Top Tips for Creating Online Communities


This week we ran an event on the topic of Online Communities – We focussed on two key topics 1) how to engage people successfully within a community 2) The power of Salesforce Community Cloud to enable participatory communities.
Top tips were provided by the Economic Change, alongside guest speaker Erica Rutherford, Director of Gingerland, an online community engagement expert.

Economic Change implements the Salesforce Community Cloud for non-profit organisations to help support volunteers, beneficiaries, employees, learners and partners to access and input information into Salesforce CRM objects as well as connect with each others, using Salesforce Chatter functionality. Discounted users licenses are available to non-profits via the Salesforce Foundation.

Erica spoke about the four pillars of a successful community to be:

Membership – Influence – Needs – Connection

We have summarised the tips below shared by Erica, alongside a summary of how the Salesforce Community Cloud can help you to achieve this outcome. Take a glimpse of the features available in our image below.

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1.      Membership

A community should bring together a target group of individuals who have an aligned common interest and sense belonging, enabling them to connect and share information within a space that is safe and familiar to them.

Harnessing the power of the Salesforce Community Cloud and Chatter, organisations can create a safe secure branded space to bring together employees, volunteers, customers, learners, members, beneficiaries, trustees of an organisation to share thoughts, ideas or issues with their peers or staff using Salesforce Chatter or Question and Answers functionality.

2.     Influence

Allowing members of the community to contribute and gain recognition and responsibility if they frequently interact and support their peers.  Give members a voice to influence how the community expands – ask for their interests and create groups of interest to help align common problems or goals.

The functionality of the Salesforce Community Cloud and Chatter can enable you:

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  • Gather views – a community manager can set up polls within Chatter, use the Idea Object for members to post or vote on ideas, or create a discussion for members views or ideas on questions.
  • Connect people with common interests – Within Salesforce Community Cloud you can set up public or private groups within Salesforce Chatter to bring together a set of individuals with common interests.
  • Recognising contributions – within Salesforce you can recognise and boost the responsibility of a member within a community through setting your own scoring system to recognise key Influencers or reward badges using the platform. This enables you to reward people for achieving custom set targets e.g. contributions, best answers.


3.     Fulfilment of Need

It is important to be clear on the purpose of your community from the start – why should people use it and what benefits will it provide. When this is clear, you can then determine if it is meeting their need. E.g. is it about being a great resource for information, or is it about meeting friendly people.

To ensure it can meet people’s needs, it can be valuable to have a committed ambassador group of staff and community users who can support new-comers to the system to support learning and adoption.

The Salesforce Community Cloud can have many different purposes, whether it’s about encouraging self-help, peer-learning, information exchange/updates, partnership creation or gathering views for campaigning. Using Salesforce, you can customise the visual identify of the community and expose just the right information to suit the needs of the audience.
Different levels of security and functionality access can also be set for a tiered ambassador team consisting of staff, volunteers or peers.

4. Shared emotional connection

Encouraging regular contact and discussion is the main role of a community manage, so it’s important to think about how to engage people in prompts, events, polls, customer questions, or provocative discussions to keep giving them reasons to keep coming back.

To ensure discussions are always on hand, The Salesforce Community Cloud enables access to your branded community via computer, tablet or mobile. Email alerts for posts can be customised by the user to receive an alert as posted or a summary digest on a daily, weekly, monthly digests.

There are different types of posts that can be created whether it’s an event, message, file, poll, question, to encourage different levels of interaction.

Measuring Success

Continuing to evaluate the success of the community is the role of the community manager, and a strategy should be adopted and reviewed regularly to ensure it maintains momentum. The start is always a big hill to climb to kick start engagement, but once momentum is achieved it can take a life of it’s own with full participation and engagement of members

Salesforce has a set of inbuilt dashboards and reports that show key performance indicators (KPIs) related to community usage and adoption at any point in time.
For a free demo of Salesforce Communities and how we have adopted it for non-profits contact us or email

To find out more about Salesforce Chatter click here

To find out more about Salesforce Community Cloud click here 


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