Going from Awesome to Awesome-r

Our Army of Awesome is off to a fantastic start. Since we launched a little over a week ago, over 200 people have sent 700+ replies to Firefox users on Twitter. That’s pretty amazing.

I talked with several Mozillians using the Army of Awesome site to get feedback on how to improve the app. I’ve identified some “paper cuts” that most users are experiencing, and there are some quick ways we can improve the usability of the page. It’s also a good time to think about the next stages for the site and how we can develop it from an occasional tool for users into a true community of awesome helpers. I’d also love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Usability enhancements

  • Indicate which tweets have been replied to, showing the name of the first person to reply to each tweet
  • Be able to view replies underneath tweets
  • Add a “Load more tweets” button that shows an additional 20 recent tweets each time you click it

Several people using the Army of Awesome page have asked if there’s a way to see which tweets have replies. They’re mainly interested in replying to tweets that don’t have responses yet, so I think it’s important that we show it in the next version. We originally chose not to include this in the design because we think it can be really awesome when someone tweeting a Firefox question or issue gets multiple responses. However, I can understand how showing the number of replies next to each tweet can help our community respond to the most people possible.

Showing replies to tweets can also make a big difference for both those helping and those being helped. Community members can jump in with new tips or comments even after the initial response. And if the person being helped responds, someone from the Army of Awesome can reply with more advice or information.

Others have also asked to see more tweets on the page. Going through the 20 tweets on the page only takes a couple minutes and it can sometimes take a while for newer tweets to appear. Being able to go back and see older tweets makes sense.

Big ideas for future versions

Improve our filter: we currently filter out retweets, replies, and tweets that contain a URL. This means we’re currently showing only a third of tweets that mention Firefox. Tweets with URLs is by far the biggest filter, and we chose this to reduce the noise of viewing tweets linking to news articles or blog posts. We could improve this by cross-referencing URLs with a news search engine or by keeping a list of tweets with URLs and only showing the first tweet that contains a given URL.

Show stats: we could show individual stats, aggregate stats, and a leaderboard. This would make the page more interactive since the stats you’d see would constantly change and you could see how many tweets our community is responding to. Since the app connects with your Twitter account, we could pull in your followers and show how many people your friends are helping. We could also offer badges based on participation and types of replies.

Offer additional filters: we can allow users to select different views based on how they want to help. Some users want to respond to the most recent tweets while others want to focus on tweets that don’t have replies. We could also filter by language, keyword, or the type of message based on our best prediction (eg: questions, praise, feedback, frustrations, support issues).

What would you like to see?

What do you think of these ideas and how would you improve the Army of Awesome page? What’s most important to you? Let me know in the comments.

Why we created the Army of Awesome

Most companies and organizations dread customer support. It’s difficult and resource intensive. However, some companies are using new methods to reach their customers and users. Zappos Service and Xbox’s Elite Tweet Fleet are doing a fantastic job at helping their customers on Twitter. They provide responsive support to their customers by staffing teams of support reps.  They’re able to help hundreds of customers each day by providing dedicated support teams.

While this approach works well for them, it doesn’t translate to Firefox Support, but we can still learn from it. Just like Mozilla’s products, our support channel (SUMO) is open source and community powered. It’s made possible by an active community of contributors who write and translate support articles, help users in the forums, and assist in live chats. As a result, SUMO does an excellent job at helping users who visit its site.

But what happens for users who don’t know about SUMO? They might not get help when they have an issue or question. But they might mention it to a friend, post about it, or even tweet it. And that’s where we have a huge opportunity to engage our users – by reaching out to them outside of our websites. Since there are thousands of tweets about Firefox on Twitter each day, that seems like the best place to start.

How can we respond to thousands of tweets daily? Instead of staffing a support team like other companies, we’re turning that model on its head by empowering our users to help each other. We’ve joined up with the SUMO team to create a new community care program that brings support to our users on Twitter.

Say hello to the Army of Awesome

Anyone with a Twitter account can join the Army of Awesome and reply to a tweet about Firefox. Many times it’s as simple as showing someone where to find the info they need. Just as we routinely rely on signposts to navigate streets, we’ve created some standard signpost messages so you can direct users to commonly searched pages.

Signpost messages make it quick and easy to reply

You don’t have to be a Firefox expert to join the Army of Awesome – though of course experts are welcome! Simply choose a tweet, sign in with your Twitter account, and select the signpost message that will point the user in the right direction. Or, even better, create a personal response in your own words.

You can also personalize your reply

Go to the Army of Awesome page to try it out. Sending replies to users’ tweets takes only a few moments and goes a long way toward helping others have a better Web experience. If you’re looking for other ways to chip in, check out our new participation page full of quick and easy ways to spread Firefox!

Happy tweeting! And remember…good things come to those who tweet!

Big thanks to everyone who helped get this program off the ground – Kadir Topal, David Tenser, Michael Verdi, Alex Buchanan, Fred Wenzel, James Socol, Paul Craciunoiu, Stephen Donner, Krupa Raj, Lee Tom, Craig Cook, Mike Morgan, Mike Alexis, Anurag Phadke, Daniel Einspanjer, and Mary Colvig.

What’s next for the Army of Awesome?

We’ll be building this program out over the next few weeks, and we’re starting to scope out the next version. Leave a comment with any feedback or ideas for making the page better. If you think of a new signpost message that should be added to the list, please add your suggestion on this wiki page.