Archive For: December, 2013

5 New Year Resolutions To Make For Your Website (Or Forum)

5 New Year Resolutions To Make For Your Website (Or Forum)

A new year will soon be upon us any day now. I suppose it’s time to start rolling out the resolutions and setting goals for the new year. In fact, I don’t suppose. I would say it’s an absolute must.

Whether you have a website for your business, a blog, or own a forum it takes work to see success. Building an online business or community is no easy feat — it requires a great deal of work. The problem so many website owners face is not having direction. You need to set goals.

Are you ready to make some resolutions for the New Year? Here are a few we can all agree on:

My New Year’s resolution is to…

Increase my traffic by 100%

This is a resolution that most webmasters will gladly nod their heads to. The thing is, you need to be specific with your goals. Don’t simply say, “I want more traffic”. Put a number on it.

The same goes for email subscribers, Facebook fans or Twitter followers — pick a number for your goal so you know when you get there. In other words, be specific.

Make content and social media a habit

Social media and content are not slowing down in 2014. In fact, you can almost certainly expect them to be the gold standard for online marketing. If you are online, you need to be investing in content. There are a number of reason why. Here are a few:

  • Thought leadership
  • Organic search traffic
  • Owned content to share on social media

Good content helps your website perform in the search engines, and it builds trust with your visitors. It may take some upfront work or investment, but down the road when that organic (free) traffic is sending you visitors and customers I don’t think you’ll have any regrets.

Build relationships with influencers

This is important and if you are not doing this right now you are doing your marketing a disservice. It’s easy to get sucked into thinking all you need is links and high rankings, but at the end of the day it’s about relationships more than anything. Connecting with influencers can elevate your brand.

And, over time, you build a rolodex of influencers you can reach out to. A little more time, you become the influencer.

Work on my website like it’s my job

If you have a job, at any given moment you know exactly what you should be doing. In fact, if you’re not doing that right now there is a good chance you’ll hear about it. Despite what some may claim, working online is just as much of a job as… well, a job.

No matter where you’re at right now with your website or forum, clearly defining what tasks you should be doing day-to-day is a must. Having a routine and system for marketing your site will nearly always deliver results.

Fortunately, there are some tools of the trade that will help you keep track of what you should be doing.

Google calendar is a free app that is bundled within Google Drive. It integrates with Google+, and is synced with your email. You can also create individual calendars, to keep everything in its right place.

Trello is a project management app that allows you to work with a team, or simply keep track of your daily ‘to-dos’. Trello uses a ‘list’ style interface, which gives it a natural workflow. Plus, it’s free.

Wunderlist is another ‘to-do’ list style app. What’s handy about this one in particular is that you can create individual lists for specific projects. For example, you can create individual lists for each website you manage, or separate your marketing activities into their own categories to keep your workflow neat.

Here are some examples:

  • Daily Task Checklist
  • Weekly Goals
  • Monthly Planning

I’m sure you get the point. Simply use the Inbox list to add reminders for your next-day tasks. For the things you do everyday, add those to the Daily Task Checklist.

Keep track of my progress

You won’t know when you made progress if you don’t track your progress. The first thing you need to do when building any website is install Google Analytics. Numbers are important. They do not lie. Keeping track of how your site is performing will help you make the right decisions. You’ll be able to see what works for you, what needs work, and what might not be working at all.

Read More

Social Support Is Here To Stay or Why Your Business Needs A Forum

Social support is here to stay, and guess what? The big names know this. From Dell to HP, online companies are reorganizing support channels in an effort to meet customer needs. With the ubiquitous of social media, it’s not really a matter of choice. In fact, the number of companies handling a quarter of their support inquiries on social media doubled in 2012.

Social media opens up new points of contact for businesses, and if your company has a Facebook page or is using Twitter, there is a good chance your customers will be using these channels to get information. This may be in the form of a sales question, or even a support issue. People want answers, and with the speed and availability of information online, we’ve all come to expect these answers faster.

Why You Need A Forum For Your Customers

If there is one thing that can be said about your customers is that they will talk about your business, good or bad. What you need to think about is: where do you want that conversation to occur? I’ll answer that for you — on your own web property.

You may be familiar with the term “owned media”. If you’re not, owned media is content that you own. A forum falls into that category, and for a greater explanation of the benefits and differences of paid, earned, and “owned” media, take a look below:

Paid, Earned, Owned Media

Paid, Earned, and Owned Media

Benefits Of Using A Forum For Customer Support

One of the prime benefits of using a forum for support is that any answers that come up along the way, once addressed, can be built into a resource or knowledgebase. This actually saves you time and money down the road. Instead of having to explain the same instructions to every customer that asks, you can refer them to the resource. Plus, if you structure your forum correctly and make things easy to find, your customers can find the resource directly, which saves them time.

You also have to measure the value of having a community built around your brand. A perfect example of this in action is this developer on Themeforest. As you can see, his theme has been purchased over 30,000 times, has been featured on the site, and has an excellent rating. The theme itself is high quality and designed well, but what really adds power to this developer’s sales is the level of support, and the community that he has built around his theme.

An example of a community support forum.

An example of a community support forum.

This developer handles support issues using a forum and has structured each thread to make it easy to find information. There is also an area for people to show off their websites that are using his theme, and he also showcases these on his website. Another aspect of having a forum, which you will see here, is other members helping each other with questions. This is another benefit of using forums for customer service: your members tend to help each other, making your job easier.

It can’t be left out that having a forum also builds transparency around your business, and adds plenty of social proof. If you build a community, offer value, and are responsive to your customers, your forum will not only be a support channel — it will help drive sales.

Oh, and let’s not forget the SEO benefits. Depending upon your niche, if you make the forum open to all, the content that your forum produces will get indexed in Google.

Still not convinced? Check out this infographic from HP for more stats on community forums and social support.

Social Support Is Here To Stay or Why Your Business Needs A Forum

Read More

How To Automatically Tweet New Forum Threads With No Coding

How To Automatically Tweet New Forum Threads With No Coding

There is no denying that social media can be a healthy source of traffic for your forum. The key is getting those visitors. You want the conversation to occur on your board, but there are a few tricks that help you leverage traffic from social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to get people involved in the conversation.

Today, we’ll be discussing one of the ways you can use free online tools to automatically publish tweets, Facebook posts, and even social bookmarks every time a new thread is posted on your forum. This tutorial will work with any forum software that has RSS feeds. I’ve set it up on vBulletin and XenForo and can confirm it works like a charm. The entire process can be accomplished in about 15 minutes.

Here is what you will need to get started:

  • Make sure you have a Twitter account. If your forum is particularly active you may want to set up a completely separate Twitter account to use as your Twitter bot.
  • Create an account at IFTTT.

Step By Step Guide To Creating A Twitter Bot For Your Forum

First, you’ll need to authorize your Twitter account with IFTTT. This is a very simple process. Once you have created an account and verified your email, you will need to click ‘Create’ on the top navigation bar.

Create a recipe in IFTTT

Click ‘Create’ to begin creating your first IFTTT recipe.

Next, you’ll need to choose navigate to the RSS icon and select it.

Step By Step Guide To Creating A Twitter Bot For Your Forum

Find the RSS icon and select it.

Choose the first option on this screen.

Step By Step Guide To Creating A Twitter Bot For Your Forum

Choose a ‘New Feed Item’

Now, you’ll need to choose a thread on your forum that you would like to be auto-tweeted with every new thread.

Step By Step Guide To Creating A Twitter Bot For Your Forum

Pick a thread and grab the RSS feed.

Once you have the feed, paste it into the field like the example below and press ‘Create Trigger’.

Step By Step Guide To Creating A Twitter Bot For Your Forum

Paste your feed URL in the field and create the trigger.

The next step will be authenticating your Twitter account with IFTTT so it can post tweets. Click ‘that’ and move on.

Step By Step Guide To Creating A Twitter Bot For Your Forum

You’ll now need to authenticate your Twitter account.

You’ll need to choose Post a tweet in the options area.

Step By Step Guide To Creating A Twitter Bot For Your Forum

Choose ‘Post a tweet’.

Once you have gotten this far you will have the option to customize the feed. It is best to simply leave everything like it is, but you can also add a hashtag that is relevant to your niche. This will help you show up in the right places in Twitter search. Don’t go overboard though as Twitter has a character limit.

Step By Step Guide To Creating A Twitter Bot For Your Forum

Leave it as it is or add a hashtag if you like.

Create the action. Now, it is time to activate the trigger. It is best to write yourself a little note describing the “recipe” you just created.

Step By Step Guide To Creating A Twitter Bot For Your Forum

Click the button and you’re done.

That’s it. You can go back through the steps to add more forum threads. It’s that simple.

Read More

7 Reasons You Should Be Using WordPress For Your Small Business

7 Reasons You Should Be Using WordPress For Your Small Business

WordPress is a ubiquitous blogging software and CMS that powers millions of websites around the web. It’s ease of use, flexibility and secure design make it a popular choice for nearly anyone looking to launch their own website. What makes WordPress unique is it can be quite simple to use for the beginner, while still being a powerful solution for developers and designers of all skill levels.

If you’re still on the fence about launching your website and either budget or lack of knowledge is holding you back, check out these 7 reasons why your small business should be using WordPress.

#1 WordPress is free.

This is a major plus for small businesses. With so many expenses to deal with throughout the year it’s nice to know you can get a powerful CMS and blogging software for absolutely free. All it takes is a simple download. Of course, you still need a domain and web hosting, but these are very affordable.

#2 WordPress is easy to use.

When it comes to updating your site, WordPress makes things simple. If you have ever used Microsoft Word you should have an easy time learning how to create and publish posts within WordPress. You’ll also find that uploading images are very simple as well.

The best part about WordPress is that it is easy to find an answer. A simple search on Google will uncover tons of tutorials for every experience level. This means you can save money by maintaining your own site versus hiring a webmaster for simple tasks. It also means you can update your site more frequently, which is necessary for building traffic and rankings in the search engines.

#3 WordPress makes it easy to have a professional presence.

WordPress uses themes to change its look to different designs. There are thousands of both free and paid themes, but the best part is that a real nice, professional theme will only cost about $35 – $45. You can find the perfect theme for your business through sites like Themeforest.

#4 WordPress is optimized for SEO.

Search engine optimization is the process of fine-tuning your website to appear in Google under the keywords your customers would use to find your business. SEO can be a very complicated and delicate process. WordPress makes the job easier by using clean code and highlighting information the search engines are looking for. You can expand these features through plugins like WordPress SEO.

#5 WordPress is simple to expand.

If you wanted to add extra features to a regular HTML website it can require an extensive amount of effort, depending on the task. WordPress can be the same way, but a lot of this can be sidestepped through the use of WordPress plugins. These plugins allow you to search for features to add to your site, add them, and customize to your needs. For example, say you wanted to add a review feature to your site — there’s a plugin for that. Do you want people to be able to share your content? You’ll find plenty of social sharing plugins as well.

#6 WordPress makes mobile easy.

Mobile is big online. More and more people are using their smart phones to search for local businesses, so if your website isn’t up to the task chances are they might click away before they walk through the door. What makes WordPress so great is the fact that there are a lot of themes that are responsive. Not only will you have a mobile site, you’ll have a website that displays good across multiple devices — from desktops to smart phones to tablets.

#7 WordPress is constantly being updated.

WordPress is a free, open-source project with developers from around the world contributing to make it better and more secure. This is important. You want a software that is constantly being updated as new cyber threats and vulnerabilities come out. You also want a system where user experience is at the center of development when it comes to new features and functionality. With WordPress that’s exactly what you get.

Read More