Category: "Community"

Importing Forum Software into WordPress Forum using BBPress

With WordPress powering nearly 25% of the web, it’s safe to say that its popularity coupled with ease-of-use and vast plugin support make it a primary contender and choice of many website owners. For many years other software such and Bulletin Board software reigned supreme more so in the years prior to social media sites such as Facebook were heavily utilized. Those using phpBB, vBulletin, Invision Power Board, and others such as Xenforo had long used WordPress as the home page with the forums being installed into a sub-folder… then adding in a Single Sign On or “bridge” to link the two systems – this could be done easily by developers and avid WordPress enthusiasts however it left simple site owners in the dark!

BBPress (and/or BuddyPress) creates a forum within your WordPress and for those who had previously utilized WordPress as a home page yet depended on other forum software to render your forums to your member base it does a simple and quite elegant job! Below is the process of installing BBPress into WordPress and then importing forum data into it, thereby seemingly transferring your WordPress site into a forum as well!

Preparation

  • Backup your site, both database and files before beginning.

Installation  (Source)

Automatic Plugin Installation

  1. Open your WordPress Admin Dashboard and go to Plugins > Add New.
  2. Under Search, type in bbPress into the search form and click the Search Plugins button to the right, bbPress should be the first result in the returned list.
  3. Click Details for to confirm the author is listed as ‘The bbPress Community‘ and links back to http://bbpress.org
  4. Click Install Now to install the bbPress Plugin.
  5. A popup window will ask you to confirm your wish to install the Plugin.
  6. Click Proceed to continue with the installation. The resulting installation screen will list the installation as successful or note any problems during the install.
  7. If successful, click Activate Plugin to activate bbPress.

Manual Plugin Installation

  1. Download the current version .zip of bbPress and extract the contents to a folder on your PC.
  2. With your FTP program upload the extracted ‘bbpress‘ folder to your ‘/wp-content/plugins/’ folder.
  3. From your WordPress Admin Dashboard and go to Plugins and Activate the bbPress Plugin.

After you’ve successfully installed and activated BBPress, the next step is to import from your alternate forum software.

How to Import

  • Visit WordPress Admin Dashboard > Click on Tools > Click on Forums > Click on the Import Tab

You will see the following screen when doing so:

bbpressimport

As you can see in the screenshot, some additional information is required, this being database details for the alternate forum software, in nearly all cases this can be found in a config.php file from the other software OR listed in the administrator control panel of said alternate software. *Also please note, there is another “Import” link in the menus, the look of this page will greatly differ from the screenshot above and is the wrong location, do not use the import function if it does not resemble the page in the screenshot above as it would be the wrong location and import respectively.

Once you’ve provided all information required from the other software, you can begin your import. Once finished simply follow any additional on-screen prompts and then check your site to see if everything imported properly.

For example:

  • www.example.com/index.php  <– WordPress.
  • www.example.com/forum/index.php  <– Old Forum Software
  • www.example.com/index.php/forums/  <– Is now your new BBPress Forum within WordPress

There are now other things you can do, such as changing URL Hierarchy (how links work and look) to make them more SEO friendly, what plugins do you wish to use? Now is the time to check the plugin directory for WordPress and also the BBPress plugins directory and see what you can use to your benefit!

Now with all changes in place, your new WordPress forum is ready to rock and roll! We do suggest you backup and archive your old forum software for reference purposes.

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Easily Preview Sites before DNS Propagates

Since sometime close to forever, the way to preview sites prior to pointing DNS, was to modify the hosts file on your PC. If you’re not familiar with the hosts file, it’s a file on your computer that allows you to take advantage of the DNS lookup hierarchy. Modifying it allows you to view a website on a server that hasn’t had the domain name pointed at it yet. It’s a great trick for previewing sites, but it’s not without drawbacks. Mainly, you’ll need to remember to un-modify it. And for some reason, modifying my hosts file doesn’t work for me anymore.

Then we found https://hosts.cx/ and viewing un-launched sites became much easier. Just enter the IP address and the domain name of the domain name of the site and click Get My Testing URL.

hostcx

This takes you to page with a link to your temporary site for viewing. Plus there’s a QR code you can point and click at from your mobile phone to preview the mobile version of your site too. They did their homework!

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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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Don’t Let Trolls Bring Down Your Community

Don't Let Trolls Bring Down Your Community

Community managers know all too well what a troll can do to a forum. While sometimes a bit humorous, a troll can easily be a disruptive force to your community. As this infographic from Get Satisfaction outlines, there are a few steps you’ll want to take when dealing with online criticism.

The best place I can start would be to quote someone who totally gets it in my opinion. I recently read a post called 10 Tips of Dealing with Online Criticism by Rachel Held Evans, and in the article she talked about how she would often dwell on that lone negative comment, ignoring the vast majority of comments that were not only positive, but personal as well.

In other words, she was investing more time in the troublemaker versus those who are her fans.

Don’t do this. You need to focus on the people in your community that are there adding value and enriching the experience for everyone involved.

That doesn’t mean you can just shake off negative comments and hope they’ll go away. You want to tackle the problem head on, but your plan of action is critical. Not only do you have to analyze the situation and try to fix it, you also have to do it in front of the internet’s watchful eyes.

Just remember…

You want to take the time to assess the situation. Don’t let emotions move you to respond right away. Determine if it is a legitimate complaint, and get to the root of the problem. You want to be professional, and take every opportunity you can to leave on a high note. If you are dealing with a real troll though, follow the tips above.

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The Benefits of Forums for Community Engagement

The Benefits of Forums for Community Engagement

Community. Engagement. Thought leadership… buzzwords or guiding principles? The true question is: are these a part of your business?

The internet has changed. This didn’t happen yesterday. It’s been happening for a long time. The social web is here. I imagine you are already know that.

No longer are impersonal websites and lackluster social media efforts acceptable. Customers — and people, for that matter — have come to expect more. With the adoption of technology, brought the birth of a connected world. This connectivity sped up conversation, and with the amount of time most of us spend online it’s easy to see why “community” is such a hot topic item these days.

People are more interested in the people behind the business.

They want to relate. Customers want personal treatment. No one wants to feel like a sale.

4 Key Benefits of Forums for Community Engagement

A forum is one of those places that can serve as a springboard to growing a loyal community. Social networks have their place, but if you have ever used Facebook or LinkedIn Groups — and to a lesser degree Google+, it’s easy to see the limitations. While social networks can be a great place to share information, there really isn’t as much room for serious discussions.

Forums are great for community discourse.

Forums offer an easy way to collaborate and discuss anything and everything. Any user can start a discussion on the topic of their choice (within the guidelines of that particular forum) and gather ideas and insight from others.

Forums can bring in killer traffic with long-tail search queries.

The type of dialogue that occurs in forums is usually highly specific. Usually, when someone asks for advice in a forum it is because the answer is not easily found online. This can lead to highly targeted search traffic. It also can make your forum rank in Google for these long-tail searches.

Forums offer valuable insights into an industry or niche.

Think about how much concentrated knowledge and information an active forum has. I’m sure you can see the big picture. When you have participants sharing their knowledge, over time you are able to build a very respectable resource for people interested in your niche. Any good resource keeps people coming back, plain and simple.

You don’t have to do all the talking.

Another benefit of running a forum or message board is you do not have to do all of the talking. When you have a blog, the minute you stop posting the conversation is over. With a forum, your members are the ones steering the conversation. This is called user generated content. What are the benefits? Not only will contributing members eventually build up content that becomes an excellent resource for your niche, but user generated content means less work in terms of building up content for search traffic and rankings. Your members are constantly contributing to the success of your site.

Is A Forum Right For You?

If you are interested in building a community around your brand and want to interact with people that are interested in you or your business, a forum can be the perfect choice. You might recognize the name Neil Patel. Neil is the founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar (look up), Quicksprout, and KISSmetrics.

Neil has adopted this same strategy for his business model by creating a forum on his personal blog QuickSpout. You can see an example here. He uses the forum to connect with his audience, which builds greater loyalty with him and his brand.

If you want to bring your audience closer and create your own platform for dialogue, you should definitely launch your own forum. Just keep in mind that you still have a bit of work to do if you want your audience to stay.

See what goes into building a forum here. Ready to launch your own? We can help you set it up.

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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

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Keep The Conversation On Your Website: Create A Space For Customers

Keep The Conversation On Your Website: Create A Space For Customers

As a website owner, it’s safe to say that you are concerned with your site metrics. You want more traffic. You want to increase the time your visitors stay on your site. And, of course, you want to make sure that pesky bounce rate is as low as it will go.

So, what to do?

The options are limitless: let’s not pretend that the internet is not chock full of ideas for improving your website. The reality is that there are so many options it’s hard to figure out which is the right one.

Of course, there’s social media. You can start blogging more. Let’s not forget networking and using forums to build traffic to your website. While you should be using all of these tactics, an often overlooked strategy is creating a forum for your customers (and visitors).

Creating A Forum For Your Website Is A Strategy That Works

Your customers will talk about your brand online. They may have questions, concerns, or are simply looking for an answer. Whether they have that conversation on another website or your own, is entirely up to you (in a lot of ways).

First, you have to have a platform for your customers and website visitors to engage in discussions and ask questions. There benefits are well worth it:

  • Increased time on site.
  • User generated content – (great for long-tail keywords).
  • You control the tone of the conversation.
  • A community around your brand.
  • Increased engagement.

Who’s Doing It

Dell

There are a number of brands doing it, and one in particular that has led the charge — Dell. Dell changed the marketing to reinforce connectivity and community with their brand. Not only did they create a responsive social media customer support team, they also backed it up with helpful blogs and community forums where Dell customers can go and ask questions.

This presentation highlights where Dell took their customer experience.

QuickSprout

Neil Patel is also someone who has embraced the value forums can bring. On QuickSprout, a blog many of you may be familiar with, they have added a forum where readers can now interact and start conversations. This increases the time people spend on the site and also builds more engagement.

A #forum gives your community a voice and increases #engagement and brand exposure. Tweet this.

Ready To Get Started?

Building a forum for your business may seem like a daunting task, but it is not as difficult as you may think. We can help you choose a platform, install your forum software, and add any plugins or mods you may need. Just get in touch or choose your forum hosting plan and we’ll take it from there.

 

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How Reciprocation Is The Biggest Thing In Online Relationships

How Reciprocation Is The Biggest Thing In Online Relationships

All businesses, whether online or off, exist through relationships. These relationships are important because they can determine the success — or failure — of any business or website. People want value. They want treated with respect. And, they want recognition.

Community managers and forum owners should understand this absolutely. You can call it the Art of the Favor, or the Law of Reciprocity, but whatever name you decide to use, it boils down to relationship marketing and common sense.

Let me explain:

How many times have you felt compelled to help someone out, merely because they helped you in the past? For example, if I was to do you a favor, wouldn’t you feel compelled to return the gesture? I would venture a guess and say you would for the simple fact that this is human nature.

If You Own A Forum Or Manage A Community, Remember This

If you want to build a thriving community, and want an active forum: be active.

If your goal is to have a community where everyone shares valuable information: share valuable information.

Your actions will directly impact the type of community you are wanting to build. As a community leader, you have to set the tone of the forum by example. But above all, you have to care. Building a community can definitely be a worthwhile investment, but it will never be a strong community without passion, and unwavering dedication. When someone becomes a member of your forum they are investing their time in you. Make sure you reciprocate by building a community full of value.

3 Tips For Applying the Law of Reciprocity In Your Forum Or Community

1) Go Out Of Your Way To Help Your Members

People want recognition. They want to feel important and that their needs are being met. The best way to use this to your advantage is to go out of your way to help your members. If someone asks a question, offer them a detailed answer. If a member of your community is seeking advice, give them your professional opinion. When you have to make a decision as a moderator, give a clear and transparent reason for your actions.

You want your community members to feel that they are in fact, part of a community. Show them that it’s true.

2) Help Solve Problems

We all know how frustrating being stuck on something can be. Maybe you have even found yourself visiting a forum in the past to search for some obscure information that you had a question about. Forums are usually the place to find answers like that.

When someone becomes a member of your community to ask a question, make sure that the answers come quickly. If your forum has a long list of members, you’ll likely get some help in this department. But if your forum is new, you need to be quick to jump in with a solution. Offer value and insight (and be friendly) right from the beginning and you set the tone for the relationship.

3) Handle Moderation Fairly, But Firmly

A big part of managing a community or forum is moderating the discussions and posts that appear on the site. You have to be vigilante with defending your community from spam and scammers, but you also don’t want to take a heavy hand when informing people of the rules. Without a doubt you need to have developed policies and rules, but people do skim over these. Chances are you’ll have to remind people from time to time. The key is how you handle these situations when they arise.

Always be polite and friendly, but firm in your stance. Set the rules of the community, and make sure they are followed. The reason for this is to maintain the atmosphere of your community. If you allow it to go too many places at once, you’ll likely alienate the people that were drawn to your forum in the first place.

Want to build your own community? Create your own forum and get personalized help setting up your site.

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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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