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Good day everyone,

Not sure if you have encountered this, but I see confusion about the relation between these two and the misunderstanding that communities are not social media.  Not so.  Social Media is a form of electronic communication that consists of different platforms; communities are one of those platforms.  How do you want to engage?

Social Media defined by  Merriam Webster:

Forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content.

Online Communities defined by

An online community is a group of people with common interests who use the Internet (web sites, email, instant messaging, etc) to communicate, work together and pursue their interests over time.

Social networks like Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook are fun and sexy: they are used for social listening, brand promotion, and limited customer engagement.  Communities are electronic Town Halls that enable conversations and deeper engagement: customers provide feedback, comments, and questions; brands have obligation to respond.

No matter brand promotion, customer service, or customer engagement, you must understand your audience: what networks are they using, and where you are comfortable engaging.  As with anything: you need the right tool for the right job.  For social media, you need the right network to reach customers and have the right conversations. Communities are social media.

Where do your conversations happen?



If you haven't already found this treasure trove, the Jive events team has posted the track session videos, presentations and blog links here: JiveWorld16 Video, Presentation, and Blog index.  (And if it helps to cross-reference those sessions that are generally more targeted to Jive-x and external communities, for reference see my earlier blog post External Community and Jive-x sessions at JiveWorld16 (we'll keep you busy!))


Thanks to all of you who attended, spoke, reached out to peers, provided input and feedback and helped make this a vibrant and valuable event.  I so enjoyed meeting and/or getting to know more of you better and only wish there had been more time!  Thanks again to Mark Hanna for coordinating external community lead meet ups and networking ahead of time (Do you support an external support forum and are coming to JiveWorld16?) - I hope those connections continue virtually and locally throughout the year.


As always, please share any highlights, follow ups or ideas for next time too!


Emilie Kopp Libby Taylor Wim Stoop Claire Flanagan Matt Laurenceau Deirdre Walsh Gordon Sorensen Frank Field Jarita Sirois Judi Cardinal Christina Zurcher Ben Song Rachel Happe Scott K Wilder Liz (Courter) Oseguera David Kastendick Jessica Sebold Harold Gross Michael Torok Madison Murphy Jeff Maaks Vinita Ananth Denise Brittin Matt Curry Olivia Garvelink Leah Fisher Chris Mandel Iustin Mitrica Melyssa Nelson julia quil Kay Rummel Deb VanGessel Leah Williams Christelle Flahaux Jive External Communities Shaun Slattery Christy Schoon Iain Goodridge Scott Dennis Renee Carney Ann Monroe Sam Creek Deanna Belle Keith Conley Keith Savageau Angella Liu Deepti Patibandla Anne Bluntschli

It is important to find the relevance sweet-spot: a message that highlights you or your brand AND peaks the interest of your target audience.  Too often time is wasted on catchy visuals, perfect language and grammar, and over-sharing on social networks rather than what is most important: understanding your audience’s needs and what they value.

Ensure you understand:

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What is important to them?
  3. How do they want to be reached?
  4. Is this for brand promotion or something my audience will value?

No matter a marketing piece, blog post, or knowledge base article, your goals should be:

  1. Quality over quantity
  2. Helping my audience

If you are writing with an internal focus or intent, you have not only wasted your time and resources, but your customers’ too.  Think before you content.

Thank you for your comments.



Avi Goldberg recently publish Ideas for Jive | You can't always get what you want...., which got me thinking about our own process (as well as going to the web to this check out ).

Screenshot 2016-03-04 14.29.10.png


Good products usually start with an idea that is simple but makes people’s lives better in some way.  Early on, one or a few people work to make that vision a reality.  In a software startupenvironment, early employees and clients talk frequently. It is relatively easy to chart a course and decide how much effort should go into potentially groundbreaking new functionality, incremental feature improvement, and fixing bugs.  If a project is good (and lucky) the number of new ideas and competing priorities both increase as the project gains critical mass. Individual sparks come from many sources and often take more than one strike to ignite. As time goes on, dedicated product people are needed to gather these sparks together and coax them into a blaze.


At Instructure, user input has always been an important part of how we determine our priorities.  Being open and listening to the people who use our products is a big part of our culture. Millions of people around the world now use Canvas, and the ideas that come from our customers are as important now as they ever have been.


These ideas come in from multiple channels but one major conduit is the feature idea forum in the Canvas Community. Every month around 750 ideas are submitted and evaluated by thousands of Canvas users from around the world. Without the forum and crowdsourcing help from community members we couldn’t possibly hope to thoroughly evaluate and prioritize all of the ideas that come in.


Screenshot 2016-03-04 14.22.01.pngThe process at its core is fairly simple. Anyone in the world with a Canvas account can suggest an idea.  All new ideas are put up for vote, with one new cohort opening each month. Anyone can add one vote up or down on each idea.  If an idea gains a net 100 votes within three months, it moves on in the process.  Any idea that doesn’t get 100 votes is archived (although users are free to re-submit an idea for another run).  As soon as an idea reaches the 100 vote threshold it is formally assigned to a product person who will research it, determine how much work it would require and how it fits with other goals.  About five percent of the ideas originally submitted make it through to this stage, allowing our product managers to focus on the ideas with the most community support.  Taken collectively, all the ideas submitted, along with the comments, questions and use cases added by other users constitutes a body of reference knowledge that helps us to understand the diverse needs of Canvas users when prioritizing upcoming work and future projects.


Getting 100 votes does not guarantee that an idea will be developed, but forum ideas are one of several key sources of input for our Product team (remember the sparks coming from many sources?).  No process is perfect. We’re constantly re-evaluating the model.  But this process is open to everyone, including you. We invite you to come help make Canvas better.

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