Tips for revitalising a product community

(Colin Stennett) #1

Continuing the discussion from First time here? Welcome!:

Good afternoon!

My name’s Colin, and I’m looking for tips on how to reinvigorate a Salesforce community I manage for my company. First, some BG information on the Community in question…

Community Status: Private, 2 years in age with approx 200 members
Community Purpose: To provide a forum within which the members can share insights into (better) use of the software products they have purchased from us.

To the key problem I am seeking assistance with from learned folk on this forum…is how to encourage more organic information sharing amongst the members?

To provide further context, the software products we provide are fairly sizeable and complex in nature. This usually means a substantial financial investment on their behalf to acquire and maintain. It also means potential conflict of interest when raising topics of discussion into the forums - some of our customers are direct competitors to each other but use the same software product from us to achieve their goals. I suspect some reluctance to organically post from their side could be caused by not wanting to ‘air their laundry’ and give heads up or advantage to others.

As a company, we already have in place a current strategy of regular information sharing each week that covers Software Tips, Welcome Messages & Onboarding information to new joiners and ‘Did You Know?’ topics of interest. However the ratio of posts into the forum over the last 18 months remains stubbornly biased towards this regular information we are posting vs those questions raised organically from the community. How can we address this ratio? Do we need to stop posting as much information from our side? Post more? Different types of information instead of the regular ‘programming’? (e.g. less product and more ‘world’ related?). Does anyone have any experience of how to encourage more interactivity from a fairly ‘mature’ community base? I’m not expecting miracles, just different ways in which we can make the community more self sustaining.

The other concern I have is on how to ‘categorise’ our existing members…i.e. who are actively creating and reading posts, just reading posts or have yet to contribute anything meaningful to the forum in a while. Such information could help in producing a targeted ‘relaunch’ campaign going forward. Are there any tools or reports out there to help in this area of analytics as well?

Any thoughts on how to square this circle would be appreciated!

Kind regards,


(Sarah Hawk) #2

I think you need to identify the cause of the issue. Are people not engaging because they are finding what they need without having to ask? Or is it for the privacy reason you mention? Or because there isn’t enough value there for them to prioritise the behaviour?

I’d start by interviewing or surveying some members to see if you can pinpoint what you need to change.

Do some reading up on persuasion. (At first glance it will appear that that link goes to one article, but scroll down – it’s all the articles under the persuasion tag.)

TL;DR – figure out what their values are and use emotions rather than facts to persuade them to participate.

Calling in @cocastro and @Nick_Emmett for Salesforce support!

I’ll also tag in some product CMs to add their thoughts here.

(rhogroupee) #3

Hi Colin and welcome!
Is your current community framed as a “support community” to the members? Sometimes if that’s the mindset from the start, the behavior will follow…in that the members will only come when they need specific help with something. (And if they’re happy with that, then you may not really have a problem.)

If it’s more of a “space for owners of XYZ software,” have you thought about having mini-office hours where a particularly knowledgeable customer might answer questions live or something?

You need to pinpoint the value that members are getting from the community (is it ego boost, answers to questions, identity reinforcement, etc.) and then double down on that. If you don’t know, then you might want to get on the phone with a sampling of them for a quick 10 minute connection. It might be revealing.

One last thing I notice all the time is that often this type of community is very dry. Have you considered injecting some personality, images of customers, pet photos, or some other personal disclosure content? Sometimes getting them talking about movies in one corner of the community will help build bridges that make them more comfortable talking to each other about the serious business stuff.

About the analytics…I’m not familiar enough with Salesforce communities, but I do know that many platforms (including ours) do offer an easy way to see (and then communicate with) your inactive members, members who are posting, or members who are just reading.

(Colin Stennett) #4

Thanks for the feedback @HAWK! Identifying the cause is definitely something I want to do. However I get the impression the tools we need to easily do this (i.e. Community Cloud Dashboards and Google Analytics) are only available on the latest Lightning enabled version of Community Cloud - something we will not be upgrading to for at least 18 months.

The privacy reason is definitely a factor, although quantifying the impact will be tricky. A survey of some description could flush some of this out. But you raise a good point regards them already finding what they need without asking…we have always traditionally given them access to raising support cases, and only as of the last 3 years or so allowed them access to Knowledge Articles and the Community Cloud. So maybe we are also fighting against ‘learned behaviour’.

I’ll look into the survey/interview and persuasion suggestions you have made as a first port of call.

Many thanks for the tips! :slight_smile:

(Colin Stennett) #5

Thanks @rhogroupee for your comments! You may have hit some nails on the head there…we have indeed framed the community as a ‘support community’. The idea is that the members ‘support’ themselves by interacting directly with each other as opposed to the traditional way in which they receive support directly from us, the software provider. What we are seeing is a lack of this ‘organic’ activity among themselves and have automatically assumed this is ‘bad’…but as you point out, we have no frame of reference to determine what the ‘right’ level of organic activity should be in situations where customers already have access to the information they need. So we could be beating ourselves up over nothing because we are already doing such a good job at Knowledge Article creation and Standard Support Work.

It would still be nice to know either way though. I guess this points back to analysis into case deflection, but again this is something that seems to be easier in the Lightning enabled versions of Salesforce we do not have access to yet.

The idea of ‘live’ Q&A from a customer sounds interesting but giving the various time zones in which we operate, I’m not sure how well suited Community Cloud would be to directly facilitating this…hosting the results of a previously recorded WebEx meeting or Webinar is about the extent we have found use for this type of activity to date.

But I do like the idea of introducing more personality into the community…it is indeed very ‘dry’ as most software forums tend to be (to maintain professionalism?) but this does little to build up customer to customer rapport and trust…2 key factors needed to allow them confidence in submission of their own requests for help among other companies. This is an angle we have not yet explored, so I will liaise with our internal community cloud team to see if we can agree on company acceptable ways to encourage such rapport among the community.

Thanks again for the helpful insights! :slight_smile:

(Nick Emmett) #6

Hi @cstennett - great to have you hear and welcome!

It sounds like much of your issues can be related to the advice from @HAWK and @rhogroupee and I think this is definitely a great starting point to address your challenge here.

In terms of the platform and reporting then seeing that you’re using Salesforce’s Community Cloud and there is a ton of out of the box reports and dashboards that could help you identify the people you want to target. Are you using a custom build or one of the packaged templates? There is a great reporting package on the AppExchange that is well worth installing to make sure you’ve got the most recent version of the reports, but you can see who’s active, who’s logging in, which of your contributors have gone quiet amongst many others - a good place to start would be to install the packages and then have a good luck at what comes out of the box and what you might want to to adapt.