using the product, or they may have requests for future versions based on their needs. Managing and responding to those questions and requests quickly increases conversion, satisfaction and the likelihood or purchasing again. The statistics back this up. There is no doubt that unless you have a support community for your brand that you are not delivering the best experience for your customers and risk losing them to competitors that do. "We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better." - Jeff Bezos Building a support community around your product or service will positively drive your business across all departments from product development through sales and into customer support. Let's break it down and look at the key benefits for each department. Customer Service Encouraging your customers to visit your support community is the simplest way to reduce the cost of supporting your product or service. Creating a self-help culture allows other more experienced customers to offer assistance and troubleshoot any problems they have. 73% of customers fall in love with a brand because of friendly customer service representatives.** Quite often, new customers encounter the same issues that would flood customer support if they were all channelled to your support desk. For example, consider a company that produces an internet-enabled smart device. Less technically savvy customers will likely contact support to troubleshoot initial connectivity issues which can quickly be resolved by peers in the support community. These questions and answers form a crowdsourced knowledge base that will allow customers to help themselves without any intervention from your team. Furthermore, these questions will feature in external search results, driving more traffic to your site. Sales The primary purpose of your community may have initially been to help support your customers, but it quickly becomes a valuable resource to help drive sales. Your support community will be a relaxed place where customers talk to each other honestly and openly. They will be less inhibited than they would if they were talking to your sales agents. Customers might be discussing a need for more functionality that you have in another product or service. Your sales team can move these conversations from the community to your CRM to curate new sales leads. 72% of customers will tell 6 people or more if they have a satisfying experience. - Esteban Kolsky Customers that have had positive interactions with their peers and members of your support team will become advocates for your brand. They will help sell your product over social media and among their friend circles. Given than 90% of customers are influenced by a positive review when buying a product*, having brand advocates is critical to your growth. Marketing There are several costly routes to learning about your customers and their wants and needs. You can conduct external surveys, or pay for research groups to look at your products and offer feedback. 56% of customers don't mind sharing their personal information in exchange for better service.** The most effective method is to look at your community. Your customers will be posting their thoughts daily. They'll tell you exactly how they use your products, offering you valuable insight into the problems they are solving with your product. This information should be used as the basis of new marketing campaigns. Project Development Your support community is a direct line to your customers. You no longer need to use external tools and services to determine which features you should add next. You'll be told directly! 55% of customers are willing to spend more money with a company that guarantees them a satisfying experience.** You'll find that some feature requests bubble up regularly. These are the ones you will want to move to your product roadmap. Invision Community allows you to segment your community into private areas for beta testing. Your developers can interact with this group to work directly with your customers to shape new functionality. Harnessing analytical data will inform development decisions. Invision Community can track keywords in user-generated content. If you have released a new feature, you can track how often it is mentioned in conversations to monitor its uptake. 52% of customers believe that companies need to take action on their feedback.* Setting up your Invision Community Now we've looked at the compelling reasons you should create a support community around your products, let's take a look at how to set up your Invision Community. Support Desk Invision Community has a fully-featured built in support desk functionality. Commerce has all the features you need, including multiple support desk categories, reply by email, pre-written reply templates and private notes. However, if you already use another support desk such as Zendesk then our API tools mean that Invision Community can integrate with your existing support flow seamlessly. Keyword Tracking Invision Community allows you to track how often specific words or phrases. This is useful to monitor which of your products are trending or monitoring uptake on new features. To set this up, visit the Statistics section of the Admin CP. Question and Answers To formalize a support or ideation area within your support community, Invision Community offers a Question and Answer forum type. Question and Answer forum types allow your members to post questions and enable other members to upvote the questions and replies. Your support team can also flag specific responses as the "best answer" which turns historical questions into a crowdsourced knowledge base. Showcasing Great Content Invision Community has several tools to highlight great customer-created content. You can pin topics, and feature specific replies within those topics. You can also convert posts into new articles within a formal knowledge base or blog to further help your customers find the right answers to their questions. Extensibility Invision Community has OAuth and a REST API out of the box. This means it's trivial to extend Invision Community to work within your existing flows. Integrate Invision Community to your SalesForce CRM and Zendesk support systems seamlessly. Create a federated search to integrate your external knowledge base with client-generated knowledge. The options are limitless, and we can take care of any custom integrations for you. If you have any questions, please let me know below, or contact us to see how we can help you harness the power of community for your business. * https://www.customerthermometer.com/customer-service/customer-service-and-satisfaction-statistics-for-2019/ ** https://www.qminder.com/customer-service-statistics/ View the full article
  4. Emotion is energy in motion. Today’s article is the last element in our Sense of Community series, and it’s also the most powerful. It allows new communities to win over legacy ones; niche communities to triumph over generic platforms; and impassioned communities to outlast everyone. It’s also the hardest element to cultivate. What is it? According to a survey by psychologist Dr. Jenny Fremlin, shared emotional connection accounts for the single largest factor of community-building. In fact, almost half of all respondents in her research identified shared emotional connection as the factor most important to their community. How do you cultivate the principle of shared emotional connection? New Members For new members, your goal is to initiate them in your community’s rituals and connect them with other outstanding members who will help reinforce your community’s spirit. Induction – Joining your community should be the beginning of a member’s community story, which means leaving a part of himself behind and fostering a new selfhood for your community. Make induction an important part of onboarding a new member. Honor his new membership with community gifts. Require him to fulfill rituals that are unique to your community. Demand that he open himself to the community, the challenges he faces, and what he hopes to receive. By doing so, you are asking the new member to invest a part of their emotional selves in the community from the very beginning. Greater Contact – The more that people interact, the more likely they are to bond. Just like in the real world when a new visitor walks into a room and no one talks to him, he’s likely to leave. But if you can introduce him to other members, invite him to a table with other new members who also recently joined, or connect him with a mentor, then he’s more likely to stay. You can accomplish the same in your community. Connect members as much as possible, which spark new friendships. Existing Members For existing members, deepen their sense of shared emotional connection with these strategies. Community Story – Develop a story for your community, a narrative that is being written by and for members. It brings all members together in a common sense of history, and even though not all members may have participated the entire time, they identify with the story. Why was your community founded? Are you tackling a challenge in the world? Did you undergo a major obstacle? Are you aspiring to improve the world? Where are you going? Write down your past, present, and future and invite members into the living story of your community. Community Projects – All too often, community admins launch projects on their own or with an inner circle of staff. Launch a project that’s open to everyone, where all members can participate, give feedback, and contribute. Define a beginning and end to the project, which helps members with closure and remembrance (“Did you remember the time when we helped on XYZ project?”) . Industry Changes – What are disruptions that are happening in your field or industry? Is it affecting anyone you know? How do you feel about it? Is it positive or negative? How significant is the change? Use these shared events to get people disclosing their emotions about these disruptions, which helps form an emotional connection with others who are experiencing the same. The strongest bonds are among people who undergo a crisis together. Honor & Humiliation – Finally, the personal growth of members is punctuated by the highs and lows of their membership from rewards that highlight special achievement to penalties that discipline bad behavior. These moments of recognition and humiliation unlock joy and pain, which emotionally bond the member to your community. The strongest emotional bonds are experienced by those who traverse the greatest emotional journey – they come to your community as immature or inexperienced, and through rewards and moderation, grow to become a better person through your community. [Insert pretty photo on shared emotion] Members visit your community for all sorts of reasons. But out of all reasons, one stands above all others: shared emotional connection. There’s no one way to cultivating a shared emotional connection. Every community will be unique. You and your Invision Community must write your own individual story, cultivate your own special volkgeist, and honor and humiliate members in your own extraordinary way. The energy and emotion of your community will be uniquely yours. In the end, you want to foster your own “community of spirit” among members, an exceptional sense of purpose and friendship wrapped in shared emotion that no other community can match. View the full article
  5. I've said before that when I visit a new website, I often look for a link to their community. It's not uncommon for some brands to have a link to their Twitter account and Facebook page, with a hashtag they'd like you to use when discussing their products. That is an audience, not a community. A true community encourages group conversation and empowers people to contribute ideas, promotion, content and support. A community gives its members a true sense of belonging and more importantly it provides a sense of identity. A community is an ongoing dialogue between you and your customers. It allows you to nurture and grow relationships far beyond what is possible with a hashtag on Twitter. Now consider an audience. Let's say you and 500 other people go to a venue to watch a stand-up comic perform. There may be a little interaction between the comic and the audience, but you are there to be quiet and listen. When the show is over, you go home. Now imagine that instead of going home after the show, you all spend a while talking about the show and the comic. You talk about which bits you enjoyed and which bits made you laugh the most. You compare this comic with other favourites. You share video clips and jokes. This is a community. An audience will follow you and consumes what you broadcast, but it is a one-dimensional relationship. Consider the case of Lush Cosmetics, who earlier this year removed their Facebook Group and replaced their community with a Twitter feed and an app "where the latest digital experiments unfold". I feel this is a missed opportunity to bring customers together to talk about Lush products, share tips, reviews and builder a stronger relationship with Lush. I've also seen startups trying to build a community on Instagram with a hashtag. They tend to search popular hashtags in their business niche and attempt to befriend individuals who are active with those hashtags intending to broadcast their information. This is all fine, but they are just curating an audience. A community is more than a list of followers, and it's impossible to control what content is tagged with hashtags. Just ask McDonalds who quickly realised this with their 'McDStories' campaign. What do you think? Let me know below. View the full article
  6. Collecting, curating and organising ideas and feedback is a critical part of managing a community for a product. Even though here at Invision Community, we have a relaxed approach to ideation, we do read and review ideas and feature requests that come into us via our support community and via emails and tickets and organise them off-site. If you wanted to add more rigour to your ideation process, then Invision Community has built-in tools that you can use. This video covers setting up a "Question & Answer" forum, which forms the basis for your ideation section along with using the built-in translation tools to tweak the interface language. The complete process takes around five minutes and is the perfect way to collect and organise community ideas. Once you have it set up, your community members can post their ideas and fellow community members can upvote their favourite suggestions, leave comments on ideas and even upvote and downvote replies inside the idea. Let me know what you thought, and if you have any further questions below! View the full article
  7. Minor releases are almost always just maintenance releases. We gather up a fistful of bug reports and fix them to ensure that every month or so, our clients enjoy more stability and efficiency with Invision Community. However, more recently we've noticed that we're running low on bug reports, so we've managed to squeeze in a handful of improvements in Invision Community 4.4.5. Let's take a look and see what's new in Pages. How should the canonical tag behave? While this isn't the most exciting name for a feature, it does explain it reasonably well. We had a recent discussion on the forums where it was pointed out that the canonical tag directed search engines to the first page of any record. While this makes perfect sense for an articles or blog system where the content you create is more important than the comments, it makes less sense if the user-generated content (aka the comments) is more important than the content you put up. A good example here is where you put up a video or link for review. You don't want the canonical tag pointing to the first page as it will ignore the reviews themselves. If you didn't understand much of that, don't worry. The idea behind this feature is to provide Google and friends with a better hint about which content is more important. A happier Google bot slurping your site is a good thing. How about that Admin CP menu? When you create a new database in Pages, it is shown in the ACP menu under 'Content'. This is fine, but when you get a lot of databases, it starts looking a little cluttered, and it can be hard to find the correct one. We've reworked the menu so items have their own section, and can be re-ordered using the ACP menu re-ordering system. Member fields are now filterable. Pages allows specific field types to be filterable. This means you can sort by them with the table's advanced search box, and you can drag and drop a filters widget next to the table to refine the rows shown. Now a member custom field is filterable, which is handy if you use them in your databases. Other areas of the suite. Messenger search A while back, we made a change that removed the ability to search messenger by the sender or recipient name. We also limited the reach of the search system to one year and newer. Unsurprisingly, this wasn't very popular. We've restored sender, and recipient name searching removed the one year limit and re-engineered the internals of search, so it's more efficient and returns results much faster. How many members do you have? You can see quite quickly if you have the member stats widget on the front end, but finding out via the Admin CP is a little more tricky. Until now! We've added a dashboard widget that not only shows the number of members you have registered, but also a break down of their email opt-in status. A happier autocomplete. Apple has this cool feature where if you receive a text message for a two-factor authentication login, it offers to auto-fill the code box for you. We've had a sweep throughout the suite to ensure two-factor authentication fields allow this autocomplete to happen. While we were at it, we made sure that other fields are more easily autocompleted. That wraps up the new features in Invision Community 4.4.5. How many have you spotted after upgrading? Let us know your favourite below. View the full article
  8. Are you curious 🤔about ways to boost your engagement that don't require a lot of effort? Want some shortcuts to set your engagement on fire 🔥? Check out these 4x4 tips of four growth hacks that you can implement in less than four minutes ⏳ to boost engagement. 1. Add a content block at the bottom of topics. Sounds upside down 🙃, right? Most admins add content blocks at the tops of pages to attract users. But what do users do when they're finished reading or replying to a topic? Nothing. They're finished ... unless you add a block such as similar content, popular posts, recent topics, or another content block at the bottom of topics that help them discover new content. 2. Tag in your superusers 🌟 to stimulate a conversation. Your community's superusers are probably just as active as you are, and thoroughly involved in the community. They're comfortable in the community and would love to provide input. Wouldn't you agree with me @AlexJ @GTServices @Sonya* @Maxxius @media @[email protected] @tonyv?? 3. Run a poll ☑️. It makes the topic more interactive, and people love voting. 4. Write a contrarian topic or blog "Why XYZ isn't for you?" That's a surefire way to grab 😲 attention and begs the user to challenge back. And if you can't write a contrarian topic, then maybe ... being a community manager isn't right for you. Or is it?? 😜 Hope you enjoy these tips, and and share your growth hacks in the comments below! View the full article
  9. Bad communities promise great things to its members. Good communities offer great things to its members. Great communities fulfill the greatness of its members. A primary purpose of every community is to fulfill the needs of its members. A strong community will go beyond the immediate, basic needs and ensure that fulfillment is a positive experience. By doing so, it builds in positive rewards and reinforcement for an enjoyable sense of togetherness. One of the cornerstone ideas of behavioral sciences is reinforcement: delivering a positive experience to members through multiple dimensions. Why they come, why the stay, and how to fulfill those needs is our third element of Sense of Community: Rewards & Reinforcement. Discover all the ways to fulfill member needs for your Invision Community. Fulfillment of Functional Needs Your community must have a clear and unique purpose. Your community must offer something valuable. And your community must solve a problem. This is the prime reason why a user would visit you in the first place and how you fulfill his most basic needs. He searches for a question, and your community provides the answer. Many communities build up their expertise through two ways: Crowd-source community solutions - You can highlight community-driven solutions in Invision Community to curate attention to the best answers. Two of the most underutilized features are Content Messages and Recommended Replies, which allow moderators to showcase and explain great user content. Bring experts into the community – Authoritative content should be posted and marked separately from regular user content. You can accomplish this by giving experts a dedicated Blog, authorship in Pages, or enabling Post highlights. Fulfillment of Personal Needs Beyond the fulfillment of basics needs, users want other wishes and desires. It’s impossible to identify all personal needs, but here are three of the biggest ones why users come together more: Group Status – People like to be on the “winning team,” and community success brings group members closer together. Highlight community success in your monthly newsletter or topic announcements. Competence – People are attracted to others with skills or competence. Introduce superusers and subject matter experts (SMEs) through interviews, team talk, or AMA topics ("ask me anything"). Rewards – Behavioral research shows that users gravitate toward groups that offer more rewards. Use tools like the Leaderboard, Group rank, Badges, and Reputation for extrinsic motivation that excite users and make them feel special. Fulfillment of Shared Values Society and our upbringing instruct us in a set of shared values. We bring those values into our online communities because they provide a framework of how to address our emotional and personal needs and the priority in which we address them. When users with shared values come together, they’re more receptive to helping others with the same value system: A Values Statement: Make it a point to identify the shared values in your community, in Guidelines or on a separate page. Affirm those principles in your interactions and, in difficult situations, frame your decision by referencing your community values. Private communities with high engagement usually have the strongest statements of values. Process vs. Outcome: How you answer is just as important as the answer. If you run a community that is technical, offers customer support, or involves lots of questions-and-answers, the process by which you arrive at the solution can help other users troubleshoot similar but different problems. Reinforce the solving process, and you’ll discover users will feel better about sharing their knowledge even if they don’t know the exact answer. Fulfillment by Networking Groups will naturally coalesce into smaller groups, as people find other people that they enjoy and who fulfill their own needs. Strong communities find ways to fit people together. Multiply Relationships: The sooner you can build relationships among members, the stronger those members will feel towards your community. In my community, I’ve created an “Ambassador” task force that welcomes new members to build personal relationships as soon as possible. Be a Networker: One of the virtues of being a community manager is that you’re normally introduced to the greatest number of people. Use your personal network within the community to connect two users together, bring other users into a conversion, or tap the expertise of others to help answer user questions. CONCLUSION There’s an Arabian proverb that says, “A promise is a cloud, fulfillment is rain.” Make it rain. Find ways to fulfill the greatness of your members, unleash a tidal wave of rewards and reinforcement that touch upon all the functional, personal, communal, and social needs of your members in the ultimate approach to member fulfillment. Build not just a good community, but a great one. View the full article
  10. What do visitors see when they visit your online community? And when was the last time you logged out to browse like a visitor? Check out these 4x4 tips of four items in less than four minutes for the visitor experience: Check your Registration Process, especially any social sign-ins. You may want to increase or reduce security checks. You may need to fix social logins. And you may want to offer an easier onboarding like Quick Registration + Profile Completion. Read your Guest Sign-up Widget. This is the most important text in your entire community, since it's the first message visitors will read. Is your Guest Signup Widget giving visitors the first impression you'd like, with proper keywords and messaging? Audit your Visitor Permissions. In the ACP, go to Groups > Guests > Permissions. Do your guests have access to the right boards and categories? Test on other browsers and devices. Most of us don't have ten different computers and smartphones running different OS's and browsers, so it can be hard to check the UIX. Luckily, there are free cross-browser tools like BrowserShots.org or Device Mode on Chrome Devtools that can help. Hope you enjoy these tips, and if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments below. View the full article
  11. A month ago, CrossFit, Inc. posted a scathing blog entry outlining why they made the decision to quit Facebook and Instagram. I first came across CrossFit back in early 2007 when I was looking for new ways to improve my fitness. Their fitness programming was a breath of fresh air. Most workouts were based around either long cardio workouts such as running or traditional gym workouts with weights and machines. CrossFit successfully combined the two into a short intense workout which gained popularity very quickly. I was a fan immediately and followed the WODs (workout of the day) as closely as possible and watched the early CrossFit stars emerge. CrossFit, Inc. is very strong-minded. Their press release cites several reasons for their abandonment of the Facebook platform. They also expand on this and believe that "Facebook collaborates with government security agencies on massive citizen surveillance programs such as PRISM", "Facebook, as a matter of business and principle, has weak intellectual property protections and is slow to close down IP theft accounts." and "Facebook has poor security protocols and has been subject to the largest security breaches of user data in history." It's certainly a bold move. CrossFit does have a legacy forum system which dates back from its early days which gets some use still. I think that investing in that community platform through modernisation along with a solid community building strategy could pay dividends in them taking back control of their conversation without fear of falling foul of any heavy-handed moderation beyond their control. Modern community platforms like ours have plenty of tools to automate basic moderation, encourage more engagement and work well on mobile devices. CrossFit, Inc join Lush Cosmetics as high profile brands that have taken themselves off Facebook completely. Do you think we'll see a resurgence of owned-communities? View the full article
  12. Mary Meeker delivered a rapid-fire review at the 2019 Code Conference of her latest Internet Trends Report, widely considered to be one of the most influential and comprehensive reports on Internet trends. The report covers 11 broad areas from ecommerce to education, data growth to usage, work to immigration, and China. The report's foreword includes the following statement: This is an especially appropriate message for Invision Community admins and managers, who must not only ingest the data firehose but turn it into actionable feedback. This report is presented to Invision Community clients as a way of understanding the broader trends that shape and influence the digital world around us, and to hopefully spur thoughtful conversation on how to thrive as an online community through 2019 and beyond. Here are highlights from the report, especially selected for clients of Invision Community. More International - Global internet penetration surpassed 51% in 2018, which means more than half of the world's population are Internet users. Certain regions have very different growth patterns. Asia Pacific already contains more Internet users than the rest of the world combined, yet less than half of its users are on the Internet. In contrast, North America is virtually saturated. Growth of new users is getting harder, except for China, India, and Indonesia which show the most promise of new users. More Ecommerce - Ecommerce is a rapidly rising a major portion of retail sales. Ecommerce growth is a strong 12% year over year. Physical retail growth is 2% year over year. More Online Advertising on Mobile - Internet advertising is continuing to increase overall at 22% year over year, with all of the new growth dedicated to mobile advertising spending. Spending on desktop advertising is flatlining. More Hours Online - Online media usage increased by 7% year over year in the USA, with all of the growth on mobile. Desktop usage flatlined in 2013 and even decreased in the past three years. Out of online time, Facebook, Youtube, WhatsApp, and WeChat dominate the global time spent online. Mobile use also surpassed time spent on TV for the first time in 2018. More Short-form Video - Short videos like Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, and WhatsApp Status are one of the newest trends to explosively grow in the past 3 years. More Opportunity for the Underserved - Square is a popular credit card processor and merchant services provider. The fastest area of growth comes from new users in the lowest-income metropolitans in the USA versus the highest-income metropolitan areas in the USA, with 58% of its businesses from females and 35% from minority-owned businesses. More Images - For two decades, users on the Internet have been dramatically ramping up image creation and image sharing. Image sharing has also evolved, with leading platforms like Instagram adding new features like video stories and collaborative story-telling. More Interactive Gaming - Interactive gaming continues to be a dominant Internet trend with 2.4 Billion users, an increase of 6% year over year. Interactive gaming is social in nearly all ways, with real-time play + talk, shared environments, collective goals, and in-game social networks. One of the leading gaming-related platforms is Discord. More Digital Payments - Digital payments continue to be more efficient, now driving 59% of all global payments. More Data Personalization - The amount of data being collected has exploded in the past decade. Successful companies now deploy data as a core part of their workflow to improve customer satisfaction. Retail customers like sharing data if it gives them a better experience. More Negativity and Polarization - With more people than ever coming online, there continues to be usage concern over problematic content and activity. We will continue to see a world that gets more polarized and divisive due to less filtering, more amplification of extreme content, more vivid live images and videos. More Internet Censorship - The early days of a free Internet are over. We are living in a 'splinternet,' where your online experiences are increasingly determined by local regulation. Truly free Internet decreased with governments increasing surveillance and censorship. More Trust in an Open Internet - On the other hand, an open Internet and online consumer reviews boost multi-sided accountability that ensure safety of products and services, make companies accountable to consumers, and make consumers feel confident on their purchases. On AirBNB, a popular online booking platform for short-term rentals, 70% of guests leave a review. The reviews are fundamental to building trust on AirBNB. More China Internet - China continues to be the world's success story, with global growth that underscore its superpower status. It is a rapidly rising country with room to grow for most macroeconomic and technical trends including urbanization, disposable income per capita, share of world exports, mobile internet users, and cellular internet growth. Some of the notable Chinese apps include WeChat, Meituan, and Alipay. CONCLUSION Online communities have been a part of the online experience from the beginning through email listservs, chat rooms, bulletin boards, Usenet groups, multiplayer dungeons, and more. We will always be a part of humanity's need to connect, to share, and to relate with similar people but our methods and technology will evolve. The world is more mobile, more pictures and videos, more international, more polarized and open to abuse, and also more connected than ever before. As more people come online, as more methods to communicate flourish, as the technology and infrastructure around the Internet continue to mature, I hope you find inspiration in the 2019 Internet Trends Report to grasp upon these macro trends and find new opportunities to connect and serve your communities better. Download the full deck here: https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/6/11/18651010/mary-meeker-internet-trends-report-slides-2019 View the full article
  13. Communities are bound by a code of conduct that govern user behavior. Sometimes these rules are explicitly written, such as terms, guidelines, or my personal favorite: “Must Read Before Posting Or Banned!!!” topics. (That’s a joke. Please don’t ever write a topic like that!) Sometimes the rules are unwritten, based on evolving behaviors and user-to-user interaction. No matter the method of conduct or scale of communication, all communities contain these community guideposts that govern user behavior. Being able to influence, and being influenced by, these rules of conduct is our second element of Sense of Community. Community Managers. The original influencers. The privilege to persuade is a powerful feeling. It fills users with a sense of control, knowing that they can impact others. It gives purpose to users, who will tap into their inner helpfulness by assisting others. And it imparts a sense of satisfaction, which is one of the highest transcendent values a user can feel. It also leads to a better community. Over time, the mutual interaction between members builds trust, forming a community of authenticity where users can expect repeatable and expected behaviors. It also leads to good governance, where members embrace the codes of conduct by the group, inculcate the code into their own behaviors, and repeat the code to newer members – reinforcing the very codes they learned themselves. Members conform to community rules and standards, sacrificing a little bit of their own individuality but gaining acceptance by the community. Clearly, influence and persuasion is a powerful element. Let’s take a look at some ways in which you can build a better community by unlocking the power of influence. 1. Show New Members How to Influence If your community is anything like mine, you have a welcome topic or message: Do this, read, that, follow this. It’s usually filled with stuff to influence the member. But have you thought about giving the new member an opportunity to influence? And not just in a superficial manner like posting an Introduction topic, but one that’s filled with meaning and purpose. In addition to linking to the best guides and expert content in your community, ask your users to help other members, answer challenging topics, or identify any skills that can help others. 2. Influence through explanations Have you seen communities where the moderators take heavy-handed actions and do things without prior notice? Or they assume you know everything? It feels rude, unwelcoming, and very cliquish. On the other hand, I’ve also seen communities where the moderators and community managers take the time to explain every response. When you take the time to explain the response, you share your reasoning with others. That’s influence. Over time, users will turn around to repeat the reasoning to others, which builds good governance. (It also means less work for you!). Communities are built on transparency and trust, and the more you can openly establish your community norms, the more clearly other users can repeat and reinforce your governance. 3. Be influenced by asking for help One of the most powerful and uplifting things you can do is to ask your members for genuine help. Be candid. Be vulnerable. Explain the challenge. And ask for help. You will find members who will rise to the occasion. Humans are naturally compassionate. We will always help others if we can and communities are one of the best platforms to ask and receive help. If you ever make a mistake, take on a big project, or if you’re ever in over your head, don’t be afraid to ask for help and allow others to influence you. 4. Influence as a privilege One of the stellar reasons for choosing Invision Community are the multiple ways to publish content. You can offer user albums, polls, blogs, articles, discussions, files, clubs, the list goes on. This allows you to offer increasing channels of influence for your superusers. Unfortunately, most communities throw all the choices at a new user, hoping one will stick. That’s like asking a new member who steps into a room of strangers if he wants a microphone, a loudspeaker, and a spotlight! That can be scary. Influence is something to be gained over time, in small bits of comfort and trust. 5. Appreciate the influence. One of the most inspiring actions you can do as a community manager is to acknowledge and appreciate the influence of others. When you do, you affirm the influence of others. It's one of the simplest things you can do too. Pick three random post by members on your site and reply: “I appreciate this contribution because …”. You’ll be surprised by how well members respond to your note of appreciation. CONCLUSION The best influencers are the members who care about the needs and wants of other members. The power to influence is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your members. By allowing them to influence other members, the codes of conduct, and even the direction of your community, they feel a deeper sense of community because they can make an impact on others. The most influential members in a community are surprisingly not the ones who post the most or who act the most dominant. The best influencers are the members who care about the needs and wants of other members. Share in the comments below one of your success stories on how you influenced – or were influenced by – another member. As always, I appreciate your contribution to join me in helping Invision Communities of all sizes build more rewarding and successful communities. View the full article
  14. It was a poster of Slash holding his Gibson Les Paul slung low on his waist playing live that got me into guitars. The crunching power chords of Appetite For Destruction were a long way from the three chords I could manage on a beaten up acoustic with a hole in the side, but I kept on trying until I could play those riffs. I still hold a special love for the Les Paul (as well as the Explorer made famous by Hetfield palm muting his way through multiple albums with Metallica). So, I'm especially thrilled to see the official Gibson forums relaunched with Invision Community 4. Check it out: https://forum.gibson.com It's great timing as I've recently freed my guitars from the loft and have started to play again. Anyone else here play guitar, and should we start our own band? View the full article
  15. Facebook Ads: are they the modern day ‘hilly billy’ California Gold Rush? Rumors circulate about Facebook Ads being the MOST profitable way to advertise your business and everyone jumps on it to make a quick buck. Hence it’s quickly become the 21st century gold rush. And just like the gold rush, the people really profiting are the ones selling the tools to the prospectors… AKA Facebook But they’re still gold out there if you know where to look and what your doing. The purpose of this post is to give you a short introduction, so you know roughly how to make profitable ads. It’s not going to turn you into an expert, but it might stop you digging in the wrong spot and spending BIG on things you should avoid. I’m not going to go into too much technical detail… Otherwise we’ll find ourselves like Alice down deep the rabbit hole. What Type Of Marketing Is Facebook Ads? It’s important to define Facebook Ads as interrupt marketing. Someone is not actively looking for your product at the time of seeing your ad. So your ads need to be distracting and bold to literally GRAB attention. If people are more likely to be searching your products then should you choose Facebook Ads as a primary marketing channel? Why Does That Matter For Building Communities? When you’re using Facebook Ads to build communities (especially off the platform e.g. not a Facebook Group). Your ads need to be eye catching and demand attention, with a clear benefit of the community AND call to action (what to do next). If you’re community is big then use the size as social proof, people follow the herd and using this herd mentality when talking about the number of members etc will help you grow. Does Facebook Work For Every Business? As a primary marketing channel? Absolutely not. If you have a business that people proactively search for that’s very transactional - like an ecommerce store then you’d be better using google adwords. Yet any business SHOULD 100% be retargeting website visitors with ads. It’s a great way to build rapport and make the most of your site visits. If your business is a business that’s heavily reliant upon growing a relationship then Facebook Ads is perfect. Big purchases, information products, service based businesses all do VERY well with Facebook Ads. It’s a great place to grow and build relationships with your audience. In my opinion this is the MOST powerful way to use Facebook Ads. Do Facebook Ads Help Build Communities Absolutely yes… Facebook Ads can help you build and grow your community. Be clear on your message and the benefits of the community. Having a good understanding of the audience will help too. If it’s a male audience of people who like Star Wars for example, there’s no point advertising to women or people who like football. There is merit in testing adverts to the same interests groups e.g. men who like Star Trek. How To Get The Most From Your Facebook Ads Being successful with Facebook Ads is much more about relationship building than it is billboard advertising. One of the biggest mistakes I see is people using Facebook Ads as the internet’s ‘yellow pages’ I.E. The only adverts they ever place are “hey come buy my stuff” If you only use FB Ads for sales messages it’s going to be crazily expensive and ultimately ineffective. Still people ONLY want to pay for an ad when they have something specific. Instead, think of the platform as an extension of networking, with the same relationship interactions. Only your paying Facebook to have these ‘interactions’ and not having to do it manually. The BEST Way To Do This Is Retargeting Retargeting in the oldest & simplest sense of the word was when someone visited your site or product you identify them and give them adverts that are “come back and buy” This makes things MUCH more effective. But here’s how you get a system that works… You want to layer your retargeting… That means have multiple different offers that are layered one on top of the other. If you’ve heard the expression sales funnel (the process of ‘funnelling’ potential customers through your marketing into customers) then that’s essentially what you’re creating on Facebook all via your retargeting. Sounds complicated… It’s not… For example I could record a video about facebook ads and retarget people who have watched 25% of the video (because I know they’re interested). Then I might give them the option of downloading a PDF to add them to my list… Those that take the PDF could then be offered a webinar. At the end of the webinar is the option to become a customer. The layering of funnels takes time and is more work, hence most people choose the less effective ‘yellow pages’ method. I could go on and on about the nuances involved in advertising on Facebook. But here’s some dos and don’ts to keep you in check Do Treat the platform more like networking than the ‘Yellow Pages’ Focus on building relationships and meaningful interactions. Make sure you’re using retargeting, whatever business you’re running. When writing adverts focus on the customer and their wants, needs, desires Give value before you ask for something in return. Understand your maths and make sure it’s profitable. Layer your retargeting Read the terms and conditions and make sure you’re compliant (otherwise you will get banned) Don’t Expect to become an overnight millionaire. Put big budgets in you can’t afford to lose until you know it works. Copy everyone else ads. Use boring stock photography. Try and cheat the system. Get too hung up with the technical It’s A Powerful Tool, Not A Panacea There’s an epidemic out there (mainly from Facebook Ad Consultants) who push it as the panacea to all business problems. It’s not true… Facebook Ads is a super powerful tool that you could use to grow your community. Especially if you’re struggling to attract new members. It’s not a miracle cure. If there’s a problem with your community messaging or attractiveness then Facebook Ads won’t fix it. Instead Facebook Ads is more of a magnifying glass. It will highlight any problems. Which is very helpful if you don’t know where the gaps are in your community. Not so good if you’re expecting a miracle. Final Thought If you’re thinking about using Facebook Ads for your community then you 100% SHOULD! Depending on your budget will decide if you get someone paid who knows what they’re doing (like me) or you run the ads yourself. If you do find someone make sure they’re realistic with the platform and what it can achieve. If you’re doing it yourself, then have a go… Try a traffic campaign to get you started. The WORST that can happen is you’ll spend a bit of money without getting anything in return. It’s only beginner tax… Or making a donation to the ‘Zuck Fund’ as it’s known in the industry. I’ve seen total beginners make 5 figures with their first ad… It’s pretty rare, but I’ve seen it happen. The ONLY thing you can do is have a play and see what happens. It doesn’t bite. Martin Jolley-Jarvis is the owner of Full Spectrum Agency. View the full article
  16. When I wrote my last entry, The Dogly Mail had just reached the 100 member milestone but since then things have grown impressively. The photo competition has proven very successful at encouraging new signups and we are now at around 1400 members picking up 15-20 new members a day. This is far better than I could have hoped for but there a few caveats… Not all traffic and content is equal In building website traffic I’ve realised that high member numbers are great and help to validate your ideas but member quality is far more important. I have been able to boost the member growth non-organically with a minimal Facebook ad spend in conjunction with the competition but we’re still trying to find those super contributors. The members we have are not yet invested in the site themselves and the sense of community that is required to be sustainable long term is still in its infancy. We have also found that with the opt-in mailing list, around 50% of the registered members are signing up for the newsletter during registration. This is encouraging to me based on the non-organic growth so hopefully, with more organic growth this will rise further. What are we doing to get higher quality contributions? We are collaborating with a vet on professional articles to give the site more credibility in the areas I am not an expert in and Andy is covering dog news where he has time. Hopefully, over the long term, this will help to improve the organic traffic to the website. With the articles, we now have high-end long-form content covered although I would like to get a more varied team of writers on board to broaden the appeal of the subject matter. We also have more fun commenting, likes and meme social interaction covered in the photo competition section. This leaves a gap in the middle for more serious user-contributed discussion and opinion and what ultimately will make or break the website. For this, we’re working on getting the blogs application ready for when we feel the traffic is sufficient to launch another area. When it’s ready we will slowly transition the ad spend towards the new blog section and forums to provide more balanced traffic coming to the site. We will also be able to promote the new sections via the newsletter. I am almost at the end of the school year so my time on the site should increase and I can get more involved with discussion topics to try and foster that sense of community. What else have I learned? Keeping people’s attention is not easy and once a member has left the site you need to work really hard to get them to revisit. It’s something I read a lot of on these forums so hopefully, Invision is working on this to help us keep people engaged. As you can see we’re still in the try lots of things to see what works stage but the learning experience is part of the fun. We were running AdSense ads and getting a little back from the spend we were doing ourselves but I feel at this stage it is counter-productive. We have decided to stop AdSense for the time being in order to concentrate on building traffic and the membership and will revisit the monetisation options once the site has grown. Not running the adverts has also given the site a substantial speed boost which will hopefully help us with organic rankings. If you’re running your community as a hobby you may not wish to spend anything on advertising to start and may prefer to slowly add to your website content. With so much competition for traffic online though this would be a very slow strategy for us for what I still hope to be a commercially viable micro business. On the current growth path, I hope to be profitable in 12-18 months and will keep you updated with the highs or lows along the way. View the full article
  17. A successful community only needs three core elements to flourish and begin producing results. Your community will require some care and effort to flourish, but with the right strategies in place, you'll ensure that the value your community produces continues to increase as time goes by. Let's take a look at the three elements that make for a successful community. Content Content is the life-blood of any community. Content is what is posted by your members, and by your team. In the early days, you'll need to seed discussions and respond to customers posts regularly. It's important to demonstrate that you're actively involved with the community and encouraging others to post and extend discussions. Over time, user-generated content will begin to propel your community forwards. A great way to bring in new users is to write valuable articles using Pages, or the Blog apps. Writing about issues relevant to your community can help position you as an expert and will be shared widely by your community. You don't have to be an expert writer to create articles. There are free apps such as Grammarly to help polish your prose. A great way to quickly generate new content is to quote other news sources and offer your own commentary. For example, if your community is based around TV shows, right now you could easily create a new article for your site based on Game of Thrones by quoting a small part of two or three existing articles denouncing how the quality of writing on Game of Thrones has slipped and offer your contrasting thoughts. Just remember to link back to the original article and check the source site to make sure they are happy for this to happen. HubSpot has a great article on how to quote without stealing. Traffic To really start building your community, you need a steady flow of visitors from outside sources. The content you create will drive traffic into your community, but it sometimes needs a helping hand. Content from inside established communities can drive millions of impressions a month from search engines. It's worth making sure you're making good use of the built-in SEO tools. We recently performed a thorough review of how Invision Community optimises for SEO including adding features such as lazy loading. It is also a good idea to put your community link in your email signature, and share it widely via social media. A good number of our successful community owners have created a Facebook page, and a Twitter account for their community and share their best content over those social channels. Email is still a very powerful tool for creating an audience. We send out a monthly newsletter here at Invision Community, and articles we share with it are viewed at least four times as much as other articles. Engagement Once you have a steady stream of visitors consuming content on your site, you need to engage them to convert them from a casual visitor to a registered member, and then beyond. The first step is to get your visitor to register. While we recommend you make many forums open for guest viewing, we do recommend that you ask for guests to register before posting. We recently added a new feature called 'Post Before Registering' that allows guests to reply and sign-up in one simple activation flow. Most members initially join for selfish reasons. Perhaps they have a broken iPhone and want to ask for help. Or perhaps they came to ask how to fix a code problem. Generally speaking, they do not join out of altruism and a strong desire to help others. To convert a one-time poster to a regular contributor can take some work. Ensuring the default notifications include email when a new post is made will help encourage the poster to return. You can also tag the member in other discussions you feel may be interesting to them. We recently added a few new engagement features that also showcases other interesting content in notification based emails. Taking the time to welcome the member, and showing them how to access the best from your community can go a long way to making your site stand out. Taking the time to focus on these three core elements will help your community grow and prosper. You may not see overnight results, but over time you will start to see a huge difference in visitors, registrations and returning members. That wraps it up for this article. We'd love to know your thoughts on our suggestions and any strategies that you've used in the past that have worked well. View the full article
  18. Have you ever found yourself muttering "there has to be an easier way" when managing your community? If you have, it's likely that you are not the first person to think that. Invision Community has been refined over nearly two decades, and in that time we've received a lot of feedback from clients running very large and busy sites. We love a short cut, especially when it makes our clients lives easier. There's plenty of time-saving features throughout Invision Community, and here are five of the best. Saved Actions If you routinely perform the same actions to a topic, such as replying before closing it or moving the topic to a different forum, then saved actions will save you a lot of time. Let's look at a practical example. You have a forum where your members can suggest new features for your product. You might choose to move some of these suggestions to another forum to shortlist them for inclusion in a future version, or to discuss further. You also may like to reply thanking the member for their idea, but it's not feasible at this time. Here you would set up two saved actions, one that replies and moves the topic to a specific forum, and one that replies to the topic and closes it for further commenting. Your saved actions are accessible via the moderation menu You and your moderating team can select these saved actions quickly when reading a topic to perform multiple moderation steps in one go. RSS Feeds If your community regularly discusses topics that feature in the latest news, then you can quickly seed these discussions using the RSS feed import tool. Not only can you import almost any public RSS feed into your community, but you also have control over how these topics are displayed, to whom they are attributed to and how the link back to the source article looks. RSS feed import is an often overlooked but handy tool at starting productive discussions without the need to source and post them manually. iCal Feeds The iCal feed can be considered as the sister feature to the RSS Feed Import tool. It works in a very similar way in that it can accept almost any public iCal feed and import events into your community's calendar. This is especially useful if you maintain an event stream outside of the community, but wish to share those events with your members in a native way, or perhaps you already have a calendar product used by your organisation. Using the iCal feed tool to populate your community calendar with key dates relevant to your community can be achieved very quickly. Auto-moderation Moderating a busy community can be a time-consuming task. Trying to review new posts and topics to ensure they meet your community standards as they come in can be daunting. Fortunately, Invision Community has an ace up its sleeve. Auto-moderation allows you to use the power of your community to identify and remove content that does not meet your community standards. The administrator sets up a threshold so that when a specific number of reports for that content item is crossed, the content is hidden. Auto-moderation has a lot of options to configure which we covered in this blog article recently. Group promotion Ensuring your members feel valued and rewarded for their contributions is key to member retention and keeping engagement high. A simple way to reward long term regular contributors is to elevate their permissions. This can mean that they have access to otherwise hidden areas, or they get more allowances in terms of upload space and fewer restrictions. To do this manually would take a significant amount of time. Thankfully, Invision Community has a feature called Group Promotion. This tool allows the administrator to set up specific thresholds such as post count, or time since joining which then move the member into a new group when triggered. This all happens automatically. Just set it up and let it run! We spoke about Group Promotion recently, take a look here to learn more about this feature. How many of you are already using these features, and which ones did we miss off our list? I'd love to know. View the full article
  19. Cultivating a strong Sense of Community is a clear goal for community builders. Develop a strong sense of community, and you’ve built a community experience that sparks a more meaningful and connected community that your members will love. A strong sense of community means: An integrated community where members feel personally related An impactful community where a member can influence and be influenced by the group. A fulfilling community where members meet the needs of others and can feel rewarded. A shared community, where users undergo common history, time together, and social experiences. Do you believe you’ve developed a strong sense of community? Follow long as we critically examine the first element in the Sense of Community: Membership. Membership Boundaries of communities have always existed, whether it be neighborhoods, social groups, or online communities. By definition, there are people who belong and people who do not. It’s okay to decline membership to users, thereby providing a more comfortable space for members who are accepted. Here are some time-tested tips from my years of community management that touch upon various attributes of membership: Don’t try to be everything to everyone. It’s far better to be an exclusive community to a smaller, impassioned group of users than to dilute your community for a wide audience. Not everybody deserves to belong, and by intentionally removing irrelevant members, it makes it a more purposeful community for those who can join. Define who should belong, and outline the requirements on your Registration screen and Guest Sign-up widget. Boundaries are walls, but safe walls. Although there’s the pain of rejection and isolation of private communities, it’s offset with the positive benefits of joining. It creates a space where members can feel safe to open up, to feel related to one another, and to feel protected. Reinforce the benefits of joining the community to new members in a welcome message. A new sense of identification. Not only do members join the group, they should develop an extended sense of belonging and identity with the group. The more strongly you can define the sense of belongingness, the more deeply the member will feel connected. There should be a feeling of acceptance, an expectation that one fits in, and a willingness to sacrifice for the group. Create a welcome team that immediately reaches out both publicly and privately, ask how the new member can contribute, and constantly highlight how the community has gone above-and-beyond in members helping members. The higher the boundary, the greater the reward. Personal investment is an important contributor to a member’s feeling of group membership. By working for a membership, a member will feel like he’s earned a place – and that the membership will be more meaningful and valuable. You can ask guests for their accreditations, background, or how they can contribute to the community. The power of symbols. Social groups throughout history have long used symbols, icons, ceremonies, and group language to cultivate a unique sense of identity. These conventions are powerful representations of a group. You can cultivate and write a common language in your Invision Community in large ways and small by uploading unique reactions, changing the language string, and celebrating community-specific holidays and events. As you re-evaluate your community framework with me, take the time to outline what it means to be a member of your community. Defining your membership goes hand-in-hand with defining your purpose. It should touch upon these five attributes of membership: boundaries, emotional safety, sense of belonging, personal investment, and common symbolism. Establish clear distinctions for your community’s membership qualifications, and you’ll be able to develop a deep Sense of Community from the very start of a member’s registration. Share with me and others how you've defined your community's membership in the comments below. I love to hear about other Invision Communities. Joel, Invision Community Advocate and Certified Community Manager View the full article
  20. Invision Community is used by some of the world's biggest game brands, proudly enabling gamers to connect with the creators of their favourite titles. These sites attract millions of visitors between them and thousands of posts are added daily because of their high profile. But what if you're just starting out, how do you convert casual visitors to members, and what's the best way to set up your community? I got talking to new customer Darrell, interestingly named Mr. Fierce God on our community. While you may expect that this portrays a fire and brimstone hothead, you'd be wrong as Darrell is one of the nicest people you'll meet. Darrell runs the Fierce Gaming Network and I was impressed by the way he's set up his site and wanted to share my thoughts on what he's done well. The first thing I noticed is that the forum index is not the home page for the site. For a gaming community that wants to focus on more than just user conversations, this is a good move. Let's break it down. A. The home page has multiple points of entry, and the sidebar menu unobtrusively offers short-cuts to various parts of the community. B. We have a large call to action to either login or register. This box also explains the benefits of registration clearly and enforces that registration is a very quick process. One optimisation that may be worth looking at here is to add the "Sign in with Facebook / Microsoft" buttons on the box to persuade even more to register right away. C. Fierce Gaming Network also makes great use of Clubs to segment their audience to specific software titles. Re-using instantly recognisable artwork as the club cover image will entice fans of those games to visit. Scrolling down a little shows the "Member of the month". As humans, we are drawn to faces instantly, and this humanises the site and "unmasks" some of the popular members, making the site less intimidating. Moving down a little more we see the "Our Picks" section which highlights the best content from the community. Our Picks is a great way to get visitors to engage with your content. Good use of cover images draws attention and makes it clear the kind of content you're going to read. Darrell makes great use of several lnvision Community apps to build the site, and has set it up well. New users get to the site see handpicked content, fellow members and the benefits of joining all in one place. It's a great start and I look forward to seeing Darrell's site succeed. Are you using Invision Community to build custom homepages for your community? Share them in the comments below. View the full article
  21. I noticed something new in the chiller cabinet at the petrol station after filling yesterday. Bottles of Grape Fanta sitting alongside the more mundane and pedestrian drinks such as Coke Zero and Pepsi Max. I grabbed two bottles. After draining one in record time, I googled around to see where I could get more of this delicious nectar, and it discovered that it's a new flavour being launched in the UK. The really interesting thing was that Coca Cola used data stored in the self service machines that offer different flavours (such as those at cinemas) to determine which new flavours to bring to the market. Grape was the second most popular flavour after regular orange, so the company knew they had a market ready for premixed bottles. In a world where we fear what Big Tech does with our data, it's easy to forget that data has a valid use in your business. It's why we make it clear that with Invision Community, you own your data. We just look after it for you. This gives you the freedom to discover new trends within your business and use them to drive sales. View the full article
  22. Two headlines caught my eye today as they appeared side by side in my newsfeed. On first glance, they seemed contradictory. The first was that the UK lost nearly 2,500 shops and stores last year and the second is that discount fashion retailer Primark has just invested £70m in a new store in Birmingham. This new store covers 161,000 sq ft over five floors and features a Disney-themed cafe, a beauty studio, a gents hairdresser and a Harry Potter themed section. If the UK is closed thousands of stores, and a recent department store has just fallen into administration why would a brand invest £70m in a new store? The answer is that they are not building a store, they are building an experience. It's clearly not enough to just stack products and open the doors anymore. You have to offer more to entice people in through the doors. This is why Toys R Us failed in the end. I maintain that if they had reduced shelf space and installed soft play, cafes and product demonstration areas, they would have had a chance at turning around their failing business. Primark has learned from other's mistakes. With themed "shops in shops" and child-friendly cafes, they are offering more than discount clothes. It is exactly the same as your community. Offering a space to facilitate conversation is often not enough unless you dominate your niche. Are you known for well thought out reviews? Perhaps you write valuable articles that get people to your site. Or you might be focusing on building an audience with a photo competition as Helen from The Dogly Mail has. What are you doing to encourage more people through your doors? View the full article
  23. “Every success story is a tale of constant adaption, revision and change.” – Richard Branson, billionaire and founder of Virgin Group. We all seek success with our Invision Communities. For too many of our communities, however, we yearn for success but we don’t plot the correct navigation to get there. We haphazardly pursue our strategies, trying new ideas and hoping one will stick. It’s time to take a step back and assess your goals in context to your growth. It’s important to understand the stages of the community lifecycle, and to strategically match your goals with your growth sequence. Alicia Iriberri and Gondy Leroy of Claremont Graduate University surveyed over 1000 publications across multiple disciplines including computer science, information systems, sociology, and management in their seminal 2009 research paper “A Life-Cycle Perspective on Online Community Success.” Their research forms the foundation for most modern community management, and in their paper they write, “The impact each design component has on the success of the online community shifts depending on which life-cycle stage the online community is experiencing.” The right strategy at the right time will maximize the impact. Every community goes through a community lifecycle of four stages: Inception, Growth, Maturity, and Mitosis. Setting the wrong objective can not only fail, it can even backfire and destroy goodwill. Here are classic examples of good strategies that go wrong because of poor sequencing: A new community with no activity that builds dozens of new boards A growth community not fostering a unique sense of community A mature community not establishing strong codes of conduct Architecting a community is very different for the first ten users versus the next thousand users. New priorities come into play, community concerns will shift and strategies need tochange. As a community manager, ensure the strategy is appropriate and reflects your community lifecycle to ensure maximum impact. Let’s take a look at proper goal settings for each stage of the community lifecycle. Inception Inception is the start of your community. You’re bursting with energy, enthusiasm, and big ideas. While your Invision Community is full of potential, your goal is to turn your vision into reality: Members: Focus on nurturing a core team of members. Your goal is to get 10 – 12 superusers to consistently engage and support the community vision. Promotion: Your community won’t contain enough content to attract visitors through search engines, so you’ll have to rely on personal referrals, word-of-mouth, and direct acquaintances. Content: Focus on building expertise on core content areas that will make you stand out. You want to be the best in one subject. You’ll need to generate much of the content programming yourself, which should focus on functional value. Organization: Establish organizational parameters for the community, define the vision with stakeholders, write your Terms of Use, and validate the community concept. Community: The community is heavily centered around the community founder at this stage, so set the right tone and lead through example. Growth Growth is where the magic of community happens, balanced against the development of more explicit and formal conduct. Members: Shift your focus from nurturing individual users to creating a workflow that can systematically welcome new members. Promotion: You should be proactive with your self-promotional activities to build community awareness such as email marketing, social media, or mailing lists. Content: Content will now be a mix between self-generated and co-created. You want to highlight community content by others to encourage community expertise. When you create content yourself, you want to start including emotionally-driven questions that connect users. Organization: Measure specific metrics for organization goals, highlight community health and successes, secure funding for ongoing budget and team. Community: A unique sense of community is cultivated at this time with shared experiences and language between members. Members feel excited to be a part of your community’s growth. Maturity Maturity is when your Invision Community becomes critically acclaimed and well-known in the field. Even though your community looks to be run smoothly, there are still areas to address so your community doesn’t stagnate: Members: There should be a clearly defined process and welcome guide for onboarding new members, an established pipeline that constantly brings on new superusers, and a rewards program that recognizes members for different types of member journeys. Promotion: Your site is well-known, so the search engine traffic and content within your community is enough to bring in new users. You can optimize your SEO at this point. Content: Almost all content is user-created at this point, which means your focus needs to shift to content recognition, organization, and moderation. Highlight the best community content; categorize and properly tag new content so the community stays organized; and scale your moderation to handle the size of your community. Organization: The community is a key part of your organization’s larger success and supports multiple areas of the business. Be a strong internal advocate for the community and align your community with your organization’s new profit areas. Community: Superusers not only have the privilege of creating their own content for the community, but they’ve stepped up as mentors and moderators. Your community has a strong culture that’s reinforced by members. Mitosis Mitosis is the stage when your Invision Community grows beyond its original mission, potentially splitting off into new subgroups. Many communities stagnate at this point with falling engagement and plateauing registration, but you’re catching onto the next big trend in your industry to grow into. Members: New member registrations flatlines because you’re tracking with the industry. Your goal is to continue to delight members with new forms of omnichannel engagement like regional meetups, video conferencing, and headline conferences. Promotion: Your community self-generates organic traffic. Your promotion should shift from trying to advertise for yourself to exerting influence with industry partners as a trusted leader in the field. Content: Members can find the most comprehensive set of resource documents and discussion on your community. Your goal is to distill the knowledge into the best tips and guides for newcomers to obtain the most accurate information as quickly as possible. You should also archive areas that no longer receive activity while finding growth topics in your field. Organization: The community is a critical part of all business operations and integrates into all relevant workflows. You should build custom metrics to measure results, help determine new investment decisions, and streamline business efficiencies at the organizational level that benefit the community. Community: Your community becomes an incubator of new sections in a controlled manner for potential spin-off. Superusers control and moderate their own areas of the site like Clubs or Blogs. Online communities evolve through distinct stages of the community lifecycle. At each stage, the needs and activities of members require different tools, features, and community management. Certain strategies are more impactful when they coincide with the right sequence. Invision Community makes it easy to get started with a technology platform packed with features that every community manager can start using right away. But how you get to the first ten users, to the first thousand posts, or even to one billion likes will be a journey that’s truly your own. Share your success story of Invision Community in the comments below. Did you make any rookie mistakes that you wish you knew beforehand? What are some strategies that you’re pursuing right now, and why do you think it’s an impactful decision for this stage of your community’s lifecycle? We’d love to hear your journey along the community lifecycle. View the full article
  24. In a move that surprised many, British cosmetics firm Lush has chosen to quit social media. With a combined following across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, Lush has a combined audience of over 1.2 million followers. Lush are being a little cryptic about its reasons but cite having to pay for visibility and getting tired of trying to produce content so just that algorithms will rank it highly. "Increasingly, social media is making it harder and harder for us to talk to each other directly. We are tired of fighting with algorithms, and we do not want to pay to appear in your newsfeed. So we’ve decided it’s time to bid farewell to some of our social channels and open up the conversation between you and us instead." It feels like sacrilege for a brand to come off social media, but I'm not surprised. Social media is about broadcasting more than it is about meaningful conversation. And now, even with a huge following, broadcasting doesn't get the same reach it did a few years ago with platforms pushing paid options more and more. Lush also targets a very young demographic that simply aren't using social media anymore. The firm said it was "cutting out the middleman between ourselves and the Lush community". It remains unclear which direction Lush is going to take to facilitate conversations, but using an independent community platform like Invision Community should be considered. It cuts out any algorithm biased, money hungry platform. It opens up the conversation between the brand and its customers in a meaningful way, and the brand is completely in control of their data and what their customers see. At Invision Community, we're seeing more and more brands looking for a solution outside of social media. Perhaps this will accelerate the trend. View the full article
  25. Since the last blog entry in this series I have been very busy. I’m still working full time so haven’t been able to spend as much time as I would have liked on The Dogly Mail but I’m really enjoying the time I can. Early growth has been promising and I have been experimenting with different ideas that have come from founder members to see what might work long term. We recently broke the 100 member milestone and that all came from word of mouth. We’re not talking huge numbers but I’m very encouraged for the future. My focus is now on building interactions with four main areas of the site. Forums I had imagined the forums being the most active area after seeing other Invision Communities but I don’t think there are enough regularly active members yet for this area to be truly useful so it is (for now) not the main priority. I am however using some forums functionality effectively. I’ve added a special offers forum that is viewable by non members but to get to the actual topic contents you need to register. This seems to be enticing a few people to sign up and I want to approach more retailers to build on this. Polls are also proving popular and new members who may not want to commit to introducing themselves or posting a full topic are at least interacting. I’ll be looking for more ways of adding easy interactions such as this. If anybody has any ideas for encouraging early discussion please let me know in the comments. Articles In the articles section new items are slowly being added and I find this a good opportunity to show some personality and indicate to users what they can expect from the rest of the site. I am trying all kinds of articles such as news, reviews, recipes and dog training guides to find out what I should focus on. I would also like to attract some guest writers for different viewpoints and to free up some of my time. Being able to see article view counts in Invision Community and the direct commenting functionality gives me good feedback. Events The launch of the events section coincided with a large dog related event in London and through it I was able to collaborate with the event organisers and do some succesful networking. This has led to some future opportunities for product reviews and reinforces my point from the last blog article where not all of your time should be spent behind the keyboard. Most of the events are being added by myself but hopefully as this section builds others will find it useful for promoting their own events. Photos One of the early members was quick to suggest we incorporate image sharing into the website as after all how can anybody resist cute photos of puppies? For this I originally looked at the Invision Gallery but felt that this section needed to have a voting element and Gallery was perhaps too feature rich. I wanted it to be a simple first interation with the website. I wanted people to be able to vote and more importantly encourage their friends to sign up and vote too. We started out with a simple topic and for the first month with not many people this worked great. One post was an entry and people could “Like” their favourites. It quickly became quite popular and it was clear that we would need something dedicated to the task so I commissioned some custom work. This was real investment but is already showing promising signs after launching April 1st. New members can now enter the photo competition and register at the same time so most new registrations are now coming from this route. I’ve recently discovered the profile completion feature so will enable that this month to try and increase engagement a bit further. I want to keep to our non intrusive privacy policy so this will all be optional and limited to member photo and some simple dog breed and numer of dogs fields. With what I have learned so far I have a better idea of what is going to work to attract registrations and there is also a credible amount of content. This month I will be starting to look into some paid promotion with the hope of hitting my next milestone of 250 members. I will share my findings and hopefully some helpful marketing tips next month. View the full article

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