Community-Building: Necessity or Nice-to-Have?

This post is a short recap by Oliver Roup, Founder and CEO of VigLink, of Affiliate Summit West. 

Earlier this month I was in Las Vegas to lead a session on the value of community-building and social behavior at Affiliate Summit West.  It’s no surprise that social media has transformed the way consumers are reaching purchasing decisions, but it’s less clear what that means for affiliate marketers and online publishers.

During the session, I focused on the ways website owners can leverage the monumental shift towards “social-buying” by including spaces within their site where purchasing decisions are made. Easier said than done, of course, but here’s a quick recap of the things we talked about:

  1. If you are doing something “non-social,” and it works — keep doing it.  So, if you are successfully purchasing paid traffic, sending it to a landing page, and earning revenue, great. Don’t stop. But do augment.
  2. Create a framework for interaction within your site. This could be a robust commenting system or a forum component.  Facebook pages are great, as are Tweets, but building a community goes beyond what you are doing on social media sites — it brings the community to your site.
  3. Don’t overdo it. The goal of a community is to create a richer site experience for visitors, which will in turn create additional opportunities to earn revenue (via banner ad sales and affiliate marketing). If you attempt to force the monetization piece of a community — by introducing excessive advertisements or overly commercial product content — you will not succeed.  Twitter, which was founded in 2006 and has an estimated 175 million users, has only recently begun to focus on monetization (of course, this is an extreme — for most sites there is no need to wait that long or for that many community members to start monetizing — but it’s an interesting point of reference).

An increasing number of marketers are succeeding at introducing a community component to their site.  But, similar to a decade ago when some companies still considered websites “optional,” today many still view community-building as optional.  Those that realize that shaping their user-base into a community is a necessity, rather than a nice-to-have, will be leaps and bounds ahead of those that don’t in terms of traffic, revenue and influence.

A few more details on the ins and outs of community-building and driving social behavior can be found in my slides below…

Oliver Roup | Founder & CEO | VigLink

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[SF Blog Club] Email Marketing Do’s and Don’ts for Bloggers

At this month’s San Francisco Blog Club, we talked about email marketing, specifically how to manage your blog’s email subscriber list. A few of the key takeaways Lydia Sugarman’s shared…

DO find a way to sum up the point of your email in less than three sentences.

If you are sending blog subscribers a summary of recent blog posts, ensure that the first few sentences of the post get straight to the point. If not, be sure to include concise introductory text.

DO build an editorial calendar.

Similar to how you would plan out blog entries for any given week or month, it is crucial that you plan in advance how frequently, and with what content, you’ll be reaching out to blog subscribers.

DO offer an incentive to subscribe.

While some will surely subscribe to your blog for the daily (or weekly) updates alone, you will generate a greater number of subscribers if you sweeten the deal.  Consider offering new subscribers an eBook or other guide that directly relates to your blog’s content.

DON’T overwhelm subscribers.

Be careful not to inundate subscribers with a high volume of email. When you do send an email to subscribers, ensure that the content is relevant / timely / helpful.  Recipients will quickly unsubscribe (or worse — simply start ignoring your emails), if they perceive them to be “fluff.”

DON’T forget to measure results.

Like any other marketing initiative, track your results!  Measure open rates, as well as click-through rates — and be sure to test different email creatives and send times to find what works best for you.

Check out Lydia’s slides below for even more details on how to maximize ROI on email marketing.

Looking forward to next time!

Anna Cunningham | Social Media Manager | VigLink

Zemanta: Your Blogging Assistant

Last week we stumbled across a tool called Zemanta. For all you bloggers out there, this service might just save you a bundle of time AND send additional traffic your way.

Read on for our review of how Zemanta works, and tips for how we recommend VigLink users leverage it.

What it Is

Zemanta helps you get the most out of the blog posts you create, by doing a lot of the “heavy lifting” when it comes to optimizing your blog entries for search engines and social media sites. Before publishing a blog entry, you may find yourself….

  • Searching for  the right image to include in your post (and one that adheres to copyrights)
  • Combing through text to ensure appropriate words and phrases are linked to the correct resources
  • Scanning for tags to include at the end of your post (or searching that list of “most used tags”)

Zemanta does this for you — and quite well. We’ve been experimenting with it on the VigLink blog (using their WordPress plugin) and found that the user interface is easy-to-use and their recommendations mostly relevant.

How to Use it

It’s a great way to enrich your blog entries from an SEO perspective — providing lots of ideas for links, images, tags and even related articles. And all suggestions are optional, meaning you can pick and choose which you’d like to include.

Also, when you start using Zemanta, the content you create will be added to their catalogue of suggested articles. So, you may see additional traffic coming your way when other sites opt to link to your blog entries in their related articles section.

How to Download Zemanta

Zemanta is available as a browser add-on or server side plugin. They support most major blogging platforms including WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Blogger, to name a few.

Click here to check out the full list of options.

As a note: all links (excluding the one above) and tags within this article were added by Zemanta.

What do you think? Give it a try and tell us how it works for you.