So, what are you working on?

(Kim Dawson) #124

Thanks, Todd.

I think after doing some more research, I’m going to start with something like Node, that I can create myself. Once I build the community, then I can spend the money on creating something more custom. Next step is getting people to know the community exists, the easy part, right?!? :smile:

(alissa brown) #125

Hey everyone! I’m working on building a Reward and Recognition program for our Community, among other things :simple_wink:! I’m trying to understand how other communities have successfully implemented a Reward & Recognition program and what strategies they use- is it featuring a member, allowing members special access, ability to write content other than discussions, etc…? I’d love to hear some ideas on where to start. Our goal is to increase loyalty and activity.

I’d also love to hear any best practices about community managers getting more involved with members. Right now, we are fairly hands off, but are wondering if we should get more involved with in the conversations. The issue with that is that we are not the technical SMEs that can answer our members questions.

Thanks for any information, references, and thoughts!

(Sarah Hawk) #126

It must feel good to have made a decision! I’m going to call out @Ryan_Illman, who has experience working with Node (and I believe has set up his own test instance/s).

[quote=“KDawson, post:124, topic:1328”]
Next step is getting people to know the community exists, the easy part, right?!?
[/quote] Of course! Just build it and they will come. :simple_wink:
Have you got a good founding group waiting in the wings?

(Sarah Hawk) #127

Hi @albrown – welcome on board.

[quote=“albrown, post:125, topic:1328”]
I’m working on building a Reward and Recognition program for our Community, among other things
[/quote] We can definitely help out with that. What kind of community do you manage? I think this discussion is one that would be valuable for a lot of people. Why don’t you start a new topic here and we can brainstorm (and I’ll pull in some resources and call in some other members that I know have been through the same process).

[quote=“albrown, post:125, topic:1328”]
I’d also love to hear any best practices about community managers getting more involved with members.
[/quote] I love this topic!
I guess the first question really is why do you feel that you need to be more involved? What issue are you trying to solve?

(Ryan Illman) #128

Hi @kdawson. It sounds like you have two different goals, a static website and a community. I don’t know of any software that does both well — for example FeverBee uses WordPress for the blog articles and Discourse for the community. Those are very different pieces of software that have different considerations for installation, maintenance, and security. They also take time to bolt together if you want to have WP articles showing in your community or community posts showing in your WP articles, though I understand Discourse has a WordPress integration plugin.

Unlike static websites which are relatively common to “roll your own”, community software is fairly complicated, and you’re much better off lightly customizing an off-the-shelf solution like vBulletin or NodeBB than trying to build your own from scratch.

It also sounds like you are interested in running NodeBB on your own server, which I would recommend against unless you’ve been in that business for a while. The $100/mo for a hosted community seems steep at first, but isn’t too bad once you price out your own hosting + backups + bandwidth.

(Sarah Hawk) #129


(Ryan Illman) #130


I'll show myself out...

(Sarah Hawk) #131

Haha. Love it.

I try to be platform agnostic as much as possible, but I do strongly recommend against vBulletin.
I’ve had over a decade of experience using it across multiple communities and it is cumbersome and offers an horrific UX.

(Kim Dawson) #132

Hi @Ryan_Illman,

I was planning to have NodeBB host it for the $100/mo. It seems to be the going rate of most of the platforms I looked at. From what I see, it is fairly easy to customize, at least at a simple level(??). I wasn’t going to build from scratch.

Ideally, I would love to pass off to a programmer exactly what I want as far as integration between NodeBB and Wordpress is concerned, but I think it is poorly spent money to invest in a community platform when you haven’t created the community yet. (I think I even read that in a FeverBee book I purchased :smile: ). People come for the experience, content, and what you offer. Once I generate a strong community, then I would hire a programmer to add all of the extra functionality I am looking for. At this point, I think hiring a good marketer who excels at lead generation is a better way to spend money, since that is my weakness.

I’m not sure I need a static website. I already have one, but this would be separate. My plan is to have a site that includes a forum, online educational courses, videos, and a blog.

Do many people hire developers, or just use the off-the-shelf products and easily customize?

(Ryan Illman) #133

Ah. In that case, consider my original post a vote in favor of your plan :smile:

(Sarah Hawk) #134

It really depends on the community and the person! There are plenty of hobbyists that have some degree of technical ability that choose to customise their own platform. We don’t see many brands doing that though.

Based on your technical knowledge and your community proposition, I think your approach is a solid one. If the community takes off, you can spend money down the line. To do otherwise would be to create a site based on how you think people will use it (or how you would use it yourself), which could turn out to be a costly set of assumptions.

(Jason Hill) #135

Hi everyone,

Our new community called Workshop has just gone live at

It’s a community for DIY and gardening enthusiasts. We want to encourage everyone to have a go and do it themselves. We want to ignite imagination, foster DIY conversation and celebrate accomplishments.

We’re in a soft launch phase at the moment so the site is behind a password-protected curtain, but if you’d like to join please let me know. A select group have been invited to be our community founders and we’ll remove the curtain and start promoting the community in the new year when we have a solid base of content from our founders.

What I’ve mainly been working on in recent weeks after we completed the build is reaching out to potential community founders. I’ve been on other social networks reaching out to people and inviting them to Workshop. I use a social media listening tool to help identify people from Australia and New Zealand who are actively talking about subjects like home improvement, renovation, gardening and outdoor living. Very labour intensive, but has been a great way to get to know some passionate people in this space and some look like they will become our superusers. We know we can drive a lot of traffic to the community (our website gets millions of visitors a month) but we wanted to encourage quality discussion, not just traffic.


(Kate Billing) #136

Hey Team!

I’m one of the Co-Founders of a company called Blacksmith ( a leadership development consulting practice based in Auckland, New Zealand. Building social learning communities is something that we’ve been building into our development programmes over the past few years and are keen to get MUCH better at as a team.

We use a platform built on JIVE called ‘The ON2net’ for some of our clients but increasingly we’re working within the clients own in-house social communities with tools like Yammer or Sharepoint and needing to become platform agnostic/capable.

Although all different, some of the core community engagement practices are the same for us around leadership/learning. We making it up as we go along but see this as an increasingly important and valuable part of how we create value for our clients, their leaders and ourselves over the coming years.

The challenge is…we’re leadership consultants and facilitators so how to transfer that on-line? Do we do it all ourselves? Do we invest in additional resource? If the latter, how do we link that person into the learning and experiences that people have face to face with us/each other and then into the ‘home away from home’ if the community manager hasn’t been there themselves? Lots more questions…

Looking forward to contributing what I can to this community and benefiting from your insights, experience and ideas.


The connection between offline and online learning experiences
(Sarah Hawk) #137

Auckland represent! Welcome @KateB – it’s great to have you on board.

Your challenge is an interesting one so I’ve started a new topic so that we can discuss it without it getting lost in the noise.

(Mark Bazin) #138

Hi all –

I work for an organization that oversees 30 high schools across the country. I’m working on an online community site for our functional areas (finance, fundraising, etc.) to more easily communicate, and for teachers to be able to share lesson plans and communicate about common challenges or successes. We’ve gone down the email group path pretty heavily with our functional areas, but there’s a desire for more features (file sharing, etc.), and email groups probably won’t scale well in the teacher-arena.

I spent a few months going down a path that I now don’t think was right (Google Groups + Moodle) and there’s some desire to use Basecamp or Facebook as a collaboration site from folks in my office. I’m really torn as to what to do – I feel like I’ve looked at every system from Slack to Liferay and I just don’t know what direction to go. I feel like I can come up with a dozen reasons every approach we would take will not be successful.


(alissa brown) #139

@HAWK thanks for the advice. I went ahead and created a new thread!

As for BP around community managers getting more involved… My thought is that most people have information/opinions they would like to share, or maybe they are new to using a forum and need something simple to get them started. I was thinking about coming up with meaningful discussions to feed to the community that would allow my team to get involved and help point them in the right direction. Kind of what you did hear “what are you working on”, “what would you like to see from product x”, “what are your opinions on xyz with product x”. It would be helpful to share with our internal teams, but also increase activity and engagement. My concern is that we’ve never done this, so it’s new territory for us.

Are there any other ways we could get involved that don’t involve me feeding discussions?

(Todd Nilson) #140

Hi Mark, thanks for giving this background on the forum. It was good catching up with you by phone yesterday, too, to hear more detail about the choices. To reiterate that for the benefit of the broader community, I think that the key issues you’re raising here have been experienced by many and it would be good to hear from others about how they have addressed them. These are, as I see them, as follows:

  1. How do we leverage our current success at promoting collaboration to the next level?

  2. How do we select the right sorts of collaboration platform that fits the business need now and will scale for the future?

  3. How do I select from the myriad platform options that are out there?

Let me suggest that the beginning of this conversation is a review of the elements of collaboration that have worked for you so far. It will involve looking at the pilot groups and not only what worked for them (in your case, the Google Groups email list) but also what didn’t (Moodle) and hypothesize some reasons this may be because of the specific audiences you were trying to help.

If you think about your collaboration goals, you need to start planning platform features based upon the collaboration activities that will best serve your target audiences, your key messages that you will use to help drive adoption of the new platform (show what’s in it for them to make the change), and the business outcomes you’re trying to drive, as well as how those outcomes will be measured on on ongoing basis. If you don’t take this user- and business-centric approach you’re sure to feel overwhelmed by the many pro’s that each platform vendor will try to sell you on.

I hope that this helps. What have others on the community in a similar situation done?

(Gear Buzz) #141


I like Podio. I would say it’s worth a look

We have about 20 people on it.

(Gear Buzz) #142

We ran a design competition. And are now moving forwards with the winner.

Here is our new index page mock up

The blue speech bubble icons on the left will be replaced by individual icons per sub forum (I will probably go to 99 designs to find a designer for them - or does anyone here have an icon designer recommendation?) i am hoping that funky icons will help new visitors get some clue what each sub forum might be about.

New for us too will be avatars displayed for thread starters and last posted too. (Just last posted on main index page)

We are after a “flat” modern


The live web page is here and I think looks text heavy and dreary

We just last week created side margins. (For the last 12 years the forum has expanded edge to edge on all screens)

We feel we need these margins for a better reading experience and also for high paying “page take over” ad campaigns.

(Sarah Hawk) #143

Hi @markatcristorey – it’s great to hear from you.

There are definitely an overwhelming number of choices out there – I feel your pain!
It sounds like the people that you’re working with have different ideas of what the platform will be used for (if people are suggesting Facebook).

Have you made a prioritised list of your requirements? That should help you (re)shortlist.

We are using Slack at FeverBee and it’s working well for us. There are so many integrations. This article gives quite a good overview.

Edit: I left this post half written for too long and see that others have gotten in first. Apologies for the double posting of advice. :smile: