24 Replies Latest reply on Sep 21, 2015 6:32 PM by jkurutz

    Seeking best practices: Use of Spaces instead of Groups - visibility/permissions concerns

    jkurutz

      Hi External Community people!

       

      I'm struggling with a question of community design right now, and I'd like your help.

       

      We want to host discussion forums related to specific topics, and normally using Jive Groups would be the way to go to promote engagement (people join, get updates in the weekly digest, group admins can send emails to the group, etc.). However, we also want to restrict visibility of the discussions to people who have joined the community (not necessarily the group). It seems the only way we have that level of control is to establish those places as Spaces instead, in which case we'll lose the engagement tools.

       

      Here's the concern: We need to give our customers a good reason to join the community. According to the 90/9/1 rule of thumb, 90% of users will only be browsing. If they can get everything they need by browsing, then they don't have a reason to join the community, and thus won't get the weekly digest email that we know bring people back for ongoing engagement. To provide some incentive, we wish to hide discussions from the public, but allow them to be visible to all registered/logged-in users. It looks like we can really only do this with Spaces. I hope someone will tell me otherwise.

       

      One option we're considering is to make all Groups Private so the public won't be able to see inside. But that has two problems:

      1) Even registered users can't see inside them

      2) The group owners (me, most likely) will have a major headache keeping up with all the applications to join groups.

       

      We don't want to make our community entirely private, visible to only logged-in users, because we want to give the unregistered masses a small taste of what's inside and enhance our SEO scores.

       

      Any advice on the subject would be appreciated.

       

      Thanks!!!   - Josh

        • Re: Seeking best practices: Use of Spaces instead of Groups - visibility/permissions concerns
          Billy Volpone

          Hi Josh, wanted to see if I could help here and then see who else might chime in.

           

          Firstly, you mentioned the 90/9/1 rule. That's actually not a ratio we would ever shoot for and many clients see very different stats. In fact, Scott Dennis from Instructure already posted a public blog 5 weeks into their deployment that showed a far different ratio we would prefer, and often find, with the right strategy. Within 40 days for example, they were already seeing 40% participating and 12% creating/contributing. Read more here: Canvas Community at 40 Day... | Canvas Community 

           

          While the Canvas community is fairly open, ServiceMax is using a mix of open and closed (guest and customer) areas to tease out a bit of that engagement you're referring to. But in my opinion, this isn't done via one tool like a forum, it's done via those topic based groups you discussed. The focus should always be on areas and those areas should have more than just forums. Maybe some are open to encourage engagement little by little and the rest are behind login... or maybe many of those groups are private so users know they are there but can't join without registering and requesting access. ServiceMax's landing page for example: Welcome | ServiceMax Community

           

          You mentioned private groups above, but they are actually able to be seen by any user, they just can't see content. You are correct around the moderation aspect though. That's often why many clients assign group moderators to help with that.

           

          In the end though, if groups just won't cut it (even though I should point out there are two discussions here, one on features and one on strategy)... you can go forward with spaces which would allow for the permission level access setting. Sure there isn't a "membership" type action with Spaces, but users can still follow a space and you can also leverage our great new "News" feature to auto-follow who you want to certain areas to continue drawing users in. Basically, there are lots of options but it all comes back to best practices and much of this stems from the all important question "what's in it for me" from the user's perspective.

          1 person found this helpful
            • Re: Seeking best practices: Use of Spaces instead of Groups - visibility/permissions concerns
              jkurutz

              Hi Billy,

              Thanks for your help. I'm glad you're optimistic about engagement levels.

               

              Our audience is highly skeptical of social media, for the most part, and engaging them can be tricky. Efforts to get them excited about using social tools can backfire, and we expect many people to lurk without participating before putting their toes in the water. If we rely on our customers to take spontaneous action, such as voluntarily joining or following a group, or even clicking "Like", we're probably not going to see the engagement that will get the ball rolling. For this reason, I'm focusing on A) ways to encourage users to register, and B) tools for pushing content to them on an opt-out basis.

               

              The ServiceMax community you highlighted looks very interesting. As an unregistered guest, I can see enough to convince me that the site is useful, but there are also hints that there are probably more areas that would become visible if I registered.

               

              I'm very interested in the News feature, but it's unclear to me how to use it effectively. If I could figure out how to get users assigned to multiple News streams they find interesting and include info in a weekly email without them joining a group, then we'd be making progress. But how do we use News effectively? I looked at the slide deck News for External - Best Practices, but I still don't understand what News is about. Is it a way to customize a landing page to a customer? Customize an Inbox stream? Is there a recorded webinar discussing how to exploit News? I'm having trouble mapping News capabilities to our needs, and I'd like some help.

               

              Thanks. - Josh

            • Re: Seeking best practices: Use of Spaces instead of Groups - visibility/permissions concerns
              historian

              I think there might be some faulty logic at play here.

              90% of users will only be browsing. If they can get everything they need by browsing, then they don't have a reason to join the community, and thus won't get the weekly digest email...

              You have to remember that 90-9-1 Principle (The modern version is more like 60-25-15) developed in the open forums of the internet where for the most part registration is completely optional and content is freely visible. Your supposition that getting an email will pull those 90% back in, while somewhat valid, doesn't mean that they will do anything more than to continue to lurk.

               

              Here's the concern: We need to give our customers a good reason to join the community.

               

              Ultimately it is the content you are trying to hide that is going to get them to convert; "That post was wrong on so many points I really have to comment on it", "That method looks great but this is how we did it" or "I have a question and this looks like the right place to ask". Having content publicly visible also means that your Lurkers (and everyone else) can more easily share that great content to others out there who might never know about the amazing stuff in your community.

                • Re: Seeking best practices: Use of Spaces instead of Groups - visibility/permissions concerns
                  jkurutz

                  Hi David,

                   

                  Could you please provide a citation for the 60-25-15 rule?
                  << I'm going to write another response, but keep it separate from this question >

                   

                  Thanks.

                   

                  - Josh

                    • Re: Seeking best practices: Use of Spaces instead of Groups - visibility/permissions concerns
                      historian

                      It looks like my numbers were a little off, the average is 55-30-15.

                       

                      The State of Community Management 2013 from The Community Roundtable - Slide 18

                      http://www.communityroundtable.com/research/the-state-of-community-management/the-state-of-community-management-2013/

                       

                      I don't think it is one of the data points they've tracked in the past couple of years, but Rachel.Happe might know for sure.

                       

                      On the whole I highly recommend The Community Roundtable

                        • Re: Seeking best practices: Use of Spaces instead of Groups - visibility/permissions concerns
                          Rachel.Happe

                          Thanks for tagging me David - I'll add a different perspective to this conversation which is that while there are some public/private controls that will help pique people's interest and get them up the engagement ladder one of the biggest levers to increasing engagement is through the use of community programming. Things that fall into this category (and have an impact on engagement) are new member welcome programs (threads, calls, welcome/introduction video from the CM) and regularly scheduled online chats, AMAs, webinars, calls, newsletters, etc.

                           

                          Good programming provides plenty of triggers and prompts to engage and depending on the maturity of the community can be focused in different areas. If there are a high % of inactive members newsletters are great tools to prompt them to revisit the community. If you have a large percentage of lurkers, creating programming that is easy and doesn't require a lot of thought (i.e. polls, easy to answer questions, chats with subject matter experts) is appropriate and so on.

                          • Re: Seeking best practices: Use of Spaces instead of Groups - visibility/permissions concerns
                            jkurutz

                            Thanks for the link.

                             

                            I've been interested in the Community Roundtable, but its membership price is huge by the standards I'm used to. $1500/year is about ten times what it costs to join the American Chemical Society or the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and almost 25 times the cost of membership in the American Society for Mass Spectrometry. It's steep enough that I'd need to have some major discussions and justify its worth. For example, it would cost me more to join than a full week's travel to my company's headquarters; is it worth more than a week of rare face-to-face time with my management?

                             

                            Thanks. - Josh

                              • Re: Seeking best practices: Use of Spaces instead of Groups - visibility/permissions concerns
                                Rachel.Happe

                                When I think of how TheCR Membership compares to other networks out there it is more of an executive council and less of an association. We have a pretty high touch model and provide both professional concierge services (i.e. have a question or need an introduction? Our community manager will help), we have weekly small group calls with experts in the fields (so after a year, it is the equivalent of going to a conference but the connection you get with experts is more initmate) and we also host working groups of members all working on ROI models, training architectures, etc and we invest in documenting those things and then translating them into our research and training content so we are constantly refreshing the expertise of the space. 

                                 

                                I would also add that there are two factors that make us different then the associations listed above - community management is relatively new as a documented discipline, which means two things 1) we have invested a huge amount into research (which we share publicly, thanks to partners like Jive) so the market can better understand it and 2) There are not 100,000 community managers yet so building an association model was not possible when we started... we are seeing the profession grow and have considered that option but I don't think it's there yet. Because of that, we couldn't build a financially sustainable service based on < $200/year memberships.

                                 

                                Net net, I think if you talk to our members they feel like the membership fee gives them access to an extended community team (which most of them don't have), helps them do more with the time they have, helps them focus on what actually moves the needle strategically and helps them develop and improve their skill set in this emerging area.

                                 

                                Ultimately though, it depends on what works for you. Happy to chat about it or connect you to other members if you are interested in exploring membership further.

                                2 people found this helpful
                              • Re: Seeking best practices: Use of Spaces instead of Groups - visibility/permissions concerns
                                jkurutz

                                Hi David,

                                Sorry, but it took me a while to read in detail the report to which you linked.

                                 

                                It's good to see that the ambient level of engagement in communities is growing, but I remain skeptical about the 55-30-15 breakdown. The (very well done) report in the Community Roundtable showed the 55-30-15 distribution applied to survey respondents. However, the report also indicates that 73% of survey participants were either "Innovators" or "Fast Adopters" (presumably with respect to their approach to online networking technology), and 12% were either "Adoption Resistant" or "Late Followers". The remaining 15% were "Slow adopters".

                                 

                                Our customers do not quite fit the profile to the survey respondents. We have a large fraction of "resistors" and "late adopters", plus many of our most innovative thinkers focus their energies in the physical laboratory, not online communities. 

                                 

                                We're now at a stage when we need to deliver realistic adoption targets to our management, and I'm afraid 55-30-15 is overambitious for our particular case (largely more experienced, physical laboratory-focused, social-media-averse professionals). We'll hold the 70-20-10 rule as a hopeful target for our future, once we've convinced a core nucleus of participants that our community will help them with their work.

                                 

                                Thanks. - Josh

                                  • Re: Seeking best practices: Use of Spaces instead of Groups - visibility/permissions concerns
                                    historian

                                    That's a good point about adoption rates. 70-20-10 is good to shoot for, based on your statements about your community it sounds like a fun challenge.

                                     

                                    Within your community it might be good to talk about the historical creation and use of the internet by Scientists and Scholars (think ARPANET in the late 60's) and how they might continue that "tradition".

                                     

                                    And of course, share your successes. There is a quote by Anthony J. D'Angelo, "Build your reputation by helping other people build theirs."

                                    So anytime something amazing happens in your community make sure you let people know it happened and who it happened with.

                                • Re: Seeking best practices: Use of Spaces instead of Groups - visibility/permissions concerns
                                  cflanagan17

                                  Josh Kurutz be sure to check out the latest update re: user adoption / participation ladder Member Adoption and Participation Ladder(s) . I've included instructions on how to measure and a summary of The CR's 2015 research which has new guidance on average and best in class tiers for a FULL participation ladder (inactive, consumers, participants, contributors).

                                • Re: Seeking best practices: Use of Spaces instead of Groups - visibility/permissions concerns
                                  jkurutz

                                  HI David,

                                   

                                  Our ultimate goal is to keep people returning to our community site. If we can motivate 90% of our customers to return to our site so they lurk and see what 1-10% are posting, then we're OK. (Not great, but OK.)

                                   

                                  Here's our struggle:

                                  We're not a firm that sprung up recently to provide a new service chiefly consumed by people under 30. We operate at the cutting edge of analytical chemistry technology - technology that was originally invented in the 1950's and has continued to develop at the *scientific* forefront (not the web technology forefront). While younger customers adopt social tools fairly easily, a large number of our customers do not participate in social media, and a small vocal set even actively oppose it. Many of our customers became familiar with our company's core technology a decade or two ago, and for them this online community will be something new and unfamiliar, and they may consider a new online community to be a mere distraction; yet these are the people who we most need to make comfortable and engaged because they have the most knowledge to share.

                                   

                                  Our prior experience:

                                  For a different chemical technology, we've had an entirely private community site where the only thing a non-registered user can see is the login/registration page, and it's been pretty successful. Our experience there suggests that if we have just a few dozen people actively posting questions and responding, then we'll have many hundreds of users who consider the site valuable, generating many tens of thousands of page views. While we'd all love to have every one of our customers posting and responding, we have to acknowledge that most just aren't going to do that.

                                   

                                  How to do it differently:

                                  Our current goal is to develop a community with a public face that's more than just a login/registration page. We know for certain that we'll have content that people are interested in. But how will they know that? We can't rely on people just browsing by our website every week. We need to actively reach out to them to show them some of what's available, and out weekly email digest is our primary tool for that. For them to get the weekly email they have to register, not just lurk. So the big question is thus, "How do we get customers motivated enough to register without showing them everything they need?"

                                   

                                  To address your point about ease of sharing:

                                  We're concerned that if we provide great content that can be easily shared to members outside the community then people won't register for the community. Ideally, a remote contact being given some useful information would respond with "Hey, thanks! I think I'll sign up for that community too." Instead, we think they will be more likely to respond "Hey. thanks! I'll bookmark this page (but not register, and thus not be reachable)." Instead, we'd rather have a registrant share a piece of content with a colleague, then when that colleague tries to access the content they find they need to register to see it; they then register and we've added another member to our community who will be on our weekly email list.

                                   

                                  Thanks for your attention and your help. - Josh

                                • Re: Seeking best practices: Use of Spaces instead of Groups - visibility/permissions concerns
                                  rich.blank

                                  Would recommend using permission controlled spaces if this is your goal: "unregistered masses a small taste of what's inside and enhance our SEO scores"

                                   

                                  You have a few open spaces and rest is locked down by login.

                                  • Re: Seeking best practices: Use of Spaces instead of Groups - visibility/permissions concerns
                                    spharticus

                                    At AGS, we have internal support spaces for the AGS employees themselves, and groups for each 'client' that the internal team and clients can get to. The internal space is administered to maintain groups for client teams, IT, business development, etc. The internal space is for our teams to collaborate and innovate without having clients or others that wouldn't need access to their raw materials. Once projects, ideas, reporting etc is ready for client view, they can move the asset easily to the group.

                                     

                                    Users can create groups on their own for their projects etc, but only admin can create spaces. Internal employees can self-register but admin has to create external user accounts.

                                     

                                    Having internal spaces gives you teams the space to work freely, and having an externally accessible place gives the external users something to see, but it's up to the teams to keep information fresh so they will register and ask for more info.

                                     

                                    HTH