Automation rules and awesomeness should always appear in the same sentence together. Launched last year, automation rules have proved themselves to be the best thing for community management since the Trenta cup at Starbucks. An all-star panel of presenters provided some excellent tips, tricks, and genius hacks of how to get the most out of this precious time saving engagement tool.
1) Automation rules do not equal email outreach. The automation rule templates are located under the “Communities” navigation for a reason- they are a community tool! These rules are a way for community managers to provide high-touch responses and feedback to their members without having to spend hours on individual outreach.
2) Start small. It can be intimidating to create a new automation rule, especially if it is going to a lot of your members at once. Start by using automation rules to create a list or as an email to your staff. That way you can dip your toes in the water, but you can breathe easy as you’re figuring out how to use the tool.
3) Automation rules are already at your fingertips. A few dozen best practice automation rules are already configured and waiting in a disabled state on your site. These were crafted by the Higher Logic team to help get you started. Once you’re in Admin, go to Tools--> Automation Rules-->List of Rules to check them out!
4) Don’t turn on all of the rules at the same time. This is an important one, everyone! Automation rules are powerful and you want to be sure you don’t overwhelm your members. Focus on a couple of rules that will hit different demographics at a time.
5) Check your progress. Did you know that you can track the conversion of your automation rules as well? If you send out a rule asking members who have recently posted and don’t have a profile picture to upload a photo, you can go back and see how many of your members followed through. You can take it a step further and put the conversion information into a spreadsheet and track additional items such as frequency of the rule (weekly, action-triggered, etc), status of the rule (enabled), and any security groups or demographics affected. This was a great idea from presenter Laura Brook of Engaging Communities Consulting!
6) Use automation rules to track Return on Engagement (ROE). ROI is fuzzy when you’re talking about drawing a line between engagement and financial returns, so Ben Martin, CEO of Online Community Results suggests looking at Return on Engagement. Use the conversion reports (see above), Activity Sync (write-back to your AMS- if licensed), and A/B tested groups (track retention of active community members and those inactive or not in the community) to help track and prove ROE for your community.
7) Focus on first year members. Engaging and retaining first year members is something almost every association struggles with. Ben laid out an excellent plan for using automation rules to engage your first year members. Some suggested rules are to encourage adding contacts, filling in their profiles, and starting a discussion. A full list is in the slide deck- check it out!
8) Respond to any automation rule replies in a timely fashion. You will find that your members will respond to automation rules—they appear that personalized! Ginny Butsch, Community Manager of the Educational Theatre Association gave the great piece of advice to ensure that you respond to any resulting outreach from automation rules right away. This gives your members some positive reinforcement for engaging on your site and helps you form relationships with your members. It can also be helpful to change the “Reply to” email address to a colleague if you are out of the office for more than a couple of days.
9) The sky's the limit for what automation rules can do! There are lots of creative ways to use automation rules outside of the Best Practices. Laura Brook is a HUG MVP for a reason—she kicked off this awesome thread of ideas submitted by other Huggers. Check it out for some great suggestions and add some of your own!
10) Automation Rules are constantly evolving. As the architect of the automation rules, our fearless leader Rob Wenger is always looking for feedback from you! This final tip is to join the Automation Rules Ideas community to submit ideas of your own and to see the clever suggestions of fellow Huggers.
If you didn’t have the chance to attend Super Forum or if you were there, but couldn’t make this session, I highly encourage you to check out the slides and stay tuned for the recording!