Cross-posted from the newForumCon blog. ForumCon is the only conference dedicated to the business of forums and community management and will be held this year in San Francisco on June 19. Join us!
We were delighted to co-host SFCMGR last week and bring along two very special guest from the online community world, Lane Becker and Thor Muller, co-founders of Get Satisfaction. They brought down the house with their very honest and unique take on the business of communities, likening the experience not to the happy, smiley, fields of flowers often portrayed and rather to ideas of war and conflict. They shared their stories from their time in the community “trenches” including some of our most favorite nuggets of “wisdom”, which are all helpfully wrapped up in 140 character snippets – thanks to everyone who attended and tweeted:
SFCMGR is heading to Pinterest next month. I will make sure the most interesting insights are shared out live via @ForumCon and on the Facebook page. Please check back here a few days after for the round up of all the evening’s best findings!
Cross-posted from the new ForumCon blog. ForumCon is the only conference dedicated to the business of forums and community management and will be held this year in San Francisco on June 19. Join us!
Does your company “get” online community? Here’s a simple test:
What do you call it when somebody complains about your product or service in an online community?
a.) A problem
b.) An opportunity
If your answer was “b,” congratulations. You get it.
It’s amazing how often people forget that an online community is a group of real, live people. Imagine you’re at a gathering – let’s say you’re at a cocktail party — and some guy says something bad about your company. In response, you quickly hustle him out of the room, then return, wave your hands around, and insist everybody forget what was just said.
When you delete a critical comment from a forum, you’re engaging in the online version of the same behavior.
More importantly, you’re missing an opportunity.
Let’s go back to the cocktail party.
Instead of trying to cover up this guy’s critical comment, let’s say you have a friendly drink with Mr. Complainer, find out what he’s sore about, and make it right. Not only have you won over the guy that was badmouthing your company, you’ve done it in front of a room full of party-goers who now think you and your company are pretty swell.
When you see disparaging comments about your company in an online community, seize the opportunity to impress the crowd.
Generally speaking, you see two kinds of complaints about companies in online communities.
One goes something like this: “That company screwed me.”
In cases like this, acknowledge the customer’s frustration. Ask for details so they know they’re being listened to. Do what you can to make it right. Most of all, be open and honest. If the customer’s demands are unreasonable, politely explain that you can’t do what they are demanding of you and why. But if you can fix the problem, tell the customer publicly in the community (being careful to avoid disclosing any personal or sensitive information) and wow the crowd.
The other type of complaint is more vague, like “I hear that company stinks.”
When responding to comments like these, seek specifics without being confrontational. Skip the schoolyard “Says who?!” and go with something like “I’m with the company and I’m surprised to hear that. Is there a problem or concern I can help you with?” If there is a specific issue, address it head-on. If the comment was unproven innuendo, that will become evident when the response sounds like “Well, I heard it from a guy, who heard it from…” Or when there’s no response at all.
Deleting complaints makes your company look bad. It leaves the impression that you’re afraid to engage with your customers, or worse, that you’ve got something to hide.
The first CMX Summit is taking place this Thursday, February 6th, and I am excited to say I will be going. I will be reporting live from the event via our facebook and twitter. If you were still on the fence about joining, let me tell you why I am attending. I mean beyond the our amazing and exclusive 25% off discount we have to share! To snag yourself this special discount just follow this link and type in forumcon25. Tickets are quickly selling out, so act fast to secure your seat.
Onto the real reasons why I am attending – CMX Summit is a new conference, which is focused entirely on community building. This year CMX is bringing together unique perspectives from fields and companies like psychology, behavioral analysis, habit analysis, Apple, Lyft, AirBnB, Facebook, 500 Startups and more. I have been promised in the audience will be the industry’s leading community professionals and startup founders, who will be sharing their best tips on how to build, scale, and sustain healthy communities.
This will be a great day of learning in the long wait to this year’s ForumCon and I can’t wait to share some of the top forum and online community tips I learn on the day.
Watch this space forum owners and community managers! Expert knowledge from those in the know on way!
One of the things we’ve heard consistently from forum owners is that they love VigLink but wish there was a way to fine tune how link monetization is integrated into the community. Well, we’re happy to say we’ve just completely overhauled the VigLink vBulletin mod, adding new features and controls that make integration custom and seamless.
Now vBulletin forum owners can
Enable or disable VigLink Convert for specific user groups and forums
Enable or disable VigLink Insert for specific user groups and forums
With these controls in place, configurations such as disabling link insertion for signed-in users while keeping it on for guests is as simple as a few clicks in the AdminCP.
The new plugin works on vBulletin 3.x and 4.x. The download and installation instructions are available here. For vBulletin 5, admins can add the VigLink hook directly from within the admin control panel.
Yesterday, I headed to the #OCTribe meetup to take part in an interactive discussion on building online communities. The discussion was lead by Sahana Ullagaddi from Klout, but all members of the group shared their best and tried-and-tested tips for building new communities. I tried desperately to scribble down all the nuggets of wisdom from some of San Fran’s most successful community managers, but failed miserably trying to tweet and join in the conversation. Luckily, however, everyone else was doing the same….
Here is the top advice from the meetup. Neatly packaged up into 140 character snippets. Thank you twittersphere! (Especially @thatgirlcrystal – the fastest tweeter in the west!)
Randy Farmer says let power users know about upcoming changes so that they can be champions #octribe
If you are interested in community management related topics you can check out all the up and coming #OCTribe events here. They also stream and then youtube all the talks, so don’t worry if your not a SFer! You can still be involved in the next #OCTribe.
Cross-posted from the ForumCon blog. ForumCon is the only conference dedicated to the business of forums and is held this year in San Francisco on June 13.
The internet is filled with forums. People go to forums for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons include: SEO purposes, JV partners, driving traffic, and information. In this post I will examine each of these areas.
1. SEO Purposes
You’ll want to learn a little bit of how the search engines work and html to understand how you can use forum postings for SEO purposes. Search engines index information on websites to store in their index.
You can apply a bit of html code to tell the search engines whether or not they will index the links on the page. You do that by using either the ‘no-follow’ attribute or the ‘do-follow’ attribute. The no- follow one tells the search engines not to index the links. The opposite goes for the latter.
To determine whether or not a page is do-follow or not, then you just simple ‘view page source’ while on the page you’re analyzing. Many forums are no-follow, but that doesn’t prevent you from obtaining the other benefits of forum postings; JV partners & driving traffic.
2. JV Partners
JV stands for joint venture and many entrepreneurs start them to leverage someone else’s skills, leadership, and resources. As you become a regular participant in the forum of your choice, you’ll undoubtedly make connections.
I really like to use the internet as a spring board to a real friendship or connection. To do this, you have to elevate the relationship beyond just words. When a connection is made, I’ll set up a meeting on skype to get to know the person and see their face. Take the opportunity to get to know them. Ask them about their goals and what they’re trying to accomplish.
You might just find out a JV with this new connection will help you both reach your goals and objectives. No JV is the same. Some will be good, while others will be a miserable experience. Do your due diligence before you start a JV with someone.
3. Traffic How do you use a forum to drive traffic?
You’ll be wise to get to know the forum’s guidelines. Some will allow links in the posting itself, while others will not. More often than not, forums will allow for some type of a signature.
Many marketers neglect to take advantage of the signature box. Everyone can improve what they put in their box. Just like you’ll spend quality time crafting the perfect title for a blog post, you’ll want to take some time to create a sentence that will motivate someone to click through and visit your website.
If the website is do-follow, then I would recommend linking to your main blog or website. If it’s no-follow, then I typically recommend you using a capture page of some sort so you can build your email list.
If you’re looking for an answer, you can browse the existing threads on the forums. Even I spend time reading forums to learn more information. (Side note: you can use forums to get ideas for blog posts and other content.)
Another option available to you is to start your own thread asking the forum members a question. You’ll find that many forum members will participate and offer up their advice. Make sure you signup for email updates so you know when people have commented on your thread.
Forum postings are a great way to build backlinks to your website, drive traffic, obtain information, and find potential JV partners.
Cross-posted from theForumCon blog. ForumCon is the only conference dedicated to the business of Forums and will be held this year in San Francisco on June 13.
The good folks that run ForumCon have asked me to lead a session on forum moderation.
My session is entitled “Effective Strategies for Forum Moderation,” and we’ll be focusing on ways to keep the peace in your forum.
When resolving sticky situations in online communities, it’s vitally important to choose your words with care. When you can’t convey your meaning with body language or facial expressions, it’s easy for your words to be misconstrued. That’s especially true when communicating with an angry member. So I’ll be sharing some of the language I always turn to in these situations, and asking session participants to share their ideas.
We’ll also spend some time talking about forum rules. Forum rules are a tricky topic, because few visitors take the time to read them. But when a forum member starts causing trouble, you still need a set of rules that you can point to when calling out an infraction. Forum rules are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The topic, membership, and sensibilities of the forum should dictate what the rules are. But there are still some concepts that apply to any forum, and we’ll discuss them.
There are certain types of people that seem to turn up in any forum. There are helpful types, troublesome types, and those that are merely an annoyance. I’ll talk about the five types of people I often see in online communities, and I’ll ask the group to share stories about forum participants they’ve run into.
We’ll also open up the conversation and swap stories about difficult situations we’ve faced in our forums, and discuss how we resolved them.
Finally, I’ll be sharing the online community management resources I turn to for advice and ideas, and asking the group to share theirs.
Are there topics related to forum moderation and management you think we ought to include in this session? Do you have any questions that we can answer during the session? Please join the conversation via #ForumCon, the official twitter @ForumCon, via their Facebook page, or add your thoughts below.
A few weeks ago, we posted the slides from the opening statements made by our CEO Oliver Roup at ForumCon. Today, we’re excited to share with you a few videos taken of actual ForumCon panels and speakers. Some great points were brought up surrounding several topics, so go ahead and check them out!
Verticalized Social Networks: Online Influencers that Savvy Marketers Covet
Speaker: Dan Gill, Founder & CEO of Huddler
How to Create, Curate & Put Great Content to Use
Speaker: Tyler Tanaka, VP of Development for PostRelease
Ten sessions, three ground breaking product announcements, twenty-five speakers, two-hundred attendees, hundreds of cups of coffee (and hundreds of cocktails) later, ForumCon 2012 is a wrap.
We’ll be sharing all the pictures, presentations and interviews from the event with you in the next couple of days, but didn’t want to wait any longer to share the three pieces of news that came out of ForumCon: vBulletin premiered their first product release in 2+ years, selected VigLink exclusively for content monetization, and we announced that our merchant coverage is now double that of any competitor. We now monetize traffic to 30,000+ merchants!
Here’s the blow-by-blow of how each of the announcements went down.
vBulletin 5 Connect Makes its World Debut
The morning kicked off a little bit early with a special event for both press and attendees: the unveiling of vBulletin 5 Connect.
While a press release with a few key details went out on the wire just as John McGanty, General Manager of Internet Brands took to the stage, the audience was certainly anxious for a more detailed overview. John’s preview definitely delivered, and we saw what vB5 Connect had to offer:
Sleek new UI with extensive social integration
Category-leading mobile optimization
Simplified site set up, customization and management
New core architecture for improved search, better performance and easier modifications
Dynamic tools for content discovery
Expanded photo and video sharing capabilities
In total, there are 125 new features and enhancements in vBulletin 5 Connect. And the audience was buzzing throughout the rest of the day about which they were most excited for:
vBulletin Chooses VigLink for Content Monetization
One of the enhancements available in vB5 Connect is VigLink content monetization available out-of-the-box. With the upcoming release, vBulletin will be replacing its previous content monetization solution with VigLink.
Bambi Francisco of Vator News chatted with both John McGanty of Internet Brands and Oliver Roup, our Founder & CEO, on Monday evening and shared details on the partnership early Tuesday morning in the lead up to the formal announcement.
And after the dust had settled, Murray Newlands, an advisor to VigLink and correspondent for Performance Marketing Insider caught up with Joe Rosenblum, CTO for Internet Brands, for his thoughts on the newly announced partnership (check it out below).
We’ll be sharing more detail on the partnership as the vB5 release date nears, but are happy to announce now that we’ll be offering both current and new VigLink users a 5% revenue bonus when they upgrade to vB5 (more detail in Oliver’s full presentation at the bottom of this post).
VigLink Announces Double the Merchant Coverage
After vBulletin’s press session wrapped, Oliver formally kicked off the day with a few ForumCon updates, and also a pretty big announcement: VigLink now monetizes traffic to over 30,000 merchant sites.
Over the last six months, we’ve been hard at work forging a set of relationships that not only represent double the merchant coverage of any competitor, but will also deliver higher payouts for our publishers than any other entity can.
The end result: using VigLink is easier than ever (thanks to partnerships like that of vBulletin) and we’re not only earning you more than ever, but more than anyone else.
If you’re interested, you can check out Oliver’s full presentation below. And be on the lookout for full video and the rest of the presentation decks very soon!
The section title here is a homage to our concluding panel of the day, focused on the future of forums (video to come!). The VigLink team had such a great time spending the day with so many of our users, partners, and other industry leaders yesterday — and we are beyond excited for next year. The best, really is, yet to come.