11.13.2014


In 2006, Salesforce handed Erica Kuhl, their Director of Community, a website. The site was Success.SalesForce.com and Erica started as a Web Producer, namely because roles within community didn’t really exist yet.

In 2010, Salesforce ripped out everything and started from scratch and rebuilt the site into what it is now. In the early days of building community, Erica used tried-and-true methods such as hand-written Thank You notes and gave presents to key power users and asked them to join her on the new platform.

“We didn’t want this community to be the ‘Developer community,'” Erica stated, “It’s scary for people to see lots of code.” They had a much more specific aim.

Erica calls what has happened this year “insane growth,” built with the hard work she has put in over the previous eight years of community building efforts.

Salesforce’s timeline and corresponding numbers were so impressive, that her supervisors and the whole team stood in awe of the growth. 

The Salesforce Community Timeline

July 2013: Launched a community product and then launched a community on that community product.

Jan 2014: They had 1M users. 

March 2014: Dreamforce community joined the pre-existing community that Erica helped build.

Oct 2014 to date: 1.4M registered users occupying an  enterprise business community. Today, the community health metrics that Erica monitors are as follows:

Current Salesforce Community Statistics

Over the last few months, Erica has worked hard with one of her team’s data analysts to get the following metrics for her community’s health. Some of these statistics were so astounding that they’ve caused quite a positive stir at Salesforce internally:

  • 1.4M registered members
  • Adding 40k new members added every month
  • 4000 questions asked per month on the community Q&A forum
  • 100% questions getting answered, by community
  • 199 ideas delivered in the last 3 releases
  • 4100 chatter posts per month
  • 5 member success community team

What drives this impressive adoption? 

There are 6 real keys to why the community’s adoption rate has been so successful:

  • Easy to access: the platform itself is easy to participate in
  • A place to build your network and grow a business: the incentives are correct for the audience they wish to attract
  • Easy to find and share content: again, make things simple for your community members
  • Simplified look and feel: No bells and whistles, just the necessary tools are included
  • Employee activation: Getting your internal employees involved is absolutely essential to success
  • Tied into marketing message: The Salesforce community lived under marketing for a long time, so the marketing messages are closely tied to the community

Erica’s Community Manifesto

To Erica, community means “peer-to-peer success”, collaboration, and brand advocacy, the latter of which she’s clearly leveraged to Salesforce’s advantage. Measuring ROI for community within your company is possible and Erica Kuhl is living proof that it can be done. Her next challenge will be selling community to Salesforce’s internal employees. 

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Sabrina Bruning

Sabrina is a community builder who focuses on scaling communities and the sharing economy. She is also a Peep for CloudPeeps.