How to launch a community with Webex Teams
Learn best practices and the tools needed to use Teams like a boss
Webex is known for the Meetings platform, but the newest addition to Webex is a complete collaboration platform called Webex Teams. Teams is a messaging app with video conferencing capabilities built-in. It is an extremely secure solution with bots, integrations, desktop sharing functionality and more. This article will go over what Webex Teams is and how to use it when starting a virtual community as a resource space for a FAQ, office hours, or even an office watercooler.
Why Webex Teams over Facebook Groups or other chat apps
- Facebook is a great tool and I use it for my family and friends, but it can be too distracting to get work done as you can get constantly wooed away by shiny distractions in the news feed and sidebar.
- Extremely secure. Our model has a core layer and a security layer that are kept separate from one another. See Security Whitepaper.
- We don’t sell and collect data
- Video, whiteboarding and desktop sharing is native within the app
- No multiple account logins or workspaces. You can have different people from different companies join your Webex Team space without switching between different organizations to messages users. Email doesn’t function like that. Neither does Webex Teams.
- Teams can also display the presence status of end-users if they’ve been away, are in Do-Not-Disturb state, on a video (orange camera icon), sharing their desktop (red rectangular icon) or on a phone call. The bottom image provides the avatars of end-users that have read your messages, such as green as available or red crescent moon for Away/DND.
Read receipt avatars.
- Webex Teams is FREE
- No messaging search limits or restrictions
- Search everything. Searched keyword, user, date, or another parameter. Attach files, like PDFs and Word docs, and search within those files too.
A virtual community use case – Webex Ambassadors
We will use the Webex Ambassador Community as a case study for this article. Webex Ambassadors started as Spark Ambassadors back in 2016 as an internal Webex community of developer evangelists and it has evolved and grown over the years. This community now has over 2,600 members globally. It also includes various Special Interest Group spaces for various topics. I will break the article down into five categories to start your community.
- Promoting Your Community
- Setting up Webex Teams
- Managing Your Community
- Bots & Integrations
- Tips & Tricks
Promoting your community
The first thing you want to do is have a site that gives users an overview of what they are joining. You can check out ambassador.webex.com. Here is our “Join Now” call to action button to join the community.
Code of conduct & community guidelines
These are policies or best practices for your community. You want to make sure you cover rules of engagement, ethics and legal issues, spam, and how users can post. Here is an example of the Ambassador Code of Conduct & Guidelines. Every user must agree to the code of conduct before they can join the space. This is listed in our web form.
Inviting users & automation with a sign-up form
Here are some cool tricks you can do with Webex Teams workflow integrations. Having an auto-sign up using Typeform or Google Forms is rather easy. Applications like Zapier or Built.io makes it a lot easier to integrate these applications. For example, you can have a workflow that once a person signs up on Formidable Forms, they are added into a mailer, like Mailigen, then added to Smartsheets and then finally added into Webex Teams.
We have other ways end users can join your community spaces such as using the bots and integrations. We will dive more about this in the Bots & Integrations section.
Install the desktop & mobile Teams app
First, download the Webex Teams app. You can use Teams on multiple devices, from the browser on your computer’s desktop to a mobile phone. It’s best to use the native desktop app instead of the browser as it will have more features.
Setting up Webex Teams
- Create a team, a space and add moderators. The video below will show how to create a team and a space. If you need an overview of what a Team and Space, it is explained here. Webex Jargon: In the Webex world, we call “channels”, “spaces” because we associate them to physical spaces, but just virtualized. If you ever have to use the Webex app with a Webex Rooms video device, you’ll see it associate to a space (not using Bluetooth) using ultrasonic frequency pairing for desktop sharing and video conferencing purposes. That office space also has a physical video device tied to that virtual space in Teams. Check out a demo here.
Note: Cisco Intelligent Proximity pairing uses high-frequency sound in the 20kHz to 22kHz audio frequency range to establish a connection. Here, Webex Teams is my app to control my work from home device, the Cisco Webex Desktop Pro.
Here is a quick video on how to first create a Team and then a Space in Webex.
- Create a space. Click on the “+” icon to create a space and give it a name. Here we will call it “Webex Community.”
- Add members. Next, go to “Members” and add a team member. You can add them by entering the user’s email address.
- Add moderators. Once you add them, you can “right-click” on the name and “Assign Moderator of the Team.”
- Manage & customize your space. Here we will add space icon images and disable the function of @all as it can be annoying if there are thousands of people in a space being notified. We will also recommend converting the “General” space into an “Announcement Mode” space. If you need to share important information with your team, without the distraction from other conversations happening in the space, you can use announcement mode in any moderated space just for announcements. On teams, the only space that’s moderated is the General space so that’s the only space where you can use announcements. Only the space moderators can post in Announcement Mode spaces.
- To enable, go to the General space -> Moderator settings -> “Disable @mentions to all” and “Turn on Announcement Mode.” Once enabled, users will see this notification.
- Add a space name and image. You can change any space name except the General space for your team. Furthermore, any member can change these details unless the space is moderated, then it must be done by a moderator. You can also change a space picture, by uploading a picture for the space. The file has to be under 10 MB and ideally a square image between 200×200 pixels and 1000×1000 pixels.
- To change the Space image, go to Edit space settings -> Click on the camera icon and “Add Image.”
- To change the Space name, double click the space field to enter a name.
- Public or private spaces. Creating a moderated space means that only moderators can add users to the Team. By default, all spaces are a Private space or an invite-only space. Public spaces can be created if you add the EURL bot, which we will discuss later. Overall, this is how you can control who joins your community.
- Enable restrictions for guests in Team spaces through Webex Control Hub. Webex Control Hub is the administrator portal page to configure Webex. As a moderator, you don’t need access to this, but if you want to set various global permissions, you need to ask your administrator to grant you access to set this up. One example is to control how people are added as guests to team spaces, they aren’t members of that team. You can prevent these guests from adding and removing participants, changing the space name, and editing space settings.
- Go to admin.webex.com -> Services -> Scroll to “Team Guest Restrictions”
- Toggle Enable restrictions for team guests to on.
Managing your community
- Multiple moderators. As your community grows, it is ideal to have multiple moderators to help monitor if chats are in compliance, to delete inappropriate messages, add or remove bots, and to perform backup moderator tasks. Bonus Tip: Try to have moderators from different parts of the globe to cover various time zones for additional support.
- Post rules on a monthly or quarterly basis. It’s always good to remind your community the do’s and don’ts when posting in a space. Here’s an example of what we send in our Ambassador space. Note that this is a template using Markdown formats and then how it would look like rendered in the space.
Hello 👋🏻 Ambassadors, we want to share a few **Ambassador house rules!**
- 💬 Before asking questions in a space, please check Google or specifically the [Help Portal.](help.webex.com)
- ❓If you can’t find your answer, post your question in the appropriate community space. For example, technical questions should be posted in the Engineering space. Learn about these Community Spaces [here.](https://ambassador.webex.com/webex-teams-communities/)
- 👊🏻 To help us keep it fun, helpful, safe, and friendly, we ask that you comply with our [Community Code of Conduct.](https://ambassador.webex.com/code-of-conduct/)
- 🙊 Do not use the **@all command, create a new Space, add bots or add users to the Spaces without [signing up as a Candidate.](https://ambassador.webex.com/ambassadors/)**
- 🤔 If you have support questions, including certificates, please direct your message @ModeratorName.
Let me know in a DM if you have any other suggestions or have questions.
**Have a great weekend.**
- Notifications. A space can get noisy especially with thousands of users messaging. You can customize how you want to be notified in a space.
- Go to the Space -> Settings Icon -> Notifications. As a moderator, I only respond to @Mentions only.
- Place a spotlight on power members of your community. Whether you’re highlighting customer stories, testimonials, or users who represent success, take an opportunity to frequently recognize stars in your own community.
Bots & integrations
Below are some essential bots to help you start and grow your virtual community.
- Email2Teams bot. The email2teams bot will take all the participants in an email thread and migrate the conversation to Webex Teams. This is a great way to invite new users to Webex Teams as anyone not already signed up for Teams receives an email invitation. Once registered, they’re automatically added to the space. Here’s how to use the bot.
- Open your email. In the ‘To’ line, add the emails of the users you want to invite in the space. In the BCC line, add “firstname.lastname@example.org” (the ‘To’ & ‘CC’ fields won’t work).
- The bot receives your email, creates a Teams space with the ‘Subject’ as the title, then leaves.
- EURL. The EURL bot is short for “External URL.” The intention of this bot is to create a public space and provide a URL where users can click the link, enter their email and join the space. Let’s add the bot, “email@example.com” to the space.
- Once you add the bot to the space, it will provide you various commands. Here we will open up this space externally to users outside our organization email domain, which is capitalfactory.com.
- To add external users outside capitalfactory.com, type “Eurl internal off”
- The URL that was generated is: https://eurl.io/#vHLeL9CMF Feel free to join the space to test the bot out.
- Once you click on the EURL link, an end-user can join this space by clicking on the URL that was generated. You can learn more about the bot here on the Webex App Hub.
- Power Pack. This is a very handy tool that is used to invite new users to a new space or into an existing space. It is a free service that bulk add users by uploading a CSV file. You can also send broadcast messages to multiple spaces at once. Learn more about the bot here.
- Translate bot. There are a lot of translator bots on the Apphub like Chinese, German, Filipino, French, and more. You can add these bots into a space. Here is an example of an English to Spanish bot for our LATAM Ambassador community. You just @mention the bot and enter the text you need to be translated. You can learn more about the bot here.
- Inquire bot. This bot isn’t meant to be deployed in large spaces, but it has been proven useful in areas where there needs a way to track FAQ or in this case bugs. In this example, this is an internal space to post bugs for Webex Teams. You can see users posting images and answers and then engineers and product managers posting an answer in the space and it automatically ties into Jira to create a case. The Inquire bot is a knowledge base bot and has three main functions.
1) Ask Questions – Capture questions that were asked inside a Teams space. Here the end-user is asking to file a bug and is @mentioning the Inquire bot.
2) Get Answers – Provide a way to answer those questions and ensure the original questioner receives the information they need. You can @mention the bot and answer in the space, or you can click on the “here” link and answer on the web as well.
3) Gather Knowledge – Assemble a knowledge base of all the information that is gathered amongst Teams spaces. You can also export the FAQ to a CSV file.
You can learn more about the Inquire bot here or check out the demo video below.
- Webex Ambassador welcome bot. This is just an example bot to welcome new Ambassadors to our Webex community and outlines a set of rules to adhere to. The bot will 1:1 the new user that is added to the space and send them this message. The bot monitors new memberships and must be in the same space the end-users are joining. The code is on Github if you would like to implement it for your own community.
Tips & tricks
- Space titles with EURL. Having a title is important. If you want an external space and not having people to @mention the bot to know what the space URL is, it’s best to add it in your title. Here is an example title for the xAPI Developer space with the EURL link.
- Use reactions as a way to poll users or use Pollbot. Here is an example to use the “thumbs up” as a way to poll users. You can use reactions or if you want to get more detailed you can use various applications like PollBot or you can use free web polls like Polltab.
- Use threads. Make sure people are aware of the “Reply to Thread” option to keep communications easy to read. Just hover over the message and the “reply” arrow will appear.
- Support spaces. Within Webex Ambassadors, we created a specific space for support. On our website, we specifically told users to join this space for issues with their certificates or application. This helps cut down noise in the General or main community space. You also want to make sure your moderators will be seen by your end-users as support. Be prepared for this.
- Create a space directory. There are a lot of communities and spaces you can provide for your company by creating a directory website. These spaces, people can join by click on the”Join” created by the EURL bot. You visit this actual site, here.
Overall, this is just a quick way to start a community in Webex Teams. If you have questions, leave a comment. If you find this article helpful, please follow me and share this blog! 👍🏼
Thank you for the following people making the Ambassador Community bots. Note that if the bot isn’t on AppHub, it isn’t Cisco TAC supported. Cisco owned Integrations include: Email2Teams. This bot was created by former Webex Innovation Team Member, Marcello Federico. The following bots were funded by the Webex Innovation Team and created for Ambassadors: EURL bot created by Cisco TME Randy Birdsall; Power-pack.io created by former Cisco SE, Brad McAllister; Inquire Bot, created by former Webex Innovation Team Member, Aman Chabra; Webex Ambassador Welcome Bot on GitHub, created by Cisco SE Marcel Neidinger.
May 11, 2021 — Vanessa Philogène
May 11, 2021 — Aruna Ravichandran
May 06, 2021 — Brad Bonin
May 05, 2021 — Gauri Ahuja