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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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1 hour ago, Joel R said:

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.  

Buffer and Hootsuite are both tools and they have definitely empowered junky bot feeds.

I definitely see the benefit, I'm just not sure it needs to go that far into automation.

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4 hours ago, Simon Woods said:

Buffer and Hootsuite are both tools and they have definitely empowered junky bot feeds.

I definitely see the benefit, I'm just not sure it needs to go that far into automation.

I still don't understand why you think that concern is important - whether you individually curate or auto post, bad content is bad content is bad content.  More importantly, we shouldn't be asking IPS to build tools for the lowest common denominator and worry about unsuccessful community managers who misuse ANY tool that's provided. If IPS stopped building their features because they were worried about a user misusing, that would be a knee jerk reaction.  We should instead be asking for tools that help successful and effective community managers proactively aspire to higher and better uses of their time, effectiveness, and reach.  

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3 hours ago, Joel R said:

I still don't understand why you think that concern is important - whether you individually curate or auto post, bad content is bad content is bad content.  More importantly, we shouldn't be asking IPS to build tools for the lowest common denominator and worry about unsuccessful community managers who misuse ANY tool that's provided. If IPS stopped building their features because they were worried about a user misusing, that would be a knee jerk reaction.  We should instead be asking for tools that help successful and effective community managers proactively aspire to higher and better uses of their time, effectiveness, and reach.  

Funnily enough I think it is a knee jerk reaction to assert that not including your request is therefore building tools for the lowest denominator.

I also think this tool already helps community managers get the job done, and having used the third-party alternatives I can say with confidence that it is all too easy to produce a mangled piece of crap in the race to juice up the software. Can this be improved? Probably. But you know, there's a good reason to iterate on something over time. I think that is where this tool is now.

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1 hour ago, Simon Woods said:

Funnily enough I think it is a knee jerk reaction to assert that not including your request is therefore building tools for the lowest denominator.

I also think this tool already helps community managers get the job done, and having used the third-party alternatives I can say with confidence that it is all too easy to produce a mangled piece of crap in the race to juice up the software. Can this be improved? Probably. But you know, there's a good reason to iterate on something over time. I think that is where this tool is now.

I never stated that IPS include this request - which by the way, that's all it was - immediately into their release. I would appreciate it if you never put words into my mouth again. (Fun Joel would like to remind everyone that he can make up plenty of words for himself juuuust fine :)).

With that said, getting the job done is different than getting a great job done better.  I'm not satisfied with complacency, which is why I always encourage IPS to aspire to better and greater things.  If some clients are happy with what IPS offers, then great! :)There are other clients, however, who would like to continue to  encourage IPS to innovate and push out new features and to consider new possibilities and that as clients we should continue to provide feedback so they can iterate and improve.  :)

 

 

Edited by Joel R
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8 hours ago, Joel R said:

I never stated that IPS include this request - which by the way, that's all it was - immediately into their release. I would appreciate it if you never put words into my mouth again. (Fun Joel would like to remind everyone that he can make up plenty of words for himself juuuust fine :)).

I would never put words into your mouth. I also did not say that you stated the request should be put immediately into the release and do indeed understand it is just a request, which is why I called it just that.

8 hours ago, Joel R said:

With that said, getting the job done is different than getting a great job done better.  I'm not satisfied with complacency, which is why I always encourage IPS to aspire to better and greater things.  If some clients are happy with what IPS offers, then great! :)There are other clients, however, who would like to continue to  encourage IPS to innovate and push out new features and to consider new possibilities and that as clients we should continue to provide feedback so they can iterate and improve.  :)

I agree with this, have always agreed with this, and am well aware that you feel this way.

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Will 4.2 be like upgrading from 4.0 to 4.1, or will things break?

I know some plugins and stuff did when upgrading from 4.0, though it was still manageable. 4.2 looks like a pretty big upgrade in terms of changes, so I am hoping that it won't break everything or mean I will have to spend on having all my custom work upgraded.

Not a negative, just useful to know because I would have to hold back.

Love the new features, I haven't been this excited since you guys first introduced the gallery and blog apps! Oh wait, I was with 4.0! :lol:

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@Matt one question about the topic pics that will be shared on facebook: are they going to be extracted automatically, right? This means they will be stored and accessible by something like $topic->pic_field right? Please tell me they will :) 

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  • Management
On 12/04/2017 at 11:38 PM, xtech said:

@Matt one question about the topic pics that will be shared on facebook: are they going to be extracted automatically, right? This means they will be stored and accessible by something like $topic->pic_field right? Please tell me they will :) 

The promote dialog will pull any image attachments from the topic, and you can choose from those, or add a new photo upload. There's no real variable stored as the data is kept in a separate table.

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3 hours ago, Matt said:

The promote dialog will pull any image attachments from the topic, and you can choose from those, or add a new photo upload. There's no real variable stored as the data is kept in a separate table.

The existence of such a variable would open new theming possibilities and would make forums really beautiful and visual. Having a $topic->topic_image and $topic->topic_image_thumb as they exist in Pages records (but automated to extract the first image or youtube video thumb of the topic) would be great and would allow visual forum navigation (similar to what happens in Tapatalk, for example). Tapatalk does that: automatically extracts an image from the first post of the topic whenever it exists, and looks great in mobiles. This would be awesome for user engagement and we would have beautiful visual forums, for sure.

Skin designers could come up with new interfaces in which the front page could be lastest topic images with the title below, for example. In an era where great images matter, would be so awesome.

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Quote

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

Hi,

This sounds great, thank you. Quick question. At the moment in 4.1.x when a tweet is made containing a link to a topic, it results in a rather ugly gray icon in the Tweet. 

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I think it has something to do with Twitter meta tags in IPS's code that are used to create these Twitter cards.

Is it possible that a screenshot of the topic/webpage could be used instead, or perhaps at minimum a sharing type icon image (in the theme you can add an image for Facebook)?

Is it possible to achieve a better image in Twitter feeds for now until 4.2 is released, with 4.1.x?

Many thanks. :)

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Will we be able to post statuses straight out that isn't related to the site itself? I.E will this feature replace hootsuite or other apps. I think if it doesn't, you would attract a lot of interest if did.

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Is this a time cached widget? I promoted content (testing internally, not social media) and it took quite a long time for the widget to show the picks, and once deleted they take an age to go...  Despite not showing under the ourpicks page.

I see they're sent in batches, is there no way they can be sent at least instant on the forums and in batches to social media?

Edited by CP_User
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On 30/3/2017 at 8:04 AM, PrettyPixels said:

This is fantastic! :) Great job, guys!

Will we have the ability to post to multiple sources (such as multiple FaceBook Pages or Twitter accounts) or are we limited to one page per each social media service?

Some of our content is relevant to our other communities, so it would be helpful to cross-promote.

Like this idea a lot! I hope it gets implemented soon :)

Also, Instagram and G+ are also need it ;) 

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Does anyone know if it's possible to automatically publish new topics and posts via the Promote feature to Twitter, Google+, etc as well as cherry picking content?

I currently use Feedburner (previously Hootsuite) and an Activity Stream RSS feed for this but am hoping it can be done by IPS 4.2 directly.

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15 minutes ago, The Old Man said:

Does anyone know if it's possible to automatically publish new topics and posts via the Promote feature to Twitter, Google+, etc as well as cherry picking content?

The individual posts need to be promoted manually. Your question sounds like a reasonable feature request though. 

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Can someone assist me with tagging articles to promote?  I have found how to promote gallery, article comments, and forum posts, but I seem to be missing a button for promoting the article itself.  Is there a setting I am missing?

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6 hours ago, CheersnGears said:

Can someone assist me with tagging articles to promote?  I have found how to promote gallery, article comments, and forum posts, but I seem to be missing a button for promoting the article itself.  Is there a setting I am missing?

In ACP got to:
System > Site Promotion > Social Media Promotion > Click the 6th tab named Our Picks > Click enable.

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