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Gradual 2023 Q4 Product Update & 2024 Q1 Kick Off

Posted Jan 29, 2024 | Views 214
Kyle Sutton
Kyle Sutton
Kyle Sutton
Head of Strategy & Operations @ Gradual

I am an avid learner and driven to help others succeed.

I pride myself on being able to pick things up quickly and translate between the technical and the high level.

I love any outdoor activity that involves learning something to be successful!

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I am an avid learner and driven to help others succeed.

I pride myself on being able to pick things up quickly and translate between the technical and the high level.

I love any outdoor activity that involves learning something to be successful!

+ Read More

We launched several fantastic features in Q4 including invite only events and ticketing, updates to Forum and a number of self service tools in the dashboard.

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Welcome, everyone, to a product update covering features and updates released for gradual in Q4 of 2023.

I would like to point out that there is a small asterisks in my note because we're also going to talk about some things released technically in the first quarter of 2024, simply because I'm too excited to wait. I want to share them with the world. And we can't wait until next month or later this month to get it.

So we're going to we're going to cover those things today, too, and they're going to fall into four, four big buckets. We're going to talk about invite only events and ticketing. We're going to talk about updates to the gradual forum, the new tools in the dashboard for self-service community management. And last but certainly not least, we are going to preview the brand new and much anticipated contributor profiles.

We're going to cover all that and more in 20 ish to 30 minutes and then jump into a Q&A. I've not timed it. So we'll we'll see. But as always, at the end of this will end the live stream and then jump right into a Q&A with the team, will be able to jump and answer questions or feel free to just come say hi and meet other community professionals like yourself.

And as we go, please feel free to post-recession questions in the chat. Laura's here, as you'll see in the chat, and she can answer questions to and she'll drop some helpful links to documentation and stuff. So without further ado, let's dig in and we're going to start talking about event updates, specifically invite only events and tickets and gradual.

At the end of 2023, we launched probably one of the biggest updates to event registration functionality since we did customer registration questions, and that's our invite. Only ticketing options for events with this feature allows for is you can define certain tickets for events to only be available to certain members of the community or people with a particular code.

Why does this matter and why would you use this? Well, invite only tickets allow you to control who's able to register for certain events or ticket types. You could do that before with spaces in gradual, but you can have it. So the entire event is invite only or just parts of the event via ticket type. So some examples of how this could work.

Maybe I'm hosting a hybrid event and I want to restrict in-person attendance to certain groups and but anyone could register for virtual. I would set up two ticket types sending. One is invite only and one is virtual. And we'll take a look at that exact use case in a second. Then I can either add a list or generate codes that people can use to register for those events.

Another use case may be an invite only dinner. I know we have some some folks here that that facilitate these where I want to restrict the entire event to just a certain audience. But I also want it to be visible in case there's someone I didn't miss or someone I missed. Maybe we're hosting an event in New York.

I assume somebody couldn't join, but they're like, actually I'll be in New York this weekend. Would love to join that event. So let's take a look at how this all works. And I will share my screen and we are going to look at the gradual dashboard here

inside the dashboard. I'm on this particular event. We've called it a strategy retreat.

If I go to ticket types, I will see that this ticket is set up with a restriction to the invitation only. I can go in and I can toggle that on and off.

Then once I've set up a ticket as invite only, I have this invitations option here as well. And this is where I can control a list of who's invited.

And I can also generate codes for people that I want to invite. If someone wants to register and or is interested in the event but is not on one of these lists or doesn't have a code, we also have a flow for them to expressed interest in that will show up in invitation requests.

Inside this invitation requests, you'll see that I've got somebody who's submitted their information and I've got they just submit a local of justification on why they'd like to attend and why they'd like to be there once it's set up this way on the front end, actually, when I go to register, it'll show that this ticket type is invitation only, and if

I'm invited, it'll give me this little nudge here to make sure I follow the right path so I can register for invite only events.

entire flow really makes it so you can curate events with experience for your community with ease. We already have customers who are using this to have maybe part of their event is customer specific.

The AM is training just for customers, the PM is for everybody, special sessions with executives, etc. etc. and a handful of other use cases.

Right now invite only tickets are just available for in-person events or live stream events, but will be made available for meeting event types in the future. If you're interested in using invite only tickets, let us know and we'll get that turned on for your community because it's not going to be on by by default.

But we're happy to happy to turn that on.

All right. That is invite only event updates.

Let's talk about the gradual forum.

The forums just keep getting better and better. I don't want to spoil it here. I gonna go back to this front page

there. There are three big updates to the forum experience. First, you can now edit your posts and comments, so this allows you to easily update correct information. I can go in here, I can make my post saying Happy New Year, but actually I really would rather it be capitalized.

I can go in, I can edit and say yeah, I want this to be Happy New Year and it'll show is edited. Easiest that I can do the same with post. Second, you'll see the other update forum posts and comments and replies. Support rich content. So go ahead post that video, add a photo reply with a gif. This is great.

Not only to add some some livelihood to the forum experience, but but also for customer support channels and knowledge sharing because it replies can include screenshots of a product. Or here's what I'm experiencing or Here's what I'm seeing. Allowing for even more knowledge sharing. There's going to be even more features coming for the forum to support that kind of customer support use case, including things like marking replies as correct or closing threads to further replies or conversation come in later this year.

Lastly, and probably most importantly is the entire forum section in the platform can be turned on for just certain groups within your community, and there's a handful of use cases for this and I'll kind of describe how it works. You've always been able to turn the forum on or off so I can either have it visible or not, but it was an all or nothing, meaning every member of the community would see it or none would see it.

Now you can have it turned on just for particular spaces within the community. Use cases for this, the most immediate and universal is I could turn the forum on to just a subset of my community to help seed and pilot the content before launching to everyone. You can get insiders, ambassadors and others to begin to drive conversation and add things.

So when it becomes alive for the entire community, it's lively, robust and there's discussion already happening. You could do the same thing with your own internal team. I could go into the dashboard, I can go into my forum settings and I could say, Hey, I won't li, I only want this to be available to my community staff or my internal team so we can get a feel for it.

We can seed and post some content before turning it on to everyone. The second use case around this would be if your forum experience is restricted to just a certain subset of your community members. Maybe it's only available to customers or only available to a certain tier of membership. In that case, you can restrict the forum to only be visible to those groups right now.

Again, it's the whole forum, not individual posts within, but in the future will allow for dividing the forum between spaces or groups of people to say, Hey, group, I want to see these kind of posts. Group B, I want to see these kind of posts that's coming in the future. But right now it's the same. It's either visible to everyone,

off to everyone, or visible to just certain spaces.

If you are not using the forum tool yet and want to explore it, let us know. We're happy to walk you through. You can also go see it for yourself after this event. Not right now. Click on the community on the left hand side and forum is turned on in this very community. You can engage with us there, chat and say, Say hi and we'll continue to build out forum quite a bit in the new year.

In the first part, first part of this year, that's going to include new notification functionality via email, the ability to have different views or boards for certain groups based on kind of groups they belong to and even even more so, please, please stay tuned. All righty. Let's keep on keeping on. We are going to move on to self-service tools and resources in gradual.

So managing your community and gradual and reporting on your events, we hope, is about to get a little bit easier with the release of three new self-service features in the dashboard. These are popular requests that we get, so we're excited to enable them for you all to be able to do these without needing to have our weight on our team to do it.

Cut down the overhead for you and make community management even even easier. The first of those is going to be event reporting. It's

It's related to live stream event reports. What I can do now is from the dashboard, I can go into a live stream event and I can now self-service download that session report. This report will show you all the view times aligned to the agenda that you have set up.

If you download this report, you'll see. I think I have an example open. I'll see the sessions, I'll have email addresses and then the amount of time each person watched each particular session you'll be able to. This reporting has always been available, but has not been self-service. So now we can get this for you. For you. You don't have to ask our team to get this for you.

Now. The reports won't be available for historical events after before we launched this feature. But if you need reporting for those, simply ask. And our team can can provide these. I see a couple questions. I'm going to pause real quick because jumping in answer in answering those. Awesome. We will we will keep on keeping on. You can download this report.

It doesn't sync with any of our integrations yet, but you can. You do get the email addresses so you can upload those to your CRM or whatever system. All right. Next up is going to be agenda format customization. This is related to how agendas show up on the front end of gradual. You'll see here I've got these little labels, lightning talks, reception breakouts.

We allow we've always allowed for customization of these. If our team does it manually for you now, you can do it right within the dashboard. If I go into an agenda, I can simply add an agenda item put in my title. I select a track and then will either suggest standard options for the label for that format or you can pick your own.

So for example, if I don't want it to be called presentation, but instead want it to be lightning talks, I can simply enter that, save it and it'll show up that way on the front end. A small but important way to make sure that your event pages can meet your exact needs of your community. All right. We have one more self-service tool to share, and then we're going to jump into the contributor profiles preview.

If you have questions. I've seen them already. Great job. Post those in the chat and we'll jump in. Any reactions thing you like the questions you have suggestions please please feel free to to join in. All right. Last but certainly not least in the eagle eyed among you may have noticed this already as I was clicking around, but you can now drum roll, please bulk upload your own attendees members and invitations via the gradual dashboard inside of the dashboard on any of those pages I can simply in the top right hand corner will see the opportunity to to bulk upload.

They exist for three places members, attendees and invitations. So on the members on the member lists, I can bulk import members on an event. If I go into the attendees, I can bulk import those attendees as well. And then in that same in the invitations, I can add an invitee list here. It is a super simple process. It clicking the button will start the import wizard.

Here I will decide the behavior that I want it to follow. Do I want to create new attendees or update existing attendee types? I'll choose my ticket type. I'll find my import template. We also have that template and all the instructions here. We also include if there are predefined things like attendee type or member type that you need to specify.

Those are called out in the instructions or decide my data mapping in case my CSP columns or I'm using a different template where I want that to map to inside of gradual will verify all that data to make sure it's going to import correctly. And then I'll go ahead and start the import. It'll send me an email with a log once that's finished and I can refresh this page and I'll see those imported members show up on my member list for bulk uploads.

We will not send any of the automated emails triggered by the system for things like event registration or new member. Sign up those registration confirmations or member sign up emails. If somebody got those out of the blue because of a bulk upload. Maybe alarming, you probably have other workflows, so you'll need to send those. You'll want to send those manually external from gradual.

The exception to that will be if you're using the automated calendar, invite integration. If you have that enabled anyone you add via API or Zapier integration or via this bulk upload will get that event invite. This feature is brand new, so as you explore and use it, please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions. Our team is here to help and assist.

If you're like, Hey, I'm not sure if my data will map over or how do I do this or that or the other. Please, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Alrighty. Last but certainly not least, and enough of the back end dashboard stuff. Let's talk about an exciting feature that will allow you to empower and recognize the members of your community in their contributions. Last year we launched what we call our collab rater feature. That feature allowed you to delegate to members of the community the ability to post their own events or create their own content with certain controls and limitations on what they were allowed to do.

Now we're adding the second piece of this, which is coupled with the speakers and authors, what we call the contributor profile. The contributor profile showcases on a member's profile everything they've done to contribute to the community when it comes to events or content they've created on the profile. See a badge at the top with a counter of the things that that person has done.

And then as I scroll down, I'll see all the other profile information, but also see a list of content or events that they have now or upcoming things they've hosted, and it's all automatically synched in via gradual. You don't need to manually assign people to things other than just adding them as a speaker or adding them as a host.

Why does this matter? Well, this update to the profile allows members to showcase and be recognized for their contributions to the community. It allows other community members to explore and discover subject matter experts and navigate to events and content that sparked their interest. It also gives recognition via the badges and our soon to be released leaderboard that's coming so you can recognize the members of the community who are who are doing the most.

The idea is that it further empowers your community to self. Author putting less responsibility on you as the community leader to generate every single thing, but instead enabling the community members and recognizing them for their their contribution. I like to think of this as my my community specific CV. It shows why I'm an expert and what I'm doing.

So how does this work and what do you need to do? Well, when someone as a collaborator from here creates a piece of content or does something, it'll automatically likely be linked

to their profile. We can see Tiffany is an organizer for this livestream, so it's links to there and shows up on her front end on her profile as well.

Or when I go to the speakers section in the dashboard, you'll see I now have the option to link that speaker to a member. This creates a link between all of the things they've been featured as a speaker on and their user profile dissimilar from what we've had in the past. This means that if I add them as a speaker to an event or as an author on a blog that's going to show up on their profile as well.

The badges and counters at the top are updated automatically any time something is published. And I can even customize the look and feel of these from within the dashboard. I can go down to settings and go to customization in here. Not only can I update the text in images, but it also gives me a clarification on when is this applied?

When When does someone get this kind of badge? Coming soon for this is going to be a leaderboard that compiles this information and shows a rank of Hey, who's contributed the most to who's the top organizer, maybe the top content content producer inside the platform. The vision is that it's a way to recognize and encourage contribution without a ton of overhead management for you.

And I want to share a couple ways that our customers are already using this, which is impressive because this feature has been alive for less than 30 days. So some real excitement around the contributor profile. In a recent newsletter, one of our customers included special call outs in recognition for members who helped host events and coordinate things. They link to that member's profile where others could see their full bio, but also things that they've done to contribute to the community and add value.

Another customer launched a an ambassador program where ambassadors were empowered as collaborators to publish content, build events and host their own kind of roundtables and mentoring. And the profile allowed them to showcase all the things that they were doing and demonstrate subject matter expertise of like, Hey, I'm I'm really good in this area and here's all the content that I've done.

And lastly, another customer hosts events for all sorts of members where the creators are contributors, have their own audiences and following the new profile allows for attendees or general members of the community to quickly see what else has this creator or contributor done? What are the things that they're doing that that I might also be interested in? This is the beginning of of how we can recognize and incentivize contribution in the future.

Will continue to expand kind of badges I could offer maybe even some customized ones and ways to provide even more incentive for people to engage. But the idea is that rather than, you know, traditional gamification where it's, you know, a very clear, you know, do these two things, get a get a coin in return? It's about building self authorship.

It's about brand and really contributing value to the community as a whole. Both the collaborator and contributor features are things that we can turn on for you. So if you don't see them in your dashboard and want to explore those, let us know and we can get that enabled for you to begin to begin to explore. All right.

I have talked a whole bunch for about talk to a whole bunch for about 20 minutes straight. And so I'm going to I'm going to stop there. This has been a ton of information and definitely our most action action packed product update yet. I really want to give a special shout out and thanks to our product and engineering teams.

They've done some incredible work to bring these features to life, things that I think if you remember old product updates we just hinted at in the future are now here and real for us to explore and use and continuing to improve. So many, many thanks to them for all their hard work. And thank you to you all are our customers for and friends for all of your feedback, ideas and things that have gone into making these things possible.

But until next time. Thank you all so, so much for joining. Reach out to us with any and all questions and we will see you next time. Thank you so much, everybody.

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