Greetings from the Communities team. We hope you, your family & friends are staying safe and healthy.
As we finish the first half of the year and enter the second, let’s review where we are and also take a sneak peek into some exciting things on the anvil.
Our goal is to help you build a comprehensive engagement strategy with your brand community - a vibrant space where your users find answers, develop expertise, share experiences, and in that process build your brand. A brand community that connects across dot com, SEO, social engagement, and digital care.
Expanding user engagement:
One of the key strategic objectives with the Communities roadmap is powering new and additional use cases for expanding end-user engagement. Last year, we took a big step in this direction with support for Group Hubs. Group Hubs enable creation of spaces within a Community around specific topics and special interests. While continuing to enhance Group Hubs capabilities, we added a new discussion style in Events early this year. Communities and Events go hand-in-hand. Support for a diverse choice of video technologies, Zoom being the latest, means that you can now go live from Communities. Glad to see your enthusiastic adoption of this new discussion style as you make your Communities the home for your brand's events.
In addition to ICS support, enhanced Events APIs (1, 2), and Event Analytics released last month, we are currently readying support for Invite-by-email for Events.
Events: Now supporting live Zoom events
Redesigned with a focus on collaboration and usability, also released earlier this year was content workflow and approval enhancements for Blogs and TKBs. With granular permissions, a new dashboard, article history views, compare versions, internal comments and enhanced notifications, this enables teams of different sizes to collaborate on new & existing articles at scale without getting in each other's way. Nothing differentiates a community more than quality content. Redesigned Blogs and TKBs make it easier than ever to produce quality crowdsourced content in the community without the need for any external tools.
Discussions and comments add a spark of excitement and engagement to most content because they can transform mundane browsing experiences into interactive conversations with experts. For example, Comments List Syndication creates a comment box on any external web page. The comments are mirrored in your community, effectively creating a network of interactive conversations across different web properties. In addition, the comment moderation is all handled through the Community Admin capabilities that already exist in the community - making it cost-effective and customizable for all types of pages. First half of this year, we further enriched Syndication capabilities and this continues to be a focus going forward as well.
Many thanks for your feedback, ideas and suggestions around these. We are all ears and are looking into further enhancing the capabilities via extending Invite-by-email to Group Hubs, easier ways to administer Group Hubs, more granular permissions for Blogs and the like.
Community Management & Security:
Another key investment area is enabling easier management of Communities. Recent additions include support for Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), Self-Serve SAML SSO, new permission controls for Video, Feature logs, and a host of other enhancements.
While MFA provides an additional layer of security to help prevent unauthorized account access, SAML SSO is now available out-of-the box as a core product feature, instead of the plugin-based approach used earlier. This simplifies setting up SAML SSO in Communities and reduces the total cost of ownership.
Feature logs can be used to generate feature specific logs in components and endpoints to help developers and administrators monitor and debug during Community customisation. Feature logs can be accessed in the Community Admin via Toolbox.
We believe that video should be tied exclusively to the community message it was originally part of and these new permission controls are a step in that direction.
Over the course of the last few months, we have also been beefing up community moderation capabilities via Engagement Manager (called Manager View earlier). Sporting a new moderation column, Engagement Manager supports an intelligent implementation of bulk processing whereby moderators can select a set of posts and take actions such as Approve, Reject, or Mark as Spam.
This year, we also announced a partnership with Samurai Labs, an AI firm dedicated to preventing online violence, to help detect potentially offensive content. Offensive content can be automatically removed from communities without exposing moderators to this stressful material, ultimately creating healthier and more positive communities.
Coming very soon is support for Bulk Content Archive. With a variety of filters around age, location, type and activity of the content, this upcoming feature makes it significantly easier to find and archive stale content in a few clicks.
Analytics & Insights:
With Billing metrics you can now access how your billing-related metrics trend against the contractual tier of your community. This metrics shows the current usage against the contractual tier limits for the metrics subscribed to in your contract. Metrics also shows the timeline view of usage of all the metrics subscribed in the contract. Also added this first half were support for Event Analytics and view upto 12-months at a time. Event Analytics provides key metrics such as RSVP responses, number of unique visitors to an Event page. It helps you measure the success of your community events and improve their engagement.
As covered in our June roadmap webinar, a set of new Community Manager (CM) dashboards is in the works. Real-time insights with a bias for action, these new dashboards will include 2 key elements:
a community snapshot, a summary view of a set of configurable headline metrics of your community - number of Active Members, Page Views, Unique Visitors so on
a community dashboard, a ready reckoner to what has happened/happening in the community - what topics are trending and needing attention, how are key indicators like time-to-first replies faring, how is the user activity shaping up etc
While we are working on these, we wanted to share that the beta rollout of the new CM dashboards is delayed by a quarter than originally planned. This delay is due to a change in the platform for these new dashboards. We wanted to fast track consolidation of all community analytics in one single interface, i.e. combine Admin Metrics, Community Analytics and the new CM dashboards into a single tool, over time. We completely understand and share your excitement around these new dashboards and will move forward on this, on priority. We will share further updates, as soon as we have them.
Community Management Dashboards: Community Snapshot
Voice-of-Customers (VoC) leveraging CX Insights is another key project we are excited about. VoC will help you further to build an actionable view of users to create world-class experiences. More details to come!
New Community Experience:
The new Community UI service, codenamed Project Aurora, is progressing well. Please watch the detailed breakout-session in our last webinar for a walkthrough of the key elements of this new, transformational community experience.
The new community experience offers:
a new, modern, beautiful user experience, that is ready out-of-the-box, accessible and optimized for web performance
the community managers with simple front-end tools to theme & configure
a new admin interface
an enhanced developer experience
This gives you a community platform that is ready off-the-shelf, with significantly reduced need for customizations (hence cheaper to maintain) and easy to develop against, thus reducing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). All this without any need for data migrations as the underlying platform remains the same while the front-end is re-imagined.
Blog Article View
New Admin Interface
While we will continue to share updates in our future webinars and via discussions on Atlas, do drop us a note if you have any questions or need any additional details. This is a major investment into the future of communities. We would want to work with you every step of the way and look forward to partnering with you as we bring this to life.
In addition to these, we are also working on upgrading our back-end Search platform, enhancing Accessibility and improving Performance. Query Builder, our proposed tool for on-demand insights on content & members in the community is also in the works.
As part of the mid-year review, we are proposing to move out Community - MS Teams integration and Ghost Authoring & Transfer Ownership for Blogs & TKBs from this year's roadmap to next year's. These remain on our backlog as priority items and we will bring them back to the roadmap as soon as some of the currently active projects such as the New Community Experience and CM Dashboards are close to roll out. This adjustment helps us to focus our energies on a limited number of high profile projects at a time and deliver them with quality.
Hope this was helpful. As always, we would love to hear your feedback, thoughts, and suggestions.
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