Archive For: February, 2014

15 Ways To Promote Your Twitter Account & Get More Followers

15 Ways To Promote Your Twitter Account & Get More Followers

If you’re not on Twitter, you should be. Home to 232 million users, Twitter is the social network for spontaneous conversation, and it’s a great place to reach out to people and network. There are over 340 million tweets shared each day and searches on the network top a whopping 1.6 billion search queries every day.

Those are no small numbers. If you have a website or forum to promote, those numbers likely caught your attention. That still doesn’t answer the major question most people have when it comes to Twitter:

How do I get more Twitter followers?

Fortunately, with the help of the infographic below (and a few other facts we’ve dug up) you’ll have plenty of information at the ready to make a splash on Twitter.

Quick Tips On Getting More Followers On Twitter

1. Embed your tweets on your blog posts to make it easy for people to tweet your article and follow at the same time.

2. Advertise on Twitter. You can promote your account or a tweet. The choice is yours and you don’t have to spend a bunch to get started.

3. Host a webinar. Encourage people to share the webinar as it is taking place and field questions directly off Twitter to boost interaction and engagement.

4. Add a Twitter widget to your site. This one is pretty self-explanatory. You need to make it easy for people to follow you.

5. Run a contest. Giveaways are great for getting traction on social media. Find ways to make tweets and retweets increase entries or raise the value of the prizes. Be creative.

6. Offer support. Don’t relegate your company to email. Branch out into the areas your customers choose. While you may not wish to use Twitter as an official support channel, you can still help your customers find answers to their questions and get help.

7. Business cards. Make sure you add your Twitter handle to your business cards.

8. Share relevant content. Be sure to share content from influencer’s in your niche or industry. You can also share content that your audience will find useful.

9. Share funny content. Everyone likes to laugh. Be the source of a few giggles and people will be more likely to follow.

10. Start guest blogging. Offering to write articles for popular blogs in your niche can widen your audience and help establish you as an authority in your niche. Most webmasters that accept guest posts will allow you to link to your Twitter account in your author bio.

11. Share images. Engagement is 200% higher for tweets with image links, according to Quick Sprout.

12. Ask questions. People are more likely to respond to questions, meaning your tweets will get more engagement.

13. Use hashtags. You should be using hashtags in your tweets — just don’t over do it. 1 or 2 works perfectly, but if you go over that studies show you’ll end up with less engagement.

14. Follow people. When you follow someone, most will follow you back. Just don’t go overboard on following new people, especially if your account is new. Twitter has daily account limits and will suspend your account for “excessive following” (100 or more in a day).

15. Cross-promote. You should be using all of your social networks to your advantage. Make sure you link to your Twitter account from Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and anywhere else you have a social presence.

15 Ways To Promote Your Twitter Account & Get More Followers

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How To Stop Forum Spam

How To Stop Forum Spam and Take Back Control of Your Forum

If one thing sucks the enthusiasm out of site Administrators, it’s the never ending battle against spammers. I say battle as effect of forum spam are truly unwarranted and often create long lasting problem like email blacklisting, spam posts and can even slow the speed of your forum.

It’s important to understand the techniques spammers use and know a bit of why spam exists to be able to effectively prevent it. A forum can be attacked with both automated scripts (aka “Bots”) and/or Human “Bots” as well. Yes, a “Bot” could be human but more times than not they simply bypass registration security and go on something like cruise control, for lack of a better way to describe it. What every site owner must realize is just as forum security evolves to combat spam, spammers are also evolving in their methods in order to bypass new security measures. It’s a constant battle.

Why are there “Spambots”? Well that’s simple. For the most part it is to promote their content or links on other sites, with high traffic and page rank being the most valued targets. So if your forum is large , you’d better believe there’s a target on it.

What we’re trying to do here is give you, the site owner needed information and proven methods to help battle the onslaught of spam on their site. Hopefully you’ll find this interesting and informative and we hope to hear back on your spam stopping techniques.
____________________

*Please note that not all of these modifications or methods listed will work for you, some will work better than others, and some in combination will work best instead of just one being utilized. We’ll try to identify conflicts in advance and mark them w/ an  *asterix indicating that you should not use two w/ a * at the same time.

Legend:
Blue *’s indicates mods that are similar in functionality and should not be used in conjunction with each other.

Anti-Spam Modifications:

Recently,  many forum owners have seen an increase in spam registrations and in some rare cases the registration page is being hit so hard it’s almost like a denial of service attack. If this sounds familiar try this mod from BOP5:

Be creative in your prevention methods! Here’s a list of methods, utilities and modifications you could possibly use in helping cleanup if a spammer does hits:

* Paul M recently added in a new modification prefix “Anti-Spam Options” so as new modifications are released, if the author chooses the prefix correctly you will start to notice more listed here for example: http://www.vbulletin.org/forum/forum…i-Spam+Options

Methods:

Some vBulletin 3.x mods will work on vBulletin 4.x, here’s a article by BirdofPrey5 that list quite a few compatible modifications.

Another method that’s proven quite effective is banning spammers using the hourly cleanup cron job or cleanup.php by adding in code similar to the below. PLEASE NOTE this method is based on custom profile fields and requires you to manually monitor spam to determine patterns and repeated entries that make no sense and plainly labels the users as spammers. This does not remove posts; it only bans the spammer to prevent further activity.

The default profile fields in vBulletin are:

  1. Biography
  2. Location
  3. Interests
  4. Occupation

You have the ability to create new profile fields via AdminCP > User Profile Fields > User Profile Field Manager

Using data entered by spambot in the default fields can be used against them however it’s not as effective as utilizing custom fields to help determine a pattern and fight against it! Here are descriptions of the default and other (custom) fields in the query shown so you can see how to go about this:

  • user.username = The members username on the forum.
  • userfield.field1 = Biography
  • userfield.field2 = Location
  • userfield.field3 = Interest
  • userfield.field4 = Occupation
  • userfield.field5 = A Custom field where you required them to enter in let’s use “Youtube Profile URL” as our example here and you used it in some creative way to show a image/link to their Youtube profile below their avatars in posts and profile or other etc etc.
  • userfield.field6 = A Custom field where you required them to enter in let’s use “Facebook Profile URL” as our example here and you used it in some creative way to show a image/link to their Facebook profile below their avatars in posts and profile or other etc etc.
  • userfield.field7 = A Custom field where you required them to enter in let’s use “Twitter Profile URL” as our example here and you used it in some creative way to show a image/link to their Twitter profile below their avatars in posts and profile or other etc etc.
  • userfield.field8 = A Custom field where you required them to enter in let’s use “LinkedIn Profile URL” as our example here and you used it in some creative way to show a image/link to their LinkedIn profile below their avatars in posts and profile or other etc etc.

The key thing to note here is that you need to study new registrations and develop your own ways to identify the spammers using the default and custom profile fields before this will work effectively.

*Please Note: This can affect your users in such a way it might be a complete disaster. If you are not comfortable with how this works (sql queries in particular), setup a test site and test your changes first. You can clone your live site and place it in a /testvb folder on the server (htaccess protect it per the license agreement) this will keep you from slipping and causing issues on your LIVE/Production site.

PHP Code:

// Spam Management – Move all spammers based on profile fields to usergroup 8 i.e. Banned Users
$vbulletin->db->query_write(“UPDATE ” . TABLE_PREFIX . “user AS user
LEFT JOIN ” . TABLE_PREFIX . “userfield AS userfield
ON user.userid = userfield.userid
SET usergroupid = ‘8’
WHERE userfield.field7 LIKE user.username
AND userfield.field8 LIKE ‘%12345%’
AND userfield.field3 != ”
AND userfield.field5 != ”
AND userfield.field7 != ”
AND userfield.field3 LIKE userfield.field5
AND userfield.field5 LIKE userfield.field7
“);

Now we interpret the above query as:

Update the user table and join the user table with the userfield table (these tables are separate, we join so we can compare and execute what we want to do) and set the users usergroupid to 8 (the banned usergroup by default) where their Twitter Profile URL matches their Username:

AND (where) their LinkedIn Profile URL contains something like 12345 in any part of the field (why we use the %’s on each end so it reads the field and if for example they entered in 123456 it catches that because it contains 12345 – Also you may want to note that no one’s LinkedIn profile is going to be 123456 i.e. http://www.linkedin.com/in/123456
AND (where) their Interests is not empty
AND (where) their Youtube Profile URL is not empty
AND (where) their Twitter Profile URL is not empty
AND (where) their Interests is like thier Youtube Profile URL
AND (where) their Youtube Profile URL is like their Twitter Profile URL

Logic tells you that if you made the custom profile fields and use them in certain ways… that http://www.linkedin.com/in/123456 or http://www.facebook.com/123456 (even though that will redirect to http://www.facebook.com/ohmycarling the user in question would never enter in /123456 he/she would enter in /ohmycarling see my point?) and when you notice the word Man or Woman in the code shown below, well it seems a common mistake bot scripts to put Man or Woman data in the Biography field.

Now for the != parts near the bottom. This is required when you close out your comparing two fields using a like and if they were both empty it could cause issues as without the != if both are empty and the query moves them, possibly identifiying a normal user as a spammer. Not a good thing, so be careful when creating your own query!

If your are banning the user, go ahead and update their user title as well. This query compliments the first one above:

PHP Code:

$vbulletin->db->query_write(“UPDATE ” . TABLE_PREFIX . “user AS user
LEFT JOIN ” . TABLE_PREFIX . “userfield AS userfield
ON user.userid = userfield.userid
SET usertitle = ‘Banned’
WHERE userfield.field7 LIKE user.username
AND userfield.field8 LIKE ‘%12345%’
AND userfield.field3 != ”
AND userfield.field5 != ”
AND userfield.field7 != ”
AND userfield.field3 LIKE userfield.field5
AND userfield.field5 LIKE userfield.field7
“);

Where to add these codes? Makes sure scheduled tasks are enabled then edit the file cleanup.php You’ll find it in the /includes/cron/ folder. Add your version of the query just below:

PHP Code:

// ########################################################################
// ######################### START MAIN SCRIPT ############################
// ########################################################################

Save the file and upload, when the scheduled task next runs if any accounts match your custom query they will be moved into the banned usergroup.

**To Test a query beforehand you can use SELECT for example here is a query to show you the results BEFORE actually running a query:

Code:

SELECT *

FROM vb_user AS user

LEFT JOIN vb_userfield AS userfield

ON user.userid = userfield.userid

SET usergroupid = ‘8’

WHERE userfield.field7 LIKE user.username

AND userfield.field8 LIKE ‘%12345%’

AND userfield.field3 != ”

AND userfield.field5 != ”

AND userfield.field7 != ”

AND userfield.field3 LIKE userfield.field5

AND userfield.field5 LIKE userfield.field7;

*Prefix added, remove if you are not using one

WARNING: TEST ALL QUERIES BEFORE YOU EXECUTE THEM! Do not perform any query on your database without doing a database backup and without knowing how to use it if required!

Here are some links provided by Lynne to help you perform a backup:

Now let’s see another example…
You try to see how I used the logic here:

PHP Code:

$vbulletin->db->query_write(“UPDATE ” . TABLE_PREFIX . “user AS user
LEFT JOIN ” . TABLE_PREFIX . “userfield AS userfield
ON user.userid = userfield.userid
SET usergroupid = ‘8’
WHERE userfield.field1 = ‘Man’ OR userfield.field1 = ‘Woman’
AND userfield.field6 = userfield.field7
AND userfield.field3 = userfield.field7
AND userfield.field8 = ‘123456’
AND userfield.field3 != ”
AND userfield.field6 != ”
AND userfield.field7 != ”
“);

The query for usertitle update:

PHP Code:

$vbulletin->db->query_write(“UPDATE ” . TABLE_PREFIX . “user AS user
LEFT JOIN ” . TABLE_PREFIX . “userfield AS userfield
ON user.userid = userfield.userid
SET usertitle = ‘Banned’
WHERE userfield.field1 = ‘Man’ OR userfield.field1 = ‘Woman’
AND userfield.field6 = userfield.field7
AND userfield.field3 = userfield.field7
AND userfield.field8 = ‘123456’
AND userfield.field3 != ”
AND userfield.field6 != ”
AND userfield.field7 != ”
“);

Session Table Issues?
Here’s a quick method if you happen to notice a sudden increase of the number online when nothing has warranted such behavior. Monitor your session table to see possible spammers online however a query like this is only effective if the bot logs in multiple times in which you will see different ip addresses (possibly hundreds) all as the same logged in user (OR the same IP address for countless users) and accessing different locations as well (some even show as logging in again). With it added to your cleanup.php cron job it will interrupt their actions on the fly and upon refreshing your session table you’ll notice quite a few less entries.

PHP Code:

$vbulletin->db->query_write(”
DELETE FROM ” . TABLE_PREFIX . “session
WHERE userid = ‘15065’
“);

To delete the users session based on IP use:

PHP Code:

$vbulletin->db->query_write(”
DELETE FROM ” . TABLE_PREFIX . “session
WHERE host = ‘127.0.0.1’
“);

^ Replace the 127.0.0.1 with the problematic users IP address.

*Yes you can truncate the session table HOWEVER that is not advised, if you do truncate then it simply kicks EVERYONE off the site all at once and they must relogin and also navigate back to the page they were on prior.

**If you have any issues using queries that you develop it may be due to using a table prefix in your database (recommended actually) so the perfect example of what to add in is right above us i.e. ” . TABLE_PREFIX . ” should be pasted before any Table names in the queries otherwise you will receive a error and here is a example:

PHP Code:

$vbulletin->db->query_write(“UPDATE ” . TABLE_PREFIX . “user

As you can note, the code ” . TABLE_PREFIX . ” goes directly in front of the table name without spaces which then converts into the prefix you have listed in the config.php file!

In the other queries shown that you can run via phpmyadmin directly you will need to modify them to add in the prefix so for example if you have a table prefix vb_ then it would resemble this:

PHP Code:

UPDATE vb_user AS user
LEFT JOIN vb_userfield AS userfield
ON user.userid = userfield.userid
SET usergroupid = ‘8’
WHERE userfield.field7 LIKE user.username
AND userfield.field8 LIKE ‘%12345%’
AND userfield.field3 != ”
AND userfield.field5 != ”
AND userfield.field7 != ”
AND userfield.field3 LIKE userfield.field5
AND userfield.field5 LIKE userfield.field7;

_________________________________________________

Contributions to this article from these valued vBulletin community members:

  • Lynne
  • Last Superman

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Taking Your Online Community Offline or How To Use Meetups To Generate Buzz

Taking Your Online Community Offline or How To Use Meetups To Generate Buzz

Building an online community requires you to think outside the box. Sure, the majority of your interactions with members will occur online, mostly on your forum and social media, but should this be the only place you are interacting?

I think not.

Forums are about human interaction. They are a place to discuss ideas and conversate around a topic. The web is becoming more and more social. Why? Because deep down we all crave human interaction and acceptance. We want to belong. We want to share our experiences with people who share our interests.

It’s time to look up from the computer screen. There are other ways to promote your forum.

Using Events To Introduce People to Your Community

Event marketing is a tool used by the pros because they understand that loyalty is easier won through face time. People connect more with those they meet in person. You can use this to your advantage when promoting your forum.

You do have some choices to make though, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Conferences. The place where the big kids hangout. Industry conferences are a big deal. Influencers and industry folk from all corners attend, and you’ll get the chance to rub elbows with some of the big names in your niche. If you are thinking about attending a conference or tradeshow it’s best to plan in advance, especially if you’ll have to travel to the event.

Key to success: Maximize the opportunity by planning well in advance and coming prepared. Look sharp, know your USP, know what’s going on in your industry, and bring some business cards.

Drawbacks: Unless you’re lucky enough to live in the city of the event, there is a good chance you’ll have to travel.

Meetups. These are usually less formal than larger conferences or trade shows, but the smaller group and informality is something you can use in your favor. Plus, chances are you can find some groups near you that share your interests, making them perfect prospects for joining your community.

Key to success: Learn as much about the Meetup group as you can ahead of time and be yourself when you get there. Spend your first Meetup getting to know people. Talk less of yourself and more of others.

Drawbacks: Not as big as a conference or trade show. Not necessarily a bad thing though.

Hosting your own event. This is by far the most difficult to pull off. It requires the most planning and the most attention to detail. Not only do you have to decide on the program and make all the arrangements, you’ll be responsible for making sure people show up.

Key to success: Plan. Promote. It is essential that you are a people person. In fact, it is absolutely necessary. Hosting an event requires a lot of work. If it’s a success, you’ll walk away a winner.

Drawbacks: If no one shows up it could be a disaster.

How To Start Marketing Your Community Through Events

The fastest way to get started is through Meetup. Nearly every city has a Meetup group around an activity or interest. Sign up for Meetup and start exploring the different groups. Pick a few to attend and the next time they have an event make sure you show up with your best foot forward. Starting this way makes it easy. Most Meetups only last a few hours, so you’ll be able to find time to attend.

Tradeshows and conferences are next on the ladder. These events are usually more formal, but it really depends on your niche. The difference here is there will be speakers and different forms of entertainment. Before deciding to host your own event it is a good idea to attend a few conferences to get an idea of what to expect.

One last tip: Meetup let’s you offer ‘Perks’ to members of any group that decides to approve it. The cost is only $5/mo. per group. If you chose right you can get a steady stream of traffic (and members) visiting your site.

Have you ever used Meetup to promote your website?

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Paid, Earned & Owned: What Matters and Where Should You Invest?

Paid, Earned & Owned: What Matters and Where Should You Invest?

Content marketing is here to stay. You should be warned though: it is getting far more sophisticated than it was when no one was doing it. Algorithm updates like Hummingbird (and all the other animals) have spurred website owners into taking stock of the content they put out and have led many to reevaluate their strategy.

Media is the new game in town. Blog posts are just the tip of the iceberg. White papers, videos, infographics, presentations and tools are becoming a big part of the equation. Still, it’s not just about owned media. Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come. In 2014, diversification is key.

Differences Between Paid, Earned & Owned Media

As you can see in the chart below, each form of media is designed to achieve very specific goals. Owned media is what you control: your blog, website, fan page and so on. Paid media is sponsored content, advertisements, and banner ads. Earned media is the buzz your marketing creates.

Differences Between Paid, Earned & Owned Media

Differences Between Paid, Earned & Owned Media

Owned Media

Each form of media has its own advantages and disadvantages. Owned media puts you in control. It is one of the most important areas you can invest. For a forum owner this would mean adding rich content and tools that will attract more visitors. For example, you can add a blog to increase content around your niche, or create a unique marketplace; something your audience would appreciate. You want people to want to show up and the only way you are going to be able to do that is have something cool or useful.

Here are some examples of Owned media:

Paid Media

Paid media (advertising!) is not the end all solution to success online. More times than not it can be quite expensive to get targeted traffic. The other disadvantage of paid media is as soon as you stop paying, your traffic is gone.

There are still some important reasons to get involved with paid media: it can boost your exposure. Ultimately your goal is to rank for your keywords through owned media, but before you get there you should be leveraging paid traffic to funnel visitors to your site. You want people to be exposed to your content and the only way you are going to get the numbers (without ranking for your keywords already)  is through highly targeted paid traffic.

Some examples:

  • Google Adwords
  • Display advertising
  • Sponsored content
  • StumbleUpon Paid Discovery
  • Content sharing (Zemanta, Content.ad, Outbrain)

Earned Media

Earned media is viral marketing. It is when your customers become the advocates of your brand and create a “buzz”. This is the most difficult to scale and can just as well be negative. Your goal is to achieve this level of media from building your own channels (owned media) and heavily promoting these properties (paid media). When the result of the two equal more people talking about your business, it is called converged media.

What To Do

Whether you are building a blog or a forum, you need to focus on building up useful and relevant content on your site. Owned media is always the best alternative: It’s in your control. Just don’t get so focused on SEO or “content” that you ignore paid advertising channels. Paid media is a great way to get new exposure, so definitely leverage advertising to show off the content you create. With any luck (and a bit of hard work) you’ll start creating a buzz that will keep your visitors hungry for more.

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