When I filed into my first Dreamforce keynote, in November 2009, every chair was topped with a pair of novelty windup teeth, like you might have seen in a Three Stooges rerun. A few minutes later, across the jumbotrons, animated teeth soared through the clouds — and Chatter was revealed.”I know more about my Facebook friends than some of my co-workers,” Benioff told us. “It’s time for the social enterprise.”

Five years later, that vision of the social enterprise has evolved into the “Internet of Customers” and arrived as success.salesforce.com. Boasting a million members, the Salesforce Success site is becoming one of the new wonders of the digital world.
On its own, each component seems pedestrian: Answers, tutorials, groups, feature requests, and known issues. But thread them all together with social profiles, and the magic happens.

Answers

So, say you’re using the Salesforce Support Cloud, and there’s an Optional section on the form that your organization never uses, but you can’t find how to hide it. No worries. Just pop over to Success, open the Answers tab, and tap in what you want to know.
“Is there any way to hide the Optional section within new Case?”
Answers brings back any solutions matching your question. If one fits, you’re done. Otherwise, go ahead and post your question, using a rich text editor.
When someone answers your question, Success sends you an email alert. If you like the response, you can mark the question answered, and it bubbles up in the search rankings for the next person. 
Who answers these questions? It varies. Some people work for Salesforce.com. Others, like me, or maybe you, are customers helping customers.

Profiles

If you want to find out more about someone, click that person’s name. Every Success profile includes links to all the contributions someone has made: questions, answers, best answers, ideas, idea comments, idea votes, as well as AppExchange reviews and comments.
If you like what someone has to say, you can drill down on any of the contributions. If you want to see what someone has to say in the future, click the Follow link — and it all comes up on your own Success Chatter feed.

Ideas

Sadly, sometimes the answer to a question is “no” — or at least “not yet”. Any time that Salesforce doesn’t work the way you expect, you can file an Idea to change it. Other folks in the community can show support by voting and commenting on your idea.
With each tri-annual release, more ideas are implemented. Of the top ten ideas, five have already been delivered and two are under consideration. You can be sure more are on the way.

Collaboration groups

Do you have a special interest? — Core features? Best practices? Running? Beer? — No worries, with 169 groups and counting, you’re sure to find some birds of a feather. And, if not, you can start your own group. (We did!)

Search …

Know you seen something, but not sure where? The Success search engine can search across all Salesforce assets and profiles, or just the one of your choice.

Known Issues

But, as a release engineer, my personal favorite has to be Known Issues. Every leading-edge platform has issues, the question is whether the issues get addressed, or swept under the rug.
When something doesn’t seem right, you’re liable to find other people have already run across the same problem. For each known issue, Salesforce documents the problem, reproduction steps, and any workarounds. When your problem is already known, you can click the “This Issue Affects me” button and add yourself to the Reported By list.
For good measure, when a fix is ready, you can even watch as it is deployed across the Salesforce server farms.
Salesforce communities
Salesforce is rolling out a similar offering called Communities for its own customers to use. Communities doesn’t offer the full Success feature set, but it’s a great collaboration platform in its own right. Watch for the grand opening of our Nimble AMS community this spring!
From a conference stage, it’s easy to talk the talk, but with its very own Success site, Salesforce is proving it can walk the walk.
Have you tried the Salesforce Success site yet? How well did it work for you? Do you think a Success site would help your own organization?

Ted Husted is a release engineer for Nimble AMS. “It’s my job to make sure that we ship everything that’s done, but not before it’s ready.