Nebthtet reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: User Interface Improvements
Invision Community has certainly changed a lot over the years as we've moved through major updates and large user interface changes.
While large scale changes offer a dramatic difference, it is sometimes the smaller changes that bring the most satisfaction when using your community daily.
This blog entry rounds up some of the UI improvements Invision Community 4.5 brings.
Content View Behavior
What do you want to happen when you click a topic link? Are you taken to the first comment, the last comment or the first comment you've not read? If you speak to 100 people, I'm pretty sure you'll get a good spread of votes for each.
Invision Community has always offered subtle ways to get right to the first unread comment. Our infamous dot or star allows you to do this, but it is so subtle almost no one knows this.
Invision Community 4.5 now allows each member to choose (with the AdminCP offering a default).
Now everyone wins!
Invision Community has had reactions for a long while now. Although finding out who exactly reacted without clicking the counts has proved irksome.
We've fixed that in Invision Community so simply mousing over the reaction icon reveals who reacted.
Sign In Anonymously
For as long as I can remember, Invision Community has offered an option to sign in anonymously via a checkbox on the login form.
However, as we've added faster ways to log in via Facebook, Twitter, Google and more it's become less straight forward to ensure your anonymity.
Invision Community 4.5 removes this login preference and moves it to your members' settings.
Now your members can resume hiding as they move around your community across multiple logins.
Resize Before Uploading
One of the most popular requests we've had in recent times is to resize large images before uploading. It's quite likely that your giant full resolution image will be denied when attempting to upload, and it's a bit of a faff to resize it in a photo editor.
Invision Community leverages the uploader's ability to resize before uploading, which makes it a much happier experience.
Switch Off Automatic Language Detection
Invision Community attempts to map your browser's user-agent to a specific language pack.
When you visit a site, your browser lets the site know which language our browser is set to (often dictated by your operating system) and we use that to show you the correct language if the community you're visiting has multiple languages installed.
However, it might be that you don't want this to happen because although your computer's OS is set to a specific language, it doesn't always follow that is the one you wish to use on a website.
Invision Community 4.5 allows this automatic detection to be switched off.
We will finish with another popular feature request; the ability for long quotes to be collapsed, reducing the amount of scrolling one has to do.
Quite simply, Invision Community collapses long quotes with an option to expand them to read the entire quote.
Thank you to all our customers who have taken the time to leave feedback. As you can see, we do listen and action your feedback.
Which change are you looking forward to the most? Let us know below!
Nebthtet reacted to Andy Millne for an entry, 4.5: Invites and Referrals
Invision Community has supported member referrals via the Commerce app since Commerce was called Nexus all those years ago.
Community owners have been able to see at a glance who is spreading the word and members have received the kudos associated with a growing referral count in return.
When planning Invision Community 4.5 we saw that this feature had the potential to be so much more… So what have we done to improve it?
See Who Was Referred
In addition to seeing a count of referrals, it’s now possible for both admins and members to see who they referred. If Commerce is enabled admins can also see how much commission (if any) was earned.
The new referral settings page shows links, code snippets and who you've referred
Seeing a rising count of who has been referred gives members a great feeling of community involvement but wouldn’t it be great if you could reward your members in other ways too?
Referral counts now work as a member filter when using the group promotion feature.
You can now automatically promote members that have referred more than a specific number of members to another user group and give them access to exclusive content. This still works alongside paid subscriptions so be another method for members not willing or able to pay for subscriptions to get access.
Integration With Sharing
If the feature is enabled, any time a link is shared via the built-in share links, referrals will be tracked. This occurs automatically without the member needing to think about it. It’s now easier than ever to see who your superfans are and who is bringing new people to the community.
As well as the default share links we have added a new sidebar block that can be added anywhere across your community. This prominent call to action can be added on pages you think are most likely to result in recommendations.
The new "Invite a friend" widget
Given that referral capabilities have been expanded into many more areas outside of Commerce we decided that this should now be available as a core feature. Earning commission on sales as a result of referrals will still, of course, require Commerce to be installed.
We hope that these are welcome improvements and they help you encourage more members to participate in your community.
Nebthtet reacted to Ryan Ashbrook for an entry, 4.5: Club Pages
Without a doubt, clubs is one of the most popular features added to Invision Community in recent times.
Invision Community clubs allows you to run sub-communities on your site. We've seen clubs used in many ways, including managing geographically local groups and clan groups for large gaming sites.
This popularity drives us to keep incrementally improving the feature set for clubs, and Invision Community 4.5 is no different.
One thing that was raised many times was a way for club owners and leaders to create simple pages with general information members need.
Happily, in Invision Community 4.5, this feature now exists (and more!)
In addition to the title and visual editor that allows full formatting of the page content, there is an additional visibility setting which allows owners and leaders to define which types of members can view the page.
This is perfect for showing a page that is only visible to non-members which informs them how to join the club.
Likewise, it is a great way to display moderation guidelines to the club moderators only.
Of course, owners and leaders will always be able to see all pages added to a club.
Additionally, once a page is added to a club, a tab will be added alongside others, and the page can be re-arranged just like the rest.
Using this, owners and leaders can create an alternative unique index page for the club.
This is just one of many club improvements finished for Invision Community 4.5. We'll be talking about these in a future blog!
Nebthtet reacted to Ehren for an entry, 4.5: Your new admin control panel
Invision Community has come a long way over the past five years.
We've added many new features and invigorated the front-end user experience to keep it current and in-line with modern interfaces.
One area that has remained largely the same is the Admin Control Panel.
When we released Invision Community 4.0 back in 2014, the Admin Control Panel was updated but has stayed relatively dormant since.
But that's all about to change with the upcoming release of Invision Community 4.5!
The Admin Control Panel in 4.5 has received a substantial update, resulting in a modern color scheme and a clean, minimalistic design.
We felt that a lighter, more open design allowed the content more space and to feel less crowded.
The dark grays have been replaced with shades of blue and aqua which closely reflects Invision Community's new branding, while other colors have been lightened and saturated.
Along with the new color scheme, the overall layout of the ACP has intentionally been kept similar to the existing version, resulting in a design that feels surprisingly familiar yet refreshingly new at the same time.
We hope you've enjoyed this small sneak peek into Invision Community 4.5 and we look forward to introducing you to some more new features in the upcoming weeks!
Nebthtet reacted to Matt for an entry, How to keep your community secure
Security should never be an afterthought. Don't wait until an attack has compromised your site before you take action.
All too often, site owners consider increasing their security only when it's too late, and their community has already been compromised.
Taking some time now to check and improve the security of your community and server will pay dividends.
In this blog, we run down 8 ways that you can protect your community with Invision Community. We go through the security features you may not know about to best practices all communities should be following.
1. Set up Two Factor Authentication
Invision Community supports Two Factor Authentication (2FA for short), and we highly recommend making use of this feature for your users, but especially for your administrative staff.
2FA is a system that requires both a user's password and a special code (displayed by a phone app) that changes every few seconds. The idea is simple: if a user's password is somehow compromised, a hacker still wouldn't be able to log in to the account without the current code number.
You may already be familiar with 2FA from other services you use. Apple's iCloud, Facebook and Google all offer it, as do thousands of banks and other security-conscious businesses.
Invision Community supports 2FA via the Google Authenticator app (available for iOS and Android) or the Authy service, which can send codes to users via text message or phone call. You can also fall back to security questions instead of codes.
You can configure which members groups can use 2FA, as well as requiring certain groups to use it.
Recommendation: Require any staff with access to the Admin Control Panel or moderation functions to use 2FA. This will ensure that no damage will occur should their account passwords be discovered. Allow members to use 2FA at their discretion.
2. Configure password requirements
The password strength feature displays a strength meter to users as they type a new password. The meter shows them approximately how secure it is, as well as some tips for choosing a good password.
While you can leave this feature as a simple recommendation for users, it's also possible to require them to choose a password that reaches a certain strength on the meter.
Recommendation: Require users to choose at least a 'Strong' password.
3. Be selective when adding administrators
Administrator permissions can be extremely damaging in the wrong hands, and granting administrator powers should only be done with great consideration. Giving access to the AdminCP is like handing someone the keys to your house. Before doing so, be sure you trust the person and that their role requires access to the AdminCP (for example, would moderator permissions be sufficient for the new staff member?).
Recommendation: Don't forget to remove administrator access promptly when necessary too, such as the member of staff leaving your organization. Always be aware of exactly who has administrator access at any given time, and review regularly. You can list all accounts that have Administrative access by clicking the Administrators button under staff on the Members tab.
4. Utilize Admin Restrictions
In many organizations, staff roles within the community reflect real-world roles - designers need access to templates, accounting needs access to billing, and so forth.
Invision Community allows you to limit administrator access to particular areas of the AdminCP with the Admin Restrictions feature, and even limit what can is done within those areas.
This is a great approach for limiting risk to your data; by giving staff members access to only the areas they need to perform their duties, you reduce the potential impact should their account become compromised in future.
Recommendation: Review the restrictions your admins currently have.
5. Choose good passwords
This seems like an obvious suggestion, but surveys regularly show that people choose passwords that are too easy to guess or brute force. Your password is naturally the most basic protection of your AdminCP there is, so making sure you're using a good password is essential.
We recommend using a password manager application, such as 1password or LastPass. These applications generate strong, random passwords for each site you use, and store them so that you don't have to remember them.
Even if you don't use a password manager, make sure the passwords you use for your community are unique and never used for other sites too.
Recommendation: Reset your password regularly and ensure you do not use the same password elsewhere.
6. Stay up to date
It's a fact of software development that from time to time, new security issues are reported and promptly fixed.
But if you're running several versions behind, once security issues are made public through responsible disclosure, malicious users can exploit those weaknesses in your community.
When we release new updates - especially if they're marked as a security release in our release notes - be sure to update promptly.
Invision Community allows you to update to the latest version via the AdminCP. You no longer need to download a thing!
Recommendation: Update to the latest version whenever possible. Remember, with Invision Community's theme and hook systems, upgrades to minor point releases should be very straight forward.
7. Restrict your AdminCP to an IP range where possible
If your organization has a static IP or requires staff members to use a VPN, you can add an additional layer of security to your community by prohibiting access to the AdminCP unless the user's IP matches your whitelist.
This is a server-level feature, so consult your IT team or host to find out how to set it up in your particular environment.
Recommendation: Consider IP restriction as an additional security layer when you are not able or willing to use 2FA.
8. Properly secure your PHP installation
Many of PHP's built-in functions can leave a server vulnerable to high-impact exploits, and yet many of these functions aren't needed by the vast majority of PHP applications you might run. We, therefore, recommend that you explicitly disable these functions using PHP's disable_functions configuration setting. Here's our recommended configuration, although you or your host may need to tweak the list depending on your exact needs:
disable_functions = escapeshellarg,escapeshellcmd,exec,ini_alter,parse_ini_file,passthru,pcntl_exec,popen,proc_close,proc_get_status,proc_nice,proc_open,proc_terminate,show_source,shell_exec,symlink,system Another critical PHP configuration setting you need to check is that open_basedir is enabled. Especially if you're hosted on a server that also hosts other websites (known as shared hosting), if another account on the server is comprised and open_basedir is disabled, the attacker can potentially gain access to your files too.
Naturally, Cloud customers needn't worry about this, we've already ensured our cloud infrastructure is impervious to this kind of attack.
Recommendation: Review your PHP version and settings, or choose one of our cloud plans where we take care of this for you.
So there we go - a brief overview of 8 common-sense ways you can better protect your community and its users.
As software developers, we're constantly working to improve the behind-the-scenes security of our software. As an administrator, there's also a number of steps you should take to keep your community safe on the web.
If you have any tips related to security, be sure to share them in the comments!
Nebthtet reacted to Matt for an entry, What are the benefits of a support community?
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, you are not delivering the best experience for your customers and risk losing them to competitors that do.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nebthtet reacted to Matt for an entry, Audience or community?
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.
Nebthtet reacted to Matt for an entry, What's new in 4.4.5?
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.
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.
Nebthtet reacted to Joel R for an entry, 4x4 Growth Hacks 🚀
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 @Nebthtet@Ramsesx @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!
Nebthtet reacted to Joel R for an entry, 4x4 What Do Visitors See When They Visit?
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.
Nebthtet reacted to Matt for an entry, CrossFit suspends Facebook and Instagram accounts
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?
Nebthtet reacted to Matt for an entry, Les Paul, or Gibson SG?
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?
Nebthtet reacted to Martin Jolley-Jarvis for an entry, How to grow your community with Facebook Ads
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…
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
Nebthtet reacted to HelenG for an entry, How I Started My Community - Part 3 Growth
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.
Nebthtet reacted to Matt for an entry, The 3 things your community needs to succeed
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 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.
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.
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.
Nebthtet reacted to Matt for an entry, Work smarter with 5 of our best time saving features
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nebthtet reacted to Joel R for an entry, Boundaries & Identity: Building Membership in a Community
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.
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.
Invision Community Advocate and Certified Community Manager
Nebthtet reacted to Matt for an entry, What lessons can you learn from a discount fashion retailer?
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 closing 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?
Nebthtet reacted to Joel R for an entry, Master your community's lifecycle to increase your growth
“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 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:
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 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 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.
Nebthtet reacted to HelenG for an entry, How I Started My Community - Part 2 Building Engagement
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.
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.
I also installed Simple Topic from the marketplace to simplify the posting process down to the absolute minimum steps required.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nebthtet reacted to Matt for an entry, GDPR updates for Invision Community 4.3.3
Unless you've been living under a rock, or forgot to opt-in to the memo, GDPR is just around the corner.
Last week we wrote a blog answering your questions on becoming GDPR compliant with Invision Community.
We took away a few good points from that discussion and have the following updates coming up for Invision Community 4.3.3 due early next week.
Downloading Personal Data
Invision Community already has a method of downloading member data via the member export feature that produces a CSV.
However, we wanted Invision Community to be more helpful, so we've added a feature that downloads personal data (such as name, email address, known IP addresses, known devices, opt in details and customer data from Nexus if you're using that) in a handy XML format which is very portable and machine readable.
You can access this feature via the ACP member view
The download itself is in a standard XML format.
A sample export
Pruning IP Addresses
While there is much debate about whether IP addresses are personal information or not, a good number of our customers requested a way to remove IP addresses from older content.
There are legitimate reasons to store IP addresses for purchase transactions (so fraud can be detected), for security logs (to prevent hackers gaining access) and to prevent spammers registering. However, under the bullet point of not storing information for longer than is required, we have added this feature to remove IP addresses from posted content (reviews, comments, posts, personal messages, etc) after a threshold.
The default is 'Never', so don't worry. Post upgrade you won't see IP addresses removed unless you enter a value.
This new setting is under Posting
Invision Community has always had a way to delete a member and retain their content under a "Guest" name.
We've cleaned this up in 4.3.3. When you delete a member, but want to retain their content, you are offered an option to anonymise this. Choosing this option attributes all posted content to 'Guest' and removes any stored IP addresses.
Deleting a member
The new setting
Finding Settings Easily
To make life a little easier, we've added "GDPR" as a live search keyword for the ACP. Simply tap that into the large search bar and Invision Community will list the relevant settings you may want to change.
These changes show our ongoing commitment to helping you with your GDPR compliance. We'll be watching how GDPR in practise unfolds next month and will continue to adapt where required.
Invision Community 4.3.3 is due out early next week.
Nebthtet reacted to Matt for an entry, Invision Community 4.3 Beta Released!
We're thrilled to announce that Invision Community 4.3 Beta is available to download now.
After months of development, over 2500 separate code commits and quite a few mugs of coffee you can now get your hands on the beta release.
You can download the beta from your client area.
Be sure to read the full information on support and service limits that go along with beta releases. You will see this in client area prior to downloading.
If you need a recap of what was added, take a look at our product updates blog which takes you through the highlights.
If you you find a bug, we'd love for you to report it with as much detail as you can muster in the bug report area.
We'd love to know what you think, let us know below.
Nebthtet reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.3: Promote to Facebook Pages and Groups
Social media promotion should be a part of any marketing strategy. Curating interesting content from your community and sharing to social media channels like Facebook and Twitter is a great way to drive traffic to your site.
Invision Community 4.2 introduced Social Media Promotions to allow this.
You hit the promote button, fill out the text to share with each service, click which photos to include and schedule the promotion or send it immediately.
We use this feature almost every single day to share highlights to our Invision Community Facebook page and Twitter.
This feature has had a significant impact in attracting visitors to our blog. This is now a core part of our marketing strategy.
So what's new in Invision Community 4.3?
Facebook Groups and Pages
A popular feature request was to allow sharing to Facebook groups that you are an administrator of, as well as Pages you own.
Not only that, but we now allow you to share to many places at once.
When setting up Facebook, you can choose which Facebook properties to be used when promoting.
When sharing content, you can choose where to share it to right on the dialog.
Here you can see that we're sharing to two of three possible places. "It's a secret" is a Facebook Group (which makes it a pretty poor secret).
The "Lindy Throgmartin Fan Club" is my favourite page on all of Facebook. What it lacks in members, it makes up for in enthusiasm.
You may also notice that the Facebook box is empty. Facebook have very strict guidelines on sharing content. They prefer that you do not auto-populate the content.
You can always access the item's original content on the promote dialog, so you can refer to it.
Setting a custom page title
When you share to social media channels, you also have the opportunity to add to the 'Our Picks' page.
We've made it possible to add a custom title for the Our Picks page so you don't have to use the content item title, although this is still the default.
Editing an Our Pick
When editing an item shared to 'Our Picks', you now have the option of editing all the data, including the title and the images attached.
The Our Picks page showing the custom title
Thanks to your feedback, we saw several places that we can improve this already popular feature.
We hope you enjoy these changes which makes your social promotion strategy even easier to execute.
I know we'll be making good use of them!
Nebthtet reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.3: Leverage your data with our statistic improvements
"The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data", the Economist wrote recently.
Invision Community software stores a lot of important data that can be leveraged to analyze and improve upon the traffic and interactions with your site.
While there are some various statistics tools in the AdminCP already, we spent some time with 4.3 enhancing and improving upon our existing reporting tools, as well as adding some new analytics tools you may find useful.
Beginning with 4.3, any dynamically-generated charts in the AdminCP that support filtering will allow you to save those filter combinations for easier access in the future. When you open the Filters menu and toggle any individual filters, the chart will no longer immediately reload until you click out of the menu, and 'All' and 'None' quick links have been added to the filters menu to allow you to quickly toggle all filters on or off.
Here is the 'Sales' chart for Commerce, for example. You will see that the interface is now tabbed.
Commerce's Sales chart
After opening the 'Filters' menu, selecting all of my products named 'test', and saving this filter combination as a new chart, I can quickly come back to this chart in the future.
Specific filter configurations allow you to run reports easily
Note that each user can save their own chart filter configurations independent of other users.
Top income by customer
Speaking of Commerce, we have also added a new chart to the 'Income' page, allowing you to view reports of your top customers. As with other dynamic charts, you can save filter configurations here for easy future access, and you can view the results as a table to get a raw list of your top customers' purchases. Further, we have tidied up the table views for the other existing tabs on this page.
Looks like brandon is my top customer
We have introduced several statistic pages to expose information about the Reactions/Reputation system and how your users are interacting with it. For instance, you can now view information about usage of each of the reactions set up on your site.
Yes, I'm definitely confused a lot
You can also see which users give and receive the most reputation (which is the sum of their reaction points, keeping in mind that negative reactions can reduce a user's total reputation score), you can see which content on your community has the most reputation (which might prompt you to promote it to the 'Our Picks' page, promote it to social media, or otherwise continue to encourage interaction with the content), and you can see which applications reactions are given in the most. This could allow you, for instance, to focus more efforts in areas of your site to drive more activity, or to foster activity in areas you did not realize were as active as they are.
Some areas of the community aren't as active as they could be
Additionally, when viewing user profiles on the front end you can now see a breakdown of which reactions each user has given and received when you click the "See reputation activity" link in the left hand column.
Apparently I'm not so much confused, as I am confusing
Another useful statistic introduced with 4.3 is the ability to review tag usage on your community. As with other dynamic charts, you can filter however you like and save those filter configurations for easy future access.
Not all tags are equal
Trend charts for topics and posts
When viewing the New Topics and New Posts charts, there are now tabs for "New Topics by Forum" and "New Posts by Forum", allowing you to see which of your forums are the most active. Additionally, you will see a trend line drawn on the chart to show you the trend (e.g. whether activity is increasing or decreasing). You can also filter which forums you wish to review, so you can compare your most active forums, the forums that are most important to your site, or the forums that need the most attention/may not be relevant, for instance.
Viewing new topics by forum
New posts by forum, but viewing only a subset of my most important forums
Some other miscellaneous improvements have been introduced as well, which you may be interested in:
When viewing Member Activity reports, you can now filter by group. We have also added the content count column to the table so you can quickly sort by top posters if this is relevant to the report you are running. Device usage is now also tracked (mobile, desktop, etc.) and can be viewed on a new Device Usage page. Developers: Dynamic charts now support database joins
Nebthtet reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.3: Modernizing our Gallery
A picture says a thousand words, they say. If getting those pictures online is troublesome, some of those words might be a little choice.
Gallery has been an integral part of our community suite for just about as long as T1 Tech Mark Higgins can remember (and he has many years of memories). It has seen many interfaces changes as the years have rolled by. The most recent version received a fair amount to feedback on usability.
We've listened. We've re-engineered most of Gallery's key interfaces to make uploading new images to your community frictionless.
Lets take a look through the major changes.
Improved submission process
Submitting images has to be simple or else users will give up and your gallery will be underutilized. We have spent a lot of time simplifying and speeding up the submissions process for your users. The first thing that will be noticed is that the submission process is not presented as a wizard anymore, and the choice to submit to a category or album has been significantly cleaned up and simplified.
Choosing a container
Here, I have chosen the category I wish to submit to, so now I am asked if I want to submit directly to the category, if I want to create a new album, or if I want to submit to an existing album. Choosing one of those last two options will load the appropriate forms to create an album or select an existing album, respectively.
Afterwards, the modal expands to full screen and you will naturally select your images next, and there's a lot to talk about here.
Overhauled submission interface
First and foremost, the interface has changed significantly to both simplify the UI and to make actually using the interface easier. When you click on an image, the form is loaded to the right immediately without an AJAX request needed to fetch the form.
In addition to quickly setting the credit and copyright information for all images at once, you can now set the tags for all images quickly and easily without having to edit each image individually.
Images support drag n drop reordering in the uploader here, which means that you can drag n drop images to different positions to control their order. Many users previously would name images "Image 1", "Image 2", and so on, and then set their albums to order images by name in order to control the order the images were displayed in. This is no longer necessary now that you can manually reposition the images.
The default description editor is a pared down textarea box, but you can still use the rich text editor if you wish. The ability to enable maps for geo-encoded images and to upload thumbnails for videos is still supported as well, and those options will show up when appropriate in the right hand panel.
The 100 image per submission limit has also been lifted. You can now upload many more images in one go with no hard limit imposed.
Upon clicking submit images, you will see the typical multiredirector to store all of your images, however you will notice that it processes much faster than it did in 4.2 and below.
Better submission control
Administrators can now configure categories such that can accept only images, only albums, or both. This means you can now create categories that cannot be submitted to directly, and you can create categories that albums cannot be used with. This is a feature that has been oft-requested since the release of 4.0, and we are happy to report that it will be available in our next release.
Additionally, album creators (if permitted) can also now create shared albums. When you create a new album, you can now specify (under the Privacy menu) who can submit to the album, with your available options being:
Only me Anyone Only the users I specify Only the groups I specify Prior to 4.3, albums have always been owned by one user and only that user could submit to them. Invision Community 4.3 will open up albums so that anyone can submit to them, dependent upon the album creator's preferences and needs.
The choice is yours as to who can submit to your albums
New image navigation
Another major change with Gallery 4.3 is that clicking an image now launches that image in a lightbox to view it and interact with it. This lightbox is context-aware, allowing you to visit the next and previous images in the listing, whether that is a category or album listing, or the featured images or new images listings on the Gallery homepage, for example.
The new image lightbox
Firstly, I will note that you are seeing the image here with my mouse cursor over the image area, exposing the title, tags, and some various buttons. When you mouse away from the image those overlays fade away to highlight the image itself better.
As you can see, you can navigate left and right here to view the next and previous image in this context, and you can otherwise interact with the image as you would have if you had visited the older-style image view page (including the ability to rate, review and comment).
The new Gallery release will introduce a new advertisement location in the right hand column to allow you to show advertisements, even in the lightbox.
If you follow a link to a full image view page, the lightbox will automatically launch when the page loads, still allowing you to interact in a familiar manner. Additionally, if you move through enough images in the lightbox to reach a new page (for example, if you click on the last image in the album listing and then click on the next image button), the listing itself behind the lightbox will update for easier usability if the user closes the lightbox.
One final thing to note is that the interface has been made more mobile friendly, particularly through the introduction of swiping support. You can swipe left and right in the lightbox, and in image carousels, to see the next and previous images.
Notable performance improvements
As we mentioned at the beginning, we recognize there is a balance between performance, usability, and attractiveness, particularly with regards to an image Gallery. For that reason, we have made Gallery's performance a major focus in 4.3, and have implemented some changes that bring with them a noticeable performance improvement.
Firstly, we have adjusted the software to only store two copies of an image (in addition to the original), instead of four. In previous versions, we stored a thumbnail, a small copy, a medium copy and a large copy of an image, all of which arbitrarily sized and designed to best meet our layout needs without showing an image too large or too small in a given space. We have simplified this vastly by storing a slightly larger "small" image, and storing a large copy. Diskspace usage is reduced dramatically as a result, and bandwidth usage is actually lowered as well since only two copies of an image need to be delivered to the browser instead of four.
Next, we have implemented prefetching of the 'next' and 'previous' pages when you launch the lightbox image view. This means that when a user navigates to the next image in the lightbox, it loads immediately instead of waiting for the content to be fetched from the server. From a UX perspective, this provides a much snappier and responsive interface, making users more apt to interact with the site.
We have additionally sped up the submission process as previously mentioned. The order of execution for certain events that must happen during submission has been moved around a bit, resulting in a faster experience for the end user actually submitting the images.
Because we know the details matter, we have implemented other smaller improvements as well. For example, the link to rebuild images in the AdminCP previously resulted in a redirect process that rebuilt the images while you waited, but now a background task is launched so that you can continue with what you were doing while the images get rebuilt in the background.
From start to finish, the Gallery UI and UX has been touched on and improved, and we hope you enjoy these improvements when you start using the new version.