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GTServices

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  1. Like
    GTServices reacted to Matt for an entry, The 3 things your community needs to succeed   
    A successful community only needs three core elements to flourish and begin producing results.
    Your community will require some care and effort to flourish, but with the right strategies in place, you'll ensure that the value your community produces continues to increase as time goes by.
    Let's take a look at the three elements that make for a successful community.
    Content
    Content is the life-blood of any community. Content is what is posted by your members, and by your team. In the early days, you'll need to seed discussions and respond to customers posts regularly. It's important to demonstrate that you're actively involved with the community and encouraging others to post and extend discussions. Over time, user-generated content will begin to propel your community forwards.

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

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

    That wraps it up for this article. We'd love to know your thoughts on our suggestions and any strategies that you've used in the past that have worked well.
  2. Like
    GTServices reacted to Joel R for an entry, The State of the Internet: Mary Meeker at 2019 Code Conference   
    Mary Meeker delivered a rapid-fire review at the 2019 Code Conference of her latest Internet Trends Report, widely considered to be one of the most influential and comprehensive reports on Internet trends. 
    The report covers 11 broad areas from ecommerce to education, data growth to usage, work to immigration, and China. 
    The report's foreword includes the following statement:
    This is an especially appropriate message for Invision Community admins and managers, who must not only ingest the data firehose but turn it into actionable feedback.  This report is presented to Invision Community clients as a way of understanding the broader trends that shape and influence the digital world around us, and to hopefully spur thoughtful conversation on how to thrive as an online community through 2019 and beyond.  

    Here are highlights from the report, especially selected for clients of Invision Community.
    More International - Global internet penetration surpassed 51% in 2018, which means more than half of the world's population are Internet users.  Certain regions have very different growth patterns.  Asia Pacific already contains more Internet users than the rest of the world combined, yet less than half of its users are on the Internet.  In contrast, North America is virtually saturated.  Growth of new users is getting harder, except for China, India, and Indonesia which show the most promise of new users.  
    More Ecommerce - Ecommerce is a rapidly rising a major portion of retail sales.  Ecommerce growth is a strong 12% year over year.  Physical retail growth is 2% year over year. 
    More Online Advertising on Mobile - Internet advertising is continuing to increase overall at 22% year over year, with all of the new growth dedicated to mobile advertising spending.  Spending on desktop advertising is flatlining.  
    More Hours Online - Online media usage increased by 7% year over year in the USA, with all of the growth on mobile.  Desktop usage flatlined in 2013 and even decreased in the past three years.  Out of online time, Facebook, Youtube, WhatsApp, and WeChat dominate the global time spent online.  Mobile use also surpassed time spent on TV for the first time in 2018.   
    More Short-form Video - Short videos like Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, and WhatsApp Status are one of the newest trends to explosively grow in the past 3 years.
    More Opportunity for the Underserved - Square is a popular credit card processor and merchant services provider.  The fastest area of growth comes from new users in the lowest-income metropolitans in the USA versus the highest-income metropolitan areas in the USA, with 58% of its businesses from females and 35% from minority-owned businesses.
    More Images - For two decades, users on the Internet have been dramatically ramping up image creation and image sharing.  Image sharing has also evolved, with leading platforms like Instagram adding new features like video stories and collaborative story-telling.  
    More Interactive Gaming - Interactive gaming continues to be a dominant Internet trend with 2.4 Billion users, an increase of 6% year over year.  Interactive gaming is social in nearly all ways, with real-time play + talk, shared environments, collective goals, and in-game social networks.  One of the leading gaming-related platforms is Discord.  
    More Digital Payments - Digital payments continue to be more efficient, now driving 59% of all global payments.  
    More Data Personalization - The amount of data being collected has exploded in the past decade.  Successful companies now deploy data as a core part of their workflow to improve customer satisfaction. Retail customers like sharing data if it gives them a better experience. 
    More Negativity and Polarization - With more people than ever coming online, there continues to be usage concern over problematic content and activity. We will continue to see a world that gets more polarized and divisive due to less filtering, more amplification of extreme content, more vivid live images and videos.
    More Internet Censorship - The early days of a free Internet are over.  We are living in a 'splinternet,' where your online experiences are increasingly determined by local regulation.  Truly free Internet decreased with governments increasing surveillance and censorship.  
    More Trust in an Open Internet - On the other hand, an open Internet and online consumer reviews boost multi-sided accountability that ensure safety of products and services, make companies accountable to consumers, and make consumers feel confident on their purchases.  On AirBNB, a popular online booking platform for short-term rentals, 70% of guests leave a review.  The reviews are fundamental to building trust on AirBNB.  
    More China Internet - China continues to be the world's success story, with global growth that underscore its superpower status.  It is a rapidly rising country with room to grow for most macroeconomic and technical trends including urbanization, disposable income per capita, share of world exports, mobile internet users, and cellular internet growth.  Some of the notable Chinese apps include WeChat, Meituan, and Alipay.  
    CONCLUSION
    Online communities have been a part of the online experience from the beginning through email listservs, chat rooms, bulletin boards, Usenet groups, multiplayer dungeons, and more.  We will always be a part of humanity's need to connect, to share, and to relate with similar people but our methods and technology will evolve.  The world is more mobile, more pictures and videos, more international, more polarized and open to abuse, and also more connected than ever before.  As more people come online, as more methods to communicate flourish, as the technology and infrastructure around the Internet continue to mature,  I hope you find inspiration in the 2019 Internet Trends Report to grasp upon these macro trends and find new opportunities to connect and serve your communities better.  
     
    Download the full deck here: https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/6/11/18651010/mary-meeker-internet-trends-report-slides-2019
  3. Like
    GTServices 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. 
  4. Like
    GTServices 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?
  5. Like
    GTServices 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.
  6. Like
    GTServices reacted to HelenG for an entry, How I Started My Community - Part 3 Growth   
    When I wrote my last entry, The Dogly Mail had just reached the 100 member milestone but since then things have grown impressively.
    The photo competition has proven very successful at encouraging new signups and we are now at around 1400 members picking up 15-20 new members a day. This is far better than I could have hoped for but there a few caveats…
    Not all traffic and content is equal
    In building website traffic I’ve realised that high member numbers are great and help to validate your ideas but member quality is far more important. I have been able to boost the member growth non-organically with a minimal Facebook ad spend in conjunction with the competition but we’re still trying to find those super contributors.

    The members we have are not yet invested in the site themselves and the sense of community that is required to be sustainable long term is still in its infancy. We have also found that with the opt-in mailing list, around 50% of the registered members are signing up for the newsletter during registration.
    This is encouraging to me based on the non-organic growth so hopefully, with more organic growth this will rise further.
    What are we doing to get higher quality contributions?
    We are collaborating with a vet on professional articles to give the site more credibility in the areas I am not an expert in and Andy is covering dog news where he has time. Hopefully, over the long term, this will help to improve the organic traffic to the website.
    With the articles, we now have high-end long-form content covered although I would like to get a more varied team of writers on board to broaden the appeal of the subject matter. We also have more fun commenting, likes and meme social interaction covered in the photo competition section.
    This leaves a gap in the middle for more serious user-contributed discussion and opinion and what ultimately will make or break the website. For this, we’re working on getting the blogs application ready for when we feel the traffic is sufficient to launch another area. When it’s ready we will slowly transition the ad spend towards the new blog section and forums to provide more balanced traffic coming to the site.

    We will also be able to promote the new sections via the newsletter.
    I am almost at the end of the school year so my time on the site should increase and I can get more involved with discussion topics to try and foster that sense of community.
    What else have I learned?
    Keeping people’s attention is not easy and once a member has left the site you need to work really hard to get them to revisit. It’s something I read a lot of on these forums so hopefully, Invision is working on this to help us keep people engaged.
    As you can see we’re still in the try lots of things to see what works stage but the learning experience is part of the fun. We were running AdSense ads and getting a little back from the spend we were doing ourselves but I feel at this stage it is counter-productive.
    We have decided to stop AdSense for the time being in order to concentrate on building traffic and the membership and will revisit the monetisation options once the site has grown. Not running the adverts has also given the site a substantial speed boost which will hopefully help us with organic rankings.
    If you’re running your community as a hobby you may not wish to spend anything on advertising to start and may prefer to slowly add to your website content. With so much competition for traffic online though this would be a very slow strategy for us for what I still hope to be a commercially viable micro business.
    On the current growth path, I hope to be profitable in 12-18 months and will keep you updated with the highs or lows along the way.
  7. Like
    GTServices reacted to Martin Jolley-Jarvis for an entry, How to grow your community with Facebook Ads   
    Facebook Ads: are they the modern day ‘hilly billy’ California Gold Rush?
    Rumors circulate about Facebook Ads being the MOST profitable way to advertise your business and everyone jumps on it to make a quick buck. 
    Hence it’s quickly become the 21st century gold rush. 
    And just like the gold rush, the people really profiting are the ones selling the tools to the prospectors…
    AKA Facebook
    But they’re still gold out there if you know where to look and what your doing. 
    The purpose of this post is to give you a short introduction, so you know roughly how to make profitable ads.
    It’s not going to turn you into an expert, but it might stop you digging in the wrong spot and spending BIG on things you should avoid. 
    I’m not going to go into too much technical detail… Otherwise we’ll find ourselves like Alice down deep the rabbit hole. 
    What Type Of Marketing Is Facebook Ads?

    It’s important to define Facebook Ads as interrupt marketing. Someone is not actively looking for your product at the time of seeing your ad. 
    So your ads need to be distracting and bold to literally GRAB attention. If people are more likely to be searching your products then should you choose Facebook Ads as a primary marketing channel? 
    Why Does That Matter For Building Communities?

    When you’re using Facebook Ads to build communities (especially off the platform e.g. not a Facebook Group). Your ads need to be eye catching and demand attention, with a clear benefit of the community AND call to action (what to do next).

    If you’re community is big then use the size as social proof, people follow the herd and using this herd mentality when talking about the number of members etc will help you grow. 
    Does Facebook Work For Every Business?

    As a primary marketing channel? 
    Absolutely not. 
    If you have a business that people proactively search for that’s very transactional - like an ecommerce store then you’d be better using google adwords. 
    Yet any business SHOULD 100% be retargeting website visitors with ads. It’s a great way to build rapport and make the most of your site visits. 
    If your business is a business that’s heavily reliant upon growing a relationship then Facebook Ads is perfect. Big purchases, information products, service based businesses all do VERY well with Facebook Ads. 
    It’s a great place to grow and build relationships with your audience. In my opinion this is the MOST powerful way to use Facebook Ads.
    Do Facebook Ads Help Build Communities

    Absolutely yes… Facebook Ads can help you build and grow your community. Be clear on your message and the benefits of the community. 
    Having a good understanding of the audience will help too. 
    If it’s a male audience of people who like Star Wars for example, there’s no point advertising to women or people who like football. 
    There is merit in testing adverts to the same interests groups e.g. men who like Star Trek. 
    How To Get The Most From Your Facebook Ads
    Being successful with Facebook Ads is much more about relationship building than it is billboard advertising. 
    One of the biggest mistakes I see is people using Facebook Ads as the internet’s ‘yellow pages’
    I.E. The only adverts they ever place are “hey come buy my stuff” 
    If you only use FB Ads for sales messages it’s going to be crazily expensive and ultimately ineffective. 
    Still people ONLY want to pay for an ad when they have something specific. 
    Instead, think of the platform as an extension of networking, with the same relationship interactions. 
    Only your paying Facebook to have these ‘interactions’ and not having to do it manually.

    The BEST Way To Do This Is Retargeting

    Retargeting in the oldest & simplest sense of the word was when someone visited your site or product you identify them and give them adverts that are “come back and buy”
    This makes things MUCH more effective. 
    But here’s how you get a system that works…
    You want to layer your retargeting… 
    That means have multiple different offers that are layered one on top of the other. 
    If you’ve heard the expression sales funnel (the process of ‘funnelling’ potential customers through your marketing into customers) then that’s essentially what you’re creating on Facebook all via your retargeting. 
    Sounds complicated…
    It’s not…
    For example I could record a video about facebook ads and retarget people who have watched 25% of the video (because I know they’re interested).
    Then I might give them the option of downloading a PDF to add them to my list…
    Those that take the PDF could then be offered a webinar. 
    At the end of the webinar is the option to become a customer. 
    The layering of funnels takes time and is more work, hence most people choose the less effective ‘yellow pages’ method. 
    I could go on and on about the nuances involved in advertising on Facebook. 
    But here’s some dos and don’ts to keep you in check
    Do
    Treat the platform more like networking than the ‘Yellow Pages’ Focus on building relationships and meaningful interactions.  Make sure you’re using retargeting, whatever business you’re running. When writing adverts focus on the customer and their wants, needs, desires Give value before you ask for something in return.  Understand your maths and make sure it’s profitable.  Layer your retargeting Read the terms and conditions and make sure you’re compliant (otherwise you will get banned) Don’t
    Expect to become an overnight millionaire.  Put big budgets in you can’t afford to lose until you know it works. Copy everyone else ads. Use boring stock photography.  Try and cheat the system.  Get too hung up with the technical  It’s A Powerful Tool, Not A Panacea
    There’s an epidemic out there (mainly from Facebook Ad Consultants) who push it as the panacea to all business problems. 
    It’s not true… 
    Facebook Ads is a super powerful tool that you could use to grow your community. Especially if you’re struggling to attract new members. 
    It’s not a miracle cure.
    If there’s a problem with your community messaging or attractiveness then Facebook Ads won’t fix it.
    Instead Facebook Ads is more of a magnifying glass. 
    It will highlight any problems. 
    Which is very helpful if you don’t know where the gaps are in your community. 
    Not so good if you’re expecting a miracle.

    Final Thought

    If you’re thinking about using Facebook Ads for your community then you 100% SHOULD!
    Depending on your budget will decide if you get someone paid who knows what they’re doing (like me) or you run the ads yourself. 
    If you do find someone make sure they’re realistic with the platform and what it can achieve. 
    If you’re doing it yourself, then have a go… Try a traffic campaign to get you started. 
    The WORST that can happen is you’ll spend a bit of money without getting anything in return. 
    It’s only beginner tax… Or making a donation to the ‘Zuck Fund’ as it’s known in the industry. 
    I’ve seen total beginners make 5 figures with their first ad…
    It’s pretty rare, but I’ve seen it happen. 
    The ONLY thing you can do is have a play and see what happens. 
    It doesn’t bite. 
    Martin Jolley-Jarvis is the owner of Full Spectrum Agency.
  8. Like
    GTServices 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
  9. Like
    GTServices reacted to Matt for an entry, What lessons can you learn from a discount fashion retailer?   
    Two headlines caught my eye today as they appeared side by side in my newsfeed.
    On first glance, they seemed contradictory.
    The first was that the UK lost nearly 2,500 shops and stores last year and the second is that discount fashion retailer Primark has just invested £70m in a new store in Birmingham.
    This new store covers 161,000 sq ft over five floors and features a Disney-themed cafe, a beauty studio, a gents hairdresser and a Harry Potter themed section.
    If the UK is closing thousands of stores, and a recent department store has just fallen into administration why would a brand invest £70m in a new store?
    The answer is that they are not building a store, they are building an experience.
    It's clearly not enough to just stack products and open the doors anymore. You have to offer more to entice people in through the doors.
    This is why Toys R Us failed in the end. I maintain that if they had reduced shelf space and installed soft play, cafes and product demonstration areas, they would have had a chance at turning around their failing business.
    Primark has learned from other's mistakes. With themed "shops in shops" and child-friendly cafes, they are offering more than discount clothes.
    It is exactly the same as your community. Offering a space to facilitate conversation is often not enough unless you dominate your niche.
    Are you known for well thought out reviews? Perhaps you write valuable articles that get people to your site.
    Or you might be focusing on building an audience with a photo competition as Helen from The Dogly Mail has.
    What are you doing to encourage more people through your doors?
  10. Like
    GTServices reacted to Joel R for an entry, Master your community's lifecycle to increase your growth   
    “Every success story is a tale of constant adaption, revision and change.” – Richard Branson, billionaire and founder of Virgin Group.
    We all seek success with our Invision Communities. For too many of our communities, however, we yearn for success but we don’t plot the correct navigation to get there. We haphazardly pursue our strategies, trying new ideas and hoping one will stick. It’s time to take a step back and assess your goals in context to your growth. It’s important to understand the stages of the community lifecycle, and to strategically match your goals with your growth sequence.

    Alicia Iriberri and Gondy Leroy of Claremont Graduate University surveyed over 1000 publications across multiple disciplines including computer science, information systems, sociology, and management in their seminal 2009 research paper “A Life-Cycle Perspective on Online Community Success.” Their research forms the foundation for most modern community management, and in their paper they write, “The impact each design component has on the success of the online community shifts depending on which life-cycle stage the online community is experiencing.” The right strategy at the right time will maximize the impact.
    Every community goes through a community lifecycle of four stages: Inception, Growth, Maturity, and Mitosis.
     


    Setting the wrong objective can not only fail, it can even backfire and destroy goodwill. Here are classic examples of good strategies that go wrong because of poor sequencing:
    A new community with no activity that builds dozens of new boards A growth community not fostering a unique sense of community A mature community not establishing strong codes of conduct
    Architecting a community is very different for the first ten users versus the next thousand users. New priorities come into play, community concerns will shift and strategies need tochange. As a community manager, ensure the strategy is appropriate and reflects your community lifecycle to ensure maximum impact.

    Let’s take a look at proper goal settings for each stage of the community lifecycle.

    Inception
    Inception is the start of your community. You’re bursting with energy, enthusiasm, and big ideas. While your Invision Community is full of potential, your goal is to turn your vision into reality:
    Members: Focus on nurturing a core team of members. Your goal is to get 10 – 12 superusers to consistently engage and support the community vision. Promotion: Your community won’t contain enough content to attract visitors through search engines, so you’ll have to rely on personal referrals, word-of-mouth, and direct acquaintances. Content: Focus on building expertise on core content areas that will make you stand out. You want to be the best in one subject. You’ll need to generate much of the content programming yourself, which should focus on functional value. Organization: Establish organizational parameters for the community, define the vision with stakeholders, write your Terms of Use, and validate the community concept. Community: The community is heavily centered around the community founder at this stage, so set the right tone and lead through example.
    Growth
    Growth is where the magic of community happens, balanced against the development of more explicit and formal conduct.
    Members: Shift your focus from nurturing individual users to creating a workflow that can systematically welcome new members. Promotion: You should be proactive with your self-promotional activities to build community awareness such as email marketing, social media, or mailing lists. Content: Content will now be a mix between self-generated and co-created. You want to highlight community content by others to encourage community expertise. When you create content yourself, you want to start including emotionally-driven questions that connect users. Organization: Measure specific metrics for organization goals, highlight community health and successes, secure funding for ongoing budget and team. Community: A unique sense of community is cultivated at this time with shared experiences and language between members. Members feel excited to be a part of your community’s growth.         
    Maturity
    Maturity is when your Invision Community becomes critically acclaimed and well-known in the field. Even though your community looks to be run smoothly, there are still areas to address so your community doesn’t stagnate:
    Members: There should be a clearly defined process and welcome guide for onboarding new members, an established pipeline that constantly brings on new superusers, and a rewards program that recognizes members for different types of member journeys. Promotion: Your site is well-known, so the search engine traffic and content within your community is enough to bring in new users. You can optimize your SEO at this point. Content: Almost all content is user-created at this point, which means your focus needs to shift to content recognition, organization, and moderation. Highlight the best community content; categorize and properly tag new content so the community stays organized; and scale your moderation to handle the size of your community. Organization: The community is a key part of your organization’s larger success and supports multiple areas of the business. Be a strong internal advocate for the community and align your community with your organization’s new profit areas. Community: Superusers not only have the privilege of creating their own content for the community, but they’ve stepped up as mentors and moderators. Your community has a strong culture that’s reinforced by members.
    Mitosis
    Mitosis is the stage when your Invision Community grows beyond its original mission, potentially splitting off into new subgroups. Many communities stagnate at this point with falling engagement and plateauing registration, but you’re catching onto the next big trend in your industry to grow into.
    Members: New member registrations flatlines because you’re tracking with the industry. Your goal is to continue to delight members with new forms of omnichannel engagement like regional meetups, video conferencing, and headline conferences. Promotion: Your community self-generates organic traffic. Your promotion should shift from trying to advertise for yourself to exerting influence with industry partners as a trusted leader in the field. Content: Members can find the most comprehensive set of resource documents and discussion on your community. Your goal is to distill the knowledge into the best tips and guides for newcomers to obtain the most accurate information as quickly as possible. You should also archive areas that no longer receive activity while finding growth topics in your field. Organization: The community is a critical part of all business operations and integrates into all relevant workflows. You should build custom metrics to measure results, help determine new investment decisions, and streamline business efficiencies at the organizational level that benefit the community. Community: Your community becomes an incubator of new sections in a controlled manner for potential spin-off. Superusers control and moderate their own areas of the site like Clubs or Blogs.

    Online communities evolve through distinct stages of the community lifecycle. At each stage, the needs and activities of members require different tools, features, and community management. Certain strategies are more impactful when they coincide with the right sequence.

    Invision Community makes it easy to get started with a technology platform packed with features that every community manager can start using right away. But how you get to the first ten users, to the first thousand posts, or even to one billion likes will be a journey that’s truly your own.

    Share your success story of Invision Community in the comments below. Did you make any rookie mistakes that you wish you knew beforehand? What are some strategies that you’re pursuing right now, and why do you think it’s an impactful decision for this stage of your community’s lifecycle?
    We’d love to hear your journey along the community lifecycle.
  11. Like
    GTServices reacted to Guest Writer for an entry, Case Study: Building Safe Spaces for The Trevor Project   
    Every day, LGBTQ young people from all walks of life log into TrevorSpace, the world’s largest moderated safe space for LGBTQ youth online.
    Here, young people can support each other, share their stories, and find refuge from what might be a less than accepting environment offline.
    Launched in 2008, TrevorSpace is housed under The Trevor Project, the foremost suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth in the world. Having an affirming digital community has been an indispensable resource for the youth The Trevor Project aims to protect, but guiding it to the success it enjoys today has had its challenges.
    Shortly after its launch, TrevorSpace rapidly grew to serve tens of thousands of users in just a few years. While the platform initially started on commercial community software, some unique requirements led the organization to go custom, building a community platform from the ground up.

    Faced with increasing hosting and development costs and declining user activity, senior leadership faced a tough decision: either dramatically transform the program, or discontinue it altogether. That’s when Invision Community stepped in.
    “We were already planning a digital transformation, replacing everything from our physical computers to our crisis services software infrastructure, the platforms that young people use to reach out to us, like TrevorLifeline, TrevorChat, and TrevorText,” John Callery, director of technology at The Trevor Project said of the challenges facing the organization at the time. “We had to be very careful with our resources and where we allocated our time.”
    Continuing the TrevorSpace program would mean The Trevor Project needed to move to a solution that could be implemented and managed with very limited resources while still providing the quality of care that the community had come to expect. It also meant meeting the specific needs of the organization’s mission, particularly around safety.
    After looking into the Invision Community platform per the suggestion of a team member, it became clear that they had all of the fundamentals TrevorSpace was looking for, like messages boards, social networking, and private messaging.
    Here was a chance to save the platform.
    Customers rarely have the opportunity to meet the people behind the technology they use. This wasn’t the case for The Trevor Project and the Invision Community team, who made it clear they believed in our mission to support LGBTQ youth in crisis and were willing to partner with us to realize our specific needs and figure out new solutions.
    Through utilizing the Invision Community team’s applications and plugins, we were able to meet all of our community’s custom needs, adding functionality unique to TrevorSpace to protect our users, many of whom are especially vulnerable when it comes to their privacy. None of this would have been possible without the incredible support of the Invision Community team.
    For just one example of how crucial TrevorSpace is to young LGBTQ people around the world, listen to Mani Cavalieri, the community’s product manager: “When the most prevalent forms of social media are so enmeshed with our in-person relationships, LGBTQ youth often lose a safe place to explore their identities. TrevorSpace is one of those special communities that balances anonymity (often a necessity for safety) with real, personal connections.” Since joining the team, Mani has already seen multiple instances of users finding lifelong friends - and even partners - over the years on TrevorSpace - and on the Invision Community platform, it is able to reach more users than ever before.
    In January 2018, TrevorSpace received double the number of registrations than any other month in the program’s 10-year history. We continue to see more than a thousand new registered members each week.
    As we begin international promotion of the program, we expect to break many more records in the coming year. As we continue to grow TrevorSpace, we also continue to rely on Invision Community’s extensibility.
    Our mission is to improve support networks and mental resilience for our users. This requires us to understand our users’ behavior and needs from a different perspective than other online communities, and it will continue to require more custom solutions.
    The marketplace of plugins, as well as the enthusiastic support of the Invision Community team, enable us to be bold in our ambitions, to build out a community that is truly unique in its class, and to improve the lives of those that need a supportive community the most.
    As one user puts in, in their welcome message to each newcomer: “That's our little secret - there's some one here, going through what you're going through. Whether that be mental health, body issues, parents, friends, and whatever else life as someone who's LGBTQ+ can throw at you. Reach out, and someone will be there for you.”
    - This entry was written by The Trevor Project team

    https://www.trevorspace.org
    https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
  12. Like
    GTServices reacted to Joel R for an entry, How To Create Value from an Online Community   
    Online communities shine with the brilliance of humanity. Every day, our communities inspire, evoke, inform, motivate and engage in a hundred different ways.  Every member feels a uniquely individual sense of value from your community. 
    For too many communities, the strategy revolves around two simple pillars: content and engagement.  You inform. You engage. And you think your job is done.  However, you’ve barely scratched the surface of offering value. 
    You need to expand the ways in which you strategically match your community to member value. 
    New studies are coming out that show humans feel up to 27 emotions from admiration to triumph, and the best communities unleash a rainbow spectrum of value – functional and emotional, business to social - for their organizations and for their members.  This results in not just deeper and more extensive engagement, but greater financial payoff.
    Indeed, research from global management consulting firm Bain & Company shows brands like Apple, Samsung, and Amazon that demonstrate multiple elements of value have x3 greater customer loyalty and x4 faster revenue growth than others.   
    The elements of value can be divided into two broad categories.

    Specialize in Functional Value
    Don’t deliver content.  Deliver time savings, cost savings, risk savings, organization, connection, education, and variety.
    What is the utility benefit to your users? 
    Functional values are the core reasons why members would visit your community.  It forms the baseline rationale for your community’s existence, and you want to not just be good – you want to be the best in delivering functional value in your field.
    Improve your Q&A boards for feedback, inquiry, or ideation.  Provide a template in a pinned topic where users fill out a consistent set of questions, so you can answer with the most appropriate and accurate options.  Use moderator tools like Recommended Replies to summarize and spotlight key points in a topic.  This saves time and focuses attention on expert information.    Super-charge the training for your response team.  Empower them to be subject experts by giving them private training, templates, and extra resources in a staff wiki so they can investigate the unique needs of user inquiries and provide the best responses.        Build a set of content resources in the Pages application, which is the most powerful application in the suite.  It can be used to create a set of content resources with unlimited custom fields, filters, and templates enabling you to offer variety, organization, and education that no other competitor can match.  Spark Emotional Value
    Don’t deliver engagement.  Deliver admiration, amusement, awe, empathy,  joy, nostalgia, satisfaction, and triumph.
    How does your community make your members feel better? 
    Here’s a little secret.  Even though functional value is the foundation of your community’s value proposition, emotional elements are 50% more valuable.  Fortunately, Invision Community comes loaded with ways to recognize, reward, and promote members. 
    Take the time to explain the purpose of a new group promotion, rank, or title.  Don’t let the reward be the goal in and of itself.  You should connect the feature with its underlying emotion by explaining what steps are required to earn the rank, how many others earned it, and what it’ll take to earn the next one.  Start with the Leaderboard.  Invision Community ships with the Leaderboard, which provides an overview of the most popular users and content.  Scan for up-and-coming members to investigate what triggers their emotional satisfaction; scan for popular content to discover what excites your membership.  Create multiple member journeys.  Most communities follow a pattern of new member to trusted member to moderator.  But members can become superusers in many ways. Members who enjoy nostalgia can organize a Year-in-Review topic. Members who enjoy affiliation should serve as Ambassadors to greet and mentor new members. Members who seek reputation will appreciate new outlets for publishing.  Define multiple pathways that strategically tap into the diverse desires of your members.  As you implement your initiatives to build a Community of Excellence, take the time to relate the initiative to the Elements of Value (Attachment: IPS Elements of Value Attachment.pdf).  You’ll find new and creative ways of offering value to strengthen the relationship between your community and your members. 
    Look deep within your community to unearth the rainbow spectrum of value. 
    You’ll discover a wellspring of extraordinary value waiting to help your members shine brightest.
  13. Like
    GTServices reacted to Matt for an entry, Podcast with Matt: Facebook or Forums?   
    I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak on the Expert Focus podcast,  hosted by experienced community manager and public speaker, Claire Dowdall.
    Claire has significant experience in managing and developing strategies for increasing Facebook Group engagement for high profile speakers and entrepreneurs, while my background is with independent communities.

    This set us up nicely for a lively conversation to really pull apart what makes for a successful community, and what platforms to consider when starting out.
    From Expert Focus:

    I really enjoyed speaking with Claire, and I hope you find a little time to tune in.

    Listen now:
    iTunes link for Apple devices On Spotify On all other devices
  14. Like
    GTServices reacted to Matt for an entry, How to beat your competition   
    The Internet is a fierce battleground for users, clicks, attention, and audience.  Competition surrounds your community from all angles and new threats constantly emerge.
    The Internet has leveled the playing field for local businesses, solopreneurs, and small organizations which means more people than ever are competing for users.  Online communities are no different, and as companies realize the growing power of communities, you too may face more challenges. 
    Online communities are growing faster than ever:
     IDC predicts worldwide online communities market to grow to $1.2 billion in 2019 According to research by Leader Networks,  twenty-three percent of marketers who have online communities indicate that the size of their communities doubled in the past year.   How is your community competing against your competitors?  Is your community growing or stagnating relative to your competitors?   
    In this blog post, we identify core concepts of competitive strategy that stretch from traditional theory to unique methods of winning for communities.   
    Theory of Competition
    The broadly-accepted understanding of competition in the business world rests on the seminal work by Professor Michael Porter, when he mapped out the origins of competitive forces in his 1979 book “How Competitive Forces Shape Strategy.”  Fundamentally, all strategies for Porter distill into two basic options: Build on what you already do, or do something no one else can do.  
    You can compete by doing what everyone else is doing but be more efficient, such as offering higher quality content, a better user experience, or having a lower price of member acquisition.  Or, you can expand the pie by forging a new position in the marketplace, such as staking out an untapped niche or developing a unique service.    
    What’s your current competitive strategy: be better at what you’re already doing and your competitors, or to do something completely new?  
    Emerging Theories
    A new strategy on competition is emerging that is just as potent as Porter’s competitive forces. It’s especially relevant for online communities in the digital age: reacting opportunistically to emerging possibilities.  
    Discovery-driven planning is the field’s most recent thinking.  It was introduced 20 years ago in works like Tim Luehrman’s “Strategy as a Portfolio of Real Options” that talked about flexibility as a strategy.  The idea was also introduced in the more recent “Stop Making Plans: Start Making Decisions” by Michael Mankins and Richard Steel, which argued for continuous strategic planning cycles.   
    Online communities are impacted by – and can seize advantage of – fluctuating factors:
    Technical advances and digital disruptions  Disruptions in your industry  The faster you react to market or technological change, the greater your advantage will become over time.  What disruption recently impacted your industry or niche?  How can you capitalize on the opportunity?  
    Application to Online Communities
    Online communities are at an especially powerful intersection of customers, superusers, industry experts, and brand representatives.  By assembling a broad mix of users, you gain a source of competitive knowledge and crowd wisdom unmatched by traditional businesses.  
    Market intelligence – Harness the power of crowds by letting your members feed you real-time market intelligence on the industry, market trends, and competitors.   Use technology to your advantage – Become an expert on utilizing your Invision platform as a technological advantage, whether you’re increasing visitor registrations with Post Before Registering, adding in store filters in Commerce, or enabling the application manifest settings for faster access on smartphones. Collaborative ideation – Collaborate with users early in the design process to create services or products that are highly-differentiated. Co-Creation – Channel your user’s expertise, enthusiasm, and product knowledge into co-created content such as tutorials, support answers, industry news, contests, and more.  Brand Ambassadors – Turn your membership’s most passionate users into brand ambassadors to provide outreach and personalized connections.   Conclusion
    Communities are challenged and tested every day by a multitude of competitors that compete for users. Competition is fierce, and as the web continues to proliferate and level the playing field, competition will only get stronger. 
    It’s no longer enough to host a general discussion forum.  Successful communities envision a clear competitive strategy.  
    Although competition is fierce, there are winners on the Internet who consistently gain market share. 
    The winners are those who understand the fundamental drivers of competition: to create sustainable advantages over their competitors, to offer unique services and experiences, and to react opportunistically.  They also leverage all facets of their community for maximum value.      
    Join me in 2019 in defining your competitive strategy and becoming a Community of Excellence. 
    - Joel R
    Joel R is a mystery wrapped inside an enigma. When he's not running his own successful community, he's peppering Invision Community's private Slack channel with his feedback, community management experience and increasingly outrageous demands (everything is true except the last part).
  15. Like
    GTServices reacted to Matt for an entry, The incredible power of anonymity when growing your community   
    We attach a significant amount of personally identifiable data to our social media profiles daily.
    I regularly use social media to share photos of my kids and holidays. I post my personal thoughts on products I've used and TV shows I've watched. I'm even tagged in location-based check-ins.
    It's all there in my news feed for anyone to see.
    I'm not alone. More and more of us live our lives through the prism of social media. We share things we love, things we loathe and things that make us laugh.
    With just a few clicks, you can discover a lot of information about a person. More often than not, you can see where they work, where they live and what school they went to.
    Scrolling through their timeline often reveals their stance on hot topics such as gun control, the current President and other recent headline news items.
    This information follows you when you join a Facebook Group. Your past Tweets are always available to trawl through.

     
    Indeed, there may be some groups that you decide you cannot post in as people would be able to identify you. 
    This is particularly true for stigmatised conditions, such as financial help, illness and mental health.
    After all, if you were seeking help with a large amount of debt or managing an embarrassing medical condition, you wouldn't feel comfortable knowing that work colleagues, friends and family could read your posts.
    The benefit of anonymity for stigmatised topics
    "Forums can all offer some initial anonymity, a community, and information that geographically proximate others may not have. What stigma-related forums uniquely offer is that the anonymity protects those who are not ready to be publicly associated with sensitive topics; the community helps to neutralise the “spoilage” of identity that accompanies stigma." (1)
    Unlike social media where reams of personal data is willingly added, and which can identify you to other online users, forums allow you to add as much information as you are comfortable with.
    Support communities for mental health and illness flourish using forums for this reason. An individual may feel devalued in society and unwilling to share their condition over social media.

     
    "Nowadays people can both avoid and proactively cope with this devaluation by turning to online forums populated by others who share the same devalued group membership." (1)
    Forums offer a safe space for these individuals to seek and receive support from others without disclosing large amounts of identifiable data.
    Allowing a level of anonymity encourages more people to register and over time, they will develop ties with other users.
    For an individual with a stigmatized condition, a forum may be a real life-line in coping with the condition as face-to-face support is often limited.
    Adrial Dale, who owns Herpes Opportunity agrees.
    "In order for us to truly be able to work through the shame that stigma can trigger, it's absolutely vital for us to feel safe to open up and tell all. Through opening up, we not only get to share with an understanding and compassionate community (which normalizes our shared experiences), but we're also able to begin to release what has felt like our own solitary burden to bear. 
    Then a magical thing can happen ... an alchemical process that transforms shame into an opportunity for connection. An opportunity for us to be accepted for who we are *behind* the thick wall of shame. And ultimately, an opportunity to accept ourselves.
    Especially in these days of the internet not feeling so private (even in places where it absolutely should be), having true privacy and anonymity is paramount for communities like Herpes Opportunity. Anything other than that is grounds for paranoia and holding back from sharing ourselves. (In fact, just the other day someone messaged me asking "Are private messages really private?") Fear can lead to closing ourselves off, which can lead to isolation and paranoia, which can lead to a downward spiral of self-loathing and depression. On the other hand, safety, connection and compassion creates an an okayness with the nitty-grittiness of what it means to be human."
    The benefit of expressing a new identity
    "People may strategically express identities when they think they will not be punished, and/or connect them to an audience that is valued." (1)
    It is arguably true that not so many years ago, tech-related communities were very much male-dominated, with female contributions valued less.
    Forums allow a way to create a new identity that is either gender-neutral thus allowing the male users to assume a gender, or overtly male to ensure their contributions are evaluated on merit, and not with any gender bias.

     
    Christopher Marks who owns Nano-Reef has seen this first hand.
    "During a discussion with a women’s group in our generally male dominant hobby, a number of women had expressed the benefit of having an anonymous username and profile when asking for help and advice on forums, they receive equal help without the unfortunate gender bias or belittling that can sometimes happen in real life when seeking the same help in person."
    Invision Community's Jennifer has also experience of this on her own community; RPG Initiative.
    "RPG Initiative is a community for all roleplayers. We focus on all text-based roleplaying forms that are hosted on the internet. We encourage roleplayers to find each other, discuss roleplay and grow as collaborative writers here at the Initiative in a safe environment."
    Jennifer relies on, and encourages anonymity. She knows that because her site is predominately female, some female users identify as male to increase the chances of getting others to collaborate with them.
    "Male players are rare, in fact, I recently ran a poll on my site and of those that responded to it less than 15% of them are male (or identify as such). So this gets them more attention and in turn, more people that want to write with them."
    Jennifer explains how anonymity is critical to her site's growth.
    "Anonymity is a difficult thing to accomplish in a small niche like mine, but it's sort of like a small town where everyone knows everyone, and they likely know all of your secrets. So enforcing rules to preserve anonymity is really important to my community and me. This includes prohibiting the "naming of names" or the "site" that the drama is coming from when seeking for advice or help. This doesn't negate that people may know the existing situation or people involved because they are also involved or know some of the people involved, but it helps cut down on the drama and the spread of negativity and false information about people."
    With a forum community, you can truly be who you want to be.
    This is not so with social media where others can create bias based on your gender, looks or topical preferences.
    Together, together
    "In her early work, Turkle argued that the internet provided myriad positive opportunities for self-transformation, but more recently, she argues that the explosion in social media options has led us to develop superficial, emotionally lazy but instantly available virtual relationships." (1)
    It's hard to argue against this statement when you consider the content that predominates social media. And often an endless stream of self-focused content.
    "Indeed, we provide clear evidence that online forums afford users a way of being genuinely “together, together”, as opposed to what Turkle calls “alone together.”(1)
    The bottom line is that it has been proven that allowing a degree on anonymity increases engagement across all niches, but especially those that are built to support those with stigmatised conditions. These forums have a greater sense of community and depth than those built on social media.
    When you allow your members to take back control of their privacy, you are empowering them to make decisions about what to share.
    Given how eroded our privacy is in our modern always-connected world, this is a precious gift.
    If you are looking to create a new community then consider this before choosing your community platform.
    References:
    1: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S074756321500268X
    2: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10410236.2017.1339370
  16. Like
    GTServices reacted to Matt for an entry, Team Talk: Your favourite 4.4 feature?   
    Release parties at Invision Community are a fairly tame affair. You'd think after months of planning, coding and testing we'd want to cut loose and dance the night away.
    The reality is we send each other a few amusing GIFs in Slack and then wait for support tickets to start appearing while our developers crack their knuckles and prepare for bug reports to be filed.

    It's a nightmare trying to get a photo of our team, so here's a stock image. Just pretend it's us. That's me looking at a report of how much code Mark Wade has refused during reviews
    I did manage to find five minutes to ask the team what their favourite feature of 4.4 was.

    Here's what they said.
    Marc S
    Support, Guides and Keen Cyclist @Marc Stridgen
    I'm going to go with 'Post before registering', because it allows for more effective onboarding of new members on your site. People are much more likely to register after just having written a topic, then they are if they have to register before getting started. It also gives you the opportunity to see how many people are not actually registering, and maybe address that on the site.

    Ryan
    Developer, T3 support and reluctant AWS wrangler @Ryan Ashbrook
    My favorite 4.4 feature is the progressive web app settings. I now have our site pinned to my phones home screen for quick access, and use our site on mobile even more now that I can just hit the icon to pull up our site.

    Mark H
    Support, Beta Tester and remembers this when it was fields @Mark H
    While this isn’t “a” favorite feature, I most like the steady small improvements to Gallery in the 4.x series. Photography-centric sites should especially like the additions to extended EXIF data in 4.4 so that authors can provide the most detail about their submitted photos…. where it was taken, what camera, which lens, shutter speed and aperture, etc.

    Daniel
    Developer, T2 support and airport security fan @Daniel F
    As IPS4 consumer, I'm going to say that Lazy Loading and mobile create menu are my favorite enhancement.
    As community owner, I'm most excited about post before register and email advertisements.. That's going to bring the $$$

    Brandon
    Developer, Enterprise Support and proud of his thorough code reviews @bfarber
    My favorite change in 4.4 (besides the overall performance improvements, as I'm a geek for that sort of thing) is the overhauled Conversion experience (which we haven't even blogged about). We took converters and flipped them on their head for 4.4, so you now choose what software you want to convert from, what applications from that software you want to convert, fill in any required details, and the conversion process just launches and runs from beginning to end right then and there. You no longer need to convert each application and each type of data within each application individually, making for an easier and overall smoother experience.

    Stuart
    Developer, Conversion Specialist and PC enthusiast @Stuart Silvester
    This is actually hard to answer than it seems, there are so many great changes and features in 4.4. The combined performance improvements including HTTP/2 Push, More aggressive caching, SVG letter photos, lazy loading are definitely some of my favourites. After all, time is money. (A smaller favourite is the browser notification prompt change, especially with visiting as many customer sites as I do in Tier 2).

    Jim
    Support, Beta Tester and suspiciously quiet in staff chat @Jim M
    The communities I run are about cars and very heavily image based. Whether it's "I have an issue" or simple sharing of car builds, topics get image heavy very quickly and doing anything to improve moving throughout that topic more quickly is going to go far. I feel a lot of communities can relate and why lazy load of images is my favorite 4.4 feature.

    Jennifer
    Designer, Enterprise Theme Specialist, owner of several super powers @Jennifer M
    There are so many changes with 4.4 it's actually really hard to choose just one change that is my absolutely favorite. I would probably say a lot of the more micro features are my favorites. Colored usernames everywhere, lazy load for images, improved notifications experience, text or URLs for announcements, reordering of club tabs, ability to hide widgets/blocks from mobile etc. They are all quality of life improvements that I love and appreciate on so many levels.

    We're Steve Ballmer levels of excited about 4.4.

    It looks like Rikki's lazy loading is a clear winner. I'm not surprised, it's a real boost for page speed and reduces hosting costs. Personally I'm a fan of the progressive web app settings which, like Ryan, enables me to have our community on my phone's home page.

    Let us know what your favourites are below! 
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