Category: "Forum Marketing"

Will Google start punishing repeat spammers

Webmaster Pay attention to this;

Google published a blog post this morning named Repeated violations of Webmaster Guidelines explaining that if you have repeated violations of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and those violations lead to numerous manual actions, Google may take a more serious approach to penalizing your site.
Google said “repeated violations may make a successful reconsideration process more difficult to achieve.” “Especially when the repeated violation is done with a clear intention to spam, further action may be taken on the site,” Google added.

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Creating Terms of Service and Privacy Policy Documents




From forums to ecom sites, the importance of current Terms of   Service, Privacy Policies and various other legal documents cannot be be stressed enough. Automattic has open sourced all of its legal documents, including a DMCA takedown notice.

To use Automattic’s legal document as a foundation for your sites document check the Auto Terms of Service and Privacy Policy plugin at  Clifford Paulick’s, wrote the plugin to use content from Automattic’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, both are available to the public under the Creative Commons Sharealike license. The language of each document is generic and can apply to most sites or service providers, from single sites to subscription sites, blog networks, forums and others.

Github and its Legalmattic repository is another source to check for these documents.

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Social Media: The Secret Sauce to Strategic Forum Marketing

Social Media: The Secret Sauce to Strategic Forum Marketing

Social media is something to leverage. Most people understand this. Bloggers do. Marketers do. For some reason, forum owners don’t seem to get it. Am I qualified to make that statement? Absolutely.

We host forums. That’s what we do.

I’ve been asked for tips on getting forum traffic more times than I can count, but what I’ve consistently seen across the board is a lack of participation in social media. Which, if you think about it, is ironic because the main focus of a forum is community.

This post is not going to cover how to boost participation on your forum. I’ll save that for another post, but if you have time you are welcome to look back on a few different posts we’ve done on starting a forum.

For this post, I want to focus on how to get people to your forum using social media.

Let’s start with Facebook.

Using Facebook for Forum Traffic

Don’t ignore the power of Facebook. With over a billion people on the site, there is a huge audience to tap into. The first thing you should do is start a fan page and post content that is relevant to your audience. Don’t skimp on design — a well designed fan page can significantly boost engagement and encourage people to interact with your page.

Posting links to threads on your forum is important, but remember to not overwhelm your fans. Also, don’t post links without adding an image that either expands on the topic, or is simply eye-catching. Posting a series of text posts or links with ugly images won’t help get people over to your forum.

Using Twitter for Forum Traffic

Twitter is a social network that you can afford to share all of the threads on your forum. In fact, it’s very easy to setup your Twitter account to automatically tweet new threads. We have created a step-by-step tutorial to guide you through the process.

Using Google+ for Forum Traffic

Depending on your niche, Google+ can be a good place to get started. Beyond the SEO value of sharing links on Google+, there are a variety of communities built around different topics. It might be a good idea to get involved and meet people in your niche. One thing to keep in mind is that, much like a forum, you are going to want to participate. Don’t just post a link and run.

Using Pinterest for Forum Traffic

If your forum has a resource section or some particularly popular threads you should consider adding them to Pinterest. All you need to do is create some catchy graphics that tie into the topic. Then, “pin” these on Pinterest and link back to the thread on your forum.

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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,, 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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Why You Should Build Your Own Forum Vs. Starting A Community Elsewhere

Why You Should Build Your Own Forum Vs. Starting A Community Elsewhere

The benefits of hosting your own community, versus starting one on LinkedIn or Facebook are tremendous. While it may seem like the slower road to having your own discussion group, creating your own forum pays off in the end, with traffic and rankings.

Let’s get right to the quick of it: when you spend time building a community on a platform you do not own, you are not in control. If the platform you are creating your community on decides to discontinue the service, or it falls out of popularity, the work and time you invested is lost.

The Importance Of Community

Community has become essential for online business. A community shows that what you offer is trusted. It’s more than social proof, it’s a referral network and word-of-mouth rolled into one. Having a community will also increase your authority and influence, not to mention help your business bring in more leads and sales.

Social Networks — Forums, Evolved (Sort Of)

Social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ are great sites to connect. They each have their advantages and disadvantages, but in each you are limited in some way. Every one of these sites give users the ability to create topical groups, where they can moderate their community and have discussions.

From my experience, having serious serious discussions, or active conversations on a single topic, is a bit of a headache. Perhaps more so if there are a lot of people joining in. It just becomes too difficult to filter through what’s going on, and in the case of LinkedIn, finding your old comments can be a chore in itself.

You Should Own Your Community

Perhaps one of the greatest disadvantages to creating a community on a social network, versus going the DIY route is the fact that you do not own the content that is being created. Wherever you have built your community, at the end of the day, they are in control. Should they decide to discontinue the service, or drastically change it, you and your members are at the mercy of their whims.

Now, if you built this community yourself, using a self-hosted platform like XenForo or vBulletin, not only would you be in absolute control, you would also benefit from:

  • Search traffic reaching your site
  • Ranking for long-tail keywords
  • User generated content
  • Increased domain authority

That is only one part of the picture. You are also free to monetize your community how you see fit, and build it into a web property that can funnel new business and customers.

Have you ever thought about building a forum? What questions do you have?

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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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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.

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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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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.

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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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