Community sharing is community caring.
Take it from me: prominently curating your members’ content will profoundly accelerate growth. It’s also pretty darn fun.
I’ve run my company, BreatheHeavy, since 2004. While many online businesses shuttered because of social media’s looming presence, mine thrived because of the community. Full disclosure? I had no idea creating a community back in 2004 would become the not-so-secret ingredient to staying alive. Ahh, if only I knew then what I know now.
Hindsight is 20/20 (that number gives me anxiety, am I right?), but I never fully understood or appreciated how immensely game-changing community building is.
In the past, I focused my efforts on writing news articles (in Wordpress) while my Invision Community community ran rampant. I felt my presence needed to take center stage. That cast a shadow on my community and thus my members. I unintentionally muted their voices by exclusively promoting mine.
That was a colossal mistake, but the greatest learning lesson.
One year ago, I decided to pivot and shift all my energy towards fostering my community; the results were astounding! I saw more than a 100% increase in unique visits compared to the previous year.
The most powerful change I made was shining a light on the content my members created.
My website went from being a news site to a community.
I constructed a new homepage that featured topics created by myself AND my members. This not only manifested a dynamic, constantly varied homepage, but also incentivized members to post thought-provoking and engaging topics in the hopes their content gets featured.
In my community, topics that are featured on the homepage are considerably more viewed and commented on than topics that aren’t. I suspect you’d find similar results.
Here’s how I set up my new homepage:
I utilized Invision Community’s custom blocks feature. It’s available with the Pages application.
I created a new block plugin, selected “topic feed” from the list, then set the permissions in the Feed Configuration tab to only show “featured” topics from members. I also used @opentype's SuperTopics plugin to give a more-polished look. Might sound a bit complex, but it’s rather intuitive.
Community leaders can “feature” members’ content by selecting their topic and in the moderation panel, tap “Feature.”
“Featuring” content isn’t the only powerful tool Invision Community has baked into its software to highlight your members’ content. We’ve also carefully crafted a promotion option to manually select content that’s included on the “Our Picks” page and corresponding block. This is another powerful method to curate community content.
With great power comes great responsibility
The ability to “feature” content is a privilege only moderators in your community should have access to – at least in the beginning. Avoid giving any member the ability to freely feature their own content onto the homepage - instead, focus on manually curating the content. Be selective and choose what topics you want to represent your community.
By creating a standard, your homepage won’t feature any and all content. Instead, it’ll display items you believe will pack the greatest punch.
Featuring your members' content visibly shows your desire to embrace your community. It’s one thing to comment on members’ topics, it’s another to feature and promote them for all to see. That’s the secret sauce of curation.
Do you agree? Disagree? Have any suggestions? Curate content in your own community? How many questions can I ask in a row? Drop us a line in the comments below!
Moderation feels a bit like an outdated term created pre-social media, but it stuck. We’d like to re-frame your thinking in terms of guiding your community versus moderating it.
Guidance is an essential component to any thriving community because it creates structure and boundaries for the community.
Oftentimes, people think community guidance is about restriction, but in reality it allows your community to express itself in a healthy way.
All communities run into issues unless there are clear guidelines laid out for all members. It only takes a couple of toxic trolls to bring down an entire community of thousands of members.
As a community leader, it's important to find the balance between allowing freedom of speech and restricting what people can and can't say.
An Internet troll tends to want to see what they can get away with and push the boundaries to the brink. They’ll claim that they are not allowed to speak their mind, but I want to stress the importance this:
Freedom of speech has some limitations.
For instance, you can't just shout ‘FIRE!’ in a crowded room because you believe you have the right to freedom of speech (though some would argue you can, which is why guidance is imperative). There are certain rules that everyone needs to follow in order for an online community to function.
The first thing you'll want to do when guiding your community is... to create community guidelines.
These guidelines must be visible and easy to access. There, you can lay out all the nitty-gritty rules you want, but essentially it should boil down to this:
Treat people with respect when posting and remember that there’s a person behind the user name. It's important not to hide behind anonymity just because you can.
Being a part of the community means that all members must abide by these guidelines.
Now what happens if someone "breaks the rules” or ignores these guidelines? As your community’s leader how do you proceed?
You do so by creating actionable rules that can adversely affect a member’s standing in your community if they break them.
I know that sounds kind of threatening, but it's important to establish to your community that you're there for them and that your priority is to hear them out, but at the same time you must take action to keep the peace.
Invision Community has automatic moderation tools and a warning system section baked into the software. Below is a snapshot of Invision Community's administration panel where community leaders may set up custom automatic moderation rules:
Tap here for more specific information on how to implement community guidance/moderation to your community.
One important component to these rules is that you enforce them across-the-board to all members and do so consistently.
If you leave the door open for one member and not another, it's going to create an unwanted hierarchy and instigate chaos.
One of the best ways to be consistent is by walking the walk.
Show your community how you want them to post by posting and contributing that way yourself. What that does is it sets a visible precedent.
From there, you'll begin to notice other community members contributing in a way that is similar to you (lead by example).
This is a great opportunity to consider them to join a new moderators team. Whether they are paid moderators or are volunteering their time, you still want them to be mini leaders inside your community. It's important that you are a positive role model for them.
Watch the video up top, then drop us a line in the comments! And hey, while I've got you... check out what our own community has to say about moderation (aka community guidance 😉).
Remember, guiding your community starts from the top (a.k.a. you!). Now get out there and moder-... guide!
Stay tuned for more Invision Community video content coming soon!
Invision Community has an exciting opportunity for an experienced PHP developer to join our team.
Invision Power Services, Inc. is behind the leading community software platform, Invision Community. Our tailored solutions serve clients of all sizes, from smaller communities to the world’s biggest brands.
As a back end PHP developer, you will be working closely within a tight nimble team. You are a clear thinking problem solver and are able to demonstrate skills in creativity and innovation with the ability to meet deadlines. You thrive when given a brief and create well structured efficient code.
- Write well designed testable efficient code by using sound development processes
- Cooperate with other team members to develop new features
- Gather and refine specifications are requirements based on technical needs
- Create and maintain software documentation
Skills & Experience
- Significant experience as a PHP developer in a commercial environment
- Experience with MySQL
- Experience with github
- Experience with various web services such as OAuth, SAML, REST, SOAP, etc.
- Experience working within a team with a strong culture
- Some experience with HTML, CSS and JS.
Remote but must be available for a significant portion of 9-5 EST working day
How To Apply
Please complete the application form giving us as much information as possible.
A long time ago in the Interwebs far, far away... I proudly signed off all my posts and emails with the title: Owner, Administrator. Anyone in a 10-mile digital radius from me was made well aware:
I AM AN OWNER AND ADMINISTRATOR. I AM IMPORTANT I PROMISE. I OWN AND ADMINISTRATE!!!
Granted I held off on the all-caps, but still.
My assertion permeated throughout all areas of my online presence.
Though well-intentioned, my identity as an administrator pushed me away from the community I fostered.
I focused more on growing the group rather than being part of the group, thus creating an unspoken hierarchy that placed my members below me.
Recognizing your members are living, breathing, sentient people is one of the most important aspects of community building, but I couldn’t see the forest from the trees.
Part of me enjoyed the authority and power attached to my role as the website’s administrator. But with that power came isolating separation – the dark side if you will.
A community I unknowingly built was unrelatable to me because I was unrelatable to them. Is it possible to remove “me” and “them” from the equation entirely and replace it with an “us?”
Our community members aren’t naive to the fact that someone does technically own the community, and that part of your role as a community leader is administrating. It’s less about the title and more of the mindset. How can you connect with your community? By being relatable and approachable. Better yet? Leading by example.
Shifting your interpersonal narrative from administrator to community leader can profoundly change your community’s culture for the better.
As a community leader, you’ll inevitably perform administrative tasks, including the nitty gritty like group promotions, moderating and reputation (all critical functions for a high-functioning community). However, it’s possible to execute said functions while cloaked under anonymity that the administrator title can provide (that’s not necessarily good or bad, it just is). An important component to community leading is visibility.
For many years, I made sure my Invision Community software was up-to-date, licenses paid, the registration system worked, spam defense was light-saber slicing the plastic-surgery-gambling bots to Tatooine. I was a fantastic administrator, but my presence from my community, the very place I worked tirelessly to keep running, was sorely missed.
The moment I went “all-in,” meaning I decided to become an integral part of my community outside of the administrator role (by commenting on members’ topics, responding back in private message group chats, reacting to content, listening to feedback and opening up about real-life success and failures) is the moment I evolved into a community leader. I wanted to be seen.
My deliberate change of self perception produced exponential growth in terms of traffic and new registrations. More importantly, I became a better community leader.
I feel compelled to not only share pop music news with my community, but also what’s going on in my life. It wasn’t a comfortable transition, but a necessary one. Upon stripping away my title from administrator to community leader, I became a role model. I became someone my members came to for more than just technical forum advice. They wanted to see how I was doing. They wanted to share their wins and losses with me after seeing me succeed and fail in public. They saw me as a person; a leader.
At the end of the day, community leading means forging connections, sharing your highs and lows and showing up for your members. That starts from within, which may feel incredibly awkward at first, but get comfortable with discomfort and watch you and your community blossom.
Thoughts on transforming from administrator to Jedi community leader? Sound off in the comments! And may the +1 be with you.
As we approach the release of Invision Community 4.6, I wanted to take you through some improvements for using Invision Community on a mobile device.
Web push notifications
For some time, we've used the local browser notification API to show users notifications. There's a big drawback though: users had to have the site open in a tab for these to work. This is particularly problematic for mobile devices.
In 4.6, we've added support for the WebPush API, which allows sites to push notifications to users' browsers & devices even if the site isn't open - or even if the device is asleep.
We already have support baked in for push notifications via our beta mobile app, so we've piggy-backed on that system and expanded it to support browser-based push notifications.
For users, it's a simple process. A little while after joining a community they will prompted to accept notifications from the site when they open the notification list dropdown (or they can opt-in any time from the notification settings screen). After accepting, they will be able to choose a "Notification List + Push" option for any of the available notification types.
Existing users, who may have already granted permission to the site in the past, will be re-prompted to accept push notifications upon logging in after the 4.6 upgrade.
Push notifications typically show on the homescreen of a phone or in the notification tray of a desktop computer, so receiving dozens of notifications could be overwhelming. For that reason, Invision Community will automatically merge related notifications - for example, multiple mentions from the same topic, or multiple new topics from the same forum.
And, of course, users can stop push notifications across all of their devices with a single click if they want to opt out.
We're excited about the engagement potential of push notifications, since they allow you to immediately reach users who aren't currently on your site - a job previously left to email alone.
On the subject of notifications, one more thing: we've heard your feedback about notifications for new replies/mentions being merged with notifications for likes/quotes, and will be separating these two types into their own permissions in 4.6. We're acutely aware that making notifications annoying results in users turning them off, so we're always looking to ensure there is a reasonable balance.
Splash Screen Images
When you add a website to your phone's desktop, it appears like a native app. Tapping to launch the site can show a blank screen for a few seconds while the website is loaded. Fortunately, you can now set a 'splash' image in the Admin CP which is shown when launching the app.
Sharing using native share options
Another enhancement coming in 4.6 is the addition of the device share sheet when sharing content from within Invision Community. Users will now see a "More Sharing Options" button (providing their device/browser supports the underlying API) which, when tapped, will open the device share sheet. The options available depend on the device, but typically include actions like sharing links in WhatsApp, posting to Facebook or creating a note.
With a larger share of users now using mobile devices for most of their browsing comes the problem of patchy phone signal and internet connections dropping out. For a dynamic web-based platform like Invision Community, it's difficult to offer much in the way of full offline support, but starting in 4.6 we will present a branded offline page to users when they have no internet connection and try to access the community.
We hope that you are looking forward to these PWA improvements coming in Invision Community 4.6!
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