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Managing successful online communities

Matt
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New: Promoting Content

There are many strategies for growing your community, such as newsletters, mailing lists and advertising on other sites.

IPS Community Suite 4.2 puts a new tool at your disposal: promotions.

There’s no denying the popularity of social media. Worldwide, Facebook has 1.86 billion users active monthly. Every day, millions of people are using Facebook to speak with friends, to talk about their interests and to find new people to connect with.

Of that 1.86 billion people, a good portion of those are actively discussing topics your forum covers. There is a huge opportunity to tap into social media to join in the discussion and to promote your community and provide a venue to carry on the discussion.

For a while, we’ve had social media log in extensions, which means that your users can sign into your community simply by clicking a relevant button. We’ve also had the ability to share things to a personal Facebook account. These tools are great for your users, but how do they help you, forum owner?

IPS Community Suite 4.2 introduces a way to promote your content directly to your brand’s Facebook page and your brand’s Twitter account.

You can curate fun and engaging topics and share them. The workflow is simple. Simply browse your community and queue up interesting topics, comments, gallery items, blog posts or database articles for posting throughout the day to your brand’s social media accounts. You choose the schedule, the hashtags and the wording to send.

Let’s look at the feature set in more detail.

Your first stop is to set up the feature from the admin panel. The system will guide you through the necessary steps of connecting your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Once Facebook has been set up, you can select any page that you are an administrator of on Facebook.

 

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The admin panel also offers scheduling options and permissions.

 

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You can pre-set the times for when content will be posted. Facebook and Twitter both have analytic tools to determine when your visitors are most frequently online. A good tip here is to set the time to a slightly odd number, so 11:45am is better than 12:00pm as you are likely to catch the attention of someone waiting for lunch, or a lunchtime meeting.

 

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You have full control over who can promote items to your social media accounts. You can specify by group or pick individual members who may not be in those groups.

Now that you’ve set up the backend, we can get promoting.

Each item, that is a topic, gallery album, blog entry or article has its own Promote button.

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Each post and comment can also be shared individually, which is an easy way to share great content your visitors add to existing conversations.

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Clicking this brings up the sharer.

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This is where you can customize the text that is sent out to each social media channel. You’ll also notice space to promote this item within your own community in addition (or instead of) Facebook or Twitter, we will explore that shortly.

The sharer is smart enough to pull attachments already added in the post, and you can upload your own images to be sent. Generally, shared items that have an image get better organic reach than just text alone so you’ll almost always want to choose or add an image. Twitter can use up to 4 images, and Facebook allows 1000 pictures per album, but you’ll never want to upload that many!

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Once you’ve filled out your content and picked your images, you can schedule the promotion. Generally, you’ll want to use the auto schedule option as this allows you to just stack up multiple items and let the auto scheduler post the items according to your pre-set schedule. You can also set a specific date and time if you are looking to run a promotion or other time sensitive event.

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The promoted content viewed in Facebook and Twitter

It’s easy to see the status of your queued and sent items from the moderator view.

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This area allows you to see previous promotions and modify pending promotions.

Earlier, we mentioned that the system has the ability to promote content internally. Promoting items to your own community lets you, the community manager, curate interesting items and comments and present this to your community. This is a great way to allow your visitors to explore content you think they’d enjoy.

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Promoting content to your community via Our Picks also allow you to promote content if you cannot or choose not to use social networks. It has the advantage that social networks do not have over a community platform like IPS Community Suite: consistency. The content on your community is always there whereas a social network is all about right here right now. Miss it and you miss out. On your community you can engage and re-engage a subject all you want. 

Of course, we’ve built a widget that you can drag and drop to most pages to make this curated list more visible.

IPS Community Suite 4.2 gives you, the site owner and community manager the tools you need to reach out and engage new users already discussing the topics on social media your community covers. With single click sign in and the built in retention functionality the suite offers, you’ll have a powerful way of growing your user base. It furthers that goal by created a list of that promoted content for continual reference and promotion for visitors already on your site.

We’ve got lots more to discuss on this subject, and in the coming months we’ll be putting together some guides on social media best practices and how to leverage Facebook’s excellent post promotion / pay per click tools to further boost your site’s visibility to social media users.

We’re here to help you make a success of your community and to give social media users a venue for when they outgrow Facebook.

Edited by Matt

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6 minutes ago, marklcfc said:

I like, this reactions and clubs are great additions. I've always wondered, I have an app for Facebook log in, and then a Facebook page for my site. Is this the correct way? My login isn't asssociated with my page at all, the whole Facebook connect seems a bit of a mess

Yes the idea with his feature is not that your posts go as "From Mark" it goes as "From My Community" to your page.

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I must say, IPS really is taking the lead as a forum software to integrating it with the main social media platforms out there. 

Two remarks:

1) instagram. I hear they do not have an posting API, that is unfortunate, but as soon as that becomes available, if ever, that would be my number one request.

2) is it possible to have replies on Facebook/twitter posted back into the topic?

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I'll elaborate on Instagram a bit. There is no direct API to talk to Instagram. Most social media software, like Buffer and Hootsuite uses a phone app to push the photo to Instagram as if it was selecting a photo from the camera roll and stores any text you wanted to add in the phone's clipboard so you can paste it in.

I doubt Instagram will open up an API as they seem keen to keep it within the mobile space only.

3 hours ago, Donkerrood said:

2) is it possible to have replies on Facebook/twitter posted back into the topic?

Not at this time, I think in many ways it's OK to keep those comments on the social media channels. Mixing them in may be confusing.

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Very happy to depend on ips platform, version 4.2 is way better I've ever imagined. Congratulations!

One suggestion for the future because I don't think it's implemented now. Now I depend on external services like hootsuite to easy promote some articles to my facebook/twitter page. It would be really helpful if there was an option to post an article from ip.pages automatically to fb/twitter, x minutes after it's been posted in the frontpage.

Edited by Real Hal9000

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11 minutes ago, Real Hal9000 said:

Very happy to depend on ips platform, version 4.2 is way better I've ever imagined. Congratulations!

One suggestion for the future because I don't think it's implemented now. Now I depend on external services like hootsuite to easy promote some articles to my facebook/twitter page. It would be really helpful if there was an option to post an article from ip.pages automatically to fb/twitter, x minutes after it's been posted in the frontpage.

That's certainly possible. If I may suggest, though, that turning your Facebook page into an "RSS-like feed" is probably not the best approach, but you may have a good specific case for this.

3 hours ago, Simon Woods said:

All this and guides too. Awesome. :D

I'm looking to create a few on best practises for Facebook and Twitter in terms of maximising organic reach, and to give guidance on what works and what does not.

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3 minutes ago, Matt said:

That's certainly possible. If I may suggest, though, that turning your Facebook page into an "RSS-like feed" is probably not the best approach, but you may have a good specific case for this.

You're right, I'm only mention it for the "news" part of a website which you want to promote in your social media. Of course we have to add other stuff too to our pages and "Promoting Content" certainly solves this problem too. 

 

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1.  We can promote any content including those where guests don't have permissions, correct?  

2.  Photo of the block?  Both main content area and sidebar.

3.  I second the suggestion by @Real Hal9000 but with a more detailed suggestion: a setting in a category to automatically turn ON promotions for all new content.  (The author of the content item can still manually disable the promotion; and admins can still delete the promotion from the ACP.  All this does is automatically queue the promotions).  This automates the process even more for busy community managers like @Charles.  Keepin' it real for you Charles.

4.  Is Matt our new SEO Guru?? I can see him doing bicep curls as he draws nonsensical SEO diagrams:

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Teach us this Matt.  

5.  "Our Picks" index page - any way to remove the titles and subtitle?  This can be a very compelling and dynamic homepage a la Pinterest once you add some blocks.   

6.  Safe to assume that content items on Our Picks index will follow permissions?  For example, members-only content items won't show to visitors?  

7.  Suggestion: allow Community Moderators / Admins to promote directly from the Activity Stream.  This will help speed up the promotion process 

8.  Suggestion: When re-promoting content (thank you Rikki for confirming), I think it would be beneficial to keep a history of prior promotions.  

9.  How many content items do we show on Our Picks index?  When do they fall off?  

Edited by Joel R

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Hi Joel,

1) Yes, I didn't see the point in restricting content where you do not have guest permission as you may want to "tease" your social media audience into signing up.

2) I'll sort that today. Rikki was still tweaking it yesterday.

3) I'll have a good think about this. My fear is that it'll then mean your Facebook page stops being a curated list of really interesting things and just becomes an RSS feed with no custom content, images and so on. This will harm your organic reach and turn off your social media audience. Perhaps I could look at a way to promote when you use a specific item tag, all good ideas to explore for future releases.

4) I am very familiar with Facebook marketing. I've learned a lot in my own time over the past year as I really am interested in this and I also manage a few Facebook pages for friends to learn more and experiment with what works and what does not. I have about a year's worth of experience and training that I can use to help our customers become successful. I realise this sounds like a Facebook advert that links to a landing page with a PayPal button to join my seminar, but it's true and the information will be free.

5) It's all in the templates, baby.

6) Actually, no. You need to think of the Our Picks page like you would a Facebook wall in that it will show to everyone (well, I guess you could at App > Module level turn off permissions). My feeling is that you may want to tease people, and only showing them what they can already see is restricting the feature. So it's up to you as the community manager to share to your entire community what you are comfortable sharing. My thought is that a truly private area like a moderators lounge, or Secret Lair is something you'll never really WANT to promote from.

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7) Yeah, good idea we can do that.

8) When you re-promote an item, it will not add a new row, it will just bump up that item. If you have "Evergreen" content that you share regularly, you'd end up with hundreds of duplicate items hanging around. You are told when promoting when it was last shared. I guess we could keep a complete history of all the times it was shared if we feel that is useful information.

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9) It's paginated. 25 per page, but I may increase that.

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2 hours ago, Matt said:

3) I'll have a good think about this. My fear is that it'll then mean your Facebook page stops being a curated list of really interesting things and just becomes an RSS feed with no custom content, images and so on. This will harm your organic reach and turn off your social media audience. Perhaps I could look at a way to promote when you use a specific item tag, all good ideas to explore for future releases.

Well, I'd like to give you the converse and share MY fear: like most admins and community managers, I'm already limited in time to managing my own community, much less trying to manage the dozen other other social media properties.  I wish I had the luxury to handpick, curate, and write cute teasers on every single item to promote, but the reality is that I won't have time.  So anything you can do to automate and expedite the promotion (eg. auto-promote articles, promote directly from activity stream) will help time-pressed admins fulfill their promotions in the most efficient manner while still allowing them the ability to curate the items as needed.  

Also, I'd like to point out that it's not IPS' responsibility to ensure people post interesting things.  You can never really fully address that burden of responsibility.  (Unless your SEO classes are followed by creative writing classes?? ^_^)

 

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55 minutes ago, Joel R said:

Well, I'd like to give you the converse and share MY fear: like most admins and community managers, I'm already limited in time to managing my own community, much less trying to manage the dozen other other social media properties.  I wish I had the luxury to handpick, curate, and write cute teasers on every single item to promote, but the reality is that I won't have time.  So anything you can do to automate and expedite the promotion (eg. auto-promote articles, promote directly from activity stream) will help time-pressed admins fulfill their promotions in the most efficient manner while still allowing them the ability to curate the items as needed.  

Also, I'd like to point out that it's not IPS' responsibility to ensure people post interesting things.  You can never really fully address that burden of responsibility.  (Unless your SEO classes are followed by creative writing classes?? ^_^)

 

That's the great thing about promotes, it happens inline. You read something cool, hit Promote, tap in a few custom words (you do not need to do this, it pre-fills in relevant content) and hit promote. If you set up a schedule, it'll stack them up and send them throughout the day.

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3 hours ago, Matt said:

Also, I'd like to point out that it's not IPS' responsibility to ensure people post interesting things.  You can never really fully address that burden of responsibility.  

Yes but by favouring automated processes in the way you're after, it will encourage the kind of awful bot posting that absolutely ruins social media feeds; I mean... that thing designers do (and we see it on this site) where they get all upset over misaligned text and whatever, THAT is how I feel about the bot culture that sharing automation has created. Of course everybody is responsible for themselves but if IPS can tip the scales in the favour of restrained, qualitative marketing then all the better.

Also, great, you now have automated promotions filling up your queue. You still have to go through that queue to avoid the scenario mentioned above. I find it difficult to see how that level of automation actually saves time.

I don't know... maybe if it was available but restricted by permissions? That could work, so you would only give it access to people you trust. Still doesn't stop admins from falling into the trap of just switching it on for everybody, though.

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1 hour ago, Simon Woods said:

Yes but by favouring automated processes in the way you're after, it will encourage the kind of awful bot posting that absolutely ruins social media feeds; I mean... that thing designers do (and we see it on this site) where they get all upset over misaligned text and whatever, THAT is how I feel about the bot culture that sharing automation has created. Of course everybody is responsible for themselves but if IPS can tip the scales in the favour of restrained, qualitative marketing then all the better.

Also, great, you now have automated promotions filling up your queue. You still have to go through that queue to avoid the scenario mentioned above. I find it difficult to see how that level of automation actually saves time.

I don't know... maybe if it was available but restricted by permissions? That could work, so you would only give it access to people you trust. Still doesn't stop admins from falling into the trap of just switching it on for everybody, though.

It doesn't encourage or discourage anything. It's a tool that makes it more efficient to cross-promote News post.  For example instead of Charles individually queueing each of these news article they can be auto-queued.  You obviously wouldn't apply this to every category or every user (although all of my posts are amazing and should always be shared).  I'm pretty sure Facebook pages with auto-fed zombie content are already penalized through low engagement and no visitors.  

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