annadaa 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.
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.
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.
annadaa reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.5: Commerce Trials
One of the most popular requests we get for Commerce is for a free trial period for subscriptions. We've heard from many clients that wish to allow their members a free, or reduced cost trial period before auto-renewing the full price.
I'm pleased to say that we've now added this functionality into Invision Community 4.5. Let us take a look at how it works.
In 4.5 you can now specify an initial term that is different to the normal renewal term for any subscription plan or product. For example, you could make the initial term $0 for 1 week and the normal renewal term $10 per month which will allow you to create 1 week free trial. The initial term doesn't have to be $0, you can use any special price for the initial term you like.
Subscription Plans showing Free Trials
For developers creating their own applications with Commerce integration, this functionality is also available to you simply by passing a DateInterval object representing the initial term when creating the invoice.
Collecting Payment Details for Free Trials
Previously, if you were buying something that is free, the entire of the last step of the checkout would just be skipped and the invoice marked as paid.
In 4.5, if:
The user is purchasing something which has a free initial period, but also has a renewal term (i.e. is a free trial), and You have a payment method which can collect card details (Stripe, Braintree, etc) The user will be prompted to provide payment details that will not be charged until after the free trial. If the user already has a card on file they will not be prompted to provide the details again but will see a confirmation screen rather than the order just being marked paid immediately.
Checkout Process for a Free Trial
As you can see, allowing a free or reduced cost trial period has never been easier. We hope that you enjoy using this new feature of Invision Community 4.5.
annadaa reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Private staff notes
Managing a community as a team makes internal communication an essential part of its successful management.
There are times where you want to leave notes for other staff on specific topics that you're watching. Perhaps a member is close to breaking the rules, or it might be that you want to keep the topic focused and on point so wish to split off-topic posts into a different area.
Whatever the reason, Invision Community 4.5 adds the ability to leave private staff notes on topics.
For some time, Invision Community has had the ability for staff to leave public notes. Now, in 4.5, staff can choose between public and private notes.
This change was made based on customer feedback, so thank you! We do read and listen to all the feedback you leave.
Who is looking forward to Invision Community 4.5? Let us know below!
annadaa reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Forum View Updates
Invision Community has had different view modes for a good number of years.
Forum grid view was added to create some visual interest when listing forums, and we've had expanded and condensed view modes in streams since they were introduced.
We've taken both of these views a step further in Invision Community 4.5
Forum Grid View
To create even more visual interest, the grid view now allows you to upload, or choose a stock image for the header. This instantly makes for a more dynamic and inviting forum list.
The new grid view image headers
You can choose an image from the Admin CP when creating or editing a forum.
Choose a stock photo, or upload your own
Topic List View
For the topic list view, we have taken inspiration from our stream view options to introduce a new 'expanded' view mode, which displays a snippet of the first post.
The new expanded topic list mode
This immediately entices you to engage with the topic because you can read part of the post without having to click inside to see if it interests you.
This is controlled via the Admin CP, where you can choose the default view, or turn off the new view completely.
You may notice a few other subtle changes in these screenshots. The first is that we now included the follower count as a metric on both the forum grid view and the topic expanded view modes. The number of followers is usually a good indicator of how others perceive the value of the content. A higher follower count generally means a more engaging topic or forum.
You can also see that we've switched to a short number format to keep the displays clean. Instead of say, "2,483 posts", it will merely say "2.5k posts". Reducing visual clutter is always crucial to maintaining a clean user interface.
We hope that you find these new view modes useful and that they make your community even more vibrant!
annadaa reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Topic view summary and more
A topic is more than a collection of posts; it's a living entity that ebbs and flows over time.
Evergreen topics can see month-long gaps between posts and longer topics spanning numerous pages can end up hard to navigate through to find useful content.
With this in mind, we've added numerous improvements to the topic view to bring context and summaries key areas within the topic.
Topic view updates
The first thing you likely spotted in the above screenshot is the new sidebar. This acts much like a summary of activity within the topic. It very quickly lets you know how old the topic is and how long it has been since the last reply. This context is essential if you are unwittingly replying to an older topic.
Most topics are driven by a handful of key members. The topic activity section shows you who have been most active, which may influence which posters you give greater authority to.
Likewise, popular days lets you dig into the 'meat' of the topic which may have evolved quickly over several days.
More often than not, a single post attracts more reactions if it is particularly helpful or insightful, and this is shown too.
Finally, a mini gallery of all upload images allows you to review media that has been attached to posts.
The topic activity summary under the first post
This activity bar can be shown either as a sidebar or underneath the first post in a topic. If you enable it for mobile devices, then it will show under the first post automatically.
The topic activity summary on mobile
As with many new features in Invision Community, you have several controls in the Admin CP to fine-tune this to your communities needs.
The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted a few other changes to the topic view.
The first is the badge underneath the user's photo. The shield icon notes that this poster is part of the moderation team. Of course, this badge can be hidden for communities that do not like to draw attention to all their moderators.
You will also notice that when the topic starter makes a reply to a topic, they get an "author" badge as their reply may carry more authority.
When you scroll down a topic, it's not often apparent that there has been a significant time gap between replies. For some topical topics (see what I did there) this may alter the context of the conversation.
We have added a little identifier between posts when a period of time has passed between posts.
These changes add a little context to the topic to give you more insight into how the replies direct the conversation.
The new topic activity summary gives you an at-a-glance overview of key moments and posters to help you navigate longer topics.
We hope that you and your members enjoy these new features coming to Invision Community 4.5!
annadaa reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Marking as solved
Invision Community has had a question and answer mode for a good few years now.
This mode transforms a forum into a formalized way to handle your member's questions. Members can upvote answers, and the topic starter and your community management team can mark a reply as the "best answer".
This is great when you want to add rigour to specific forums which encourage your members to find solutions.
The existing "QA" mode
But how about a way to mark a topic as solved without transforming the look and feel of the forum?
We get asked this a lot.
Happily, it's now a feature just added to Invision Community 4.5! Those with a long memory will recall we had something very similar way back in Invision Community 3.
The new "mark as solved" feature
This new feature allows the topic starter or your community management team to mark a post as the solution. This highlights the post within the topic as well as adding an icon to the listing views.
The green tick notes that the topic has a solution
In addition, it also increases the member's solved count, which is displayed under their name in the post and even in a draggable widget that shows members with the most solutions. We have also added a new filter to the existing post and topic feed widgets to allow only items with a solution to be shown, so you can create a "Recently solved" feed.
The new widget
Finally, a notification is sent to the author of the post that is selected as the best answer, so they're made aware that their helpful content has been spotted.
Let your members know their content was useful
We hope you enjoy these changes and look forward to allowing your community to find answers quickly, and to reward the members that provide them.
annadaa reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: User Interface Improvements
Invision Community has certainly changed a lot over the years as we've moved through major updates and large user interface changes.
While large scale changes offer a dramatic difference, it is sometimes the smaller changes that bring the most satisfaction when using your community daily.
This blog entry rounds up some of the UI improvements Invision Community 4.5 brings.
Content View Behavior
What do you want to happen when you click a topic link? Are you taken to the first comment, the last comment or the first comment you've not read? If you speak to 100 people, I'm pretty sure you'll get a good spread of votes for each.
Invision Community has always offered subtle ways to get right to the first unread comment. Our infamous dot or star allows you to do this, but it is so subtle almost no one knows this.
Invision Community 4.5 now allows each member to choose (with the AdminCP offering a default).
Now everyone wins!
Invision Community has had reactions for a long while now. Although finding out who exactly reacted without clicking the counts has proved irksome.
We've fixed that in Invision Community so simply mousing over the reaction icon reveals who reacted.
Sign In Anonymously
For as long as I can remember, Invision Community has offered an option to sign in anonymously via a checkbox on the login form.
However, as we've added faster ways to log in via Facebook, Twitter, Google and more it's become less straight forward to ensure your anonymity.
Invision Community 4.5 removes this login preference and moves it to your members' settings.
Now your members can resume hiding as they move around your community across multiple logins.
Resize Before Uploading
One of the most popular requests we've had in recent times is to resize large images before uploading. It's quite likely that your giant full resolution image will be denied when attempting to upload, and it's a bit of a faff to resize it in a photo editor.
Invision Community leverages the uploader's ability to resize before uploading, which makes it a much happier experience.
Switch Off Automatic Language Detection
Invision Community attempts to map your browser's user-agent to a specific language pack.
When you visit a site, your browser lets the site know which language our browser is set to (often dictated by your operating system) and we use that to show you the correct language if the community you're visiting has multiple languages installed.
However, it might be that you don't want this to happen because although your computer's OS is set to a specific language, it doesn't always follow that is the one you wish to use on a website.
Invision Community 4.5 allows this automatic detection to be switched off.
We will finish with another popular feature request; the ability for long quotes to be collapsed, reducing the amount of scrolling one has to do.
Quite simply, Invision Community collapses long quotes with an option to expand them to read the entire quote.
Thank you to all our customers who have taken the time to leave feedback. As you can see, we do listen and action your feedback.
Which change are you looking forward to the most? Let us know below!
annadaa 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.
annadaa reacted to Andy Millne for an entry, 4.5: Blog Categories
Ever since Invision Community 4.x was launched you have been asking for the ability to categorize blogs in your community.
We heard you loud and clear, but sometimes when a feature sounds straightforward, it requires some re-engineering of the framework. Because users in your community can create both blog entries and their own blogs to hold these entries, this was one of those areas.
Starting with Invision Community 4.5 I’m pleased to announce that it is now possible for blog authors to categorize their blog entries and it's now possible for administrators to categorize blogs.
Blog Entry Categories
When creating a new blog entry, your members will now be able to create a new category for the entry or choose an existing one that had been created previously.
Choosing your category when creating a new blog entry
When a reader then visits the blog they can choose to display only those categories that interest them.
Filtering by category
Running a community where users can create their own blogs, you don’t only need to make sure individual pieces of content are categorized correctly, you also need to make sure the blogs themselves have a logical place. Well guess what? Now you can!
As an admin you can now set up predefined categories in the control panel and Blog authors can then choose which one to create their new blog in.
Managing blog categories
We realize some of you have been waiting a long time to see these changes so we hope you enjoy this and everything else to come in Invision Community 4.5!
annadaa reacted to Ehren for an entry, 4.5: Your new admin control panel
Invision Community has come a long way over the past five years.
We've added many new features and invigorated the front-end user experience to keep it current and in-line with modern interfaces.
One area that has remained largely the same is the Admin Control Panel.
When we released Invision Community 4.0 back in 2014, the Admin Control Panel was updated but has stayed relatively dormant since.
But that's all about to change with the upcoming release of Invision Community 4.5!
The Admin Control Panel in 4.5 has received a substantial update, resulting in a modern color scheme and a clean, minimalistic design.
We felt that a lighter, more open design allowed the content more space and to feel less crowded.
The dark grays have been replaced with shades of blue and aqua which closely reflects Invision Community's new branding, while other colors have been lightened and saturated.
Along with the new color scheme, the overall layout of the ACP has intentionally been kept similar to the existing version, resulting in a design that feels surprisingly familiar yet refreshingly new at the same time.
We hope you've enjoyed this small sneak peek into Invision Community 4.5 and we look forward to introducing you to some more new features in the upcoming weeks!
annadaa reacted to Matt for an entry, What are the benefits of a support community?
When your customers buy or use your products, they will have many questions. They may have issues using the product, or they may have requests for future versions based on their needs.
Managing and responding to those questions and requests quickly increases conversion, satisfaction and the likelihood or purchasing again.
The statistics back this up.
There is no doubt that unless you have a support community for your brand, you are not delivering the best experience for your customers and risk losing them to competitors that do.
Building a support community around your product or service will positively drive your business across all departments from product development through sales and into customer support.
Let's break it down and look at the key benefits for each department.
Encouraging your customers to visit your support community is the simplest way to reduce the cost of supporting your product or service. Creating a self-help culture allows other more experienced customers to offer assistance and troubleshoot any problems they have.
73% of customers fall in love with a brand because of friendly customer service representatives.**
Quite often, new customers encounter the same issues that would flood customer support if they were all channelled to your support desk. For example, consider a company that produces an internet-enabled smart device. Less technically savvy customers will likely contact support to troubleshoot initial connectivity issues which can quickly be resolved by peers in the support community.
These questions and answers form a crowdsourced knowledge base that will allow customers to help themselves without any intervention from your team. Furthermore, these questions will feature in external search results, driving more traffic to your site.
The primary purpose of your community may have initially been to help support your customers, but it quickly becomes a valuable resource to help drive sales.
Your support community will be a relaxed place where customers talk to each other honestly and openly. They will be less inhibited than they would if they were talking to your sales agents.
Customers might be discussing a need for more functionality that you have in another product or service. Your sales team can move these conversations from the community to your CRM to curate new sales leads.
72% of customers will tell 6 people or more if they have a satisfying experience. - Esteban Kolsky
Customers that have had positive interactions with their peers and members of your support team will become advocates for your brand. They will help sell your product over social media and among their friend circles. Given than 90% of customers are influenced by a positive review when buying a product*, having brand advocates is critical to your growth.
There are several costly routes to learning about your customers and their wants and needs. You can conduct external surveys, or pay for research groups to look at your products and offer feedback.
56% of customers don't mind sharing their personal information in exchange for better service.**
The most effective method is to look at your community.
Your customers will be posting their thoughts daily. They'll tell you exactly how they use your products, offering you valuable insight into the problems they are solving with your product. This information should be used as the basis of new marketing campaigns.
Your support community is a direct line to your customers. You no longer need to use external tools and services to determine which features you should add next. You'll be told directly!
55% of customers are willing to spend more money with a company that guarantees them a satisfying experience.**
You'll find that some feature requests bubble up regularly. These are the ones you will want to move to your product roadmap.
Invision Community allows you to segment your community into private areas for beta testing. Your developers can interact with this group to work directly with your customers to shape new functionality.
Harnessing analytical data will inform development decisions. Invision Community can track keywords in user-generated content. If you have released a new feature, you can track how often it is mentioned in conversations to monitor its uptake.
52% of customers believe that companies need to take action on their feedback.*
Setting up your Invision Community
Now we've looked at the compelling reasons you should create a support community around your products, let's take a look at how to set up your Invision Community.
Invision Community has a fully-featured built in support desk functionality. Commerce has all the features you need, including multiple support desk categories, reply by email, pre-written reply templates and private notes.
However, if you already use another support desk such as Zendesk then our API tools mean that Invision Community can integrate with your existing support flow seamlessly.
Invision Community allows you to track how often specific words or phrases. This is useful to monitor which of your products are trending or monitoring uptake on new features.
To set this up, visit the Statistics section of the Admin CP.
Question and Answers
To formalize a support or ideation area within your support community, Invision Community offers a Question and Answer forum type.
Question and Answer forum types allow your members to post questions and enable other members to upvote the questions and replies. Your support team can also flag specific responses as the "best answer" which turns historical questions into a crowdsourced knowledge base.
Showcasing Great Content
Invision Community has several tools to highlight great customer-created content. You can pin topics, and feature specific replies within those topics.
You can also convert posts into new articles within a formal knowledge base or blog to further help your customers find the right answers to their questions.
Invision Community has OAuth and a REST API out of the box. This means it's trivial to extend Invision Community to work within your existing flows. Integrate Invision Community to your SalesForce CRM and Zendesk support systems seamlessly.
Create a federated search to integrate your external knowledge base with client-generated knowledge.
The options are limitless, and we can take care of any custom integrations for you.
If you have any questions, please let me know below, or contact us to see how we can help you harness the power of community for your business.
annadaa reacted to Joel R for an entry, Rewards & Reinforcement: Delivering Member Greatness in Online Communities
Bad communities promise great things to its members. Good communities offer great things to its members. Great communities fulfill the greatness of its members.
A primary purpose of every community is to fulfill the needs of its members. A strong community will go beyond the immediate, basic needs and ensure that fulfillment is a positive experience. By doing so, it builds in positive rewards and reinforcement for an enjoyable sense of togetherness.
One of the cornerstone ideas of behavioral sciences is reinforcement: delivering a positive experience to members through multiple dimensions. Why they come, why the stay, and how to fulfill those needs is our third element of Sense of Community: Rewards & Reinforcement. Discover all the ways to fulfill member needs for your Invision Community.
Fulfillment of Functional Needs
Your community must have a clear and unique purpose. Your community must offer something valuable. And your community must solve a problem.
This is the prime reason why a user would visit you in the first place and how you fulfill his most basic needs. He searches for a question, and your community provides the answer. Many communities build up their expertise through two ways:
Crowd-source community solutions - You can highlight community-driven solutions in Invision Community to curate attention to the best answers. Two of the most underutilized features are Content Messages and Recommended Replies, which allow moderators to showcase and explain great user content. Bring experts into the community – Authoritative content should be posted and marked separately from regular user content. You can accomplish this by giving experts a dedicated Blog, authorship in Pages, or enabling Post highlights. Fulfillment of Personal Needs
Beyond the fulfillment of basics needs, users want other wishes and desires. It’s impossible to identify all personal needs, but here are three of the biggest ones why users come together more:
Group Status – People like to be on the “winning team,” and community success brings group members closer together. Highlight community success in your monthly newsletter or topic announcements. Competence – People are attracted to others with skills or competence. Introduce superusers and subject matter experts (SMEs) through interviews, team talk, or AMA topics ("ask me anything"). Rewards – Behavioral research shows that users gravitate toward groups that offer more rewards. Use tools like the Leaderboard, Group rank, Badges, and Reputation for extrinsic motivation that excite users and make them feel special. Fulfillment of Shared Values
Society and our upbringing instruct us in a set of shared values. We bring those values into our online communities because they provide a framework of how to address our emotional and personal needs and the priority in which we address them. When users with shared values come together, they’re more receptive to helping others with the same value system:
A Values Statement: Make it a point to identify the shared values in your community, in Guidelines or on a separate page. Affirm those principles in your interactions and, in difficult situations, frame your decision by referencing your community values. Private communities with high engagement usually have the strongest statements of values. Process vs. Outcome: How you answer is just as important as the answer. If you run a community that is technical, offers customer support, or involves lots of questions-and-answers, the process by which you arrive at the solution can help other users troubleshoot similar but different problems. Reinforce the solving process, and you’ll discover users will feel better about sharing their knowledge even if they don’t know the exact answer. Fulfillment by Networking
Groups will naturally coalesce into smaller groups, as people find other people that they enjoy and who fulfill their own needs. Strong communities find ways to fit people together.
Multiply Relationships: The sooner you can build relationships among members, the stronger those members will feel towards your community. In my community, I’ve created an “Ambassador” task force that welcomes new members to build personal relationships as soon as possible. Be a Networker: One of the virtues of being a community manager is that you’re normally introduced to the greatest number of people. Use your personal network within the community to connect two users together, bring other users into a conversion, or tap the expertise of others to help answer user questions. CONCLUSION
There’s an Arabian proverb that says, “A promise is a cloud, fulfillment is rain.”
Make it rain. Find ways to fulfill the greatness of your members, unleash a tidal wave of rewards and reinforcement that touch upon all the functional, personal, communal, and social needs of your members in the ultimate approach to member fulfillment. Build not just a good community, but a great one.