Business | VigLink

ForumCon 2014 Highlights

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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

Publisher Spotlight: Bestofmedia (Tom’s Hardware & Tom’s Guide)

About Bestofmedia & Tom’s Guide

Bestofmedia’s portfolio of sites feature some of the biggest and best names in publishing, including Tom’s Hardware and Tom’s Guide.

The organization is the fourth largest tech publisher in the United States and has a team of over 80 full-time editors. The family of sites receives more than 10 million unique monthly visitors in the United States (38 million worldwide) and 177 million monthly page views (472 million worldwide).

Each of the sites cater to a different technology enthusiast. Tom’s Hardware focuses on computer hardware and components, while Tom’s Guide focuses on consumer electronics.

The Challenge: Selecting the Right Partners

“I get emails every day from prospective monetization partners,” said François Hutter, Director of Advertising Solutions & Partnerships at Bestofmedia.  “But, what some might not realize is how careful we need to be when evaluating partnerships.”

The process of selecting a monetization partner requires not only a thorough review of the solution by the organization’s product team, but also careful consideration of the Bestofmedia audience.

“We are fortunate in that our audience is fairly sophisticated when it comes to online business, and they understand the need to monetize,” said François. “However, they are also quick to notice changes and will voice their concern if there is a monetization method they don’t like.”

As a result, François is diligent when selecting new monetization partners to ensure partners generate revenue and don’t negatively impact traffic.

The Solution: A Partnership that Scales

In 2009 Bestofmedia found VigLink: a partner that would introduce a new revenue stream for the Company by automatically and seamlessly monetizing the sites’ outbound links to products, services and merchants. The straight forward installation (adding a code snippet to the footer of their site), allowed the product team to easily measure whether VigLink was positively impacting the site’s RPM (a calculation of revenue per page), without negatively impacting traffic.

“After activating VigLink, we immediately saw an increase in RPM,” said François. “And VigLink is so unobtrusive that there was no impact on user experience.  It’s great that VigLink doesn’t replace anything we are currently doing for website monetization– the revenue the service generates is purely incremental.”

But the most critical benefit, according to François, comes from the relationships VigLink maintains on behalf of Bestofmedia.

“It’s difficult and time consuming to build relationships with great merchants and advertisers,” said François. “VigLink does this on our behalf — and we benefit from their scale and ability to secure higher commissions than we could earn by ourselves.”

Affiliate Lead Generation Best Practices [DOMAINfest Panel]

Steve Arentzoff, VigLink VP of Marketing, will be joining a panel of experts at DOMAINfest on January 31, 2012 to discuss affiliate lead generation best practices.

Panel: Affiliate Lead Generation Best Practices

Experts: Steve Arentzoff, Brook Schaaf, Jay WeintraubPeter Hamilton
Moderator: James Keating
For publishers, the expert panelists will discuss how to select an affiliate network or advertiser affiliate program. They will also share tips and tools on how to set-up tests, track performance and maximize monetization. For advertisers, our experts will discuss how to create compelling offer campaigns, including how to design an offer, how to find quality traffic, and how to use the latest conversion rate optimization techniques. Q&A to follow.

More About DOMAINfest

Online marketers, publishers and domain investors attend DOMAINfest events to share insights, uncover emerging trends, and discuss the best practices needed to be successful.

If you will be there, we’d love to meetup. Send us a note at success@viglink.com to setup a time!