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tonyv

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  1. Like
    tonyv reacted to Matt for an entry, A call to arms for community leaders   
    We are currently living through one of the most turbulent times in history.
    A once-in-a-century pandemic has a grip on all of us.
    Whatever the outcome, come the end of the year, few of us are going to be the same again. We will have to sacrifice our personal freedoms, and some of us much more.
    Like you, I'm worried about my family, my friends and neighbours. I'm watching the news, scrolling through social media and consuming articles from scientists, scholars and doctors.
    The news coming out of Italy is truly heartbreaking. Doctors and nurses have to make life and death decisions daily as they wage war with the virus. Those of us in the UK and the USA are nervously watching the graphs climb in lockstep of Italy from just a few weeks ago.
    It would be easy to succumb to fear and withdraw completely.
    But as community leaders, we cannot.
    Let us take some inspiration from the brave people of Italy who have suffered much with an overstretched health care system and enforced quarantine yet still sing from their apartments in a display of resolve.
    In a time where we have to remain apart, we must come together.
    We have to keep showing up and leading.
    We must focus on what we still have and not what is being taken away.
    Now more than ever, we are needed to keep the world connected. To bring comfort; to support and to love each other.
    This year is going to test every one of us.
    But whatever comes our way, I know that we are stronger together.
    "Their faithful and zealous comradeship would almost between night and morning clear the path of progress and banish from all our lives the fear which already darkens the sunlight to hundreds of millions of men."
    Winston Churchill
  2. Like
    tonyv reacted to Joel R for an entry, The Paradox of Choice: Why A Major Retail CEO Spent His First 100 Days Thinking About Can Openers   
    CEO Mark Triggon, previously the chief merchandising officer at Target, laid out his plans to turn around the beleaguered American retailer Bed Bath & Beyond.  Part of that plan was reducing the number of can openers from 12 to 3. 
    Sales rose. 
    In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Tritton explained how tests conducted in his first few months at the company showed that less is more when it comes to product assortment.  “The big takeaway: Selling too many items in stores that are overcrowded leads to ‘purchase paralysis,” Mr. Tritton said. 
    Bed Bath & Beyond exploded across the American landscape in the 1990s and 2000’s with its focus on opening new “big box” stores for home merchandise where it was meant to be a category killer – consumers would shop in stores that offered them anything and everything.  It was famous for its floor-to-ceiling options, and a simple trip for a new shower curtain turned into a shopping spree for every room in the home.  In recent years though, that approach has soured on consumers.  A Business Insider reporter commented on her latest trip, “From our first steps in, the store was overwhelming. There was merchandise packed top to bottom on shelves that lined every wall.” 
    The tides have changed.  Consumers are being offered – and overwhelmed – with more choices than ever before.   
    PARADOX OF CHOICE
    One of the great benefits of the modern web is a proliferation of choice: choice in sprawling ideologies, choice in niche interests, and choice in shopping for thousands of products at a click of a button.  All of this, every day.  Unfortunately, that abundance of choice can stress and even paralyze our ability to make decisions. 
    Psychologist Barry Schwartz coined the term Paradox of Choice in a 2004 book by the same name, where he advanced the idea that eliminating consumer choices can reduce anxiety for shoppers.  In other words, instead of offering 12 options for can openers, offer 3 options.   
    What does this mean for online communities?
    LESS IS MORE
    Across the spectrum of communities and forums, some of the biggest critical mistakes are forum creep and feature bloat.  New features are mindlessly added thinking it will lead to higher engagement, new forums are added for every conceivable discussion, and design choices are automatically enabled at the default without aligning to your strategy. 
    Your initial goal is to sweep through your entire community and identify the areas that align with your community strategy.  For categories and boards that are low-value, low traffic, or not aligned with any strategic objectives, you should aggressively consolidate or eliminate. 
    There’s no hard rule when it comes to design choices, although 7 has been touted as a magic number for short-term human memory.  You can use this magic number across a range of design decisions. For example:
    At most 7 Reactions At most 7 Primary Menu options At most 7 major sections or content hubs THE JAM EXPERIMENT
    Choice overload can actually lead to less sales.  In 2000, psychologists Sheena Iyengar of Columbia University and Mark Lepper of Stanford University led a much-recited study where they presented passerbys at a food market with two tables: one with 24 fruit jams, the other with 6 jams. 
    The one with 24 different jams generated more traffic to sample and taste.  But guess which table generated more sales?  The other table with fewer jams, which had ten times more purchases!   
    The moral of the story? At junctures of your member journey where you ask users to make a critical decision such as user information when registering, subscriptions, or selling products, don’t be the table with 24 jams to sample, but never able to sell.      
    BIG BOX & SMALL BOX
    Invision Community offers an interesting approach where you can act like both a “big box” community for your general audience and still offer “small box” cohesiveness for more intimate groups. The feature is called Clubs, which empowers smaller groups to form and split off from the main audience.  This is an especially consequential feature for mature and large communities looking to organically cultivate their next generation of engagement.   
    Indeed, this is a trend happening in a large way among next-gen consumers, who are realizing the perils of broadcasting and oversharing.  In a 2019 white paper “The New Rules of Social” led by youth creative agency ZAK, nearly two-thirds of the under-30 respondents said they prefer to talk in private message rather than open forums and feeds. Facebook themselves launched head-first towards social groups back in 2016 after the US Presidential election.  In a 6,000 word essay called "Building Global Community," Zuckerberg sermonized on the importance of building connections in meaningful groups:
    Forum administrators on Invision Community have been building meaningful communities since day one. When properly deployed, Clubs will allow you to cultivate – and retain – users in a more focused environment without the distractions of your larger community. 
    CONCLUSION
    For community managers and forum administrators who have run their Invision Communities for many years, you know first-hand that the power of community doesn’t come from adding another feature, another board, or another category.  Happiness and fulfillment come from actually connecting with members, through education, enlightenment, problem solving, and teamwork.  Overloading your community with theme options, excess reactions, and overbuilt boards get in the way of your true goal. 
    Become the CEO to reduce the overwhelming options of can openers.  Sell more jam by offering less of it.  And unfetter yourself from unnecessary choices to discover a clearer connection to your members.   
     
    Executive Summary
    Bed Bath & Beyond CEO declutters stores, sales rise Concept of paradox of choice: users can become overwhelmed and stressed when presented with too many options Jam experiment: table with more jams gets more traffic, but table of less jams gets more sales For large and established communities, use Clubs to offer intimate and uncluttered experiences.
  3. Like
    tonyv 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!
    Who Reacted?
    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.

    Quote Collapse
    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!
  4. Thanks
    tonyv reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Security Enhancements   
    Although we continuously review security within Invision Community, a major release such as 4.5 allows us to be especially proactive when it comes to keeping your community safe.
    This blog entry outlines several enhancements to improve security in Invision Community 4.5.
    Password Handling
    Keeping your member's passwords secure is the simplest way to keep accounts safe and out of the wrong hands, so it makes sense to look at ways to ensure this doesn't happen.
    Invision Community already uses strong one-way hashing when storing passwords, which means that once the password is stored in the database, there is no way to know the plain text version.
    However, when creating a new member account via the AdminCP, a random password was created, and this was sent in the welcome email to the new member's email address.
    As of Invision Community 4.5, this no longer happens, and the new member is invited to create a new password when visiting the community for the first time.

    Part of your internal security procedures might be to force a reset of all passwords periodically. Invision Community 4.5 allows this on a per-member basis, or via a selection of filters to enforce a reset for many members at once.

    This clears out any stored password hashes and emails the affected members to remind them to set up a new password.

    AdminCP Security
    The Admin Control Panel contains the most powerful tools available to Invision Community. This is already a very secure area with a separate login with an option to add two-factor authentication to the login flow.
    Part of the session authentication has been a special key in the URL. While we have protection in place to prevent this special key being discoverable by a malicious user, there remains an incredibly remote theoretical chance that this could happen with a series of complicated steps. There was an additional annoyance that you are unable to share links within the AdminCP to members of your team due to the increased protection to keep URLs safe.
    As of Invision Community 4.5, we have removed the special key from the URL and moved it elsewhere in the session authentication flow. This means that it's impossible to fetch the special key via the URL and links can now be shared and will survive a login action.
    Text Encryption
    There are a few areas within Invision Community that we use text encryption to allow us to save data in the database in a format that is encrypted when saved and decrypted when read. This protects you in the incredibly remote event of your own hosting being compromised and your database downloaded (of course, our Community in the Cloud customers do not need to worry about this!)
    Invision Community 4.5 improves on this encryption by using PHP's built-in methods which give "bank-level" security to our encryption.
    Security is critical to the success of your community, and we are always proactive in improving security throughout Invision Community.
    Do you have any comments on this entry? Let us know below!
  5. Like
    tonyv reacted to Joel R for an entry, 10 Easy Steps to Successfully Grow Your Online Community   
    The goal of every client here in the Invision peer community, myself included, is to launch and run successful communities. 
    Whether I’m going to be able to achieve that success in the new year depends entirely on trying these 10 steps.  I know if that if I stick to these steps, then my community will grow – and I know if you follow along, your community will too. 
    10. Ignore Google
    Google makes me laugh; Google makes me cry; Google makes me want to pitch myself into the freezing icy waters of the San Francisco bay.  But focusing on Google’s up-and-down volatility isn’t what is going to make my community successful.  It’s a distraction, and at worst, a wrong commitment of attention. 
    9.  Remember My Past Sins
    I’ve made every mistake imaginable – including over-the-top themes, too many customizations, and chasing after dream goals.  The very worst is not making a database backup, then losing everything. Most of us came up through the School of Hard Knocks, and we should learn from those experiences.
    8.   Treat Every Person as Gold
    Members are the beating heart of your community, and are truly what makes your community special.  I’m committed to taking time out every day to message, comment, or reply to 3 new people to cultivate new relationships. 

    7.  Practice x3
    Nobody is perfect the first time they try something.  Thomas Edison famously stated that he found 10,000 ways for a lightbulb to not work, and 1 way that it did.  Whether you’re publishing new content or designing a template, refine it multiple times.   
    6.  Start as a Guest
    I don’t do this enough and I always find something surprising when I do. Either something is missing, something can be improved, or something is wrong.  The guest experience is the very first impression a visitor will have, and it can shape all of his future expectations. 
    5.  Less is More
    It’s easy to get sidetracked and to let your community get bloated with content and features.  It’s better to be amazing in one domain expertise: you offer the most authority, the most trusted content, the latest news, or the most comprehensive overview.  Excite members by being the best at what you do.  De-emphasize, consolidate, or archive everything else as needed.  
    4.  It’s Not the Feature; Its What the Feature Does
    It’s easy to think that because Invision Community ships with a new feature, then you should use it.  You don’t.  You should always pre-qualify the feature by asking how the feature can help you better engage with your community, how does it engage, and how can you customize the feature even better for your members?

    3.  Bring Your Superusers Along
    Even though I invite my superusers into a special private feedback group, I don’t leverage their knowledge, experience, or perspective enough. I recently asked for feedback about a particular feature, and it turns out none of them use it!      
    2.  Experiment & Learn
    There’s always something new to learn, explore, and implement.  It's my personal goal to enrich my personal skillsets in areas like leadership, team building, mentoring, emotional intelligence, organizational behavior, and psychology for more effective community management.  On the promotion side, you can learn about email marketing, digital marketing, social media, creating rich media, and more.  On the content side, you can always improve your content writing skills, emotive writing, keyword research, and the conversion of one content piece into multiple media and formats.  
    1.  Enjoy the Journey
    For any community admin who sticks with his community for several years, you can get burned out.  I know the feeling, and I like to periodically remind myself about what I enjoy running the community.  There’s so much to learn and do that it can feel overwhelming, so it’s important to take every day in 2020 one day at a time. 
  6. Like
    tonyv reacted to Andy Millne for an entry, 4.5: Blog Categories   
    Ever since Invision Community 4.x was launched you have been asking for the ability to categorize blogs in your community.
    We heard you loud and clear, but sometimes when a feature sounds straightforward, it requires some re-engineering of the framework. Because users in your community can create both blog entries and their own blogs to hold these entries, this was one of those areas.
    Starting with Invision Community 4.5 I’m pleased to announce that it is now possible for blog authors to categorize their blog entries and it's now possible for administrators to categorize blogs.

    Blog Entry Categories
    When creating a new blog entry, your members will now be able to create a new category for the entry or choose an existing one that had been created previously.

    Choosing your category when creating a new blog entry
    When a reader then visits the blog they can choose to display only those categories that interest them.

    Filtering by category
    Blog Categories
    Running a community where users can create their own blogs, you don’t only need to make sure individual pieces of content are categorized correctly, you also need to make sure the blogs themselves have a logical place. Well guess what? Now you can!
    As an admin you can now set up predefined categories in the control panel and Blog authors can then choose which one to create their new blog in.

    Managing blog categories
    We realize some of you have been waiting a long time to see these changes so we hope you enjoy this and everything else to come in Invision Community 4.5!
  7. Like
    tonyv reacted to Joel R for an entry, Happy New Year to the IPS Community   
    On behalf of the Invision Community staff and company, I'd like to wish our clients and community warm blessings and gratitude for the New Year.  
    We're proud to be the community platform of choice for you and your organization over the past year (or decade!), empowering you and your users with the space to debate, discuss, investigate, solve, innovate and celebrate a shared sense of purpose.  The ability to positively touch and connect with the lives of others regardless of location is one of the most transformative benefits of the modern web -- and there's never been a greater demand or need for online communities to connect members in an authentic, branded experience.  
    Your community is the gift that keeps on giving, and we're delighted to be a part of it. 
    Here's a round-up of the 2019's most visited, most commented, and most clicked-on articles from the Invision Community Blog:
    Invision Community managers use tools like Saved Actions and Auto Moderation to work smarter with 5 of the best time saving features Avoid the Engagement Trap, a never-ending race that measures all the wrong metrics in a community The crowd goes wild in the teaser announcement of the forthcoming mobile apps for iOS and Android Go back in a time machine with a Decade in Review - a celebration and testament to the enduring power of community.   Once again, may the magic and wonder of the holiday season stay with you throughout the year!
  8. Like
    tonyv reacted to Matt for an entry, Invision Community: A decade in review   
    When the clocks strike midnight on New Year's Eve, we will enter the third decade of producing Invision Community.
    A lot has changed since we set up in 2002. Our team has grown and our product matured. In a world where online startups explode and die within a few years, we're something of an anomaly.
    We still have the same love and passion for creating the very best tools to build a community, and we have always ensured that Invision Community is in touch with modern demands.
    This decade has seen Invision Community go from strength to strength. In 2010 we were one of many forum systems catering to smaller niche audiences. In 2019 we're powering discussion for many international and well-known brands.
    Online habits may have changed in this time, and social media may have swallowed up smaller informal communities, but the need for independent community platforms remains strong.
    2020 will see us release 4.5 which will bring another round of essential updates to existing features and a fresh batch of new features.
    But first, let us climb inside our Delorean, rewind the clock to 2010 and start from the beginning.
    As the sun rose on 2010, Bruno Mars was singing about parts of the human face in "Just the way you are", Katy Perry irritated Microsoft Word's spellchecker with "California Gurls", and CeeLo Green was trying to "Forget you" (at least in the radio edit).
    Christopher Nolan's boggled all our minds with Inception, James Franco lost the ability to clap in 127 Hours, and Colin Firth stammered his way through The Kings Speech.
    Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad to a collective snort, moderate derision and questions over just how useful a giant iPhone will be.
    President Obama, just a year into office warns of "Snowmageddon" that eventually dumps up to 40 inches of snow on the east coast of the United States.
    We lost comedy legend Leslie Nielsen (we'd never dream of calling him Shirley), and we gained a small child named Ryan who in just nine years would be earning $29,000,000 by opening boxes of toys on YouTube.
    62% of us were using Internet Explorer to the chagrin of most web developers who wished that Chrome's 5% market share was more significant.
    Facebook celebrated its sixth year by reaching 400 million users (a far cry from the 2.5 billion it currently has). Twitter, just four years old hits 30 million monthly active users (and none of them talked about fake news).
    And how about Invision Community?
    2010
    We hit 2010 running by releasing numerous updates on IP.Board v3.1, including finally using long-established web standards, and share features now that "social networking is all the craze these days" noting that "friends and colleagues often share similar interests, after all."
    How innocent we all were in 2010.

    IP.Board 3.0
    Back then, each product had its own name and release cycle. IP.Gallery's new features included being able to rotate images by 90 degrees. Honestly, people used to go crazy for this stuff.
    In May, we released a brand new application called "IP.Commerce". A few months later we renamed it "IP.Nexus" and years later, it was changed back to "Commerce". Naming things is hard.
    The announcement contained exquisite details such as "It's hard to say when it'll be available" and "we don't know how much it will cost". We were so sure that it would be accepted positively, we removed the ability to post comments to the blog entry.
    As summer turned to autumn and the end of the year loomed large, we released news about a significant update to Gallery called "IP.Gallery 4.0" which pre-dates Invision Community 4 and confused customers for years (so IP.Board 3 works with IP.Gallery 4, but IP.Board 4 works with Gallery 4?). Numbering things is hard too.
    The last blog entry was about an app called 'IP.SEO' that I had utterly forgotten existed. It was written by Dan who once locked Lindy out of his own datacenter, but we don't talk about that.

    I don't even remember this website
    2011
    Charles opens the year by managing expectations for IP.Board 3.2 by outlining our three key goals (promotion, usability and modernization). The last one was us removing the "back to top" button and then spending the next eight years explaining why we removed it.
    Our spam monitoring service processed 300,000 requests in the first two weeks of 2011. 30% of these requests were deemed to be spam and blocked (0.1% was probably an administrator registering 50 fake accounts before being banned from their own site).
    I posted about "exciting new technology" in our new "WYSIWYG" editor (although what you see is sometimes close to what you get) would be more appropriate but slightly less catchy. We spent the next eight years explaining why no one uses BBCode anymore to almost everybody.
    Brandon closed out the year with a blog promising "new toys" for IP.Content 2.3 (now called Pages, keep up!) which promises a "who's online" widget and a "shared media field" that was not only complicated to explain, but also use.

    IP.Board 3.2 in all its glory
    2012
    We start the year with news on IP.Board 3.3. This release was to feature essential updates such as the "Remember me?" checkbox on the login form and emoticons in signatures.
    Despite being constantly told that we don't take SEO seriously, we round up the latest serious SEO changes including tags, soft 404s and micro schema.
    We also celebrated our tenth year in business.
    Something terrible must have happened to one of our competitors because we asked if you'd like to switch to IPS.
    The year ends with IP.Board 3.4 being released for beta testing. This being a rare year where we release two major versions in less than 12 months.
    2013
    Brandon has eight coffees and tries to explain what it's like to be a developer: "us developers are a strange bunch. We have a lot of crazy thoughts that just don't make sense to anyone else. Our brains are wired differently. We get from point A to point B by going around point Z and bouncing off point M first.", he closes the blog entry by urging you to ignore us.
    The big news is that work on 4.0 is officially underway! Don't get too excited, releasing two major versions in 2012 clearly fatigued us as "IPS Community Suite 4.0" is not released until June 2015, over two years later.
    4.0 was our first complete rewrite in years. We threw out all our stable and tested code and started over with an empty editor. It was a vast undertaking that consumed us completely. The result was worth it as we had a new modern framework that still serves us today. But we're getting ahead of ourselves a little.
    Back in 2013, Mark talks about trees. Not the kind you find laying around in forests, but rather the programmatic type. It's just a way for Mark to show off how beautiful his code is.
    IP.Board 3.4 still gets many updates (along with IP.Gallery, IP.Blog, IP.Content, IP.Downloads and IP.Address (ok that last one was made up)).
    We spend the year talking about various new things in 4.0, including a new-new editor and various special features (and no one noticed we started calling it "IPS Social Suite 4.0" - it just rolls off the tongue!)
    I introduce the new theme engine for 4.0, and this time, my code is not deleted by Mark (true story).
    2014
    We didn't know it at the time, but 2014 was not the year that IPS Social Community Suite 4.0 (naming things is hard) will be released. Still, Rikki talks enthusiastically about "extending JS controllers and mixins"  a way of coding so complex, to this day you can count the number of people who truly understand it on one of Rikki's fingers because it's only Rikki that understands it.
    Determined not to be outdone in the confusing customers' stakes, I go on about how important it is to convert your database to UTF-8 when upgrading from 3.0.
    As 2014 neared its inevitable end, we did manage to put up a pre-release testing site and release Beta 1 a release so unstable; it makes the current political climate look absolutely peachy.

     IPS Community Suite 4.0 (Preview)
    2015
    Finally, the year that 4.0 is to be released! We released six betas and a few release candidates before nervously hovering over the 'release' button (actually it's a collection of git commands and 'to the letter' instructions I ignore).
    After a  year of training customers to call our forthcoming release "IPS Social Suite 4.0," we release it as "IPS Community Suite 4.0". Lindy writes a lengthy blog article that sounds like a cross between a technical discussion of the Brother 8987-A printer and an award acceptance speech.
    Quite frankly, after nearly two years of development, we're just relieved to have finally released it.
    The year is spent refining and fixing 4.0 and culminates in the news of 4.1, where we add activity streams and a menu manager. We also talk about the new-new-new editor.
    December 16th marks the time that IP.Board 3.4 officially dies as we declare it "end of life" and no longer support it. That shiny new release we were excited to talk about in 2012 is finally put out to pasture. The last we heard, IP.Board 3.4 moved to a farm and is doing well.
    2016
    Now that IP.Board 3.4 is end of life; we do the sensible thing and make a few minor IP.Board 3.4 releases to improve security.
    IPS Social.. sorry, Community Suite hits version 4.1.17 (confusing Lindy) before the year is done with many new improvements, including embeds, warning notes and the new leaderboard.
    We're still mostly undecided what to call the product, so we avoid trying in all our blog entries.
    In fact, looking back, it's quite remarkable how often we changed the name of our product. You'd be forgiven for thinking that it was a robust and well-considered attempt to prevent Google from serving up relevant search results and to confuse potential customers.
    We find time to update our own website and introduce a new developer's area.
    2017
    Barely 16 days into the new year, and we release news of the two-factor authentication feature added to IPS Community Social Invision IP.Board Suite 4.1.18.
    When spring has sprung, Charles drops the news that we're working on 4.2, the main feature being a screenshot of the Admin CP log in. We promise that you will love it and that it will be released mid-2017.
    Updates come thick and fast. Calendar event reminders, content messages, recommended replies, letter profile photos device management and delayed deletes all make the blog.
    Still not convinced that people take us seriously when we say we're committed to SEO, we post about more SEO improvements.
    This time, we talk about implementing JSON-LD, rich snippets, pagination tags and more.
    We also squeeze another one in about the new-new-new-new editor.
    We overhaul our own blog (using Pages because that's how we roll) and I start a hilarious series of blog entries where I troll our own team. Everyone including me loses interest early on in 2019.
    During April, we do the sensible thing and change the name of our product once more. IPS Community/Social Suite 4.1 is out, and Invision Community 4.2 is in.
    Just to recap: IBForums > IPB > IP.Board > IPS Social Suite > IPS Community Suite > Invision Community.
    You're welcome search engines!
    As promised, we release Invision Community 4.2 around the middle of the year. Well done, everyone! We finally hit a release date!
    As is now tradition, we end the year with news of our next big release Invision Community 4.3 (and tease the new emoji feature). We also calm nerves about Europe's endless fascination with regulation (it's this kind of joke that caused Brexit you know) and wrote up a guide on GDPR.
    2018
    Phew. We're almost there, dear reader. If you skimmed through most of the blog to this point and expected me to finish with a bang, you'll be disappointed.
    We start 2018 at full speed releasing feature news on Invision Community 4.3 including emoji, OAuth, community moderation, REST API, subscription manager, announcements and more.
    Oh and we hit our sweet sixteenth birthday in February!
    We release Invision Community 4.3 in April to rapturous applause after a short beta testing period. We all agree that 4.3 was a great stable release which instantly makes the developers nervous.
    Towards the end of the year, we announce that work has begun on Invision Community 4.4. We talk about new features such as GIPHY integration, AdminCP notifications, Post Before Registering, Commerce Updates and more.
    Still not sure if we care about SEO? Well, how about another blog entry on SEO?
    The only thing missing this year is a new update on our editor.
    2019
    And we arrive back home in 2019. A week into January and I pull the massive twist that we're using Invision Community 4.4 on our own community. It's not quite up there with "Bruce Willis is a ghost" though.
    In March we write up a case study on The Trevor Space, an LGBTQ charity set up to prevent suicide and to provide crisis intervention. TrevorSpace commends Invision Community for allowing anonymity online which isn't possible with social media.
    Rikki drops a bombshell in September when he announces that we're actively working on native iOS and Android apps for Invision Community. Apparently mobile is a thing now.
    November starts a series of blog entries talking about our new upcoming release, Invision Community 4.5. We talk about the Admin CP overhaul, Club Pages, RSS Feed Improvements and Club improvements.
    And here we are. Right up to date. This decade may have only taken us from IP.Board 3.1 to Invision Community 4.5, but it really has seen a massive change in the company we are, and the industry we are in.
    We have seen the inception, rise and stumble of social media. While it's true that forums are no longer the preserve of Star Trek fans obsessing over continuity errors and informal communities have been absorbed by Facebook and friends, spaces that you completely own to host discussions are still very much in demand.

    Invision "Chameleon" Community in 2019
    Over the past year or so we've seen a sustained rise in the demand for independent communities. Brands especially like that you own your data and can use it to gain insights into customer habits. Just this year, we've launched communities for LEGO, HTC, Sage, Mattel, Gibson Guitars, Squarespace, and many more.
    We are constantly evolving Invision Community (assuming we stick with that name) to be at the very centre of your online presence. We have tools to add discussion comments to any page of your site, to embed widgets with a few lines of code. We want to showcase your community throughout your site by adding multiple touchpoints to take your customers on a journey with you. Our native apps will offer new and exciting ways to interact with a community via new interfaces.
    As we move into our third decade, I can only see a resurgence for independent communities as we tire of the crushing intrusion of social media. We give away so much of our attention, time and information for very little reward.
    We have never been more divisive and fiercely tribal.
    It's time to come back together to discuss a topic with care and thoughtfulness. It's time to allow our personalities to take a back seat and let considered discussion live again.
    And we'll be here doing what we have always done; creating the very best community platform possible.

    I'd love to know when you joined us on this crazy ride. Was it before or after 2010?
  9. Like
    tonyv reacted to Joel R for an entry, 4x4 Superuser Concepts 🏅   
    Whether you call them Champions 🤩, Advocates 🌟, or Superusers 🏆, every community contains an elite group of members that carries 🏋 the community.  They don't just drink the kool-aid 💧.  They mix, chug, and swim 🏊‍♀️in the community kool-aid.
    Learn 🔢 four community management concepts about Superusers in less than 🕓 four minutes.
    1. 90-9-1 Rule (aka "1% rule"): The 90-9-1 principle refers to the lopsided inequality of user engagement that 90% of users are lurkers 🙈, 9% of members contribute from time to time 🙉, and 1% of users 😸 account for almost all contributions.  Superusers are the 1%.  
    2. Intrinsic Motivator: Motivation that comes from internal motivation💖, rather than any external rewards. This could be a sense of satisfaction 😃, pride 😤, ownership, loyalty, friendship 🤗, or other emotional and internal motivator.  Long-term superusers 🏃 are wired to intrinsic motivation.  Tapping into intrinsic motivation is key to providing new motivation for superusers.
    3. Spiral of Silence: Be careful ⚠️, however, that your superusers don't overwhelm 🛑 the conversation which can lead to the Spiral of Silence: a theory that as the vocal minority becomes louder 📢, other members adopt the same views or fail to share opposing views. You'll need to privately manage this vocal minority, especially if they're negative 💢.     
    4. Work Out Loud 💬: An engagement practice for superusers to visibly share 🗣 their work online in your community. It offers opportunities for superusers and members to openly share 👯 their knowledge, generosity, purposeful discovery, and growth ✨. Usually entire point ✴️ of communities of practice.
  10. Like
    tonyv reacted to Joel R for an entry, Responding to the Contact Form   
    Think about all the different touchpoints where you try to connect with members: forum discussions, blog comments, personal messages, email newsletters, weekly meetings, and perhaps offline events.  You write witty and clever messages. You dedicate an entire section of your community to welcome and hello topics.  You spend enormous amounts of time trying to elicit engagement from members. 
    What if I told you that there’s one touchpoint that you consistently overlook where members reach out to you, some for the very first time?   

    You receive messages every day and every week from users through the Contact Form.  It’s one of the most common touchpoints that you’ll ever experience with members.  Unfortunately, most admins gloss over messages through the contact form, because we think it’s secondary to the activity in the community.  That’s not true!  As a touchpoint to your community, the interactions through the Contact Form are as important as any other user-facing activity.  In fact, because members proactively reach out – some for the very first time – this is likely one of the biggest opportunities where you consistently under-engage.    
    It’s time to fix this gap.  Here are examples on how to effectively respond to 2 different types of messages from the Contact Form.  Let’s look at some sample responses with a fictional online community “Toronto Birding Society” (Note: I know nothing of birdwatching or Toronto). 
    Responding to Guidance Questions
    Many questions you receive through the Contact Form are “guidance” questions.  These are questions that ask about function and features such as “how to?” and “how do I?”  The tone is usually neutral, and the intent is positive (eg. to learn).
    These questions are easy-to-answer and the responses usually involve instructions, step-by-step details, and screenshots.  If you only respond to the specific inquiry, however, you miss out on all the potential of member growth: to affirm the relationship, recognize his contributions, instill community culture, and ultimately encourage the member to contribute in a more meaningful manner. 
    Example:
    Responding to Negative Sentiment Questions
    The next type of question you receive through the Contact Form are questions of “negative sentiment.”  These are questions that ask to cancel, terminate, or suppress various functions because the user would like to disconnect from the community.  Even though the tone is neutral, the intent is negative. 
    Just like before, the questions themselves are easy-to-answer.  However, if you took the inquiry at face value and answered the specific question, you end up losing the member!  Your goal instead should be member retention: to investigate why he wants to leave, to re-affirm the strength of the relationship, recognize his past contributions, invite the member to revisit, and ultimately deflect the original inquiry. 
     

    Conclusion
    Busy communities receive messages through the contact form daily and weekly.  They’re a recurring part of our community management that we consistently overlook.  It’s one of the greatest touchpoints you will ever have with a member, since the member is actively seeking growth (or regression) with the community.  Your responsibility is to nudge them in the right direction. 
    My recommendation is to write two templates: one for guidance questions, one for negative sentiment questions. This allows you to quickly provide a framework that can be filled in with personalized details. 
    Use your replies to contact form messages as a way to not only answer the specific question, but grow the member and progress them along the member lifecycle journey.    
  11. Like
    tonyv reacted to Matt for an entry, Ideation within Invision Community   
    Collecting, curating and organising ideas and feedback is a critical part of managing a community for a product.
    Even though here at Invision Community, we have a relaxed approach to ideation, we do read and review ideas and feature requests that come into us via our support community and via emails and tickets and organise them off-site.


    If you wanted to add more rigour to your ideation process, then Invision Community has built-in tools that you can use.
    This video covers setting up a "Question & Answer" forum, which forms the basis for your ideation section along with using the built-in translation tools to tweak the interface language.
    The complete process takes around five minutes and is the perfect way to collect and organise community ideas.
    Once you have it set up, your community members can post their ideas and fellow community members can upvote their favourite suggestions, leave comments on ideas and even upvote and downvote replies inside the idea.
    Let me know what you thought, and if you have any further questions below!
  12. Like
    tonyv 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!
     
  13. Like
    tonyv reacted to Joel R for an entry, Honor and Humiliation: Building Emotional Connection for Community   
    Emotion is energy in motion.
    Today’s article is the last element in our Sense of Community series, and it’s also the most powerful.  It allows new communities to win over legacy ones; niche communities to triumph over generic platforms; and impassioned communities to outlast everyone.  It’s also the hardest element to cultivate. 
    What is it? 
    According to a survey by psychologist Dr. Jenny Fremlin, shared emotional connection accounts for the single largest factor of community-building.  In fact, almost half of all respondents in her research identified shared emotional connection as the factor most important to their community. 
    How do you cultivate the principle of shared emotional connection?  
    New Members
    For new members, your goal is to initiate them in your community’s rituals and connect them with other outstanding members who will help reinforce your community’s spirit.   
    Induction – Joining your community should be the beginning of a member’s community story, which means leaving a part of himself behind and fostering a new selfhood for your community.  Make induction an important part of onboarding a new member.  Honor his new membership with community gifts.  Require him to fulfill rituals that are unique to your community.  Demand that he open himself to the community, the challenges he faces, and what he hopes to receive.  By doing so, you are asking the new member to invest a part of their emotional selves in the community from the very beginning. 
    Greater Contact – The more that people interact, the more likely they are to bond.  Just like in the real world when a new visitor walks into a room and no one talks to him, he’s likely to leave.  But if you can introduce him to other members, invite him to a table with other new members who also recently joined, or connect him with a mentor, then he’s more likely to stay.  You can accomplish the same in your community.  Connect members as much as possible, which spark new friendships. 
    Existing Members
    For existing members, deepen their sense of shared emotional connection with these strategies.
    Community Story – Develop a story for your community, a narrative that is being written by and for members.  It brings all members together in a common sense of history, and even though not all members may have participated the entire time, they identify with the story.  Why was your community founded? Are you tackling a challenge in the world?  Did you undergo a major obstacle? Are you aspiring to improve the world? Where are you going? Write down your past, present, and future and invite members into the living story of your community. 
    Community Projects – All too often, community admins launch projects on their own or with an inner circle of staff.  Launch a project that’s open to everyone, where all members can participate, give feedback, and contribute.  Define a beginning and end to the project, which helps members with closure and remembrance (“Did you remember the time when we helped on XYZ project?”) .
    Industry Changes – What are disruptions that are happening in your field or industry? Is it affecting anyone you know? How do you feel about it?  Is it positive or negative?  How significant is the change? Use these shared events to get people disclosing their emotions about these disruptions, which helps form an emotional connection with others who are experiencing the same.  The strongest bonds are among people who undergo a crisis together.    
    Honor & Humiliation – Finally, the personal growth of members is punctuated by the highs and lows of their membership from rewards that highlight special achievement to penalties that discipline bad behavior.  These moments of recognition and humiliation unlock joy and pain, which emotionally bond the member to your community.  The strongest emotional bonds are experienced by those who traverse the greatest emotional journey – they come to your community as immature or inexperienced, and through rewards and moderation, grow to become a better person through your community. 

    Members visit your community for all sorts of reasons.  But out of all reasons, one stands above all others: shared emotional connection. 
    There’s no one way to cultivating a shared emotional connection.  Every community will be unique. You and your Invision Community must write your own individual story, cultivate your own special volkgeist, and honor and humiliate members in your own extraordinary way. The energy and emotion of your community will be uniquely yours.  
    In the end, you want to foster your own “community of spirit” among members, an exceptional sense of purpose and friendship wrapped in shared emotion that no other community can match.
  14. Like
    tonyv 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.
  15. Like
    tonyv 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! 
  16. Like
    tonyv 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. 
  17. Like
    tonyv reacted to Joel R for an entry, Rewards & Reinforcement: Delivering Member Greatness in Online Communities   
    Bad communities promise great things to its members. Good communities offer great things to its members. Great communities fulfill the greatness of its members. 
    A primary purpose of every community is to fulfill the needs of its members.  A strong community will go beyond the immediate, basic needs and ensure that fulfillment is a positive experience.  By doing so, it builds in positive rewards and reinforcement for an enjoyable sense of togetherness. 
    One of the cornerstone ideas of behavioral sciences is reinforcement: delivering a positive experience to members through multiple dimensions.  Why they come, why the stay, and how to fulfill those needs is our third element of Sense of Community: Rewards & Reinforcement.   Discover all the ways to fulfill member needs for your Invision Community. 

    Fulfillment of Functional Needs               
    Your community must have a clear and unique purpose.  Your community must offer something valuable. And your community must solve a problem. 
    This is the prime reason why a user would visit you in the first place and how you fulfill his most basic needs. He searches for a question, and your community provides the answer.  Many communities build up their expertise through two ways:
    Crowd-source community solutions - You can highlight community-driven solutions in Invision Community to curate attention to the best answers.  Two of the most underutilized features are Content Messages and Recommended Replies, which allow moderators to showcase and explain great user content.   Bring experts into the community – Authoritative content should be posted and marked separately from regular user content.  You can accomplish this by giving experts a dedicated Blog, authorship in Pages, or enabling Post highlights.  Fulfillment of Personal Needs
    Beyond the fulfillment of basics needs, users want other wishes and desires. It’s impossible to identify all personal needs, but here are three of the biggest ones why users come together more: 
    Group Status – People like to be on the “winning team,” and community success brings group members closer together.  Highlight community success in your monthly newsletter or topic announcements.  Competence – People are attracted to others with skills or competence.  Introduce superusers and subject matter experts (SMEs) through interviews, team talk, or AMA topics ("ask me anything").   Rewards – Behavioral research shows that users gravitate toward groups that offer more rewards.  Use tools like the Leaderboard, Group rank, Badges, and Reputation for extrinsic motivation that excite users and make them feel special.    Fulfillment of Shared Values
    Society and our upbringing instruct us in a set of shared values.  We bring those values into our online communities because they provide a framework of how to address our emotional and personal needs and the priority in which we address them.  When users with shared values come together, they’re more receptive to helping others with the same value system:
    A Values Statement: Make it a point to identify the shared values in your community, in Guidelines or on a separate page.  Affirm those principles in your interactions and, in difficult situations, frame your decision by referencing your community values.  Private communities with high engagement usually have the strongest statements of values.  Process vs. Outcome: How you answer is just as important as the answer. If you run a community that is technical, offers customer support, or involves lots of questions-and-answers, the process by which you arrive at the solution can help other users troubleshoot similar but different problems.  Reinforce the solving process, and you’ll discover users will feel better about sharing their knowledge even if they don’t know the exact answer.    Fulfillment by Networking
    Groups will naturally coalesce into smaller groups, as people find other people that they enjoy and who fulfill their own needs.  Strong communities find ways to fit people together. 
    Multiply Relationships: The sooner you can build relationships among members, the stronger those members will feel towards your community.  In my community, I’ve created an “Ambassador” task force that welcomes new members to build personal relationships as soon as possible.  Be a Networker: One of the virtues of being a community manager is that you’re normally introduced to the greatest number of people.  Use your personal network within the community to connect two users together, bring other users into a conversion, or tap the expertise of others to help answer user questions.  CONCLUSION

    There’s an Arabian proverb that says, “A promise is a cloud, fulfillment is rain.”
    Make it rain. Find ways to fulfill the greatness of your members, unleash a tidal wave of rewards and reinforcement that touch upon all the functional, personal, communal, and social needs of your members in the ultimate approach to  member fulfillment. Build not just a good community, but a great one.   
  18. Like
    tonyv 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?
  19. Like
    tonyv reacted to Joel R for an entry, The Power of Influence: Building Trust and Governance in a Community   
    Communities are bound by a code of conduct that govern user behavior. 
    Sometimes these rules are explicitly written, such as terms, guidelines, or my personal favorite: “Must Read Before Posting Or Banned!!!” topics. (That’s a joke.  Please don’t ever write a topic like that!)  Sometimes the rules are unwritten, based on evolving behaviors and user-to-user interaction.  No matter the method of conduct or scale of communication, all communities contain these community guideposts that govern user behavior. 
    Being able to influence, and being influenced by, these rules of conduct is our second element of Sense of Community. 

    Community Managers. The original influencers.
    The privilege to persuade is a powerful feeling.  It fills users with a sense of control, knowing that they can impact others.  It gives purpose to users, who will tap into their inner helpfulness by assisting others. And it imparts a sense of satisfaction, which is one of the highest transcendent values a user can feel. 
    It also leads to a better community. Over time, the mutual interaction between members builds trust, forming a community of authenticity where users can expect repeatable and expected behaviors.  It also leads to good governance, where members embrace the codes of conduct by the group, inculcate the code into their own behaviors, and repeat the code to newer members – reinforcing the very codes they learned themselves. Members conform to community rules and standards, sacrificing a little bit of their own individuality but gaining acceptance by the community. 
    Clearly, influence and persuasion is a powerful element.  Let’s take a look at some ways in which you can build a better community by unlocking the power of influence. 
    1. Show New Members How to Influence
    If your community is anything like mine, you have a welcome topic or message: Do this, read, that, follow this. It’s usually filled with stuff to influence the member. 
    But have you thought about giving the new member an opportunity to influence? And not just in a superficial manner like posting an Introduction topic, but one that’s filled with meaning and purpose.  In addition to linking to the best guides and expert content in your community, ask your users to help other members, answer challenging topics, or identify any skills that can help others. 
    2. Influence through explanations
    Have you seen communities where the moderators take heavy-handed actions and do things without prior notice? Or they assume you know everything?  It feels rude, unwelcoming, and very cliquish. On the other hand, I’ve also seen communities where the moderators and community managers take the time to explain every response.
    When you take the time to explain the response, you share your reasoning with others.  That’s influence.  Over time, users will turn around to repeat the reasoning to others, which builds good governance.  (It also means less work for you!).  Communities are built on transparency and trust, and the more you can openly establish your community norms, the more clearly other users can repeat and reinforce your governance.
    3. Be influenced by asking for help
    One of the most powerful and uplifting things you can do is to ask your members for genuine help.  Be candid.  Be vulnerable.  Explain the challenge. And ask for help.  You will find members who will rise to the occasion. 
    Humans are naturally compassionate.  We will always help others if we can and communities are one of the best platforms to ask and receive help.  If you ever make a mistake, take on a big project, or if you’re ever in over your head, don’t be afraid to ask for help and allow others to influence you. 
    4. Influence as a privilege
    One of the stellar reasons for choosing Invision Community are the multiple ways to publish content.  You can offer user albums, polls, blogs, articles, discussions, files, clubs, the list goes on.  This allows you to offer increasing channels of influence for your superusers. 
    Unfortunately, most communities throw all the choices at a new user, hoping one will stick.  That’s like asking a new member who steps into a room of strangers if he wants a microphone, a loudspeaker, and a spotlight!  That can be scary. Influence is something to be gained over time, in small bits of comfort and trust.
    5. Appreciate the influence. 
    One of the most inspiring actions you can do as a community manager is to acknowledge and appreciate the influence of others.  When you do, you affirm the influence of others.
    It's one of the simplest things you can do too.  Pick three random post by members on your site and reply: “I appreciate this contribution because …”.  You’ll be surprised by how well members respond to your note of appreciation. 
    CONCLUSION

    The best influencers are the members who care about the needs and wants of other members.
    The power to influence is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your members. By allowing them to influence other members, the codes of conduct, and even the direction of your community, they feel a deeper sense of community because they can make an impact on others.
    The most influential members in a community are surprisingly not the ones who post the most or who act the most dominant.  The best influencers are the members who care about the needs and wants of other members.
    Share in the comments below one of your success stories on how you influenced – or were influenced by – another member.   As always, I appreciate your contribution to join me in helping Invision Communities of all sizes build more rewarding and successful communities.
  20. Like
    tonyv 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
    Content is the life-blood of any community. Content is what is posted by your members, and by your team. In the early days, you'll need to seed discussions and respond to customers posts regularly. It's important to demonstrate that you're actively involved with the community and encouraging others to post and extend discussions. Over time, user-generated content will begin to propel your community forwards.

    A great way to bring in new users is to write valuable articles using Pages, or the Blog apps. Writing about issues relevant to your community can help position you as an expert and will be shared widely by your community.
    You don't have to be an expert writer to create articles. There are free apps such as Grammarly to help polish your prose.
    A great way to quickly generate new content is to quote other news sources and offer your own commentary.
    For example, if your community is based around TV shows, right now you could easily create a new article for your site based on Game of Thrones by quoting a small part of two or three existing articles denouncing how the quality of writing on Game of Thrones has slipped and offer your contrasting thoughts.
    Just remember to link back to the original article and check the source site to make sure they are happy for this to happen. HubSpot has a great article on how to quote without stealing.
    Traffic
    To really start building your community, you need a steady flow of visitors from outside sources. The content you create will drive traffic into your community, but it sometimes needs a helping hand.
    Content from inside established communities can drive millions of impressions a month from search engines.
    It's worth making sure you're making good use of the built-in SEO tools. We recently performed a thorough review of how Invision Community optimises for SEO including adding features such as lazy loading.
    It is also a good idea to put your community link in your email signature, and share it widely via social media.
    A good number of our successful community owners have created a Facebook page, and a Twitter account for their community and share their best content over those social channels.
    Email is still a very powerful tool for creating an audience. We send out a monthly newsletter here at Invision Community, and articles we share with it are viewed at least four times as much as other articles.
    Engagement
    Once you have a steady stream of visitors consuming content on your site, you need to engage them to convert them from a casual visitor to a registered member, and then beyond.
    The first step is to get your visitor to register. While we recommend you make many forums open for guest viewing, we do recommend that you ask for guests to register before posting.

    We recently added a new feature called 'Post Before Registering' that allows guests to reply and sign-up in one simple activation flow.
    Most members initially join for selfish reasons. Perhaps they have a broken iPhone and want to ask for help. Or perhaps they came to ask how to fix a code problem. Generally speaking, they do not join out of altruism and a strong desire to help others.
    To convert a one-time poster to a regular contributor can take some work. Ensuring the default notifications include email when a new post is made will help encourage the poster to return. You can also tag the member in other discussions you feel may be interesting to them.
    We recently added a few new engagement features that also showcases other interesting content in notification based emails.
    Taking the time to welcome the member, and showing them how to access the best from your community can go a long way to making your site stand out.
    Taking the time to focus on these three core elements will help your community grow and prosper. You may not see overnight results, but over time you will start to see a huge difference in visitors, registrations and returning members.

    That wraps it up for this article. We'd love to know your thoughts on our suggestions and any strategies that you've used in the past that have worked well.
  21. Like
    tonyv reacted to Matt for an entry, The benefits of owning your data   
    I noticed something new in the chiller cabinet at the petrol station after filling yesterday.
    Bottles of Grape Fanta sitting alongside the more mundane and pedestrian drinks such as Coke Zero and Pepsi Max.
    I grabbed two bottles.
    After draining one in record time, I googled around to see where I could get more of this delicious nectar, and it discovered that it's a new flavour being launched in the UK.
    The really interesting thing was that Coca Cola used data stored in the self service machines that offer different flavours (such as those at cinemas) to determine which new flavours to bring to the market.
    Grape was the second most popular flavour after regular orange, so the company knew they had a market ready for premixed bottles.
    In a world where we fear what Big Tech does with our data, it's easy to forget that data has a valid use in your business.
    It's why we make it clear that with Invision Community, you own your data. We just look after it for you.

    This gives you the freedom to discover new trends within your business and use them to drive sales.
  22. Like
    tonyv reacted to Matt for an entry, Which hat do you wear?   
    A successful community manager is a combination of so many things.
    Being a successful community manager demands that you be a multi-faceted person and to apply a dynamic personality to a position that’s always in flux.  You’re the authorized ambassador of your organization; you’re the chief moderator who sets and enforces community guidelines; and you’re the counselor and friend to all of your peers in the community.  You may also be the one who updates your community suite, approves members, and manages the moderator team.  Oh, and you find time to be the social media coordinator, digital designer-in-training, and all-around fantastic human being.
    You wear many hats and it can be challenging to juggle all of those hats. So what do you do?
     
    Take a breather.  The good news is that you don’t have to wear all the hats, all the time.  My head used to spin at the sheer amount of work that I faced as a solo community manager - especially when my community first started out – and I didn’t have a disciplined approach to community management.  I didn’t even know what hats to wear!
    Over time, I’ve learned that there are specific ‘hats’ to community management.  The best way to figure out which hats to juggle?  Determine which hats are most important to you, which hats to wear for a specific goal, and which ones to swap out as your needs change.  Create the change you believe in by wearing the right hat.
    Evangelist
    No matter the niche or industry, you should be a self-professed evangelist who is passionate and always learning about the topic.  This personal interest will shine over time with your expertise in helping other users, bringing in new members with your helpful knowledge, and focusing discussion to evolving trends.  You’re trusted as a leading voice of the community and your organization, and you can use your expertise to spread the positive impact of your organization’s mission.  
    User Advocate
    You’re passionate about your users because you understand that the beating heart of your community is the valuable feedback, peer support, and testimonials that your users provide. You’re a champion of nurturing a positive and supportive community that’s aligned with your organizations’ goals.  Customer service is a vital component to your team’s community outreach.
    Digital Marketer
    An effective community manager will engage people, even outside of the community.  This means being a leading voice on external sites like blogs, partner communities, social media, industry events, and professional organizations.  It extends the reach of your organization through non-traditional marketing and gives you and your community an online impact in relevant areas.
    Relationship Builder
    Part of your job is to be a networker for all the people around you and to be a bridge for authentic relationships.  You want to listen to the ensuing conversations happening around your product, company, or industry, then add value and build relationships with key stakeholders both online and in-person.  It’s especially important to build meaningful relationships within your organization to advocate for your organization’s mission through your community.
    Suite Administrator
    Finally, you should be an expert in Invision Community to leverage the built-in tools.  Invision Community makes it easy for community managers of all technical backgrounds to get started and run successful communities.  The more you learn of the Administrator and Moderator functionality, the more effective you become in supervising your community staff and driving your organization’s success.
    Community Management is one of the most exciting and rewarding roles in the modern web.  It’s a position that’s filled with dynamism and people, and you grow yourself in ways that you never imagined.  An effective community manager needs to extend herself by trying on new hats.  And while some of these hats may be new to you at first, I encourage you to try all the hats and slowly develop your expertise in these new roles over time.  Putting on more hats is the first step to becoming a more valuable and effective community manager.
      
    What hat do you wear today, and what hat do you want to wear tomorrow?  No matter which new role you decide to embark upon, hats off to you for stepping up and growing yourself as a community manager.  

    Joel R is a mystery wrapped inside an enigma. When he's not running his own successful community, he's peppering Invision Community's private Slack channel with his feedback, community management experience and increasingly outrageous demands (everything is true except the last part).
  23. Like
    tonyv reacted to Matt for an entry, Guest Blog: Joel's 5 Secret Interface Tips   
    Yet again, Joel hijacks our company blog for another generous slice of knowledge from the front-lines of administrating a successful community.
    Inspired by Invision Community client @Joey_M who discovered the emoji of serendipity and chief architect @Matt who literally knows everything about Invision Community in ACP Tips and Tricks, they both made me realize there’s always something to learn no matter your level of experience. 
    You know how to post.  You know how to react.  You sometimes spice it up and make a poll.  And for the most part, you and your users go about your forum lives with a secure sense of certainty and satisfaction that you know how to interact with your community.
    But what if I told you there’s a whole world of wonder at your fingertips, young grasshopper?  Your Invision Community includes stars to navigate by; magical pictures that appear and disappear; and little yellow men who giggle, laugh, and sometimes roll over in delight. 
    Here are 5 hidden tips to help you discover a little more of the IPS magic for you and your users.  

    How do you know what you don’t know?
    1. Click-and-hold
    Be sure to dazzle your users with this secret way of changing your content title.  Change titles of your content items such as topic titles, album titles, and download files by using the click-and-hold strategy. Go to your forums and click-and-hold down the mouse over any topic title until you see that you’re able to edit the title.  Surprise! Use this secret strategy as the perfect way to quickly mass edit titles.

    Click-and-impress your users with the click-and-hold strategy
    2. Stars and Dots
    Active forum users jump around dozens of boards every day to stay involved.  And within a loooong topic with many pages, you need a fast way to jump to the most recent unread topic.  Before each topic is an icon: either a dot or a star.  Clicking these icons will always jump you to the latest unread post, so you can quickly dive back into the conversation.  Dot means unread; Star means you participated in the topic.

    My forum icon constellation tells me that I’m most compatible with a Capricorn.
    3. Emoji Short-codes
    One of the newest features to be included in Invision Community is emojis.  While there are ways to insert emojis from both mobile keyboards and the editor, you can also start typing “:thumbs up:” to reveal the secret emoji menu.  Try it now in the comments of this article. Last person to give me an emoji thumbs up wins! 

    Be a 💯 with 🙂 
    4. Image Attachments
    Forum posts come alive with image attachments that add color and vibrancy. But adding thumbnails to the bottom of your posts is a missed opportunity to enrich your post at the appropriate spots within the post.  After you upload an image attachment to a forum post, double-click on the image attachment.  You’ll be presented with a secret menu with options to align and resize, so you can create stunning forum posts with images.

    Much color. Much alignment. So much wow.
    5. Profile Banners
    Banners play a prominent part in multiple parts of the community, such as the Calendar, Profile, Clubs, and Blogs.  But usually the page only displays a portion of the banner, and most of the banner is hidden.  If you ever want to see the full banner in all of its glory, click near the top of the banner to auto-magically reveal everything!  Now you see, now you don’t.  

    The iceberg is a metaphor
    How many of these five secret tips did you know?
    If you knew all five, give yourself a round of applause!  It’s rare for even the most seasoned Invision Community administrator to know all five, and you’ve mastered them all.
    Did you know four?  Congrats, you’ve done a great job of exploring your community suite and you should keep it up.
    Did you know three or less?  You should do some serious soul searching. Kidding. 
    But it’s a definite sign that your soul would benefit from reading Invision Community News for more useful tips.  
    Becoming a great community manager is a combination of community strategy and product knowledge.  By empowering yourself with more functional knowledge and tools, you’re giving yourself the ability to leverage a bigger toolkit.  Whether you’re typing emoji short-codes to laugh with your members or inserting attachments into a tutorial on hidden tips for your community, I hope you learned something new, something surprising, and something perhaps even a little wonderful. 
    Let us know in the comments below what hidden tip surprised you the most.     
  24. Like
    tonyv reacted to Stuart Silvester for an entry, 4.3: Announcements   
    We have a very important announcement to make!
    There are times where you need to get the attention of your visitors. You might be closed on certain days of the year, performing server maintenance (if you are consider our Cloud Plans, they're excellent) or running a competition.
    Invision Community has always had an announcements feature baked in, but we felt it could be improved.
    Okay, maybe this feature isn't as flashy as some of the others we're introducing in 4.3, but these useful features should make managing your community easier.
    The new look announcement feature replaces the old widgets enabling you to display customisable announcements in any of the following locations;
    Top of the page Above the page content In the sidebar
    The three new announcement locations
    Each location has some slightly different features; the page top banner is dismissible by the member if they no longer want to see it, whereas the banner above the content and the sidebar announcements cannot be dismissed.
    Most of the original customisable features are still available, including the ability to select which applications and pages show certain announcements and which member groups can see them. Combining this with the three new locations gives you much more flexibility for different types of announcements and we've also included the option to customise the color of the announcement.

    New customisable options
     
    The announcements have also been improved to contain more information. Rather than showing an unformatted snippet along side the title, announcements can now be tapped to open a modal showing any further details.

    Modal showing announcement content
    We hope you'll enjoy these useful improvements in Invision Community 4.3. Stay tuned for further announcements (pun intended)!
  25. Like
    tonyv reacted to Matt for an entry, Video Tip: Create a homepage in under 5 minutes with Pages   
    We often get asked how to create a portal-like home page for a community.
    A homepage has many benefits including:
    Showing your best content first
    By using the "Our Picks" blocks, you can display your best content first. This content sets the tone for the site and will encourage engagement across your site.
    Display multiple areas of the suite
    Each application has its own feed blocks that can be used to display content on the home page. If your members use Gallery heavily, then showcase those photos on the homepage. If you use Calendar a lot to schedule events, then show event feeds.
    By displaying feeds to content is a great way to showcase all areas of your site on a single page.
    Reduce confusion
    For those of us that grew up with forums are used to viewing a list of categories and forums. We find it easy to scan the list of forums and dip into the ones that interest us.
    For those that are not so familiar, a homepage displaying easily accessible content reduces the confusion and invites true content discovery.
    In this short video, we show you how to create a homepage in under 5 minutes using the Pages app.
    Pages is available with all Cloud plans and is available to purchase when buying a self-hosting license.
     
    This video shows:
    How to set Pages as the default application How to create a Page Builder page How to configure blocks to fine tune the feeds As you can see, it's a straightforward task, and you do not need to know any programming or design to create a compelling homepage.
    Do you have a homepage like this? We'd love to see it!
     
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