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Salesforce Communities #DF15 Focus: Social, Mobile, Self-Service

dreamforce_day_2_twitterLast year at Dreamforce, Salesforce announced their Community Builder, a new tool that empowers companies to quickly launch self-service communities using one of three templates: Napili, Koa, Kokua. At the time, the product was in Beta and lacked key extensibility features required by more enterprise customers. The product showed great promise, but few people adopted it due to its limits. Several releases later, and the product has gone from a promising dream to a powerful reality, with more than 100 new features filled out in the last year.

If you haven’t looked at it recently, you should. This year’s community keynote showed a few great examples of what the Community Builder can do (as of Winter ’16) and some really innovative ideas for how to use your community to improve your bottom line.

Grow your business your in context commerce. Salesforce has partnered with commerce companies like CloudCraze and Demandware to enable companies to integrate ecommerce into a social community. They gave the example of Avid, the industry leader in audio and video production. Professional and amateur artists can collaborate in their community and purchase music from one another; for example, if a community member is trying to produce a video and asks a question about where they can get a cool drum beat sound, a related products component on the page will return music files with “drum” in them that they can preview and purchase. It’s all about feeding up relevant products in the context of conversations.

Salesforce is helping IAVA save lives. The story of IAVA packs an emotional punch. is a non-profit that serves over 400,000 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. They used Salesforce Communities to connect vets online, social workers and information about getting education, access to healthcare, etc. This is a great example of how non-profits can take advantage of Salesforce communities to better connect with their constituents, and transform lives. The non-profit is doing some great work and if the IAVA cause appeals to you, IAVA mentioned they are hiring all kinds of resources, including people for their Salesforce team!

Schneider Electric empowers partners to grow their business. Schneider Electric is a global company that operates in over 100 countries and have a very diverse product offering and diverse partner ecosystem. Their story was one of connecting partners with information and tools to grow their business, which in turns, grows Schneider Electric’s business. While companies have been doing partner communities to achieve these exact results for years, what stood out for me about this was the way they incorporated the social message into their community. While many companies we work with fear social in their partner community (because their partners are competitive), Schneider embraced the idea of a community to enable partners to help each other quickly get answers to their problems and showed how partners could collaborate with Schneider using Chatter on an opportunity to get clarity on a product question. We think this is the future of partner communities and is what will make them sticky.

All of the communities had the following in common: social, mobile, self-service. These are critical elements to a successful community, and will help you drive business value from your community.

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