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  1. Like
    media reacted to Matt for an entry, Updates to our community   
    You’ve probably already noticed that something looks a little different in our community today.
    As part of our ongoing community improvements, we’ve performed some housekeeping to streamline the forum structure, make more distinction between areas and open up a few areas to guests and friends.
    The big visual change is that we now have four separate areas: support, community, marketplace and developers. It should hopefully be clear what each section does, but let's go through a few examples.
    Support
    This area is where you can leave feedback on existing features, help shape Invision Community’s future by suggesting new functionality and also where you can get quick support from fellow Invision Community owners and our team.
    Starting today, you can post in the Help & Support forum to get help from our team. If you’re unsure what a feature does, or think you’ve spotted an issue that needs our help, then you’re welcome to start a topic. Of course, if you want private support, then you are welcome to create a ticket in the client area as normal.
    Community
    Even the most seasoned community manager needs a little help from time to time. This section is the place to ask about strategy, to blow off steam in the lounge or to ask for fellow owners to help with support requirements outside of official support, such as configuring servers, databases and so on.
    Marketplace
    Our Marketplace brings hundreds of new features, themes, language translations and plug-ins to your Invision Community. If you need support or have a request for something you’ve purchased from the Marketplace, drop into the forums here.
    Developers
    Invision Community is blessed with a strong developer community extending the rich functionality of Invision Community. If you’re looking to develop an idea for Invision Community, these forums will let you connect with our development team to answer questions as well as get help from other marketplace authors.
    Other Changes
    There are a few other changes of note that I’d like to go through. Firstly, ‘Visitors’ (that is a registered member without an active license) are now ‘Friends’. Who doesn’t need new friends? Guests and Friends can now view the official support forums, but cannot post a new support request or reply to existing ones.

    We’ve merged ‘General Chat’ in with the Client Lounge to form ‘The Community Managers’ Lounge’. This is still a perk for active customers and the topics are not viewable unless you have an active license.
    Finally, we’ve gone through and spruced up some of the forum rules, descriptions and custom error messages.
    I hope these changes make it easier to find what you need and get a little help when you need it.
     
  2. Like
    media reacted to bfarber for an entry, Solved Content Improvements   
    For a long time, Invision Community has supported a Question and Answer mode within the Forums application which allows a reply to be flagged as the "best answer" to the question posed. With the release of 4.5, we also introduced a way to allow topics to be marked as "solved" which introduces similar functionality without transforming the look and feel or other behavior of the forum itself.
    Based on the popularity of this new addition in 4.5, we have made some further improvements to solved topics and answered questions in our next release.
    Notification to topic/question starter
    While notifications were available to the poster who answered a question or solved a topic with the release of 4.5, this release also adds notifications for the topic or question starter so that they can be made aware that an answer is available to their question.

    Topic and question starters now get notifications for solutions
    AdminCP Statistics
    Solved topics and answered questions provide for measurable statistics that can help you determine the health and direction of your community, particularly for support communities. To that end, we have introduced two new content statistic blocks that can help you measure how well areas of the community that support answers and solutions are faring.

    New AdminCP statistics
    You can now quickly see the percentage of topics/questions that have been solved (relative to the total number posted in areas that support solutions), as well as the average time it has taken for a solution to be marked on a topic or question (relative to the time the topic or question was initially posted). These statistic blocks support time period filter, time period comparisons, and node filtering to narrow down the statistical data for your specific needs.
    User profile enhancements
    User profiles now show the number of solutions the user has posted, and also allows you to view all of those solutions, in a manner very similar to reputation.

    Prolific problem solvers will now be called out boldly

    Answers can be quickly found on user profiles
    These improvements should help reward the most helpful users on your community by giving them more prestige and helping other users find their answers quicker.
    Collectively, we hope that these changes make the question and answer and topic solution features in the Forums application more useful for your community members, and the administrators behind the community.
  3. Like
    media reacted to Matt for an entry, Community is your competitive advantage   
    Moats have been used for centuries as a way to defend a building from potential attack.
    A flooded ditch around a castle is a great way to make it harder to be taken. You can't push battering rams against walls, and neither can you dig under the castle. Quite frankly, a moat is a pretty decent deterrent when there are plenty of other castles to pillage.
    What does this mean for your business?
    A community can be an economic moat, or in more simple terms, your competitive advantage.
    When your product or service is surrounded by an engaged community that feels invested in your brand, you'll be able to resist challenges from competitors looking to tempt your customers away.
    Humans are social creatures, and we love seeking out and joining a tribe that aligns with our values. The intangible value of belonging creates a sense of momentum for your brand and helps champion it to others.
    The statistics back this strategy; 88% of community professionals said in a recent survey that community is critical to their company's mission and 85% said that their community has had a positive impact to their business.[1]
    Your competitive advantage
    One of the cheapest ways to create momentum for your product is to build a community around your startup. A community is much more than a one-time marketing campaign and can help you throughout your company's life cycle if you take the time to grow it right. [2]
    Creating a buzz around a product can take a lot of time, effort and money. 
    Traditionally, this buzz would be created with a mixture of videos, websites, influencer reviews, and heavy advertisement spends across multiple channels, including social media.
     Your community can create a shortcut and reach an audience without those costs and increase the chance of your product being shared virally. 
    Your community creates a bond over a shared interest that continually re-enforces loyalty to your brand. This creates a personal investment which makes it less likely your customers will try a competitor.
    Put simply, if a company can move from just shipping a product to building a community, it can benefit from several competitive advantages such as:
    Engaged members help acquire new members, lowering the cost for customer acquisition. Increased customer retention through community loyalty. Members won't want to abandon the community they enjoy. Reduced support costs as members support each other. This benefit forms a loop that generates more value as the community grows.

    Brand building 
    Another area of opportunity for social marketing is "brand building" - connecting enthusiastic online brand advocates with the company's product development cycle. Here, research becomes marketing; product developers are now using social forums to spot reactions after they modify an offer, a price, or a feature in a product or service. Such brand-managed communities can have real success. One well-documented example is IdeaStorm, Dell's community discussion and "brainstorming" website, which saw a measurable increase in sales following its launch, by providing a forum for meaningful dialogue and "to gauge which ideas are most important and most relevant to" the public. [3]
    By creating a community around your product or service, not only do you create brand advocates, but you also gain powerful insights into what your customers want through research which drives marketing. 
    Consumers today crave a stronger bond with brands. It's no longer enough to give them a customer support email address and a monthly newsletter. They want a much more in-depth interaction with the company and other users of the product or service.
    One tactic for success is for brands to move away from the hard-sell to instead embrace the notion of "co-creation". This means moving beyond "old-school" approaches to website advertising to embrace the principles of relationship marketing - building virtual environments in which customers can connect with each other to share insights and relevant information.
    To capitalise on currently available opportunities, marketers need to find or establish real brand communities, listen to them, and then create special programs and tools that will empower potential and existing community members, rewarding existing consumers and eliciting behavioural change from potential consumers. [3]
    Evernote, the note-taking app, is a great example. Their lively community encourages customers to interact directly with staff, post their wish-lists for future versions and learn more about what happens behind the scenes.
    The community creates evangelists for Evernote and makes it harder for competitors to gain a foothold with a potent mix of dialogue, access to other customers, transparency from the brand and many opportunities for co-creation of content.
    Co-creation fundamentally challenges the traditional roles of the firm and the consumer. The tension manifests itself at points of interaction between the consumer and the company where the co-creation experience occurs, where individuals exercise choice, and where value is co-created. Points of interaction provide opportunities for collaboration and negotiation, explicit or implicit, between the consumer and the company.
    In the emergent economy, competition will center on personalized co-creation experiences, resulting in value that is truly unique to each individual. [4]
    In simple terms, a community allows your customers to feel closer to your brand and the products you sell.

     
    What are you waiting for?
    Nearly 80% of founders reported building a community of users as important to their business, with 28% describing their moat as critical to their success.[1]
    Our team at Invision Community has over two decades of community building experience and are trusted by brands of all sizes.
    Whether you have an existing community, or you're taking your first steps to create your own, our experience and expertise will guide your success.

    [1] https://cmxhub.com/community-industry-trends-report-2020
    [2] https://viral-loops.com/blog/your-company-needs-a-pre-launch-campaign/
    [3] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268200746_Social_media_and_its_implications_for_viral_marketing#read
    [4] https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~jhm/Readings/Co-creating unique value with customers.pdf
  4. Like
    media reacted to Matt for an entry, 3 lessons content creators can learn from conspiracy theories   
    Conspiracy theories have roots in the 19th century and have been popular for decades. Until recently, conspiracy theorists have lived in the margins. They are often convinced the earth is flat, Lee Harvey Oswald didn't act alone, and the moon landings were faked in a Hollywood sound stage.
    More recently, with 9/11 and the coronavirus pandemic, these conspiracy theories have become more mainstream, with celebrities and politicians sharing them over their official social media channels. From the evil machinations of Bill Gates, the rise of QAnon, to the conflation that 5G is responsible for spreading coronavirus, it's hard to ignore the impact they have in creating misinformation which undermines attempts at effective communication from governments and public health bodies.
    Despite reams of facts, logic and critical thinking, those that follow conspiracy theories will not be budged from their positions. They trust their sources implicitly, and a mountain of research disproving the argument does not interest them.
    The number of people that succumbs to these narratives grows every day. When you consume the content shared by the primary sources of this misinformation, it's easy to see why.
    Conspiracy theories are created and shared in a way that is engaging and irresistible to many seeking stability in a confusing world. Whatever your position is on these conspiracy theorists, you can leverage these tactics to make your own content more engaging and shareable.
    Lesson 1: Make it emotive
    Human beings have two distinct and independent thinking centres in the brain. One works on emotion (the limbic system) and the other on logic (the neocortex).
    The emotional brain works much faster than the logical brain. It is what has kept us alive as a species. If you hear a loud bang, your emotional brain processes this first and triggers the urge to move before your logical brain kicks in and deduces the bang was from a book expertly pawed from its shelf by your cat.
    The emotional brain is continually processing the world, and even though it's part of you, you do not have much control over it. Your logic brain, however, works on facts, truths and analysis.
    When you watch harrowing whistleblower testimony telling of their suffering in a conspiracy theory video, your emotional brain is powerfully stirred.
    It's why challenging conspiracy theorists who are emotionally committed to the point of view with just logic often fails. The emotional commitment is incredibly powerful, and when you challenge them, the logic brain is short-circuited, and the emotional brain becomes defensive. In fact, the more logic and evidence you provide, the more the emotional brain digs in and refuses the new evidence.
    How can you use this to your advantage?
    Work on creating an emotional response with your content. Don't purely rely on facts and logic to persuade your audience. Try and evoke an emotional reaction through imagery, metaphors and similes.
    President Obama was a powerful orator and used emotion often to create a strong message. When he spoke of investing in education, he invokes emotion by saying "We believe that when she goes to school for the first time, it should be in a place where the rats don't outnumber the computer."
    Lesson 2: Tell a story
    Conspiracy theory videos don't just reel off a list of events and facts, they tell a story. Some of the more complex theories are akin to a sprawling TV series with several characters linked by circumstance.
    Humans have always been curators of stories. From religious texts to morality fables, we learn and process the world through stories. Stories are memorable. Most adults can recite fairytales read to us when we were children.
    Use a story to link together critical points within your content.
    Consider how "Gamification has been proven to make communities more sticky and encourage more engagement" reads compared to "It was 3am, the flicker of the TV set was the only light in the room. My palms, slick with sweat, fought to keep the controller sticks moving. Even though I had a 6am start, I couldn't put the controller down. I had to finish the quest and collect the reward. Your community is no different."
    Take your reader on a journey, and they're more likely to finish your content. Try and make it personal. When we read, we always try and put ourselves in the shoes of the author or the protagonist.
    Stories and emotion go hand in hand. Recently, the Huffington Post ran a story with the headline "One death a minute" which is a very emotive and powerful alternative to the raw fact that 1,461 Americans lost their lives to COVID-19 on the 29th July.

    Lesson 3: Make it easy to consume
    A key strength for any content creator is to know when to create long-form content and snackable content.
    A single meme is more potent than 300 links to PubMed. A single YouTube video can be more persuasive than an expert in her field.
    Conspiracy theory creators use over-simplification to reduce a complex issue into an easily digestible entertaining snack. A meme generally contains a single idea that is easy to grasp and engaging. You don't have to work very hard to understand it, your visual brain processes it in 1/10th of a second, and it triggers a moment of delight.
    Infographics and memes are often smart ways to create an entrance to your content. If an image containing a straightforward idea from a more complex piece of content is digested quickly, it can leave your audience wanting more, and therefore more likely to involve themselves in your more complex work.

    When creating long-form content, consider the use of iconography, infographics and photography. Visuals help us remember and understand content quickly. I could say that 63% of this blog was written on an iPad, but a piechart would make this easier to process and more memorable.
    No tin foil hats required
    Creating compelling content is key to building your community. Your content sets the tone, helps drive re-engagement and positions you as a key expert in your field. Using the techniques many conspiracy theory creators use to spread their narratives will help your content be more memorable and shareable
    A well-created story with emotional cornerstones made more accessible by key points simplified into snackable quotes or images will help your content find a wider audience, whether you believe Neil Armstrong landed on the moon or not.
  5. Thanks
    media reacted to Joel R for an entry, Lessons from the Virus: Community Engagement from WHO   
    The World Health Organization (WHO) is the world's most trusted source of information on international health, and a foremost partner to public health agencies combating the coronavirus.  They also understand the critical need for risk communication and community engagement to respond to the coronavirus pandemic -- a valuable strategy that any online community can adopt in these volatile times.  
    In March of this year as the coronavirus was already rampaging across nations, WHO published a series of guidance for risk communication and community engagement.  One of the major lessons they learned during some of the most perilous outbreaks including SARS, Ebola, and MERS was that community engagement was a critical factor in the success of containing any pandemic.  

    Here are 3 best practices from the World Health Organization that can help online communities navigate any crisis.  
    INFODEMICS
    One of the biggest problems hampering the effective treatment of coronavirus, or any major disruptive event in a community, is the excessive abundance of information - an "infodemic" from multiple and untrustworthy sources that reduces trust in any advice.  The flood of information can quickly overwhelm any at-risk population.  
    Community leaders need to proactively communicate.  As WHO recommends, "One of the most important and effective interventions to any event is to proactively communicate what is known, what is unknown, and what is being done to get more information."  Communication from community leaders establishes the chain of communication and establishes themselves as a source of credible information.  By getting out in front of disruptive events and staying in regular communication with your members, you build trust and ensure that proper advice will be followed.  
    PERCEPTIONS OF RISK 
    Different groups of people perceive the same problem differently.  In the case of coronavirus, WHO discovered that certain segments of the population didn't understand the risk of the virus as much as they should have - a gap of knowledge that effective communication would have addressed for different populations.  Part of the goal of WHO's risk communication and community engagement is to "help transform and deliver complex scientific knowledge so that it is understood by and trusted by populations and communities."  
    Community leaders need to tailor their communication to sub-groups.  While regular announcements and general updates are important for the community at-large, it leaves knowledge gaps for different sub-groups of your community membership: clients need to be informed of service interruptions; vendors need to be informed of supply chain disruptions; superusers need to know how to direct users for help.  Different stakeholders have differing needs, and each group requires customized and tailored communication to best navigate through the crisis.  
    ADDRESSING THE UNKNOWN & MISINFORMATION
    One of WHO's recommended actions for leaders was to be prepared to communicate about the first coronavirus case, even before the full picture was known.  Even today, much is unknown and data is still being compiled about coronavirus.  But in a digital world where misinformation gets mixed in with the ease of a tweet or share, it's more important than ever to communicate factually while acknowledging uncertainty.
    Address uncertainty by systematically collecting questions and providing answers to all questions.  In the beginning of any crisis, you won't have all the answers and events will still be unfolding.  It's critical to establish an early dialogue with your community to gather concerns from members, to monitor for misinformation, and to systematically compile questions into a FAQ. 

    Source:   Risk communication and community engagement readiness and response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Interim guidance 19 March 2020. World Health Organization.  
     
    On behalf of the entire IPS team, we wish our clients well wishes during these difficult times!  
     
    Executive Summary
    Problems of crisis: infodemics with excess information, different perceptions of risk among sub-groups, and uncertainty with misinformation. Solutions for community leaders: proactive communication, customized communication, and addressing uncertainty.  
  6. Like
    media reacted to Andy Millne for an entry, 4.5: Sign in with Apple   
    Since the feature was announced at last year’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) we have received lots of requests to implement Sign in with Apple in Invision Community. We’re pleased to announce that as of 4.5 this is now available.
    You will need a paid Apple developer account to use it but once enabled users will be able to sign in using their Apple ID and all the convenience that brings. Touch ID and Face ID is supported natively where available and works across all your devices.

    Choose to share or hide your email address
    Isn’t it just another login button?
    Sign in with Apple is built on similar technologies as other login buttons such as those already available in Invision Community from Facebook, Google and Microsoft. The difference is Apple’s unique focus on privacy. On certain community types users can be reluctant to sign up when they fear they need to disclose lots of personal details. Every community is different so allowing your users to share as little or as much info as they like could be important to your success. Apple have stated that no user tracking will take place in contrast to other services where this forms a part of their business model.
    When signing in with their Apple ID the user can choose whether or not to share their real email address with your community. If the user chooses to hide their email address then your community will receive a relay email address that will forward to their real address. The email address used is unique to your community so the user can retain control.
    Can users link their existing Invision Community accounts?
    Yes! If a user signs in using the Apple button and shares their real email address, then providing they already have an account on your community they will be prompted to link their account in the same way as other social login buttons. They can also link an existing account from their account settings. If linking from account settings then the email addresses used do not need to match.
    Sign in with Apple is already enabled here on our community and is available in the 4.5 beta available to download now.
  7. Like
    media reacted to Stuart Silvester for an entry, 4.5: One More Thing...   
    Almost ten years ago we launched the Marketplace; a place to connect Invision Community owners with talented developers creating new functionality.
    Over the decade, the Marketplace has grown to hold thousands of applications, large and small. For many Invision Community owners, the Marketplace has become an essential resource.
    Our aim was always to have the Marketplace available inside your Admin Control Panel to make it even easier to purchase and install extra functionality.

    I'm pleased to say that as of Invision Community 4.5, this is now a reality. You can browse the Marketplace and install new add-ons without leaving the Admin Control Panel.

    Obtaining Resources
    Paid resources can be purchased directly from the Marketplace and are available to install immediately after the payment is complete. You no longer need to download and install the files yourself.
    You may also notice some additional information with the resource listing, we'll be introducing a new 'tab' to marketplace resources to allow the authors to provide more useful information such as answers to frequently asked questions, or configuration instructions etc.

    The video below takes you through the purchase and installation of a Marketplace application.
    marketplace-install.mp4
    Installing an Application
    Updates
    Some of the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed in the first screenshot that there are more 'bubbles' showing in the menu on the left. These are supported for Applications, Plugins, Themes and Languages.
    In Invision Community 4.5 every resource available via the AdminCP is automatically versioned, you will see update notifications for everything you have installed (previously, you would only see update notices if the resource author supports them).
    Installing an update is as simple as clicking on the update notice, then clicking 'update' on the Marketplace listing.

    Installing Updates
    Downloads Changes
    Our Marketplace is built on our Downloads application, during development of this feature we needed to add new functionality. We have included as many of these improvements as possible in our software for the benefit of our customers, some of these are:
    Custom Fields can now be set to only show to members that have purchased a file. Files can now be set to accept a single file upload instead of multiple. New file versions can now be moderated without hiding the current version from view. Downloads REST API Performance Improvements New /download endpoint that counts the download Added more data to the /downloads/file/{id} response Ability to sort file results by last updated date We hope you're as excited about this feature as we are.
  8. Like
    media reacted to Matt for an entry, Beyond the support desk   
    If your brand sells a product or service, the first thing that comes to mind as a benefit to building your community is support deflection.
    And it's easy to see why. It's something you can quickly calculate an ROI for. Let's say every 20 hits to a public question with a solved answer from a client or team member equates to one less ticket. If a ticket costs $10 to solve on average, it's straightforward to see the value by calculating deflected tickets. Let's say your busy public support community had 20,000 hits a month; you've just saved $200,000 a month in support costs.
    Great! But before you finish there, I want you to consider the rewards a brand community can offer.
    A public support desk isn't a community. It's likely most of your customers join because of an issue with your product. They tap in some keywords on Google and come across your site. They see a bunch of solved questions like theirs, and they either get the fix and bounce out, or post and wait for a reply. With nothing to get them to come back, once they have the answer they'll likely bounce out then and only come back when they hit a new problem.
    That's not a community. A community is a place where people return multiple times to collaborate, learn and grow together.
    "[A brand community is] a group of people who share an identity and a mutual concern for one another's welfare - who participate in shared experiences that are shaped by a brand." - Carrie Melissa Jones
    For that, you need to look beyond the support desk and expand into more use cases, and there are compelling reasons to do this.
    Shared experiences
    Allowing your customers to share their experiences with your products can lead to unique brand stories that reinforce bonds between members and creates social solidarity in the community.
    A few years ago, I remember reading a post on a travel community. A family were flying with Delta and their son who has autism was becoming more and more distressed with the change in routine for that day. A Delta employee saw this and came and spoke with the family, helped settle the boy and ensured they boarded early to avoid the crush of passengers.
    It's a small moment of kindness that wouldn't make headlines, but it was very memorable for this family; enough so that they posted about it. This post had numerous replies in praise for the airline and no doubt made many of them think of Delta when booking their next flight.
    "[Social solidarity is] not just passive tolerance but felt concern for what is individual and particular about the other person." - Alex Honneth "The Struggle for Recognition"
    All those stories, connections and moments build social capital and loyalty for your brand.
    Feedback
    Your customers are already talking about your product. Some of it will be good, and some of it won't be good. They are already talking about it on social media, and in numerous communities, they belong to.
    If you do not have space within your community for your customers to leave feedback, then you're missing out on a massive benefit. You get a chance to address negative feedback before it spills out further into the public domain. Likewise, positive feedback makes for compelling customer success stories.
    Feedback is a great way to crowdsource innovation and to guide sales and marketing on how your customers are using your products and where the gaps are.
    Owning your niche
    Allowing space for conversations relating to your product makes good sense. If you sold a fitness tracker, then it makes good sense to have areas for discussions revolving around wellness areas such as sleep, diet and exercise. 
    Likewise, a mobile phone network will do well having areas related to the various brands of mobile phones.
    "There is status that comes from community. It is the status of respect in return for contribution for caring for seeing and being in sync with others. Especially others with no ability to repay you." - Seth Godin 
    Creating these spaces encourages return visits beyond direct support for the product.
    Those return visits are what makes your community a community.
  9. Thanks
    media reacted to Rikki for an entry, 4.5: Introducing our updated default theme   
    If you've been around Invision Community for a while, you'll know our frontend default theme hasn't significantly evolved since the early days of 4.0. Indeed, the last significant refresh came with 4.2.
    With the upcoming release of 4.5, we wanted to revisit the default theme and give it a facelift for 2020, as well as make incremental improvements to the underlying codebase as a stepping stone to a bigger re-engineering in a future version.
    In this entry, I want to talk a little about some of the design decisions that went into building the new theme.
    Goals
    Redesigning for the sake of it is never a good idea, so we first laid out what we wanted to achieve:
    A brighter UI with more saturation & contrast and simpler overall color scheme Improved typography Better, more consistent, spacing around and between elements, especially on mobile Better logical grouping of sections of each page Reducing underutilized links/buttons on the page and finding alternative ways of making them available Improving how post states are displayed Modernizing and enhancing the underlying code that powers the default theme Let's talk a little about each of these.
     
    Brighter UI
    The most obvious change will be that our default colors are brighter and more saturated than before. Before making any changes, we first created a color scale for both neutrals and the brand color (blue, of course). This gave us a flexible but consistent palette of colors to choose from, with appropriate contrast built in. Neutrals have a touch of blue too to avoid seeming washed out.
    We've simplified the style, in particular reducing reliance on background colors to differentiate sections within cards (a card essentially being an ipsBox, for those who are familiar with our framework). Instead, we use spacing, borders and appropriate typography to achieve visual separation.

    Brighter default colors
     

    Simplifying the UI by removing block backgrounds
     
    Improving typography
    We've felt our typography has been somewhat muddled for some time - with a mixture of sizes, weights and colors used depending on the particular context.
    The first step to improving it was to create a typography scale that we could refer to and implement, to ensure we remained consistent throughout the product.

    Our typography scale
    (The keen-eyed amongst you may also notice we've switched our default font to Inter. Inter is a fantastic open source font that is ideal for text on the web, and was recently added to the Google Web Fonts project making it super simple for us to incorporate it into our default theme.)
    We've been much more deliberate about applying type styles, especially for titles, ensuring that they are always visually distinct from surrounding text. We've done this through both color and weight. As a result, pages should instinctively feel more organized and logical than before.

    An example of improved typography, from the Downloads app
     
    Improved spacing (especially on mobile)
    We identified that spacing (padding and margins) needed some improvement. A lot of spacing values were arbitrary and inconsistent, leading to poor visual harmony across any given page.
    Most troubling of all, on mobile sizes we simply halved desktop padding values. While this was a reasonable approach in the days of phones with small screens, it has felt decidedly dated for some time. Phone screens are now typically larger and able to accommodate roomier UIs without appearing comical.
    In 4.5, we have done away with that approach, and the impact was immediate. Mobile sizes now get a much more pleasant interface, with elements having room to breathe. In addition, we've also made most cards full-width to provide additional breathing space for content.

    Posts can finally breathe on mobile
     
    There are numerous other tweaks across the product too: default spacing has been increased a little, data tables (e.g. topic listing) get extra vertical spacing, and spacing between elements has become more consistent.
     
    Improved grouping of related elements
    Prior to 4.5, most content areas existed inside cards. However, one notable exception to this was page headers and as a result, they could feel particularly disorganized, especially for users who had many controls in this part of the page (such as staff).
    To solve this problem, we've developed a new, standardized design for content item page headers, giving them their own cards and consistent button placement.

    Topic view header
     
    Some areas don't necessarily fit into the same design pattern above. In those areas, we've tweaked styling to suit the context, while still adhering to our overall aesthetic.

    Calendar header

    Messenger conversation header
     
    Reducing underutilized links/buttons
    Finally, another area we identified as needing improvement is the abundance of tools, made up of links and buttons, across pages. Many of these are only used occasionally and so would be better moved out of the main view to simplify the page.
    Two particular areas we focused on were share links and postbits (both forum posts and comments in other apps).
    Research shows social share links are used by a vanishingly small percentage of users, so even though they were at the bottom of the page, it was unnecessary to make them so prominent (given their eye-catching colors). To solve this, we've added a share link to the page header, with the social network links themselves in a popup menu. The result is ideal: sharing functionality is unobtrusive but obvious.

    Share links in content items
    Comment areas have also suffered from 'button creep' over the years. A typical comment will contain a report link, a share link, a quote link and multiquote button, reactions, plus IP address, checkbox, edit and options links for certain users. That is a lot of visual noise around the important part: the content.
    We've therefore simplified comment boxes as much as is reasonable. Reporting and sharing comments/posts is now available in the post options menu, as are any tools for the author/staff. Quoting and reacting are two primary interactions for users, so they of course retain their position in the control bar.

    Simpler postbits, even for staff
     
    Improving post states
    Posts/comments in Invision Community can have many states - sometimes more than one. Posts can be hidden/unapproved, popular, recommended, solved (new in 4.5!) or highlighted because of the author's group. It's always been a challenge to indicate these statuses well.
    In previous versions, we added a border but the most prominent indicator was a flag in the top-right corner of the post. This had three problems:
    Due to the lack of space (thanks to report/share links), showing more than one flag was difficult. Showing any flags on mobile was messy because of the space constraints. The meaning of the flags was not obvious, especially to new users. Group-highlighted posts had no flag, just a border, which made them even more difficult to understand. With the top-right corner of posts now tidied up and free from fluff, we were able to much more effectively use this space to indicate post statuses.
    In 4.5, posts and comments will show badges when they have a particular status, as well as a more attractive semi-transparent border. For group-highlighted posts, we show the group name instead (the colors of this highlight are still controllable via theme settings).

    A post with two states: group highlighted and popular
    This works much better on mobile too, where the status badges get the prominence they deserve:

    Mobile post statuses
     
    Modernizing the underlying code
    I wrote about the technical improvements behind the theme in a previous entry. If you're a theme designer or edit the theme for your own community, go and check it out now!
     
    Wrapping up
    As well as these large-scale concepts, you'll notice many other smaller enhancements as you start using the new theme.
    I've shown some snippets of pages in the screenshots above, but I've included some full-page views below so you can see the overall aesthetic and how these pieces fit together.
    Modernizing and refreshing our default theme has been needed for some time, but we view this as just a stepping stone to future work that will be reserved for a major version bump, and we're excited to figure out where we go next.
     
    Screenshots
      
    Desktop forum views (click to expand)
     
        
    Mobile forum views (click to expand)
     
     
    Activity streams & messenger (click to expand)
     
  10. Thanks
    media reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Everything else   
    We have announced a lot of new things coming soon with Invision Community 4.5. Most of these are pretty big new features worth a blog on their own.
    However, we've made a lot of smaller changes that may not deserve their own blog but still have a significant impact.
    Let's run through some of those.
    Performance Improvements
    For every major release, we take some time to run through the code and look at ways to make Invision Community run more efficiently.
    For Invision Community 4.5, we've made node forms, sitemaps and commonly run SQL queries more efficient, which is excellent news for you and your users who get reduced server load and a snappier community.
    TikTok Embed
    Although it confuses me greatly, TikTok has taken the internet by storm. We have added it to the embed list so pasting a TikTok share link automatically shows the video ready to play in the comment.

    A TikTok
    Upload Chunking
    Uploading large files can be tricky. Typically trying to push a large file to a server results in timeouts, memory issues and eventually frustration. We have added chunked uploading when using S3. Put simply; this uploads part of the file at a time to prevent memory issues and the server timing out waiting for the upload to finish.
    View Members by Rank
    Very recently, we were asked how you can view all members in the ACP of a specific rank. It turned out you couldn't. This quick change was added into Invision Community 4.5.

    Showing members with a specific rank in the AdminCP
    Download Statistics
    While Invision Community 4.5 has new and improved statistic displays, a common request was to be able to download the raw data. This is now possible.

    Export stats as a CSV
    Downloads
    In Invision Community 4.5, when you require approval of new versions of files submitted to Downloads, the original version will no longer be hidden from view. We've added a new flow for moderators to approve these new versions.
    Live Meta Tag Editor
    Invision Community 4.5 seemed like a great time to run through this feature and tweak the functionality to make it more useful. Now it's possible to remove default meta tags, and it's easier to remove custom tags.
    Closed Tag Autocomplete
    When using the closed tag system where a user can select from one of your preset tags, we have added a search box to make it easier to find a single tag from a list of potentially hundreds.
    EU Tax Support in Commerce
    Tax doesn't have to be taxing! But it generally is. Countries within the EU often have complex tax rates. Commerce now supports multiple tax rates for consumers, businesses and EU VAT-registered businesses.
    That concludes our mini round-up of all the things we've not talked about yet. Let me know which one you're looking forward to most!
  11. Like
    media reacted to Ehren for an entry, 4.5: ACP Dark Mode   
    A short while ago we revealed the new look Admin CP for Invision Community 4.5. The focus was on increasing the workspace, brightening and modernising the look.
    However, for some this new look was perhaps a little too bright, especially when setting your OS to use dark mode.
    Rather than cause an increase in sales for sunglasses, we went ahead and implemented a dark mode for the Admin CP.
    You can set it to work inline with your OS preference, or you can choose to enforce light or dark mode.
    I'm sure the next question you're about to ask is "Hey Ehren that looks amazing and now working at 3 am won't wake up the neighbours when I log into the AdminCP but can you do the same for the front-end?"
    The short answer to that is "no". The theme system isn't currently designed to support both light and dark colour schemes, however our marketplace has a great selection of dark themes to enhance your community.
    I hope that you like this new feature and I just wanted to say thanks for your feedback; we do listen!
  12. Like
    media 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.
  13. Like
    media 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. 
  14. Like
    media reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.5: Search Insights   
    Every single day, your members are searching your community for answers or interesting conversations to join.
    Wouldn't it be great if you could learn what is being searched for to identify hot issues, commonly asked questions and discover trends?
    We thought so too, which is why Invision Community 4.5 comes with search statistics.
    For the first time, Invision Community gathers anonymized information on what your members are searching for so you can use this to highlight more relevant content and shape strategic decisions with your community's structure.

    Search statistics help you track searches performed on your community
    When a member searches, their identity is converted into a unique key that cannot be reversed to identify the member. This allows us to track a single member's search usage over many search sessions without being able to link it to a specific member account.
    The AdminCP now features a dashboard to review the most popular search terms as well as a raw log of recent searches along with the results they returned.
    We have a lot of ideas in mind for additional changes down the road with the tracking of popular search terms, but for now, we hope you like the new statistics page and find the information presented useful for your future site plans.
  15. Like
    media 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.
  16. Like
    media 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.    
  17. Like
    media 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!
     
  18. Like
    media reacted to Matt for an entry, What are the benefits of a support community?   
    When your customers buy or use your products, they will have many questions. They may have issues using the product, or they may have requests for future versions based on their needs.
    Managing and responding to those questions and requests quickly increases conversion, satisfaction and the likelihood or purchasing again.
    The statistics back this up.

    There is no doubt that unless you have a support community for your brand,  you are not delivering the best experience for your customers and risk losing them to competitors that do.
    Building a support community around your product or service will positively drive your business across all departments from product development through sales and into customer support.
    Let's break it down and look at the key benefits for each department.
    Customer Service
    Encouraging your customers to visit your support community is the simplest way to reduce the cost of supporting your product or service. Creating a self-help culture allows other more experienced customers to offer assistance and troubleshoot any problems they have.
    73% of customers fall in love with a brand because of friendly customer service representatives.**
    Quite often, new customers encounter the same issues that would flood customer support if they were all channelled to your support desk. For example, consider a company that produces an internet-enabled smart device. Less technically savvy customers will likely contact support to troubleshoot initial connectivity issues which can quickly be resolved by peers in the support community.
    These questions and answers form a crowdsourced knowledge base that will allow customers to help themselves without any intervention from your team. Furthermore, these questions will feature in external search results, driving more traffic to your site.

    Sales
    The primary purpose of your community may have initially been to help support your customers, but it quickly becomes a valuable resource to help drive sales.
    Your support community will be a relaxed place where customers talk to each other honestly and openly. They will be less inhibited than they would if they were talking to your sales agents.
    Customers might be discussing a need for more functionality that you have in another product or service. Your sales team can move these conversations from the community to your CRM to curate new sales leads.
    72% of customers will tell 6 people or more if they have a satisfying experience. - Esteban Kolsky
    Customers that have had positive interactions with their peers and members of your support team will become advocates for your brand. They will help sell your product over social media and among their friend circles. Given than 90% of customers are influenced by a positive review when buying a product*, having brand advocates is critical to your growth.

    Marketing
    There are several costly routes to learning about your customers and their wants and needs. You can conduct external surveys, or pay for research groups to look at your products and offer feedback.
    56% of customers don't mind sharing their personal information in exchange for better service.**
    The most effective method is to look at your community.
    Your customers will be posting their thoughts daily. They'll tell you exactly how they use your products, offering you valuable insight into the problems they are solving with your product. This information should be used as the basis of new marketing campaigns.

    Project Development
    Your support community is a direct line to your customers. You no longer need to use external tools and services to determine which features you should add next. You'll be told directly!
    55% of customers are willing to spend more money with a company that guarantees them a satisfying experience.**
    You'll find that some feature requests bubble up regularly. These are the ones you will want to move to your product roadmap.
    Invision Community allows you to segment your community into private areas for beta testing. Your developers can interact with this group to work directly with your customers to shape new functionality.
    Harnessing analytical data will inform development decisions. Invision Community can track keywords in user-generated content. If you have released a new feature, you can track how often it is mentioned in conversations to monitor its uptake.
    52% of customers believe that companies need to take action on their feedback.*

    Setting up your Invision Community
    Now we've looked at the compelling reasons you should create a support community around your products, let's take a look at how to set up your Invision Community.
    Support Desk
    Invision Community has a fully-featured built in support desk functionality. Commerce has all the features you need, including multiple support desk categories, reply by email, pre-written reply templates and private notes.

     
    However, if you already use another support desk such as Zendesk then our API tools mean that Invision Community can integrate with your existing support flow seamlessly.
    Keyword Tracking
    Invision Community allows you to track how often specific words or phrases. This is useful to monitor which of your products are trending or monitoring uptake on new features.
    To set this up, visit the Statistics section of the Admin CP.
    Question and Answers
    To formalize a support or ideation area within your support community, Invision Community offers a Question and Answer forum type.
    Question and Answer forum types allow your members to post questions and enable other members to upvote the questions and replies. Your support team can also flag specific responses as the "best answer" which turns historical questions into a crowdsourced knowledge base.
    Showcasing Great Content
    Invision Community has several tools to highlight great customer-created content. You can pin topics, and feature specific replies within those topics.
    You can also convert posts into new articles within a formal knowledge base or blog to further help your customers find the right answers to their questions.
    Extensibility
    Invision Community has OAuth and a REST API out of the box. This means it's trivial to extend Invision Community to work within your existing flows. Integrate Invision Community to your SalesForce CRM and Zendesk support systems seamlessly.
    Create a federated search to integrate your external knowledge base with client-generated knowledge.
    The options are limitless, and we can take care of any custom integrations for you.
    If you have any questions, please let me know below, or contact us to see how we can help you harness the power of community for your business.
    * https://www.customerthermometer.com/customer-service/customer-service-and-satisfaction-statistics-for-2019/
    ** https://www.qminder.com/customer-service-statistics/
  19. Like
    media 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.
  20. Like
    media 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. 
  21. Like
    media 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?
  22. Like
    media 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.
  23. Like
    media reacted to Matt for an entry, Les Paul, or Gibson SG?   
    It was a poster of Slash holding his Gibson Les Paul slung low on his waist playing live that got me into guitars.
    The crunching power chords of Appetite For Destruction were a long way from the three chords I could manage on a beaten up acoustic with a hole in the side, but I kept on trying until I could play those riffs.
    I still hold a special love for the Les Paul (as well as the Explorer made famous by Hetfield palm muting his way through multiple albums with Metallica).
    So, I'm especially thrilled to see the official Gibson forums relaunched with Invision Community 4.
    Check it out: https://forum.gibson.com

    It's great timing as I've recently freed my guitars from the loft and have started to play again.

    Anyone else here play guitar, and should we start our own band?
  24. Like
    media reacted to Matt for an entry, Work smarter with 5 of our best time saving features   
    Have you ever found yourself muttering "there has to be an easier way" when managing your community?
    If you have, it's likely that you are not the first person to think that. Invision Community has been refined over nearly two decades, and in that time we've received a lot of feedback from clients running very large and busy sites.
    We love a short cut, especially when it makes our clients lives easier.
    There's plenty of time-saving features throughout Invision Community, and here are five of the best.
    Saved Actions
    If you routinely perform the same actions to a topic, such as replying before closing it or moving the topic to a different forum, then saved actions will save you a lot of time.
    Let's look at a practical example. You have a forum where your members can suggest new features for your product. You might choose to move some of these suggestions to another forum to shortlist them for inclusion in a future version, or to discuss further. You also may like to reply thanking the member for their idea, but it's not feasible at this time.
    Here you would set up two saved actions, one that replies and moves the topic to a specific forum, and one that replies to the topic and closes it for further commenting.

    Your saved actions are accessible via the moderation menu
    You and your moderating team can select these saved actions quickly when reading a topic to perform multiple moderation steps in one go.
    RSS Feeds
    If your community regularly discusses topics that feature in the latest news, then you can quickly seed these discussions using the RSS feed import tool.

    Not only can you import almost any public RSS feed into your community, but you also have control over how these topics are displayed, to whom they are attributed to and how the link back to the source article looks.
    RSS feed import is an often overlooked but handy tool at starting productive discussions without the need to source and post them manually.
    iCal Feeds
    The iCal feed can be considered as the sister feature to the RSS Feed Import tool. It works in a very similar way in that it can accept almost any public iCal feed and import events into your community's calendar.
    This is especially useful if you maintain an event stream outside of the community, but wish to share those events with your members in a native way, or perhaps you already have a calendar product used by your organisation.
    Using the iCal feed tool to populate your community calendar with key dates relevant to your community can be achieved very quickly.
    Auto-moderation
    Moderating a busy community can be a time-consuming task. Trying to review new posts and topics to ensure they meet your community standards as they come in can be daunting.
    Fortunately, Invision Community has an ace up its sleeve.
    Auto-moderation allows you to use the power of your community to identify and remove content that does not meet your community standards. The administrator sets up a threshold so that when a specific number of reports for that content item is crossed, the content is hidden.

    Auto-moderation has a lot of options to configure which we covered in this blog article recently.
    Group promotion
    Ensuring your members feel valued and rewarded for their contributions is key to member retention and keeping engagement high.
    A simple way to reward long term regular contributors is to elevate their permissions. This can mean that they have access to otherwise hidden areas, or they get more allowances in terms of upload space and fewer restrictions.
    To do this manually would take a significant amount of time. Thankfully, Invision Community has a feature called Group Promotion.
    This tool allows the administrator to set up specific thresholds such as post count, or time since joining which then move the member into a new group when triggered.
    This all happens automatically. Just set it up and let it run!
    We spoke about Group Promotion recently, take a look here to learn more about this feature.
    How many of you are already using these features, and which ones did we miss off our list? I'd love to know.
     
  25. Like
    media reacted to Joel R for an entry, Boundaries & Identity: Building Membership in a Community   
    Cultivating a strong Sense of Community is a clear goal for community builders.  Develop a strong sense of community, and you’ve built a community experience that sparks a more meaningful and connected community that your members will love. 
    A strong sense of community means:
    An integrated community where members feel personally related An impactful community where a member can influence and be influenced by the group.  A fulfilling community where members meet the needs of others and can feel rewarded.  A shared community, where users undergo common history, time together, and social experiences.  Do you believe you’ve developed a strong sense of community?  Follow long as we critically examine the first element in the Sense of Community: Membership. 

    Membership
    Boundaries of communities have always existed, whether it be neighborhoods, social groups, or online communities.  By definition, there are people who belong and people who do not.  It’s okay to decline membership to users, thereby providing a more comfortable space for members who are accepted. 
    Here are some time-tested tips from my years of community management that touch upon various attributes of membership:
    Don’t try to be everything to everyone.  It’s far better to be an exclusive community to a smaller, impassioned group of users than to dilute your community for a wide audience.  Not everybody deserves to belong, and by intentionally removing irrelevant members, it makes it a more purposeful community for those who can join.  Define who should belong, and outline the requirements on your Registration screen and Guest Sign-up widget. 
    Boundaries are walls, but safe walls.  Although there’s the pain of rejection and isolation of private communities, it’s offset with the positive benefits of joining.  It creates a space where members can feel safe to open up, to feel related to one another, and to feel protected.  Reinforce the benefits of joining the community to new members in a welcome message. 
    A new sense of identification.  Not only do members join the group, they should develop an extended sense of belonging and identity with the group.  The more strongly you can define the sense of belongingness, the more deeply the member will feel connected.  There should be a feeling of acceptance, an expectation that one fits in, and a willingness to sacrifice for the group.  Create a welcome team that immediately reaches out both publicly and privately, ask how the new member can contribute, and constantly highlight how the community has gone above-and-beyond in members helping members.   
    The higher the boundary, the greater the reward.  Personal investment is an important contributor to a member’s feeling of group membership.  By working for a membership, a member will feel like he’s earned a place – and that the membership will be more meaningful and valuable.  You can ask guests for their accreditations, background, or how they can contribute to the community. 
    The power of symbols.  Social groups throughout history have long used symbols, icons, ceremonies, and group language to cultivate a unique sense of identity.  These conventions are powerful representations of a group.  You can cultivate and write a common language in your Invision Community in large ways and small by uploading unique reactions, changing the language string, and celebrating community-specific holidays and events.     
    As you re-evaluate your community framework with me, take the time to outline what it means to be a member of your community.  Defining your membership goes hand-in-hand with defining your purpose.  It should touch upon these five attributes of membership: boundaries, emotional safety, sense of belonging, personal investment, and common symbolism.  Establish clear distinctions for your community’s membership qualifications, and you’ll be able to develop a deep Sense of Community from the very start of a member’s registration. 
    Share with me and others how you've defined your community's membership in the comments below.  I love to hear about other Invision Communities.  
    Joel, 
    Invision Community Advocate and Certified Community Manager
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