Before you implement communities in your university, here is your questions answered..

This is the story of me who works for an university salesforce user or I am working in marketing , advancement or enrollment business unit in my university. I attended the higher ed summit and dream force and I am excited now with this community product which salesforce has been promoting for a time. I would love to use this tool which would help me to measure some kind of engagement with my university students, alumni , faculty and employees and I am super excited to buy it. Now I need to tell my boss on this great tool and get the approval for it. But wait!! What should i tell him on the value for this tool and OMG  😳 I need to know the costs and then how do i plan to implement it.. What do i do??  🙄 Let me ping some consultant or some body who has done it and may be ping salesforce on costs.. Here will be my journey ..

  1. Licensing/costs

I call salesforce and the account executive talks me about the login user license and named user license and the costs. A login user license is the licensing cost based on any login and a named license is the license which can be associated to one user at any time. Which one should i choose now? The prices are roughly between 10 to 15$ per user per month.. So I call Buyan the consultant who has done community implementations and here is his suggestions..

  1. If you are planning for your students to use community for a may be 1 to 2 years, the login user license option works well .
  2. But if the same student becomes an alumni and you want to engage him later on a  new alumni portal, you might want to have a data migration plan.
  3. Named licenses will work only if you think your students or users would use communities for at least 3 years.
  4. If you are still confused on what to use, start with the login license and work to the named license at some point.
  5. With our experience in the communities, we always see 20 to 30% of licenses actively used, 30% never use at all because of personal preference and 30% will be in the middle whom you want to convert.

So now I got the costs figured out!! Now what if my boss asks me what is my plan to implement it?? Good question Whom do i ask?? Talk to another university user, post it on chatter or talk to salesforce.. So once again Buyan the consultant to rescue.. Here is his words..

  1. Engagement Plan
  2. It is very important to have an engagement plan in the initial stages defined when the students or alumni  login. This means that you need a way to answer student questions, have even faculty engaged some times to answer queries . Identify all users, department, faq , support center personnal and have a plan on how you are going to get answers if the questions come from your students. This can be simple as names of people, adding them to your community with a login and have them answer the questions which will drive engagement.
  3. Creating groups around programs, majors, topics of interest, location  and subject areas will help to drive engagement.
  4. There is  a feature called skills and badges which is new of spring 15 which you should use to provide points to the students and motivate them. This is different than the marketing points used in silver pop and you should have a rewards for the student to use it.
  5. Use the adoption dashboards from spring 15 to identify your top contributors, people who respond to questions, likes  and moderate any inappropriate language on the comments.

Now my community users are looking for more data in the community site. They want the forms to show up, grades and all their social media posts within community. Now what do i do? I know integration is complex but should i do it now or may be push it for another 2 or 3 years!! Once again Buyan the consultant talks…


  1. Most of the universities end up integrating communities with social media like facebook, twitter to start with. This is not out of the box but you need to at least have a page display feeds from social media displayed to the student. Any action the student does should be logged in salesforce and even posted to the social media channel. This would help in stickiness for engagement.
  2. There should be an integration plan to integrate your Elucian student information system, your document management system and registration system and ensure that all the data is visible within the communities. This is a critical component to drive engagement in the initial stages..


I know my boss will ask me for value or what benefits will it bring to the university. So here is Buyan again.

1. If the community is for your students, one of the indicators would be increase in student success because it will connect the student, advisor and faculty at the right time and help the student to achieve success.

2. If it is an alumni, the measure can be increase in donation or jobs/internships where the university advancement folks can connect with the right alumni to get the donation or job internship for the student at the right time.

So now I have some ammunition to tell my Boss on costs, how would i implement and a plan for integration. If i have further questions , i can email for further help..

Please Subscribe

Subscribe to our mailing list to get tips on maximizing your salesforce

We respect your privacy.

Please subscribe

Subscribe to our mailing list and get tips to maximize salesforce to your email inbox.

I am honored to have your subscription. Stay tuned for tips to maximize your salesforce investment

Something went wrong.


Author: buyan47

Hi there! My name is Buyan Thyagarajan. I am a Salesforce consultant specializing in Higher Education, Manufacturing and Marketing Automation. My blogs will help you to maximize your Salesforce CRM investments, prevent problems beforehand and make the right decisions. If you need to talk to me right away, you can email me at or call me at 302-438-4097

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *