Whatever the purpose of a community - be it customer support, fan engagement, interest-based groups and so on - there's usually a need for site staff to communicate important information to users.
When users visit your community, they're usually looking for authoritative information
Of course, in some cases this information is best suited to a site announcement, which by design has a lot of visibility and authority. But it's important that day to day staff posts stand out too. As we'll discuss in future articles, a key part of engagement is that users see your organization's team interacting with the community. In many cases, users will expect and appreciate acknowledgement from your community team, and by highlighting those responses you can add a visible stamp of authority.
Invision Community has a few different tools to help you highlight staff posts, so let's take a look at them in more detail.
With group badges you can upload a small image that is shown beside a user's posts. It's shown alongside the user's group name, so you don't need to repeat that text.
Each group can have a different badge, perfect for communities that structure their staff groups based on role type. It's common to color-code group badges for easier identification - support as green, product development as blue, and so on (and you may want to coordinate these colors with the prefix and suffix you use, which we cover later in this article).
It's not just staff groups that can have badges, either; your regular member groups can too. However, a word of caution! If every group has a badge, they may lose their distinctiveness. We recommend reserving group badges for those groups you specifically want to draw attention to.
Second is a feature more explicitly designed to highlight a post rather than simply draw attention to the author. Group settings in Invision Community enable you to choose to have posts by users in each group show with a distinctive background color and border. The color is defined by your theme and so is easily configurable, too.
As with group badges, it may be tempting to highlight every group's content, but we recommend not doing so as that reduces the overall impact of the feature. Keep it reserved for your key staff groups, and especially those that regularly interact with the community.
Invision Community allows you to define a custom prefix and suffix for each group. This is used in key locations, including to highlight usernames in the Active User block and to style member group names alongside content.
An important part of this feature is that it accepts HTML tags, which gives you a lot of scope for customizing the display by adding an opening and closing HTML tag to the prefix and suffix settings, respectively. For example, let's say we want to add a shield icon before the name, and make the text purple.
Prefix: <span style='color: #9013FE'><i class='fa fa-shield'></i>
Simple! Now our staff members will display in the Active User block and elsewhere like this:
Bonus feature: Staff activity streams
I wanted to also mention a feature that achieves a slightly different goal to those we covered above, but nonetheless is an important way to bring additional visibility to staff content: activity streams.
As well as an overall “All Activity” stream that shows everything happening in the community, Invision Community allows you to define pre-made streams that are available to all users. You can use this to build streams of content with particular tags, certain types of content - or, as in this case, content by users in specific groups.
Simply create a new activity stream in the Admin Control Panel, set the configuration so that it only pulls content from members in your staff groups, and you're done. Users will now be able to visit the stream page to get a handy overview of everything staff members are doing in your community.
I recommend checking out the other filter options available for streams while you're setting this up - there's a huge amount of power available!
I hope this quick overview of content highlighting features has been useful. When users visit your community, they're usually looking for authoritative information and that often comes right from your own team. By utilizing the features we've discussed here, you can make that information stand out more against the other content in your community.