Active participation is a mark of successful online communities. In the Summer 14 Community Engagement Console, Salesforce has released functionality that now enables users to manage community user health. During my career, I had experience building one of the earliest About.com communities, as well as with custom professional services communities. Now, I work primarily with Salesforce communities. The underlying commonality between the three is that a strong base of active users perpetuates value and is a defining factor for a successful healthy community.

When is an online community member defined as active? Many users will just log in without engaging and that is not an active community user. A community can have hundreds of thousands of registered users, but that doesn’t make it an active community. You can have thousands and thousands of users that log in daily but merely hover and read and add no value. That isn’t a great definition of an active community of users either. Balance is another great point. If you have 10,000 users with bare minimal participation and three are heavy contributors that’s more of a sounding stage then a community. Ideally, what you want is a strong base and a balance of active users that participate consistently within your community. An active user consistently completes actions such as posting comments, posting responses, liking posts, sharing posts, rating posts, uploading files, updating profiles and anything else that provides value to a community.

So how do you create a strong, active user base? In my experience, competition has been one of the most successful drivers for achieving this. The new Salesforce Community Engagement Console release has made it easy to customize Reputation and Point System functionality so that you can build competition in the user base and give recognition. The Reputation tab allows a community engagement console admin to customize reputation levels. The Point System tab allows the admin to customize the point system to reward members for community Chatter activity.

Points are awarded to users who complete activities such as liking a post, sharing a post, writing a comment, etc. Admins can set and manipulate Points by clicking the Point Value tab to stimulate the Salesforce community.

Salesforce community engagement console

The Community Engagement Console is set up so that points a user earns fall into the range of a community level. Level titles and point range values are customized by the Admin.

Salesforce community engagement console

When another member hovers over a photo or name in the Chatter feed the community level is displayed. Everyone can see status levels. It creates competition to attain them and recognizes those that are contributing.

salesforce community engagement console

The Communities Analytics package that is soon to be released on the AppExchange has new dashboards and reports that can be mapped to all Community Engagement Console Overview tabs in every community.

You can use reports to help you determine the health of your community, as well as actions you can take to improve it. To help, Salesforce has created a networks object where you can create custom reports on network activity metrics, membership, contributions and usage through Salesforce. Dashboards created from the networks object can be mapped to the Overview tab of the Community Engagement Console.

With a few clicks in the Community Engagement Console, a Salesforce Admin can monitor activity in the community and decide on adjustments in reputation and points value based on dashboards, essentially promoting user activity and community success.

Are you using the community engagement console? If so, tell me about about your experience.

Meg DiGregory

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