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Gradual 2023 Q3 Product Update

Posted Oct 18, 2023 | Views 319
# Product Update
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SPEAKER
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
SUMMARY

We launched a number of fantastic features in Q3 including Forum, upgrades to the event check-in app, elevated chat moderation and meeting room UI along with dashboard updates and integrations.

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TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to our Our Product Update, covering features and updates released and gradual in Q3 of this year. We have some exciting things to cover and we'll do some deep dives into two particularly powerful gradual features. We're going to cover new features and continued improvements to the platform, some cool customer use cases.

We're going to tease some upcoming roadmap items just to give you an idea of where we're headed in the vision for the platform. And then we're going to wrap up with a live Q and A in a meeting room in the agenda where you can meet other community leaders, graduate customers and ask your questions. But before we get into the the features, I want to get meta for just a second and highlight how we are hosting this event and some of the things that we're doing that that while may be small, we think they make a big difference.

And you can implement these for your your own events. So the setup for this event is pretty straightforward. It's a livestream event. The reason we do it this way is because I can easily curate the video since it's a one person show over here and publish it. So it's nice and packaged and ready to go, but we still want that live interaction.

So we have the chat and then we're also going to do a meeting room following this. So we get the benefit of a nice well-produced video, but also that meeting room Q&A for discussion. We started the stream just a little bit early and had the doors open, which allowed people to come in. And I like to have music playing in the stream live.

So you know, you're in the right place and there's stuff that's happening at the end of this live stream. We're going to launch a notification and that notification is going to prompt you to join that live Q&A. Those notifications are really helpful for calls to action to tell people, hey, we're where you should be and when. And then the recording will be posted in the content section and linked to this event as soon as we're done.

So you don't need to go anywhere else. It's right here and gradual. The beauty of the platform, this setup, while simple, really leverages the different gradual functionalities and we hope provides a pope, provides a superior experience. But let's without further ado, let's get into it. Let's cover new features and improvements over the last quarter. And we're going to start with channels and moderation.

You may or may not have noticed some facelifts and added functionality to the text based communication and gradual. In the past, we've talked about how we support real time auto moderation on the platform, and that's still still the case. But you can also moderate channels on the front end of gradual no longer needing to use the dashboard, but the channels and chat have also seen a facelift as well to prepare for some some new new functionality.

And we're going to take a look at what that looks like. So I have inside here, if I go into messages, I can best see these updates. The first is that moderation one, I can moderate channels right on the front, right on the front end, and I can do this in meeting rooms or live streams. I'm just using this as an example.

I can pin or unpin things right in context here. No more having to go to the dashboard. The other update you'll notice is messages are stacked if they're from the same center back to back. This gives us a little bit more real estate to play with and allows this message experience to be better suited for mobile or smaller screen consumption.

This helps take up less space and we think improves the the readability. The live stream chat doesn't look much different, but for other chat experiences and channels or messages it will. The other notable thing that you'll see is as I'm in the chat box, I now have emojis in context in my messaging. Please feel free in the chat right now you can go and share your favorite emoji.

No more having to copy and paste it from from somewhere else. I don't know why, but emojis just they add a lot to the chat experience. And it's fun too. Fun to see. Another feature is the ability to restrict channels to specific spaces. The use case for this would be if I want to have discussion groups for a particular segment or group within my community, maybe you have a customer advisory board, a group of community ambassadors paying members or some other cohort.

You can create a channel and then restrict access to just that group. So if in the dashboard and I go to channels that I can just pick on any of these, I'll take book recommendations here and I'll edit this channel and I can say, Hey, I want this now to be only available to selected spaces and say Only my customer advisory board can can participate in this channel.

We've seen customers use this already for, for those bespoke moderated groups to be able to provide a separate space that you can restrict access to allows you to really curate and personalize the the experience. The other Speaking of curated and personalized experiences, we've talked about sub communities that launched a few months ago, and you'll note that that we covered them in our summer product update, but we've had a host of communities begin to implement these for specific interest groups, paid cohorts, executive members or local and regional chapters.

This allows you to create a scalable and intimate environment for your community. One major improvement to the sub communities experience based on customer feedback is the optimization and handling of onboarding questions or profile questions No one wants to enter the same information more than once, but we also want to preserve the flexibility that you can have unique questions for each sub community because that's really the beauty of the profile.

It can be specific to and curated to that community. So now if you have the same profile question in a parent community, in sub communities or multiple across will pre populate the answers from other communities to one another. What this does is it enters that information but still allows the user to decide they want to change it. So if I have a question, the same question in two communities, but my answers are different.

They can be and I can have unique questions to each this gives you the best of both worlds. It eases onboarding, but also gives you the high relevance that the profiles and profile questions are intended to provide. We are continuing to update and improve the events experiences in gradual, and this quarter has seen quite a few updates to our meeting room experience as well as our in-person check in app will cover some notable updates to virtual events first, and then take a deep dive on the in-person check in and badge printing app within Gradual.

And I want to start us on the event page that we see here. The past we talked about event tags and the ability to filter the events that you see based on the tag that is applied to those events. The benefit or the big update to this is that those tags are now included in the URL parameter. When I select that event, I can see that up at the top.

Why does this matter? Well, this allows you to drive people to curated groups of events as opposed to just a single event. Or the alternative is all of the events on the page. So for example, if you have a particular topic or series, you can add that tag for the events and then use maybe the banner on the home page or an ad within the content section to drive traffic just to a curated group of events.

This allows you to really hone in on the specific experi ance that you want to provide without members risking getting lost in. If you have a large amount of events happening, setting up the tags and URLs are simple. The event tags are governed and and managed in the same place as all of the rest of the tags on gradual in the dashboard.

And then in a particular event I can go in and I can add those specific tags here. Then I simply on the front end can decide. I want to see all of the tags related to marketing and it's going to filter that down. I can copy that URL and I can send that off in my email promotion or elsewhere.

I know we have some some people joining that can make use of this and have already with regard to specific series or types of events that you're doing. This is a great way to filter down that event view for for your promotion. The other updates have been to the meeting room. Experience with meeting rooms have received a new look and feel.

If we want to jump into one of those really quickly here, The purpose of this update is to allow for future flexibility and added for some, some that are already live and then others that are going to be becoming in the future. The majority of the changes come in the bottom menu bar here. You'll notice a couple just a little bit of a styling change as well as new features.

So now we can have emoji reactions right within the meeting rooms and there's a feature coming soon that allow you to turn these off if you don't want them for for your community. But for a lot of the intimate interactions, it's a nice way for a what we consider a lower threshold method of engagement. I don't have to chat or I don't have to come off mute, but I can still react to things in the emojis, just like people are in the live stream now.

The other components that have been added are I can toggle this view into full screen if I want as an attendee, hide the chat or hide the attendees on the sidebar with those buttons down there allowing me to really curate my view and what I want to see. And you'll also notice that the hosts in a meeting room can moderate the chat directly from the front end.

I can do that right here. I can pin certain messages and have them show up or delete them. That same moderation is also true in the messages tab after the fact. A reminder those meeting room chats exist as a group message thread in the message history. So that same chat that we just saw in there is here. So if I have a CTA after the fact, I could come in and modify that and pin that message here.

Let's talk about in-person events and our check in and batch printing app gradual started as are our own tools for hosting primarily in-person events. We wanted the ability to easily host high caliber events without having to invest in costly platforms that just do the things that I think or we think in-person events need, like managing check in or printing nametags or keeping up to date records on who showed up without having to do manual list entry.

If you're investing in a community platform, we think that those tools should be built in and allow you to easily and seamlessly host events virtually and in person. And that's the case with Graduate. We're excited to deep dive into graduates own event, check in and batch printing app. This has been in beta for a little while. We've had a lot of customers leveraging it already and it's going to be on the App Store here, here pretty shortly.

But this allows you to host professional events without onboarding yet another platform. We're going to start talking about some of the different modes that gradual supports for for the check in app are most standard is you can play the check in app simply with an iPad and an inexpensive thermal label printer that can print high quality nametags. Right, Right on demand.

You can either use these labels as a standalone name tag or one of the popular things we've seen is you could pre-print maybe a fancier preprinted badge, but still use that same label printer to affix a clear printed label on to that nicer batch gives you the the benefit in that the middle ground between a really really high end thermal printed badge and just a sticky nametag.

You also can use the application just as check in. So let's say you're in an event where attendees already have a name tag. Maybe it's a reception at a conference or something else. You can still use the check in app, just not enabling badge printing. And then the last is, if you do want to print a really high quality plastic or wax laminate paper badge, we support integration with those, those quality of printers as well as you'd expect from a high, high end conference name, badge, printing service.

All of these things come down to the real beauty of the fact that it's already integrated with gradual. It's easy to deploy and it's integrated already. You don't need to set up or create anything. Additionally, outside of gradual, it's already going to show up in the in-person check it out. You just launch and go and we're going to look at what that whole process looks like.

So inside of the dashboard, I can very easily configure my check in app for in-person events. You've had this check in. I am in the left hand menu in the dashboard. You could always do check in directly from this dashboard with a laptop, but you can now easily do it with the mobile app as well, which will look at.

One of the things that you can do though, is I can set up specific parameters for that check in experience, notably terms. So if I want, I could set up additional policy acceptance. This is great if you're hosting events at your office where you need a signed NDA or a media release, perhaps, you know, more having to load every single attendee, including those last minute registrations into the envoy or whatever system you're using for office check in.

They can simply do it as part of the check in flow and gradual and accept those policies because they're presented during the check in at I can simply set those up, put in my title's terms, can decide if I want it to be a checkbox or a signature acceptance and, and configure all that and deploy it in the app.

Inside the app, I can set up all of those different templates if we want to take a look at what that looks like. So I'll select my community, pick my event, and then I can see all of the details or I can configure the different template that I want to use if I'm using the gradual mobile app as well for attendees, I can have it print with a QR code or I can have it print without.

I can upload and have it print with a standard logo or without as well, and we'll have additional templates available in the future to. I can decide whether or not I want to enable, just check in and enable batch printing. Since I'm looking at this on a computer, we're going to leave batch printing off inside of the dashboard here in the admin mode.

I can see how many people have checked in versus how many are registered. I personally use this recently at our in-person conference for a reception this allowed me to see in real time how many people we had there to make sure we stay under venue capacity. A great real world application of this feature. And since all of this is within gradual, every action is immediate and synchronized.

That means that all someone needs to do is they come up, you hand them an iPad or you check in for them, they type in their name, except the policies continue and it's updated in real time. When I go back into the dashboard and I go to my check in list and see who's registered, I immediately show up as just having checked in.

This also fires all of our integrations and web hooks in real time as well. No more having to download and upload lists back and forth. The same is true for registrants. If someone new registers on site or moments before, they're still going to show up in that check in app and we'll be able to print their own batch.

You can also capture on site registrations or guest batch printing by enabling that guest feature. I can fill those in right here. Someone can still accept all the policies, print their information, and then I'll see who those guests are that checked in right inside the dashboard as well. So again, the beauty is that it's all there at your fingertips in an integrated and seamless way.

I no longer have to manage different lists. I don't have to worry about, oh, I need to make sure I get reprinted badges. It creates a unified experience for attendees. So you don't have people with, you know, name tags written in Sharpie. And the idea is that it's it's available out of the box to all of our graduate customers.

We don't want it to be yet another thing. You have to go out and purchase an entirely different platform to manage this. It's native and built with a gradual and the whole set up and kit is small enough to fit in a backpack or a carry on piece of carry on luggage. We we travel with it or give it to our events teams and they can take it and deployed in the field really, really easily.

That's it for our event updates. And last but certainly not least, we are going to talk about our largest new feature, which is now available to select customers in beta. The gradual Forum forum is is just what it sounds like, a discussion forum rich with features for async engagements and conversation. This is just the beginning of forums on gradual with much, much more to come.

But we want to showcase what you can do with Forum today and how some customers are already leveraging that forum experience. So let's, let's take a look at forum in gradual on the front end you'll see forum in the right hand or left hand main menu right now main menu right now any community member can see the forum page in the future.

You have the ability to restrict access to Forum two to just certain groups of people, but for now it's an all or nothing. The community can see it, but it's not publicly visible yet, so only members of your community can see and engage in the forum. Inside the forum you'll see an easy to navigate and under and to understand list no deep menu structures or categorization to get lost in.

Rather, we prioritize in the design ease of engagement. You can use different tags to categorize the content or different forum posts, and these are the same tags that are shared by events and content as well. To unify your structure in organization as a community admin, you're the one who determines the tags to avoid any duplication or confusion, so members can't create errant tags outside of your your set structure.

But any member can create a post including rich content with links and images. And soon to come the ability to embed videos or other content inside the post body and create a topic or add a add One of the existing topics members can engage with the forum really easily. They can open and explore and comment on the forum posts or react to other comments or to the post itself.

The idea here is that it's easy to engage in the future. You'll also have the ability to embed rich content in those comments as well. Once posted, members can can join the conversation and you get to easily view and see what's happening on the front end. All the forum posts also show up in the global search. So if I want to go find something inside gradual in addition to the existing search that I can see the other people or the different components, different events or pieces of content, it's also going to show me forum posts related here and you'll notice I was on the forum page, so when I searched in the search bar for

Forum, it knew I was in forum in the context of where I wanted to search, so it was going to lead me there. But I also see all the other components across gradual. As a moderator, you have tons of resources at your disposal in addition to our platform wide trust in safety, moderation. That also applies to the forum.

So would automatically be moderated. But you can also manually moderate in individual members can report content as well. I can pin or delete and delete as marked as spam any of the posts or content within those marking as spam will count against the user and will after a certain volume of actions that that user will be moderated even further and barred from future interaction.

You can also certain posts a great resource if you want to highlight certain conversations or discussion topics and can make sure those are front and center for members of your community. And in the dashboard you have even more community forum features to explore on the Forum Overview page, you can see the stats on forum engagement within certain date ranges.

I can see the quantity of interaction as well as the hot topics and things that are popular within the community. Below that I can see the most active posts and most active posters and commenters, so I can recognize the members that are engaging the most inside the forum. Also from the dashboard, I can see all of the posts and comments in one view I can search by poster or post.

This is great for moderation or evaluation in depth. If I want to say Hey, show me all of the things a particular person has posted. And the same is true for comments. I can look through and see that. Or maybe by status. I want to see everything that was deleted by by a user. Any reported content will also show up in report moderation in the queue here.

Here I can review and take action on any of the posts that are reported by other users. This is a simple but clear interface for a human in the loop. Moderation in your community. The idea here is to make moderation easy, not time consuming. I can simply decide what to do with the post whether I want to delete it.

Marcus Spam so it tallies against the user or ignore. I can do that for post comments and then can see everything that's also been reviewed. And lastly, I can customize the forum experience by toggling to the Forum settings. I can change the visibility, turning it on and off. Maybe I want to see some things before I make it public.

I can update the name description and can also add additional forum moderators. The nice part about this is I can appoint moderators that are not community admins, meaning that I can get some outside help without needing to give them access Dashboard, empowering volunteers or other team members to help with moderation. The forum is at just the very, very beginning of its life in in gradual and we believe this is going to be an incredible way to promote engagement for members to to join deep discussions that are easily searched and discovered As forum continues to improve and grow, we're going to add more features like the ability to include rich content in comments deep linking to

specific conversation threads within those posts. Restricted access linking forum conversations, other events or content so you don't have bifurcated conversation in the community. It's all centered in that discussion space and we have great resources. We have resources available today that will drop in the chat towards the end which coach you through how you might start a forum experience your community, and we're even going to do some upcoming workshops with graduate customers or friends who have built forum experiences in depth, who have some insights to share.

If you want to start a forum for the first time, so stay tuned for those. And of course, if you're interested in enabling forum for your community and being part of our beta, let us know. I know there are a couple of people here today that have already enabled it and already provided some great feedback that's helping shape the future of the forum experience.

Those are all of our new feature updates. Now we want to highlight just a couple success stories and tips from customers that really showcase great ways to leverage gradual or just build, build community. We've had a handful of new customers launch on gradual and they've taken a really thoughtful approach to how they've launched their community, and I think it's a great insight for how you grow or even launch different parts or segments within your community.

They started by pre-loading, their back catalog of content. So there's interesting stuff. Then they made sure there were intriguing activities or events to drive adoption early on. But most importantly, and the key is they invited key segments or cohorts to the community to join. First, they've leveraged these high affinity insider groups to build interest in momentum as well as provided feedback.

Why does this matter? Well, it ensures your team aren't the only ones creating content and, aren't building the activity and vibrance inside of gradual. It empowers the community to do so. They're specifically leveraging collaborators, which is a feature to empower in the community to post content and events as well as sub communities to provide a curated space for specific cohorts in a larger ecosystem.

The combination of these two things means that they're building a cadre of people and community members who can who are empowered to support the community activities. So it's not an individual or just a team promoting things. If you're curious about how to enable collaborators or want to explore sub communities, let us know. Happy to chat with you or connect you with other communities who have built out ambassador programs like this.

And another success story is finding a format and a cadence for things that work and sticking to it to build momentum. Another one of our graduate customers has hosted an event almost every other week for the last few months. They've identified a cadre of interesting speakers early on and had them lined up and ready to go rather than trying to find them ad hoc.

They think they didn't overcomplicate things in their execution of these events. They made it very simple and the leveraged meeting rooms to host events. This allowed for an intimate and easy to engage environment. But thanks to Spotlight recording and the attendee controls in the meeting rooms, they still get a nice, polished recording that can become part of their content library.

The insight or best practice here find a format and stick to it. Find ways to build that consistency which turns into momentum. Gradual makes that easy with a lot of the busywork, like email reminders and event registration pages done for you so you can focus on what are the activities that are going to matter most and executing those repeatedly, and then ask your community to contribute as well.

That builds that flywheel of momentum because now the community itself is empowered to generate that content which generates engagement, which gets you more people to help generate the experience. There's tons of great success stories and highlights. If you've got a tip or a trick to share, please drop it in the chat. Reach Out to US will feature in an upcoming product update or maybe in a blog post Inside this community, or jump into our Q&A at the end.

And we're happy to happy to hear what you have to say. Now let's talk about what's coming up on the horizon before we jump into to our Q&A here. We have tons of new features in the work and hopefully you've been excited by all the things that have launched over the past quarter. And we have some coming very soon, some a little bit farther out.

I want to run through just a couple of the things we're working on or exploring actively. We don't currently publish timelines for any features unless they're coming very, very soon, but still want to share the vision and where we're headed. The types of things that we're working on. One topic is under self-service, allowing community admins to facilitate onboarding, question management or bulk uploads themselves to just reduce a little bit the operational overhead when it comes to running communities, launching contributor profiles, which we've talked about in previous updates where members can showcase events or content they've created automatically inside their profile.

Additional improvements to the forum which we highlighted, including the ability to share rich content like images and videos and comments as well as access controls to the forum to allow you to have a curated experience to only certain members of the community. We'll have new event types coming, including a webinar type negating the need for or simplifying the ability to do a live stream or a larger scale event without needing to to leverage a third party streaming tool as well as an invite only event in ticket type so you can host exclusive VIP events in gradual and have easy ways to manage your invite list.

Meeting room enhancements will be coming soon, including waiting room and direct messaging. We'll see in enhancements to the chat and channel experience with the ability to tag other members and messages extended and extended integrations with tools like Salesforce and Marketo on our roadmap to ease the the connection between gradual and the other systems that you use and much, much more that we're not not talking about today.

If you have any questions on upcoming features or things, we'll do our best to answer them or any ideas, please. We're all ears and love to hear it. And that leads me to my my last point, which is thank you. Thank you so much for all the support and engagement those joining today, people watching customers, none of this new and exciting things that we're doing would be possible without our amazing customers and community.

We're excited to continue to partner to help you grow your communities and appreciate all the support and feedback you provide that makes gradual, even even better. If you're joining live, we'll jump into our meeting room and can answer any questions you have and just chat about community or if you just want to pop in and say, Hi, I always love to see you otherwise, thank you so much for joining and keep an eye out for our upcoming gradual events, both virtually and in person.

Thanks so much for joining everybody, and we'll see you next time.

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# About Gradual
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# About Gradual
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