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Invision Community Blog


Our take on managing successful online communities

Matt
 

Guest Blog: Discover Activity Streams

Once again, we hand over the reigns of our blog to client and friend to Invision Community Joel for another client view of our community suite.

Today @Joel R tackles Activity Streams, and how to make them "your awesome".


Activity Streams is one of the best new features of Invision Community 4 with more flexibility and options than ever before.  It can be an amazing and easy way to dive into interesting and new content, constantly feed new content to your users, and uncover different parts of your community. 

Your community contains amazing content. Activity Streams empower your users to discover the awesome in your community!

While earlier versions of the software contained New Content streams, they were pre-defined and shipped by default.  Now, everyone from users to community managers to admins can create their own unique Activity Streams, customized for the needs of the community or your own browsing interests.  These new options in Invision Community 4 give incredible power to both you and your users to discover new ways of looking at your content.  You can reference Invision’s Guide on Activity Streams.


Let’s take a look at all the different ways to strategically use Activity Streams. 


1.    Home Stream
Make the Activity Stream your homepage!  It’s a beautiful, automated, chronological stream of recent content that constantly replenishes as new content is posted.  Rather than a blocky homepage that is literally stacked with blocks in a chunky mix-and-match, you can offer a blended homepage that unifies all of your content into one continuous stream.  It’s easy to browse, and you can still decorate the page with blocks in the sidebar and hot zones. 


To make the Activity Stream your homepage, go to the ACP > Applications.  Set System as the default app by clicking on the ☆ star.   Then open up System, and make Content Discovery the default module by clicking on the ☆ star.  
 

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Bedlington.co.uk uses “All Activity” as its homepage.  Look who just moved into town!


2.    Default Stream
The default Activity Stream is always one the most significant links in your entire Invision community.  After the homepage, the default Activity Stream is usually the most popular page to which returning users will consistently use.  On some Enterprise boards, the default Activity Stream drives up to 20% of the initial clicks from repeat members.


It’s no wonder why.  The default Activity Stream is the portal to the rest of the website and easily shows recent content.  But how many of us have customized or self-critiqued it?  Review your default stream and filter for the primary content you want to display.    
 

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Make your best stream the default stream.

3.    Content Streams
By default, Invision Community ships with a handful of global streams.  While those are appropriate for a new community, they aggregate all content in the community.  This can be problematic if your community emphasizes one content type over another since all content is mixed together and content types with high volume can overwhelm less popular types.  For example, a recent upload of IP.Gallery images can flood the Activity Stream with new images, pushing discussion and blog posts too far down. 


One thing you can do is to create new Activity Streams per content type or exclude certain content types.  Make separate streams for Forum Topics, Gallery Albums, Blogs, and more depending upon your community.  This will delineate content and makes it easier to navigate exactly what you want.  And even within content types, you can filter down to specific boards or categories.  You can create special streams specifically for Introduction or New Member boards; Gallery images and albums, so they don’t clutter up your primary stream; or Club discussions open to all members.   

4.    User Streams
One of the most creative ways to use Activity Streams is to show content from specific users.  This can be strategically used to create streams for specific users or accounts: staff members, special contributors, or leadership accounts.  You can also stealth stalk your most favorite IPS staff members!


Create an Activity Stream of all recent activity, then each user can customize the stream to follow the people most important to them.  Each user can track the members most important to them and survey a quick overview of those members’ most recent activity.  
 

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Follow the most interesting users in your community.

5.    Mobile Streams
There are a couple of options that can help your stream be optimized for mobile.  By default, the Activity Stream can be packed with information.  You can include every detail of when a member registers, changes their profile photo, reacts to an item, and more.  You can also show the Expanded view, which includes up to three lines of text.


If your website receives a lot of mobile traffic, you should toggle on Condensed view.  This streamlines the Activity Stream and packs more content items onto the viewport.  In a typical smartphone, you may only see 2 – 3 items in Expanded View, but see 5 – 6 items in Condensed view.  That allows users to see twice as much content, even on a smaller device.

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Pack more into less with Condensed view

6.    RSS Streams
For community managers who run an IPS community in support of an enterprise or organization, you can activate an RSS feed per stream.  This allows you to push the content to your other digital properties.  Turn a feedback and testimonial board into a showcase of product reviews; turn Q&A boards into a live stream of ongoing customer support; turn a New Customer introduction board into profiles of actual customers; and tap into the best parts of your community-generated content to fit into other parts of your support channels, brand marketing, and sales outreach.  Leverage your passionate community elsewhere with Activity Streams, and its built-in feature of RSS feeds.   

Like most advanced features, learning to ‘surf the Activity Stream can be tough.  The streams are usually tucked away into the menu or an icon.  And many users are unaware that it exists!

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What your users will say when you introduce Activity Streams.  That’s okay, just put on a life vest and hold on for dear life.


Activity Streams are such an incredibly powerful and flexible tool, which is why I personally love it.  You can slice-and-dice your community in any number of ways, and you gain an instant overview of the parts of the website that are most important, most engaging, and most interesting to yourself.  Spend some time sharing a quick tutorial with your community.  Show them where to view streams.  Show them how to customize it.  And let them discover the awesome in your community!  
 

Edited by Matt


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The most underrated feature ever! And its not even that complex.

But it seems that the users are living in the FB/iWorld, where you cannot decide which content is most interesting, some ultra-mega-giga-ai-big-data-algorithm does it for you in a totally lame way. Users would rather get useless feed served for them on a plate then spending 5 min to customize a good one. Sad. 

 

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To give some background information on this topic, I'm a really big advocate in transforming IPS from a support community into a knowledge community with best practices and thought leadership for community management. And that's why I love the topic of Activity Streams, because it combines both strategy and product knowledge.  

I'd love to hear examples of how you've customized or tweaked the Activity Streams to fit your community.

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