Game Changers: Widgets and Automation Rules

By Heather McNair posted Oct 02, 2014 05:50 PM


In the midst of (and possibly overshadowed by) the fanfare of the new responsive (aka “Bootstrap”) format, Higher Logic introduced two other game-changing features: widgets and automation rules. 

Automation Rules:

Automation rules allow you to perform certain marketing, engagement and community management actions on an automatic, recurring basis based on criteria that you specify. They are also designed to replace some of the integration logic you formerly had to rely on us to build. The power is now in your hands!

The automation rules interface (Admin > Tools > Automation rules) lets you build rules to run the following tasks:
• Add to a community (subscribe is forthcoming)
• Add a ribbon
• Add to a security group
• Send an email
• Add to a network
• Create an ad-hoc report (off-label use – just pick any of the above criteria then click the “Test rule” results to see who meets the criteria)

You can then specify criteria that needs to be met in order for the rule to apply. The criteria can be simple (e.g. one line item, like “Add a ribbon to anyone who is part of the board of directors community”) or compound (e.g. “Add a ribbon to anyone who is a member, has written a blog post, and has posted to the discussion groups at least four times.”). The “joins” between the criteria can be set as “and” or “or,” but the two types of joins can’t be combined in the same rule. 

The applications for these rules are almost endless. Here are some ideas to get you brainstorming:

•  If you capture a field like “functional job title” and pass it into your Connected Community, you can create communities based around those titles and automatically add anyone to the community with that job title. Since the community will be Higher Logic-managed, you can then set the “join” permissions of it to “members” or “authenticated” so others why may not have that job title can still join the community.

• Studies show that posts made by people with profile pictures are deemed more trustworthy than those without photos. Set up a rule to send an email to users who have posted more than two discussion messages, but have their profile less than 50% completed. 

• Engagement and re-engagement of your users can be a full time job. Save yourself hours by setting up rules to send an email to anyone who hasn’t logged in during the first 90 days after joining, and one to anyone who has posted in the past but hasn’t posted in the last 60 days. 

• Want to allow some non-members to blog but don’t want to open yourself up to possible spam entries? Create a Higher Logic-managed security group called something like “vetted non-members.” Then set up a rule to add anyone to that security group that is a non-member but has their profile at least 80% completed. Spammers likely won’t take the time to fill out additional information on their profile. Then set the permissions on the “create a blog” page to Members + Vetted non-members.

• Send a thank you message for a user who reached a certain point level – perhaps with a special discount code they can apply to a product or webinar purchase with your organization.

• Notify everyone in a state that there is an upcoming event.

Check out the automation rules exercise guide and other materials in the 2014 SuperForum community library for more information.

Showcasing your community content on non-community sites, like your main organization website, is a fantastic way to make users aware of the vast user-generated resources housed in your community – and to draw those users in. Until now, the only way to do this were through RSS feeds or web services. The web services were effective, but took substantial development resources on your side to make them happen. The RSS feeds are pretty easy to drop into another site, but they must be tied to one specific user. Anyone visiting your site will see the same results – they aren’t contextual based on who the user is. Also, should that account get disabled, the RSS feed will be broken.

Widgets offer the best of all worlds. Through widget administration (Admin > Tools > Widget administration), you can easily create javascript code that can be dropped into an external website. The widget generator allows you to create announcement, discussion post, library entry, event and blog widgets. You can enter parameters to control what content shows (which community, how many, how long) just like you can do with the comparable user controls within your Connected Community.

There is also an area to enter CSS (cascading style sheet) code to make the widget match the design attributes of the site you are dropping it into (the "Member Highlights" is the Higher Logic widget): 

Widgets are “authentication aware” so if users are logged into your main site, they will see content that is appropriate to them. This does mean that if someone isn’t logged in, they won’t see anything unless you’ve made content public. You can do this in a couple of ways (and additional controls are forthcoming). You can used advanced permissions on discussion groups and libraries to make their content visible to the public. We’ve also added a new “Promote this post” feature to discussion posts; clicking on this allows you to make a specific post public, regardless of the permissions of the community, so you can curate exactly what non-authenticated users see. For help with either of these, please submit a support ticket

We hope you agree these are "game changers"! Your feedback will continue to shape these features, so take a minute to share ideas either by emailing me directly or posting to the automation rules community on HUG.

#Membership #Marketing