We are very excited to officially announce our new conference, The Enthusiast Channel (TEC) Summit! If you have been to Forumcon before we’ve decided to take the best parts of that event and turn them into a new two day conference featuring inspirational keynotes, panels and expert-lead workshops. TEC Summit is centered around a broader group of influential publishers and brands who are collaborating to mold the future of online influence.
Attendees will hear from industry experts such as Holly Hamann, Co-founder and CMO at TapInfluence, Bridget Silvi, Sr. Director of Business Development at We Heart It, Jeffri Chadiha, Sports Journalist at ESPN, and more. We’re also thrilled to announce that our opening keynote speaker will be John Yembrick, Social Media Manager at NASA!
We will be discussing everything from the power of influence, how tech is affecting business scalability, the future for publishers in mobile and how enthusiasts have changed the fashion industry. Register now to meet and learn from today’s most influential publishers and brands! We’re offering a special 50% off discount for friends of VigLink. Hurry and register today because this offer is only valid until May 3rd! Just enter the code VigLink50 at checkout or use this custom registration link: http://bit.ly/1QGkMin
What: TEC Summit 2015
Where: The Bently Reserve 301 Battery Street San Francisco, CA 94111
When: May 27-28, 2015
Register here: http://tecsummit.com/register
For additional details please visit www.tecsummit.com. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @TecSummit and Facebook to stay up to date on all of our exciting announcements. We hope to see you there!
Tags: TEC Summit Posted in Events, TEC Summit
Two weeks ago Oliver Roup, our founder and CEO, presented at the AM Days 2015 conference in San Francisco and discussed, “Content Driving Sales in a Cross-Device World.”
Affiliate Management Days (AM Days) is a leading conference for affiliate managers and marketers responsible for their company’s affiliate marketing strategy, management and operations. Oliver discussed how publishers and merchants can drive revenue across all digital platforms from desktop to mobile to social media.
In early 2014 internet usage on mobile devices surpassed desktop usage for the first time. Oliver shared a comScore report that found more than half of all time spent on a retailer’s website is done so from a mobile device. As the industry advances, it’s clear that marketers need to think mobile-first. However, reading content and shopping on mobile devices isn’t always an easy experience. Oliver shared the following best practices in order to take advantage of the increasing mobile audience:
VigLink works to connect merchants and influencers with consumers for the best ecommerce experience.
Do you have any other tips to share? If so, let us know in the comments section below or tweet us @VigLink!
Tags: AM Days, San Francisco Posted in Events
We are heading to SXSW in Austin, the place to be for the hottest technology companies and entrepreneurs! This is where startups like Twitter and Foursquare shot to celebrity status and became the household names they are today. We’re thrilled to be a part of the chaos this year!
Planning on attending? If so, we would be delighted if you joined us on Saturday, March 14th for our party with Bitly! There will be 80’s style dancing, drinks and maybe even a DeLorean… Remember to bring your leg warmers and your best scrunchy!
If you would like to join us, please contact us for more details. We hope to see you there!
Tags: Events, SXSW Posted in Events
Last week I attended and presented at the SoFabU On the Road event in LA on behalf of VigLink discussing all things content monetization with one of our fabulous publishers, Heidi Nazarudin. The event was filled with top influencers from the LA area and with so many fantastic tips being shared, I wanted to post the highlights from the event.
SEO and Social Media
Alea Milham, Founder of lifestyle blog Premeditated Leftovers, shared advice on how bloggers can strategically use SEO and social media to increase traffic and income. Her top tips included:
Content Monetization Strategies
We partnered with Heidi Nazarudin on a panel to discuss how bloggers can best monetize their content. Heidi’s number one tip for bloggers is to be able to explain what your blog is about in two minutes. If you can’t do that, then you have a content problem. I also shared how VigLink helps bloggers optimize their content for monetization and turn their passion into a business.
Bloggers and Brands
The lunchtime brand panel included reps from Johnny Rockets, TONI&GUY USA, STI – The Drive Experience Company and Muller Quaker where they shared their top preferences on working with brand influencers.
We had a great time at the event meeting fabulous bloggers, answering questions about driving commerce through content, eating delicious Johnny Rockets burgers and listening to Miss California talk about social media and inspiration. We look forward to the next SoFabU event in Miami on Feb. 28th, we hope to see you there! For details and to RSVP visit: http://bit.ly/1ucks2L
Written by Lucy Bartlett
Posted in Content-Driven Commerce, Events, News and Updates
We love SFCMGR, and not just because our very own Lucy Bartlett is a co-organizer. It’s a wonderful group of people who come together once a month to discuss the ins and outs of online community. This month’s event was held at the San Francisco Prezi Office. They provided four wonderful speakers, all who have different backgrounds within Prezi, but work toward the common goal of creating an online community of happy Prezilians.
Jana Hanavan, Prezi’s mood coordinator, opened up the series of presentations with some background on the organization, thus setting the stage for Ashley Whitlatch, the 8th U.S. employee who developed and launched Prezi’s successful college ambassador program. She informed the audience of 5 tips to build a community of college ambassadors. They are- focus on those who love you, help them set their own goals, provide feedback, listen to their ideas, and provide useful takeaways.
When looking for people who are passionate about your product, find those who already actively support you. Once they’ve become an ambassador, it’s important not to set stringent goals for them, but rather collaborate to decide what you’re working towards. After all, an ambassador knows their peers better than anyone else, that’s why they’ve been selected. The college ambassador program wouldn’t have been beneficial to anyone if it simply included passing out fliers. Prezi encourages ambassadors to create online groups and A/B test new products, both enriching the experience of its ambassadors as well as the community they’re present in.
Zsofi Goreczky was once upon a time what Prezi calls a Champion, someone incredibly active in the Prezi community answering other’s questions and sharing best practices. A few months after becoming a Champion, Prezi asked her to officially join their team. She’s now the Operations Manager for Support. Zsofi explained the importance of the Championship program and other methods that encourage peer-to-peer support. Although acknowledging these key factors of building a supportive community, she also stressed the strong influence of support reps, promoting good answers, monitoring frequent questions to modify content pieces accordingly, and archiving out-dated issues. The combination of Prezi employees and Prezilians supporting the community has proven to be the most effective way to support their online community.
The last to take the stage was Prezi’s Social Media Coordinator,Susannah Shattuck who helps to manage Prezi’s global community across LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and beyond! When she first started at Prezi her main focus was to get as many “likes” and “followers” as possible but soon realized that didn’t result in engagement. Rather, a smaller, targeted audience creates higher interaction amongst followers. To best amplify your company’s voice and convert users into advocates, Susannah suggests meeting your audience where they are, listening to what they have to say, and empowering them to share their stories. If you are able to successfully follow these three tactics you will drive traffic to your website, which is critically important when trying to explain the ROI of social media.
We hope all that attended this month’s SFCMGR meeting learned as much as we did! It was wonderful to hear about community from three different departments of the Prezi team. We hope you’ll join us next month for another round of networking and insightful talks from industry leaders. Stay tuned!
Check out the great Prezi they made for SFCMGR!
Written by Hanna Fritzinger
Tags: event, meet up, online community, PREZI, Prezilians, San Francisco, SFCMGR, tech Posted in Building Communities & Forums, Events
We had a wonderful time volunteering at the Larkin Street Youth Services center yesterday afternoon. When we arrived we were greeted by their incredible Manager of Volunteers & Community Relations, Jessie, who gave us an introduction to the center and told us more about the wonderful work they do to help San Francisco’s most vulnerable youth. Not only is Larkin Street Youth Services in it’s 30th year of operation but it has evolved from a single drop-in center into 25 youth programs housed across 15 different sites. The center is set to continue to grow as they move into a larger space and have greater ability to serve an even more youth and engage them in various programs.
Our team helped by cooking lunch, organizing the clothing donation closet, and making hygiene kits. It was wonderful to speak with some of the teens and share about ourselves and what we do. We found it truly rewarding to be amongst people who are doing such important good within our community. If you want to learn more about Larkin Street Youth Services and all of amazing things they are doing take a look at their website!
Tags: giveback, larkinstreet, San Francisco, tech, VigLink, volunteer Posted in Events, News and Updates
Last week was our annual conference, ForumCon, and what a conference it was! Here are the most important takeaways from each of the day’s sessions.
What does “Mobile-Optimized” Mean for Communities?
In the opening session, moderator John Boitnott led panelists Tyler Smith, Zach Hobbs, Craig Dalrymple and Howard Steinberg in a discussion on increasing Internet consumption via mobile devices and the effect that is having on forums. The panel emphasized that forums will need to adapt as users increasingly use mobile devices to consume forum content but less so to create new content. Developing countries in particular have many users who access the Internet solely through their mobile devices.
The Lean Community: Simple Tactics for Building Thriving Communities
David Spinks spoke about his first experience in building an online community that was centered around Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. David argued that forums are far more likely to succeed if they are built as an outlet for an existing community, rather than an attempt to build a new community based on corporate interest. Additionally, David informed the audience, despite conventional wisdom, debates between community members could be key to developing stronger community bonds.
The Top 5 Forum Insights that Changed Our Business
Crista Bailey emphasized the importance of encouraging community members to openly share their content. As the CEO of TextureMedia, Bailey has built the largest online community for women with curly hair. If TextureMedia weren’t an environment where women in this historically-marginalized community felt comfortable sharing their stories and pictures, the brand would not be what it is today.
Moderation and Management of Your Community
Dan Gill moderated the talk about managing online community with panelists Greg Childs, Justin Isaf and Patrick Clinger. The panel members had important insights about who ought to be responsible for electing community managers. One great example was, if someone asks to be a community manager, they probably aren’t a good choice. Instead, ask an active and influential member of your forum to be a manager. There’s a good chance that they are the type of member who plans on being a part of the community for an extended period of time.
Conversation about Online Community
Conversations about Online Community gave attendees the chance break into groups and answer assigned questions. They then chose their best insights to share with the entire ForumCon conference. Attendees made a series of clever suggestions such as, making sure that each community manager receives individual attention and emphasizing the importance of randomized checks on manager decisions. There was also plenty of discussion about whether to remove “downvote” features altogether.
ForumCon Tech Fest
This year’s ForumCon featured the first ever Tech Fest competition with a series of entrepreneurs pitching their products to a panel of expert judges. Each of our presenters had a great pitch, but Panjo and their advertising marketplace for forums ultimately prevailed.
Using Proven Science to Create Highly Addictive Communities
Attendees had the opportunity to learn about proven methods that increase their community’s retention rate from Richard Millington. One of his most interesting pieces of advice was messaging someone right after they join your community might not necessarily the most effective use of your time, especially if your goal is to get them to contribute to the site. Instead, Millington found that responding within five hours to a new member’s first contribution resulted in a 53% increase in the chance that they would contribute again. Additionally, responding within the first hour increased that figure even further.
The Future Discussion of the Web Panel
ForumCon’s final panel was moderated by Nellie Bowles and featured Jeff Atwood, Josh Miller, Daniel Ha and Thomas Plunkett. Our most forward-looking panel spoke about the need to encourage civil discussion online and some of the ways previous efforts to do so had fallen short. For example, insisting that users login through Facebook doesn’t seem to have any effect on their being civil to one another. What’s most important is for people participating in online communities to realize that even without face-to-face interaction there is someone on the receiving end of their comments.
How Purposeful Design Increases Engagement
Courtney Couch explained the power of purposeful design (the holistic approach you take to your site). Couch suggested that every design decision ought to be evaluated on the basis of its benefit for users and not simply because it “could be done” or might look “cool”. His talk tied to previous comments made at ForumCon that the most successful forums are very basic with user-friendly designs.
Special thanks our MC John Rampton.
Thank you to all of you who came and a special thanks to our wonderful sponsors: FORUMS.net, tapatalk, Vanilla, BoardReader, Panjo, Internet Brands, Hi-def Ninja, Vbulletin, Verticalscope and Topix. Other great wrap-ups have been written byJessica Malnik and Evan Hamilton. You can also check out a great collection of content from the ForumCon Storify and visit our blog for videos of the sessions.
Written by Hanna Fritzinger
Tags: Business, community, forum, Forums, future, highlights, internet, looking ahead, mobile, moderator, online, panel, recap, tech, web Posted in Building Communities & Forums, Events, ForumCon, Forums, News and Updates
Ever wondered what this amazing thing called “ForumCon” is, that we have been talking so much about?
Well, know we have our very own promo video to explain it. Happy watching!
PS. You might just recognize a few familiar faces…
If you fancy joining us for what promises to be a day full of learning, networking, and most importantly lots of fun. Please use our special VigLink registration link to receive 25% off. You can also check out the full agenda of amazing speakers and activities here.
See you on Thursday 19th of June!
Written by Lucy Bartlett, Senior Marketing Manager and chief ForumConer
Posted in Building Communities & Forums, Events
Cross-posted from the new ForumCon blog. ForumCon is the only conference dedicated to the business and future of forums and community management and will be held this year in San Francisco on June 19. Follow this link to join us for the day and get a special VigLink 25% off discount!
Written by Chad Billmyer, CEO, Panjo
Businesses purchase forums based on trailing revenue and traffic growth. Do you want more revenue and more traffic? Evolve your forum into an ecommerce media giant.
In the last few days, VerticalScope agreed to acquire PBNation.com for $1.38M (a paintball vBulletin forum) and Freelancer.com paid $3.2M for Warrior Forum (a digital marketing vBulletin forum). You can grow the value of your community higher than that. To quote the Sean Parker character in The Social Network, “A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool?” A billion dollars.
According to BuiltWith, the number of forums powering the top million sites on the web has declined by 33% since 2011. In the face of the decline of Web-based forums, you can still grow the value of your community. Now is the time for you to evolve your community into an ecommerce media business.
In a recent interview with Fortune Magazine, Ben Lerer, founder of Thrillist.com, explains, “Now we’re at the beginning of Commerce 3.0. Every day you surprise and delight people by showing them interesting things, and then you layer on great storytelling on a daily basis…. People come to your store more often because they never know what they’re going to find and what they could discover. When they get there, they spend more money buying the basics that they actually need. It’s been four years since we acquired JackThreads, and we’ve gotten really good into making a reader into a shopper and a shopper into a reader. We will do more than $100 million in revenues this year, and I believe we can be a $1 billion business.” [source]
This past March, Lerer spoke at the South By Southwest conference in Austin. You can find the slides from his talk, Content & Commerce: The Digital Cronut, on slideshare. There is an excellent recap of the presentation in Publishing Perspectives. In summary, you have thousands of enthusiasts frequenting your site. You have earned their trust. You need to move beyond advertising, subscription, events, and licensing. Says Lerer, “you’ve got to actually physically sell something to that consumer” to have a chance at that billion-dollar goal.
Through his research, Michael Brito, author of Your Brand: The Next Media Company, found that successful media companies shared five characteristics. He shared the five characteristics in an interview with SocialMediaExaminer:
Perhaps the sentiments of Lerer and Brito are a bit too theoretical or macro for you. You are in the trenches, building and moderating your community and keeping sponsors happy. What is your next step?
If you don’t already have a content management system (CMS) attached to your forum, add one.
Create a plan for the creation of compelling, original content. Focus on storytelling.
Identify the ecommerce opportunities within your vertical. Who are the entrepreneurs, small businesses, and major vendors who want to reach your audience? What is the best way for those partners to sell product through your web property. What ecommerce platform will you use to power that commerce?
To help you execute on the three steps above, you can turn to tools and services like RebelMouse, Contently,DivvyHQ, SingleGrain, Panjo, Magento, and others.
Returning to the topic of valuation, let’s break down the valuations of the aforementioned forums. Warrior Forum’s $3.2M acquisition price means that Freelancer.com paid…
CrowdGather purchased PBNation in 2011 for $2.4M. [source] PBNation’s recent $1.38M acquisition price, a decline of over $1M, means that VerticalScope paid…
Usually, forums are bought and sold between two privately held companies and there is little or no public information about the purchase price. These recent transactions involved publicly held companies and as material transactions, required public disclosure.
Forums are not bought and sold based on the metrics above. As stated above, forum acquisitions are based on traffic and revenue. Do you want more traffic and revenue? Evolve your forum into an ecommerce media giant.
Posted in Building Communities & Forums, Events, Guest Post, Publisher Best Practices
We are delighted to announce, Katharina Morik, TU Dortmund University, Germany, will be joining us on Thursday May 29th, to give a special talk on “Resource-Aware Graphical Models.” We would love for you to join us and this special one-off presentation in SF. To save your spot you just need to register here.
The evening will start with drinks, snacks and networking. Please note the talk will start promptly at 6:30PM.
Machine learning can help to enhance small devices. For instance, keeping the energy consumption of smart phones low is one of the major concerns of the users, as is well illustrated by various “charge your mobile” stations at public places. Where the operating systems of smart phones already offer heuristics and battery apps show consumption profiles, machine learning can do more. Predictions allow better optimizations of the operating system, prepare for particular app usages at certain points in time, or manage services such as GPS or WLAN in a context-aware and adaptive manner. This challenges learning algorithms to real-time application of their models. Moreover, it demands the models to run on the resource-restricted device without consuming more energy themselves than they save!
In the talk, graphical models are presented that face these challenges. Using Conditional Random Fields (CRF) for the prediction of files that the user will fetch next on her smart phone can be used by the operating system for organizing the memory. Analyzing groups of apps running on the smart phone may estimate the energy consumption over time.
A novel spatio-temporal random field (STRF) has been implemented, smoothing the temporal changes and distributing the optimization. This graphical model has been used to predict app usage over time. In another application, it has been combined with a trip planner resulting in smart routing for smart cities.
In order to run graphical models on very restricted devices, even those without floating point calculation, one computing with integer values only has been developed. The integer approximation of graphical models shows good accuracy and speed-up and opens up novel applications on resource-restricted devices.
Look forward to seeing you later this month!
Posted in Events