Community Management Tidbits – From Small Things

Community Management Tidbits – From Small Things

Small Things – Every forum starts out small. Getting started is one thing. How do you get big?

Social Media Influence - Small Things
Social Media Influence (Photo credit: Intersection Consulting)

The secrets to getting big go hand in hand with those for getting started: Search Engine Optimization and content.

SEO

Let’s start with SEO. If you haven’t checked your keywords in three months, check them now. Compare to your competitors, and check Google Adwords. Consider changing up your keywords for a while and see if you can draw more traffic.

The basic principles of offsite SEO apply: get your site listed on other sites which are more popular. Also, consider article marketing (if appropriate) and blogging. Perhaps some of your best content can be repurposed as articles or blog entries. Ask the creator(s) of that content for their permission (even if your Terms of Service say that you own all posts, this is courteous) and update and repackage the content. Articles are a great way to generate interest in your site so long as you add your URL into the “About the Author” section. And make it clear that you allow reprint rights only so long as the article remains completely intact, including the aforementioned “About the Author” section.

Blogging

One good blog deserves another. If you want to see if your better content can be presented on others’ blogs, why not create your own site blog? So at the absolute minimum, you can use it to inform your users of site changes and planned outages. But you can use it for a whole lot more. Because you can showcase and expand better content, announce contests and promotions, and keep important site information front and center. Plus, if you add a blog, you can again make the rounds of basic social media bookmarking sites like Reddit and Stumbleupon. Add another one to your bag of tricks: Technorati, which is a site that, among other things, lists blogs.

Add an RSS feed if you have not already. You can feed it into Twitter and Facebook using a promotional site like HootSuite.

Facebook

Create a Facebook fan page and, at minimum, populate it with the RSS feed. And also use it to assure users if your site goes down, particularly for unexpected outages. Such an outage can make some users nervous. Facebook (and Twitter, too) can be a means by which you reassure them.

Site Redesign

Another area where you might be able to better grow your user base is with some site redesign. Be careful with this as a community can often take (frequently somewhat unfounded) proprietary interest in the site’s look and feel. One way you can ease users into a change is by telling them (don’t ask for permission) that you’re going to be testing some site changes. Consider using A/B testing and compare a few different versions and see which one works better.

Simplified Registration

Consider simplifying your registration process, if you can, and embrace user-centered design. You still want to use a captcha code and you still want to have your members sign up with a real, usable email address.

But look at your process and see if there are any unnecessary hurdles. Are you asking for something like a potential user’s middle name or home city? Isn’t that kind of useless (and many users would feel that the home city information would be excessively intrusive)? Jettison the question and your registrations might increase. Since you’re tinkering with the signup process and not the overall look and feel of the site, your regular membership might not take so much of a proprietary interest. They might not even notice.

Analysis

Check your metrics. Small things on a daily basis are not going to matter too much. But if you’ve got a continuing decline over time, or if membership is staying the same and not really increasing much, you may need to take action. To grow your site, you need to continue to promote fundamental principles: improve your site design and test it; take care to add and promote good, keyword-rich content; and continue good onsite and offsite SEO practices. And be patient as small things become bigger ones. Most communities weren’t built in a day.

Next: Going from a collection of users to a true community

Online Advertising: Facebook Ads vs. Google AdWords vs. LinkedIn

Online Advertising: Facebook Ads vs. Google AdWords vs. LinkedIn

Social Media Today recently compared these three types of online advertising, namely: Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, and LinkedIn.

Social Media Phobias
Social Media Phobias (Photo credit: Intersection Consulting)

Google

Google’s ads have gotten more expensive, and their success often seems to be hit or miss. Wide geographic ranges can give dramatic numbers but few results – narrowing things down geographically seems to accompany a commensurate rise in click quality.  According to the article, Google advertising, “… works if you have a unique and popular product or service. The interface feels professional, with excellent reporting tools, great usability and many various options.”

Facebook

The Facebook advertising experience seemed to be the most satisfying to the writer of the article.  With a demographic and geographic focus (and fast service by Facebook support), ads could be created with near-pinpoint accuracy.  When speaking of Facebook, which is much more of a leisure time site than LinkedIn or Google is, the article stated, “(t)he secret is not to become too serious in your ads and keep them simple.”

LinkedIn

LinkedIn was seen as being great for ads intended to reach strictly professional audiences. However, the LinkedIn admin team took significantly longer to approve advertisements than their counterparts at Facebook and Google took.  The reporting was also rather restricted, only offering a CSV file for download.

I agree with the conclusions drawn in the article – Facebook was overall the best, Google would be helpful for targeted ads for specific, unique or well-known products, and LinkedIn lagged, big time. To my mind, this also dovetails well with these sites’ overall purposes. Facebook is seen as for socializing and so it seems to work with ads in the same way that we are used to be served television commercials. Google and LinkedIn have other purposes and so there is less of an expected marriage of content and online advertising.

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