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Managing successful online communities


4x4 Growth Hacks ūüöÄ

4x4 is a power series by Community Advocate Joel R that focuses on four items in less than four minutes.  They're designed to cover everything from quick maintenance checks to community tips to help you make the most out of your Invision Community. 


Are you curious ūü§Ēabout ways to boost your engagement that don't require a lot of effort?¬† Want some shortcuts to set your engagement on fire ūüĒ•?¬† ¬†

Check out these 4x4 tips of¬†four¬†growth hacks that you can implement in less than¬†four¬†minutes ‚Ź≥ to boost engagement.

1. Add a content block at the bottom of topics.¬† Sounds upside down ūüôÉ, right?¬† Most admins add content blocks at the tops of pages to attract users.¬† But what do users do when they're finished reading or replying to a topic?¬† Nothing. They're finished¬†... unless you add a block¬†such as similar content, popular posts, recent topics, or another content block at the bottom of topics that help them discover new content.

2.¬† Tag in your superusers ūüĆü to stimulate a conversation.¬† Your community's superusers are probably just as active as you are, and thoroughly involved in the community.¬† They're comfortable in the community and would love to provide input.¬†¬†Wouldn't you agree with me @AlexJ¬†@GTServices¬†@Sonya*¬†@Maxxius¬†@media¬† @Nebthtet@Ramsesx¬†@tonyv?? ¬†

3.¬† Run a poll ‚ėĎÔłŹ.¬† It makes the topic more interactive, and people love voting.¬†¬†

4. Write a contrarian topic or blog "Why XYZ isn't for you?" ¬†That's a surefire way to grab ūüė≤¬†attention and begs the user to challenge back.¬† And if you can't write a contrarian topic, then maybe ... being a community manager isn't right for you.¬† Or is it??¬†ūüėú

Hope you enjoy these tips, and and share your growth hacks in the comments below! 


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Oh yes, those things do help - one thing to be on the lookout for though - with hack #4 a moderator should look at least sometimes on the topic if the community has some passionate but hotheaded members ūüėȬ†

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2 hours ago, Ramsesx said:

Very useful ideas, thanks @Joel R

Waiting now for the 16x16 Growth Hacks. 

Whoa whoa, 16 minutes is way too long to spend on growth.¬† Four minutes is plenty ūüėÜ.¬†¬†

Kidding.  

If you have any growth hacks, write them down and I'll be happy to aggregate them! 

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1. Tutorial or Articles - Everyone needs help. Creating tutorials on your website brings users but doesn't add much interaction. Then the new enhancement from IPS kicks in. I am just going to quote you @Joel R - 

Quote

Read your Guest Sign-up Widget.  This is the most important text in your entire community, since it's the first message visitors will read.  Is your Guest Signup Widget giving visitors the first impression you'd like, with proper keywords and messaging?   

2. Log-in - Make it fast and more user friendly. Add all available logins ex. Twitter, FB, Discord, etc etc. Time is important and everyone hates filling Govt. forms.  :P 

3. Target advertising or follow ups - Can't wait IPS to add Bulk emails/PM's which supports Custom Field. Don't spam users with generic emails. Everyone hates it and it would be soon marked as spam by user!  Ex - If player is not playing RPG games - don't send RPG games email. Use custom field which they have selected i.e. FPS to send him FPS games update. I can't wait for new enhancements on it! @Matt

Use custom fields to show their profile completion progress, Registration should be email/password and validation. 

4. Themes - Provide light and dark theme at least. Even now mobile OS provides - light and dark theme so that user can use what they like. I just wish Themes would be available to select through drop down menu rather then all the way in bottom! 

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2 hours ago, Morgin said:

Hey @Joel R¬†is one of the tips ‚Äúdon‚Äôt send an email blast with a link that doesn‚Äôt work and then have to try again?‚ÄĚ ūüėā (Kidding!)

I feel like you and I are sharing an inside joke and I'm laughing and nodding my head but I actually don't know what you're talking about and I'm too embarrassed to admit it so I keep on laughing.¬† ūü§£ūü§Ēūü§£

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I got two emails about this topic being posted. One on Saturday, and one this morning.¬†When I clicked ‚Äúgo to this entry‚ÄĚ in the Saturday email on Saturday, it said page not found. When I clicked in today‚Äôs email, it was here ready to read. I assume the Saturday email may have gone out before this topic was made visible ūüėĄ

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GREAT TIPS @Joel R!!

I love it when I see members tagging other members. That in itself is evidence that it's an effective feature!

Oftentimes, members didn't even know that it existed until someone tags them. (You see the numbers grow after each use.)

If you don't have a Similar Content block directly after your first topic than you are missing out on a BIG opportunity!!!

Similar Content

  • Improves Engagement.
  • Improves Bounce Rate
  • Improves Conversion Rate
  • Improves SEO.¬† (Related content helps Google and other bots better understand your content. It also helps with internal links.)

NOTES: The closer the block is to the main content the more effective it is. Sidebar block doesn't help much since GOOGLE and your users are now focused on mobile.

I find you win BIG when you use Similar Content with controlled tags. What I mean by this is that only a certain group of people (eg. staff) are allowed to tag topics. This keeps the crap out.

Edited by GTServices

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33 minutes ago, GTServices said:

NOTES: The closer the block is to the main content the more effective it is. Sidebar block doesn't help much since GOOGLE and your users are now focused on mobile.

Well, on mobile the sidebar follows the main block, so having similar content at the bottom of the main column or the top of the sidebar would essentially render the same way on mobile. 
And now that the visibility (desktop/tablet/mobile) can be controlled per block, it is recommendable to reduce the number of sidebar blocks on mobile, but keep important ones, like the similar content block. 

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6 minutes ago, opentype said:

Well, on mobile the sidebar follows the main block, so having similar content at the bottom of the main column or the top of the sidebar would essentially render the same way on mobile. 
And now that the visibility (desktop/tablet/mobile) can be controlled per block, it is recommendable to reduce the number of sidebar blocks on mobile, but keep important ones, like the similar content block. 

Many readers don't even go to the bottom of the page. (There are many studies online that prove this.)

The closer it is to the first post the bigger the impact.

(I do love the new sidebar hide options. Very smart and NEEDED in this mobile age.)

Edited by GTServices

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41 minutes ago, GTServices said:

Many readers don't even go to the bottom of the page. (There are many studies online that prove this.)

That's an interesting statement and I think that is generally true for index pages (homepage, landing page, forum index, first time visitors, etc).  

However, for returning users who are clicking on unread posts, they redirect to some point in the topic and will probably read until the end.  It's important to offer continuity and content discovery at that point.  

One of gamification's design principles is "the treasure hunt." Users love seeking new and exciting things that are just around the corner. You never know what you're going to get.  In terms of design, that's translated to infinite scroll ... there's always another new and fun item if you keep scrolling.  

We don't have infinite scroll, so this is a replacement for the time being to help users discover new and exciting content.  

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I agree... returning users are more likely to read to the bottom of the page. That's a certain segment that we must focus on. 

But...

If you look at your traffic you will likely see that most of your users are guests. At least for large sites, this is always the case.

In my experience, it NEVER hurt to place a Similar Content block directly under the first post. It ALWAYS helped.

With today's SEO changes, this along with other changes help improve traffic.

(The Similar Content block has the most impact when it is fast and topics are all quality content. Similar topics should be helpful.)

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1 hour ago, GTServices said:

Many readers don't even go to the bottom of the page. (There are many studies online that prove this.)

Sure. It’s also why bigger news websites stopped showing the entire news article by default on mobile. They show a teaser paragraph and then a “continue reading“ link if you REALLY want to read the full article. But they assume that you probably wont and so they rather show you more content and/or ads by default. 

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36 minutes ago, GTServices said:

I agree... returning users are more likely to read to the bottom of the page. That's a certain segment that we must focus on. 

But...

If you look at your traffic you will likely see that most of your users are guests. At least for large sites, this is always the case.

In my experience, it NEVER hurt to place a Similar Content block directly under the first post. It ALWAYS helped.

With today's SEO changes, this along with other changes help improve traffic.

(The Similar Content block has the most impact when it is fast and topics are all quality content. Similar topics should be helpful.)

First post? So you have a similar content block right under every first post of every topic? I have it below the editor.

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oh, yeah ... this is custom

under first post BUT only when a tag is present (tags are added by Staff or whatever group) 

JFYI: Automatic tagging or using tags made by members is NOT recommended.

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1 hour ago, GTServices said:

oh, yeah ... this is custom

under first post BUT only when a tag is present (tags are added by Staff or whatever group) 

JFYI: Automatic tagging or using tags made by members is NOT recommended.

I’d be interested to see how that looks, can you pm me your site info? 

I do use tags and also add tags into topics. One thing that has worked for me is editing topic titles to make them more relevant and have better page titles. It’s driven organic traffic on some topics that had titles not descriptive enough. I then use the similar topics plugin based off topic titles.

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8 hours ago, AlexWebsites said:

One thing that has worked for me is editing topic titles to make them more relevant and have better page titles. It’s driven organic traffic on some topics that had titles not descriptive enough. I then use the similar topics plugin based off topic titles.

Another enterprise client with a large traffic base gave me the same suggestion a couple of weeks ago.  

I'll need to include this in a future 4x4 growth hack.  It's also great for SEO!  

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@GTServices manual staff tagging adds quite much work for staff which is problematic especially for small communities (i.e. I have to be a webmaster, head editor, admin, mod etc). Do you have any good suggestion how to best do this?

Currently what I use is a mix of automatic tagging (autotags are based on subforum / gallery category that the user posts content in) mixed with fixing tags when I notice that there's a need. I also periodically go through tags via backend to get rid of errors, things that should be merged and similar. So the users have freedom to tag as they see fit (some use that, most of them properly) and lazy users aren't forced to tag too.

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On 7/30/2019 at 3:50 PM, AlexWebsites said:

One thing that has worked for me is editing topic titles to make them more relevant and have better page titles. It’s driven organic traffic on some topics that had titles not descriptive enough. I then use the similar topics plugin based off topic titles.

I do the same but I try to keep the same URL if possible. I limit words used on FURLS to 5 words max which allows me to make changes without changing the URL. But, there are times you just have to change the whole title.

Other things I do to improve SEO...

  • Merge similar topics (especially if old and not driving too much traffic; especially, those that have¬†some value)
  • Format content so that it's easier to scan.¬†
  • Improve¬†content that drives traffic. (Evergreen content)
  • Delete/Archive old poor quality content.¬†
  • Delete old accounts with 0 content.

None of this is easy but it's worth it. I recommend starting with your most popular topics (high Views count).

On 7/31/2019 at 10:16 AM, Nebthtet said:

@GTServices manual staff tagging adds quite much work for staff which is problematic especially for small communities (i.e. I have to be a webmaster, head editor, admin, mod etc). Do you have any good suggestion how to best do this?

I'm against auto-tagging. I just don't see any value to it.

My team have instructions to tag only "high-quality" content.

We use tagging for the Similar Content block because it gives us some control.

  • We¬†have control over what keywords are used.
  • We¬† have control over what topics are tagged.¬†
  • We have control over what topics are found in Similar Content block (and tag¬†pages).

The easier it is to find these "quality pages" the more value they gain. (eg. More traffic, shares, word of mouth, etc)

BACKGROUND...

Years ago I used tagging like you do. Enabled auto-tagging, allowed all members to tag, etc ... we literally had hundreds of thousands of tags (perhaps over 1 million) - many were similar, typos, poor quality, etc. (VBULLETIN BIG BOARD SITE)

I found myself working constantly in cleaning the mess. The ROI just wasn't there when compared to other things I could be doing. So I dropped it altogether with no regrets.

TAKE CONTROL

I'm sure you have heard of User Generated Content (UGC). If you run a forum site you are dependent on your members to produce content. About a decade or so ago, most forum admins peaked in terms of traffic. Since then traffic likely plateaued or dropped (more likely the latter).

Heck, back then you would see many forums selling for over $1 million dollars. Not these days. 

The biggest problem we have with a UGC business model is that we have very little control over what members post.

Technology and Google are changing rapidly it's time to start taking some control back. The above is just one way of doing just that.

Joel R's Community Management tips is another great way to take back some control.  A good community manager redirects focus where it should go. 

So let's get back to these Growth Hacks. I'm sure @Joel R¬†would appreciate it.¬†ūüėČ

Edited by GTServices

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