Archive For: August, 2013

The Best WordPress Plugins for Community Building & Engagement

The Best WordPress Plugins for Community Building & Engagement

Engagement is more than a buzzword. Entire businesses are built on their ability to successfully cultivate a community that is both engaging and informative. In the online world, community is big. Every webmaster wants tasty stats like high traffic numbers, pageviews, and clicks, but the reality behind those numbers are people.

It’s people that drive those numbers. If your business is not engaging, your traffic will never be all that it can be. In other words, it won’t convert. Lucky for you we have compiled a big list of WordPress plugins that will help you ratchet up engagement and turn visitors into fans.

WordPress Plugins for Search & Stats

There are two plugins that every WordPress blog or site should have installed and these are Askimet and WordPress SEO. What do these have to do with engagement you might ask? Allow me to explain.

Akismet

This plugin was created by Automattic (the makers of WordPress). It works great for filtering spam comments from legitimate ones, which is important. If you do not have a way to automate spam filtering you’ll be bombarded with spam and will have trouble responding back to legitimate readers.

WordPress SEO

This one is an absolute must. In order to create a site that is popular and engaging you want to be found in the search engines. WordPress SEO by Yoast helps get you there by giving you an easy way to edit your title and description tags. Plus, it adds an XML sitemap to your blog and makes it a no-brainer to add Twitter cards and Google Authorship.

Jetpack

You should never be ignoring Google Analytics, but if you want a sneak peek into the performance of your site and would like to check out stats within your WordPress dashboard this is the plugin for you.

WordPress Plugins for Commenting & Discussion

You cannot have engagement without having a platform that makes conversation easy. These plugins help in many ways; from online forum-like discussions to social media enabled comments, you’ll find them here.

Commentluv

This plugin is first on the list because many bloggers use it and installing this plugin on your blog will usually help with engagement right out the gate. What is unique about this plugin is it allows commenters on your blog to have a link back to their last post (if they use WordPress).

Comments Evolved

This was once known as Google+ Comments for WordPress, but as the name suggests it…evolved. The earlier version allowed people using Google+ to easily comment when signed into their Google+ profile. There are a ton of benefits to being active on Google+, including more visibility in search. What makes comment plugin even more powerful is the fact that is integrates comments from Facebook, Disqus, and WordPress. It even includes trackbacks.

bbPress

As you may already know, we’re big on forums. There is nothing cooler than to be able to have forum functionality added right into your WordPress site. This plugin stands out above the rest for the simple fact that it was created by none other than Matt Mullenweg (the creator of WordPress). It’s lightweight, built for speed, and made to seamlessly integrate. What more can you ask for?

WordPress Plugins for Social Engagement

Digg Digg

First on the list is Digg Digg. This plugin adds a floating social media bar to your posts or pages (or both). You can configure it how you like and choose where you would like it to appear on the screen.

Social Locker for WordPress

This is a unique plugin that gives you the ability to “lock” content on your posts and pages that can only be viewed by the reader sharing your post via Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. Unlike the other plugins we have mentioned, this is a paid only plugin found on CodeCanyon.

WordPress Plugins for Lead Generation

Contact Form 7

This is a contact form plugin that works great, don’t cost a dime, and integrates with Akismet and CAPTCHA. It allows you to embed different contact forms using shortcodes that can be configured individually.

Gravity Forms

Think of Gravity Forms form software on steroids. It’s a paid-only plugin, but it is definitely worth the price if you are looking for easy integration between payment gateways, email marketing software and more. You can create a variety of forms with a few clicks. They also have support to help you along the way.

Pippity

This is another paid plugin, but if you are a serious marketer or are trying to build a list this should be in your toolbox. Pippity gives you the ability to create beautiful plugins, but the real value comes from being able to create unique pop-ups that appear only on certain pages and posts. You can also time pop-ups to only appear after someone has finished reading your post or viewed the page for a certain time.

ClickDesk

Did you know WordPress has live chat and support plugins? Well, now you do. Clickdesk comes in three flavors: free, lite, and Pro. The free version has plenty of features, including social integration, but limits you to only 30 chats per month.

Magic Action Box

What is especially useful about this plugin is its ability to add optin forms after every post. This is essential if you are wanting to build a solid email list or you are wanting to create a good-looking call-to-action after posts. Available in free and paid versions. (Although, the free version is rather limited).

WordPress Plugins That Encourage Clicks

Hello Bar

HelloBar is a great tool that allows you to add an eye-catching call-to-action at the top of your site. Installation is easy — just grab the code and paste it into a text widget. You can also do A/B campaigns and it comes with its own analytics that allows you to track clicks.

Related Posts by Zemanta

Keeping visitors on your site should be your main concern. You want low bounce rates and people staying on your site. The best way to do that is to encourage clicks within your site (plus have plenty of good content). Related Posts by Zemanta gives you an easy way to display related posts after each one of your blog posts.

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Online Forum Etiquette: Simple Strategies To Grow Traffic

Online forums are tightly knit communities filled with participants who are either highly knowledgeable or highly interested in a particular topic. They are a place of discussion to share expertise with one and other. Due to the fact that forums are comprised of groups of people who share the same hobbies or interests it is obvious that being apart of these communities can help promote your website. However, do so with caution because there is a wrong way and right way to go about this.

How NOT to promote your website on forums

There is one thing I want to make abundantly clear in this article, when joining a forum, do not join with the intent of promoting. Instead, think of it as a place to network.
Online Forum Etiquette: Simple Strategies To Grow Traffic
People often make the mistake of thinking of forums in the same category as social media or another form of online marketing. This simply is not the case.

While each social media page is owned by one person, forums are more of a shared space. They may be owned by one individual or multiple individuals who moderate them, but they are generally moderated with the intent of the forum being used as a shared space for people to discuss topics of interest. Due to the fact that they are used for that intent, it is unwise to expect users of a forum to appreciate you blatantly promoting yourself, a brand, or your website.

So the number one biggest mistake anyone can possibly make is to create an entire topic about what you are trying to promote, or post on topics with the sole intent of promoting something.

Instead, it is a much wiser approach to simply become a part of the community and engage in meaningful discussions.

Forum etiquette, follow the rules and no one will get hurt

As stated before, forums are not your space, therefore you are not entitled to post whatever you want. The owner of the forum took great care, consideration, and has likely gathered trusted moderators to ensure that their message board encourages insightful discussion.

In order to maintain the desired atmosphere there are rules that must be followed and people to enforce those rules. This is why before posting anything, you should always read the forum’s rules first. Not doing so will damage your reputation with the community you are trying to gain publicity from.

If an idea for a topic or post falls into a grey area or you are just not sure if it would be appropriate it is perfectly acceptable to ask a moderator before posting. They would likely appreciate the fact that you asked before assuming it would be okay and you would avoid breaking any rules.

Strategies to grow traffic

If you are new to forums it is a good idea to read several threads and observe what top posters write. Get a good feel of what makes or inspires a good discussion. Post often, be friendly, and come back to the forum often, perhaps making it a daily routine. This will not only let you get to know others but get them acquainted with you as well.

After you have become well versed with the community and learned the types of topics that become popular then you can try creating some topics yourself.

If the forum allows users to include a link in their signature or bio, definitely do this. This quite honestly the only way to draw attention to you website on a forum. If the forum you are registering for does not allow you to place a link your signature you may not want to waste your time there.

By following these guidelines you should gain a fair amount of traffic on boards that you post to regularly. Just be sure that you are integrating yourself within the community and posting valuable information, engaging in intuitive conversations, being social and friendly, and definitely NOT advertising yourself. Your signature will do that part for you.

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Using Online Forums To Build Social Engagement And Loyal Fans

Using Online Forums To Build Social Engagement And Loyal Fans

At times it may seem like pulling teeth to get people to read your blog. You could have award winning content and be a social media marketing master and still get mediocre page views and little to no comments. But one reason you may not be gaining the notoriety you crave is because you are simply not marketing to the right audience. Another reason could be that you are not becoming engaged in other communities and blogs.

In order to build loyal fans and traffic it is important to join forums focused around the same niche or industry. As long as you are active in the communities and post relevant content that inspires other people you will stand a better chance of attracting people to your social media channels and engage people with your brand. You must scan through relevant topics, read, and engage in conversations. When commenting, reply with meaningful insight which either inspires others to reply, answers someone’s question, or adds upon someone else’s point.

Google Search Operators

Google search operators are little shortcuts that help refine search results. Examples of this may be the word OR, symbol |, quotations around phrases or stop words, and other symbols such as a minus sign or hyphen (-), asterisk (*), half ellipse (. .), and tilde (~).

There is a whole website which contains a very in-depth guide on how different ways to use Google in order to refine search results to specifically search certain parts of the internet. It contains all kinds of Google search tips that many do not even realize exist. Below is list which should provide helpful examples on the basics of how to use Google search operators to find forums that will be relevant to your business.

Niche keyword “comments”

Putting comments in quotes will specifically find pages that have comments. It will help find discussions related to your niche. Try changing the keyword to a variety of words or phrases related to your industry for different results. Give yourself time to read articles or forum posts and reply with meaningful comments.

Keyword site:wordpress.com

This will search a specific site for results. It may provide better queries than using the websites own search bar and allow you to look for specific types of posts on a forum. That way you can easily filter through results to find the most relevant posts which pertain to your area of expertise.

“Powered by vBulletin” keywords

This is quite possibly the best Google operator phrase you can use to find great niche forums. As the query implies, this quotation will search through all message boards powered by vBulletin. You can of course do the same thing with any forum host that has been around for a long time such as SMF, IBP, MyBB, PunBB, and Phbb.

By combining different operators and trying new things there are a variety of different results you may get. Just experiment with what you know and see what you find. At the very least you will find helpful articles that pertain to your market. So experimenting with search queries can’t hurt.

Include a great bio with a call to action

Before you begin posting on forums that you find while utilizing these tips make sure that you write an awesome bio or forum signature in your author profile as well. Keep it quick and to the point while also inciting others to click on your link. Effective author bios should also include a small call to action.

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Your Content Should Attract The Right People

Your Content Should Attract The Right People

Sales funnels and online marketing are essential tools in today’s business world and they need to work in unison. Social media, blogging, and business e-mail newsletters are all tools utilized in online marketing. But just like any tool, it is important to understand how to best utilize them in order to get the best results.

Many entrepreneurs think that just by having a Facebook page and a blog they will get more sales, but what most do not realize is it takes a bit more work than that. Every online marketing tool at your disposal must be used properly in order to draw people closer to the next step in your sales funnel.

There might be a variety of products or services that your business offers, but these are usually high selling services that are harder to sell. In order to attract more customers to your high profit products you need to use a sales funnel and utilize online marketing techniques to guide them through the funnel. Make sure that all of your online presences, Facebook, newsletters, blogs posts, are all working in unison to attract customers to your high cost items.

Utilize your company Facebook & blog to form a relationship with your customers

In order to do this your goal should be to form relationships with your clients, in order to identify a need. Start by offering something free, like helpful information through a blog. Make sure your blog posts relate to the products and services you offer. You are not giving them a sales pitch just yet, you’re just reeling them in, perhaps creating a need. Make sure that your blog points them toward a Facebook page, where they can like your page and get updates about events you do or new things you over.

Another thing to consider is forum marketing. Find a popular forum that pertains to your products and services and register an account. Make sure that you are posting regularly, try at least two times a week, rather than dropping in and only posting to promote your product. Posting regularly and replying to threads will boost your rapport with the community, and validate your posts when you try to promote something of your own. This form of marketing does take time, so it is best that you have fun with it because it is worth it in the long run.

For example, let’s say your business is selling handcrafted jewelry. Along with creating jewelry, you might write a blog about metal working or arts and crafts. People who have an interest in this subject will appreciate the helpful information you can provide on your trade. You might put your blog on your business cards and invite people you meet to check it out if they have an interest in such things. From your blog, you can pull them towards your Facebook page and continue to reel them in to your products.

Think of Facebook as a way to expand your relationship with your customers. Learn what their needs are and point them toward your low cost products. This can be done a number of ways. One method is simply posting updates and waiting for feedback. Talk with your customers on your page to find out how your company can best serve their needs.

If we use the hand crafted jewelry as an example again, let’s say that your local park is having an arts and crafts day where your company plans on putting a booth up. The first thing you want to do is tell your followers about the event, encourage them to come out. Have low cost items available for them and invite them to sign up to your emailing list when they arrive. Again, it is all about building a relationship.

In addition to this, by integrating social media into your company website properly, you will ultimately improve the quality of your website and increase the number of hits. Make sure that your website has buttons that link back to your social media sites and visa versa. For this reason it is an excellent idea to create a page for every popular social media site out there. And use all your social media outlets to promote your website and company events. This alone will boost your online marketing effectiveness tremendously.

Internet newsletters are best used for target leads

Depending on your business you may want different types of newsletters depending on the range of services you provide and the needs of your customers. Your newsletters should introduce your customers to your services in a way that creates or fulfils a need. By this time they are already interested, they signed up to your newsletter based on their own interests, so the rest should be easy.

Based on this example you can see how you can use each online marketing tool to link to the next. By utilizing these tools correctly you can build a relationship with your customers, match the need with the product or service, and slowly reel them in.

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5 Best WordPress Plugins Which Encourage Social Engagement

5 Best WordPress Plugins Which Encourage Social Engagement

WordPress is one of the most versatile blogging platforms to date and it is all due to the plethora of free and convenient applications at your disposal. Add-ons and plugins make every WordPress site a truly unlimited customization platform for all web content. So here are my picks for the top 5 WordPress plugins available.

Every blog needs a Digg Digg

Digg Digg is a social media share bar that will display on the side of your page. If you have spent any amount of time reading online publications it is likely that you have already seen Digg Digg at work. The share bar stays in a fixed position on the left or right of the page as the user scrolls down the page. There are a variety of buttons you can add to your Digg Digg bar including basic share buttons for the most popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, TweetMeme, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, StumbleUpon, YahooBuzz, Tumblr, even a print button to quickly print the page.

One of the most handy features apart of this plugin is the “Buffer” share button which will automatically share the same message on the users Facebook and Twitter account simultaneously.

Encourage users to post comments with CommentLuv

CommentLuv is a friendly little plugin that will search the an author’s most recent blog posts as they type a comment to your blog. Once the user’s comment has been posted, it will then retrieve their last blog post and give the user the option of displaying it at the bottom of their comment.

The best thing about this app is that it not only encourages other authors to comment on your blog, but it also creates a tighter knit community of readers.

Cut out the middle man with Comments Evolved

This started out simply as a Google+ comment plugin for WordPress but it has expanded to Facebook, Disqus, WordPress comments, and trackbacks. This plugin is especially helpful for any blog that requires a user to register in order to comment. What it does is allow the user to instead use an existing account that they already own in order to comment, instead of having to register for a new one. After all, very few people will take the time to register for a whole new account that they may never use again to just comment on your blog. Your writing may be good, but not that good! This plugin will instead give them other options, which reduces the hoops they have to go through to comment, making everything easier.

Let your regulars introduce themselves with WordPress Author Bio Box

Author Bio Box will allow users to submit a bio in the WordPress account dashboard and display the bio at the bottom of their post. This is another tool whose goal is to encourage socialization between users. You can allow guest authors to submit a link to their own website if they want as well as information about themselves.

Invite readers to your social media pages on Social Stickers

Social stickers are thumbnail links you can include somewhere on your blog that link back to all of your social media sites. That way you can provide an easy portal for readers to follow you and further the conversation on your social media platforms. Much like Digg Digg, Social Stickers will enable you to include links to all the most popular places social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest or a Blogger account as well as other website links. There is also the option to display an RSS feed which is an absolute must.

Another great feature with this plugin is the ability to create a unique theme for the stickers which will match your website. You can also customize the order of the icons as you see fit. There is also an option to display how many Twitter followers or Facebook likes you have on your page.

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