How are you engaging your partners and customers in your Salesforce Community? Salesforce appropriately named their Communities platform as such to highlight the social aspects that the Communities platform offers over its predecessor, the Salesforce Portal platform. A community is defined in the dictionary as “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”
To foster a sense of community inside your Salesforce Community, creating deeper connections between your company and your customer or partners, you need to do three things:
- Plan your social strategy. First, identify the key business objectives that you want to achieve from your Community and ensure that your social strategy is framed around driving those objectives. Your community should never be social for social’s sake; it should be driving tangible business goals such as case deflection or partner engagement. Second, look at the different audiences within your community and identify how to engage with them differently; within a single community, you may have multiple audiences that need to be engaged differently or users will never participate.
- Drive participation. There are many ways you can drive community participation. The first time a user logs into your community, capture information about their interests to automatically add them to Chatter groups. Use marketing automation software like ExactTarget to send targeted messages to Community members based upon their actions inside your community. For example, if a new Communities member fails to join any Chatter groups during their first week of membership, automatically email them several ways they can get the most out of your community. Do not underestimate the amount of effort you will need to put into encouraging and monitoring social interactions in your community; this is not something you can set and forget.
- Include gamification. There are many ways of gamifying your community; for many companies, a subtle form of gamification works best. One of the easiest ways to reward Community users for participating in conversations is to use reputation levels; who doesn’t want to be labeled an expert for contributing a lot of mindshare to a community? Yelp has done a great job with this kind of gamification. Years ago, I wrote dozens of Yelp reviews in hopes of gaining the coveted “Elite” title that would give me both prestige as well as access to private events. Once I gained the title, I kept writing reviews in order to retain that status. Having a way to reward your most active participants is key to keeping them engaged; are there ways that you can reward them with something special such as access to special offers or events for having reached a certain reputation level?
If your Salesforce Community is lacking these elements, what you have done is implemented a portal on the Communities platform, but you have not built a true community.