Customer Showcase May 2024: Holly from Board

HollyR Vanilla Flower
edited May 3 in Talk Community #1

2023 was a transformational year for the Board Community as we laser-focused on our guiding principle: Build a Foundation of Trust. Trust that the Community was actively engaged and aligned with member success, that the product team would review every new idea shared for product roadmap consideration, and trust that internal experts were committed to member enablement and excellence through knowledge sharing. I’m Holly Rieke—Director of Community at Board—and I’m excited to share with you some highlights and successes of the re-imagined Board Community.

Migration and Metrics

The Board Community migration completed on February 9, 2023. Our first year was action-packed with a myriad of launched initiatives each month, both big and small. The success of Community often starts from the top of an organization. With a renewed interest and commitment internally to the value of Community, we experienced a dedicated membership of planning practitioners soaring to new heights.

  • +32% membership
  • +53% active users
  • +121% authenticated visits
  • +181% forum posts
  • +163% new ideas

Notably, we also calculated the value of potential case deflections and overall influence in the millions of dollars. We considered this a major win for year one and our Foundation of Trust solidified.

Content is Key

Content is the bedrock of community. Without meaningful and measurable content, we know members won’t have a reason to visit or return. In year one, we had a sharp focus on technical content for our primary audience of builders—those actively using the Board product to achieve daily business objectives. We launched 100+ best practices, how-to guides, and support FAQs. These have been highly successful, consistently ranking in the top visited sections.

Another exciting content strategy in year one was the launch of Community Voices—an umbrella ‘program’ that clearly articulates what the content is meant to do. We share Community Voices in a recognizable and consolidated way using content tags and an easy-to-find view via top navigation. We continue to build the Community Voices brand this year by expanding to more short-form video content. As a small team with no dedicated video resource, we’re getting resourceful and creating simple, repeatable processes to achieve this goal. Our first ‘3 Qs’ customer video is on track to go live in early May.

To add an element of fun into an otherwise serious community, we also introduced a Just for Fun initiative. Using the polls functionality, we added in the occasional light-hearted question to break up the regular flow of content and engage members in a more personal way. It is, indeed, fun to see how people answer, especially when they choose to expand in the comments section. Our latest question, for example, focused around Q2 and how members were doing keeping their new year’s resolutions/goals. Off topic? Yes. A fun way to build relationships and make members feel part of a community in a different way? Absolutely!

Other content best practices in year one included content auditing prior to migration, streamlining an abundance of content tags, pinning a table of contents to the top of key sections, and adding links to related content whenever possible. Through it all we reaffirmed—details matter!

Engagement Strategy

Engagement is the heartbeat of community and my personal favorite. Last year, we targeted foundational activities that aligned with our trust-building strategy. We’ve also added a few new engagement initiatives in 2024—like our Badge of the Month program and Community Captains initiative. Looking back, here are a few highlights:

Internal alignment: To effectively build trust with our member base, it was critical that we educate and align employees around the vision, mission, and strategy of the new Community. We accomplished this through internal roadshows, personal outreach and relationship building, and gaining alignment from leadership to include participation in MBOs for the year. This has cascaded more naturally into year two as we have employees organically excited about Community.

Gamification: Implementing the leaderboard was a quick win. We chose to build around a sporting theme and a play on our company brand, affectionately naming the leaderboard—ScoreBoard. The next evolution of this theme is coming soon with the launch of a champions program called Community Captains. Our ‘team Captains’ can participate by opting-in to the program and selecting one give-back opportunity in the form of a blog post, video interview, a commitment to collect each monthly badge…and more opportunities to be identified as we grow.

Groups: Groups functionality has come in useful in a few ways, including regional groups in which conversations can happen in-language (a major win for a global audience) and beta testing groups that allow for critical product feedback before big releases. We’re also planning to use Groups functionality to support an enhanced member onboarding experience this year.

Feedback: In addition to using the quick polls functionality for Just for Fun topics, we’ve also used it to gain feedback on various content. It’s fast, easy, and less likely to be ignored than a traditional survey format. Polls also come in handy when asking members about likes, dislikes and improvements to the overall Community experience.

Overcoming Obstacles

The Community journey is never without its challenges. Here are a few that stood out to us in year one, along with actions taken to overcome them.

Organizational changes and new leadership: With changes in leadership come opportunities to educate, invigorate, and take a look at planning and strategies through fresh eyes. We are still new on this journey but are encouraged by the enthusiasm and support so far. For us, the key has been a can-do attitude…and metrics. Data tells the story. Finding creative ways to demonstrate value is working.

Community platform isn’t perfect: No one solution can be everything to everyone, but there’s usually an acceptable workaround until that one new feature that you really, really want hits the roadmap. Internally, when faced with questions like, ‘Why can’t the platform do XYZ?’—we stay focused on what it CAN do and educate requestors on all the positive touchpoints that we have, allowing us to influence the roadmap.

Building member momentum: Remember that there is no finish line with Community. With a small team, we’ve made very intentional plans and programs to build momentum. They can’t be too manual or they won’t be scalable, there can’t be too many or the value will get diluted, and (most importantly) they take time. Growth is growth, no matter the pace.

On-hold projects: These have been especially frustrating because we know the potential value and impact; we’ve experienced them in previous roles. The two biggest challenges have been time and resources. Classics. How do you overcome these major challenges, you ask? First, let yourself feel all the feelings. Then—pivot! This goes back to shifting your focus to what you CAN do, vs. what you can’t. We’re working on a major program pivot now and will happily report back later this year.

Moving Forward

Already well on our way into year two, we’ve shifted our focus to: Building Momentum Through Education and Awareness. We find that aligning around a theme helps us prioritize our efforts—which is especially important on a small team of two (a challenge we know many of you also face). Looking ahead to 2025 and beyond, our sights are set on growing through externally-led resources, likely in a phased approach.

What does this look like? Cross-promotion in all available communication channels, taking advantage of in-person events for networking, launching a champions program, personal outreach to members to build relationships, a badge-of-the-month program that doubles as a way to further establish the Community Voices program, expansion of regional groups, maximizing the platform…and more. While we’re still building the basics it’s important to remember that every little bit helps establish an impactful community experience.

As this community is keenly aware, there’s a plethora of activities that go into delivering a successful experience. We hope these highlights are helpful—maybe even inspirational—and would love to hear where you are at in your journey.


  • BrendanP
    BrendanP HLV Staff

    This is an awesome summary @HollyR !

    What your team at Board has accomplished since switching to HLV is nothing short of amazing.

    You mentioned that you've calculated case deflection and influence in millions which is extremely substantial. Of course ROI is always top of mind for community teams - are you able to share anything about your methodology and what you looked at?

    Excited to see what Board community team comes up with this year!

  • HollyR
    HollyR Vanilla Flower

    @BrendanP Thanks! We're pretty proud of what we were able to accomplish in year one, despite organizational changes and limited resources.

    As for case deflection, we used a proven methodology from past community experiences, taking an agreed-upon percentage of total traffic (to account for bots and those that weren't visiting for a true support need) x cost per case (as defined by our organization).

    Community Influence Value takes into account the total customer ARR for those logos that visited community in a specified time period. We state this as an 'influence' value as a way to demonstrate the relationship between active community members and customers who renew or expand. It's not perfect but does help to tell the story of community in the 'happy customer' journey!

  • PiperWilson
    PiperWilson HLV Staff

    @HollyR - Can you give us any insight into how your organization defines the cost per case? I understand that you may not be able to because it might be proprietary, but I wanted to ask anyway.


  • HollyR
    HollyR Vanilla Flower

    @PiperWilson That value was provided to me by our support organization. I don't have the 'secret sauce' for their calculation :)

  • GingerAnderson
    GingerAnderson Vanilla Ice Cream

    Loved reading what you're working on @HollyR ! Have you found that people are open to the fun questions in such a technical community? Are you doing those in a separate category, or as a part of blogs?

  • HollyR
    HollyR Vanilla Flower

    @GingerAnderson We're just sprinkling them in periodically right in the blog and find that a decent amount of people are responding. It's a nice way to bring a more human element into the mix and is a good tactic for us to continue to build momentum and engagement.