PeepSo 1.2.0

PeepSo 1.2.0 Is Out!

We’re proud to announce the release of PeepSo 1.2.0. This release focuses on Core PeepSo and MsgSo. We added a bunch of new features and improved others.

Core PeepSo Improvements

Members Page

PeepSo 1.1.0 introduced a Members Page that listed community members and included a search field. This version adds sorting and filters.

You can sort users by:

  • Alphabetical order
  • Recently online
  • Latest members

You can also select members by gender and only view users who have uploaded avatars. Combining filters means you could search for “female users with avatars who were recently online.” Cool, right? You could even filter further by adding a name and looking for “female users with avatars who were recently online and called ‘Jane.’”

We used Ajax to power the search which means there are no reloads and everything is superfast. Want to see how fast? Check this out.

Members page user filtering

Members page user filtering

Twitter link fetched on PeepSo Stream

Twitter link fetched on PeepSo Stream

Native WordPress oEmbeds in PeepSo

Paste a video link or Instagram link into a Web page and you immediately get a preview of the destination. It’s very cool… so we now do the same thing in Peepso. Paste a link and those oEmbeds (that’s what they’re called) will give your audience a preview. This is how it looks.

Cool, right?

MsgSo improvements

Ajax worked so well in Search that we decided to use it to improve Messages as well. Now there’s no need to reload a page when sending a message and when someone contacts you, you’ll receive both a notification and the message itself. It works exactly like a chat.

You can even see when someone is in the process of typing to you, so no more crossed messages or wondering whether you’re being ignored.

Messages indicate when someone’s typing.

Messages indicate when someone’s typing.

We’ve added many more small improvements and fixes. You can read about all the major features of this release here. The full changelog will tell you everything we did. To see what we are planning next, check out our Roadmap here.

Don’t wait. Upgrade to the latest version today. You can find upgrade instructions here.

 

Women of WordPress: Defining Influence

There are a lot of great “Women of WordPress” or “women to follow on WordPress” posts out there; for the most part, the selections are based on the author’s personal preferences/favorites. If you amalgamate all these lists, you’re likely to get a pretty good picture of who’s making waves in the WordPress-sphere – or at the very least, who’s the most popular.

women-in-wordpress

As part of this series, we’re aiming to put together a definitive (though by no means exhaustive) list of women who are really changing the way we use and think about WordPress; the big names, and the unsung heroes. To do that, we need to get to the crux of what “influence” means and how it can be measured, with specific reference to this platform.

Initially, we’d considered limiting the list to women who have in some way changed the platform itself (creating a plugin or theme, being part of the WordPress team, etc), but that seemed restrictive; there’s some women out there putting together fantastic tutorials and discussion posts, and through those posts significantly changing the way people think about WordPress and the ease with which they use it (or just leading by example).

Here’s a few of the items we ended up using as a yardstick in our quest to quantify influence, and build a meaningful list; we’ll be sharing said list in a few days, followed by more individual features and interviews.

1. Social Authority

Moz has developed a metric to measure how influential someone is on Twitter; and it’s really pretty genius. You can read more about it here, but in a nutshell: it looks primarily at retweets, and takes into account a user’s friend count, follower count, etc. It also adjusts for time, favoring recent activity (aggressively discounting scores for people who haven’t said much recently). They see retweets as the holy grail of Twitter activity; to share someone’s content to your feed/your circle, it must have resonated with you on some level. Combine this with the #wordpress hashtag, filter by gender, and you’ve got a pretty excellent measure of who Twitter thinks our Women of WordPress should be.

2. Content and Contributions

To be a woman of WordPress, you’ve got to have done something of note that’s WordPress-specific. As mentioned above, we’re being pretty flexible about what counts as “something of note”; it’s the WordPress part that counts. This could mean they’re using WordPress in a way that’s being picked up by others as a direct result of their influence and visibility, it could mean that they’ve put together a really excellent plugin, it could mean that their tutorials are the go-to spot for people wanting to learn the basics of this platform.

Admittedly this leaves us with a pretty huge list (which is awesome); so we’re curbing it by picking women whose content/contribution is either a) original and mostly unprecedented or b) has consistent traffic/downloads/comments/shares (ie, activity of all kinds). If what you’re putting out there is good, it will stand the test of time.

3. Appearances on other “best of” lists.

As we stated above, these lists are kind of a popularity contest; but here, popularity matters. Unlike high school, people who are popular in the tech world usually have that status for a reason (based on their merits and achievements). To make a “Women in WordPress” list, you have to have more than hair that’s full of secrets – so we’re taking those appearances into account when building our list (as a “nice to have, but not necessary” qualification).

Again, the full list will be released in a few days; if you have any thoughts, questions or even rebuttals, we’d love for you to connect with us in the comments, on Facebook or right here on PeepSo’s own social network.

Women of WordPress: Karly Nimmo

Karly Nimmo is one of our featured Women of WordPress because she’s not only used WordPress as the foundation for her own incredibly popular podcast; she’s using WordPress to encourage and enable other women to create great podcasts too.

karly nimmo and podcasting

Karly has been using WordPress as the foundation for her online presence for several years, and this April she started podcasting using a combination of WordPress and Libsyn. Within two days, she’d hit number one in her category, and made it into iTunes’ “new and noteworthy” section. Since then, her audience has been growing and growing (currently at over a thousand downloads per episode). As an added bonus, the guests Karly interviewed were getting sales and new clients as a direct result of appearing on the podcast; inbound leads which essentially converted themselves, because they’d already heard the person’s voice and through that established trust.

WordPress has enabled Karly to get a really effective and efficient podcasting system going: create fantastic audio (something Karly had been doing for years as a voiceover artist and radio jock), and then upload each episode to a file hosting service synced with her WordPress site, where WordPress would create a new post and send the audio over to the iTunes store. Thanks to her use of WordPress, she was also able to get people subscribing directly to her RSS feed using other apps; capturing the Android/non-Apple market too.

As her podcast became more and more successful, she was approached by a number of women wanting to know how they could get their own message out there through podcasting; and to meet that need, she set up a six week podcasting course on her WordPress site using OptimizePress. The Radcasters Podcasting S’Cool opened its doors at the start of this month, and the number of students is continuing to increase; alongside modules on how to create great audio and figure out your topic, there’s a wealth of information for beginners wanting to use their existing WordPress site as a podcasting platform (similar to how people are using PeepSo to create a private social network on their own site, rather than paying for a completely new platform).

What we love about this story is that it’s a great example of someone with expertise in a non-Wordpress/information technology field (audio recording and editing) really changing the way people use and think about WordPress. There’s a whole range of things you can use this platform for (from building your own private social network to podcasting) – it just takes one person to make those possibilities transparent and available to others (as Karly’s doing through her podcasting school, and we’re doing through our plugin).

To connect with Karly, visit her Facebook page, check out her podcast, or head to her WordPress site.

BuddyPress To PeepSo Migration Tool

PeepSo to Buddy Press Migration Tool

PeepSo to Buddy Press Migration Tool

One of the most frequently asked questions we’ve received since releasing PeepSo is whether we have an easy way to migrate BuddyPress to PeepSo.

Why, yes. Yes, we do!

PeepSo Migrate is a migrator plugin that will move your data from BuddyPress to PeepSo. It’s super-easy to use.

Just install the plugin, click the button, and watch the magic happen.

Note that the Migrator only moves the data within the same WordPress installation. So you can’t use it to migrate BuddyPress from http://sampledomain1.com to http://sampledomain2.com. But you weren’t
planning to do that anyway, were you?

If you’ve wanted to give PeepSo a try but were afraid you’d lose your BuddyPress content, you’ve got nothing to worry about. We’ve got you covered.

Here’s a video that shows how the migrator works:

Steps:

  1. Make sure that BuddyPress is installed and working.
  2. Install PeepSo and any supporting plugins you want.
  3. Install the Migrator.
  4. Open the Migrator.
  5. Click the ‘Start Migration’ button.
  6. Confirm that you want to migrate data.
  7. Stroke the cat while the data flies into PeepSo.
  8. Done!

Which Data Is Migrated?

  • Users
  • Uploaded user avatars
  • User friends
  • Notifications
  • Messages
  • Posts
  • Comments

What Data Is Not Migrated?

Data for features that PeepSo does not currently support, such as groups, cannot be migrated. Once we add those features, we will add them to the migrator as well. For the Migrator to move data such as User Friends and Messages, the FriendSo and MsgSo plugins must be installed with PeepSo.

How Long Does The Migration Take?

That depends on how much content you have on BuddyPress. We tested it with a community of over 2,500 users and more than 15,000 activities. It took us about four minutes. A larger community with about 1000 users and 60,000 activities can be migrated in about 11 minutes. That should be just enough time to make your cat purr. If you don’t have a cat, it’s enough time to make a cup of coffee.

What If I Already Have Some Content In Peepso?

The Migrator will delete all your existing PeepSo content, so don’t use it if you have anything you’ll miss.

The BuddyPress Migrator is totally free and available from the backend of WordPress. Go to Plugins > Add new and search for ‘PeepSo’.

BuddyPress To PeepSo Migration Tool listing in WP plugins directory.

BuddyPress To PeepSo Migration Tool listing in WP plugins directory.

Give it a try today and create an amazing community with PeepSo!

See the listing of the plugin on the official directory of WordPress plugins, just click here.

 

Five Posts About Social Networking That Everyone Should Read

facebook best articlesFor the relentlessly curious, there’s nothing better than reading something that opens you up to new ideas and ways of thinking, or takes you to a whole new level of understanding. A good piece gives you answers; a great piece inspires you to ask more questions.

We’ve read hundreds (literally hundreds – hundreds of hundreds, even) of blog posts and articles about social networking (and by proxy, social media) and these five really stood out – so we decided to share them here. There’s a variety of topics and writing styles represented in this list, so we’re confident you’ll find something that really piques your interest (truth be told, we’re confident that all these things will pique your interest).

1. Social Authority: Our Measure of Twitter Influence by Peter Bray

This piece on the Moz blog is over two years old and will be familiar to many of you, but it’s well worth reading again. What makes it so noteworthy is its focus on activity and engagement as a measure of social media/networking success, rather than followers; the popularity of “get more followers!” bots and apps would suggest that most people still see followers as the yardstick against which they should measure their social media/networking prowess. At a glance, it might look like someone with 8000 followers is more social-networking-successful than someone with 5000, but as Bray very successfully argues, following someone is a very passive act; sharing their content to your circle and taking the time to interact with someone is proof that what you’re sharing is reaching people and making a difference. We particularly like this because it’s a great argument for why people should consider starting their own private social network, despite the dominance of Facebook; is it better to have five people really talking to you and engaging with what you have to say on your own, WordPress-hosted social network, or a hundred people scrolling past (or never even seeing) your posts on Facebook? We also love the transparency of this article; they explain their research and methods in a way that’s clear without being condescending.

2. Dispelling the myth of free websites would diversify business models by Ronald Klingebiel

We like this article because it puts forth a really brilliant idea. People get up in arms about paying for Facebook, but they’re also not happy about using it for free in exchange for Facebook selling their data to advertisers (as the saying goes: if you’re not paying for something, you’re the product). What Klingebiel suggests is: give people a choice between paying for the service with money, or their data. There’s already a precedent for people being willing to pay a small amount in exchange for (relative) peace of mind, in the form of Posteo’s promise of truly private email and Ello’s one dollar charge for certain features and services (it’s still seeing tens of thousands of membership requests per hour). For those who can’t afford to pay or don’t want to hand over their credit card details, they can make peace with the fact that advertisers will be able to ask them to buy things, and find out “public” information like their hometown or alma mater.

It’s something worth considering: would you rather hand over your money, or your data? And, if you’re looking at setting up a private social network, how would you go about monetising that service/covering your running costs?

3. Who ‘likes’ my Virtual Bagels? by Rory Cellan-Jones

This fantastic experiment makes for a very entertaining read, and we’d consider it a must-read for anyone considering (or already engaging in) Facebook advertising. His simple experiment using a bagel shed light on just how many fake profiles are clicking on your Facebook adverts; fake profiles, but very real money you’re spending for those clicks. He then uses simple targeting to see if that decreases the number of fake profiles, with good results.

We like this post because Facebook can be really overwhelming for small businesses, and fake profiles clicking your adverts and liking your paid posts isn’t something Facebook is going to help you with – they get your money, regardless of whether you get real conversions. It’s witty, transparent as air, and has the potential to really help small businesses navigate the minefield that is Facebook advertising.

3. Almost None of the Women in the Ashley Madison Database Ever Used the Site by Annalee Newitz

While the title of this Gizmodo article might make it look like yet another piece of Ashley Madison related clickbait, Newitz’s attempt to find out just how many real women were using the site (in the wake of claims that around 95% of the female profiles were fake) is incredibly interesting.  While most articles have focused on email addresses and credit card details, this one looks at how their messaging system worked, the IP addresses of female accounts, and other aspects of the massive data file that other writers have mostly overlooked. 

While it’s pretty clear Ashley Madison created the fake profiles themselves, the common markers of bot-created/fake profiles that Newitz highlights here will be useful for anyone running their own membership site (particularly their own dating site) and trying to keep it safe and spam-free.  

The internet’s golden rule is usually “don’t read the comments”, but we’d suggest taking a look at the top comments just this once (filed under “Annalee Newitz’s Discussions”) for some further interesting points (and general witty banter). 

The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed by Adrien Chen

This post from last year puts a face to the person who receives your report when you flag spam or transgressive content on Facebook or Instagram. It’s easy to see a process where you simply have to click a button and select a few options as something that would be automated; this article looks at how this process works, and talks to the people who have to watch hours upon hours of content that would make most of us sick, to check if it really does violate that particular network’s guidelines.

It does a really good job of making you think about how these processes work, and the mental and emotional toll they can take on the people behind them. For people who have, or are thinking about building, their own private social network, it’s excellent food for thought with regards to how you’ll deal with spam and unwanted content on your network.

 

Introducing: PeepSo’s “Women of WordPress” Series

Women and WordPress is a topic that’s been covered from many angles, across multiple platforms. There’s Twitter lists, blog posts and news articles about it; some argue that we desperately need more women in tech, others feel that “where are the women” or “hire more women” incentives are actually counterproductive when it comes to equality.

It’s that complexity which has inspired us to write this series of blog posts; to bring all of these ideas and viewpoints together in one place, weigh them up, and put together a comprehensive picture of where things stand when it comes to women and WordPress.

women web design

We’ll be looking at what it actually means to be influential on WordPress, and finding women who fit that definition. Influence isn’t just about the results you produce for your clients and the reach of your online presence (though that is part of it); it’s about being visible as a female (think the “I look like an engineer” project on Twitter), creating opportunities for other women to step up, and creating something that really changes the way we think about WordPress functionality and design.

We’ll be interviewing some well-known, established designers and engineers (including our own CEO, Merav Knafo), to get a first-hand look at what it’s like to be a woman who specialises in WordPress; the opportunities and restrictions that women encounter as they try to break into what is, by most reports, a male-dominated market.

To end, we’ll be bringing all of this together with a list of women you should be following across multiple platforms, based on our investigation and research, as well as some recommendations for events and summits that are well worth attending if you’re a female engineer/designer/developer.

If you’d like to take part in this project or have any thoughts, we’d love to hear from you; you can connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or right here as part of the PeepSo social network.

Reddit, Quarantine and the Problem with Vague Policies

Since its creation ten years ago, Reddit has been one of the most liberal social media/networking sites when it comes to moderating unacceptable content; while Facebook has very strict rules around what you can post and what you can’t, Reddit’s general approach has always been “everything except child pornography, spam and personal information is fine”. This incredibly liberal approach caused Reddit to come under fire as a hotbed for extreme racism and misogyny;  top level employees left the site in droves, as its sheer size and sprawl made the site increasingly difficult to manage and maintain.

redditJust over a month ago, new CEO and site founder Steve Huffman proposed a new content policy. This new policy bans illegal content, harassment and bullying, the publication of other people’s private information, and anything that might incite harm or violence against other people (on top of the existing ban on spam and sexual content featuring minors); anything that would be considered “adult content” must be tagged NSFW (not safe for work). On top of this, content which violates “a common sense of decency” is to be quarantined, meaning users must log in and opt-in to see the content. Quarantined and NSFW content is free from advertisements (ie, generating no revenue for Reddit) and does not show up in public search results.

While the policy sounds good in theory, allowing Reddit to maintain the freedom of speech which has made it so popular while distancing itself from transgressive content, the vague wording is already causing some problems.

Twice in his official statement, Huffman suggests that you know pornography and transgressive content “when you see it.” What comes across as explicit sexual behaviour to one culture might seem completely benign to another (eg, a couple kissing); violent, racist speech may seem acceptable (right, even) to a religious minority, even if everyone else finds it abhorrent. Given that Reddit mostly relies on unpaid moderators to keep content in check, any policy those moderators have to enforce should be clear enough to transcend cultural differences and misunderstandings. Further, they should also make sure that they have enough moderators to keep up with the enormous amount of content posted to the site every day, and apply the new policies to existing subreddits in a timely manner. While some of the most notorious offenders, like racist subreddit Chimpire, were immediately removed following the implementation of the new content policy, other incredibly disturbing subreddits which feature illegal content (like Watch People Die, which includes incredibly graphic video content from car accidents and even murder scenes) are still standing, with only an age restriction in place.

Banning “illegal” content is also mildly problematic, as different geographic regions have different laws; for example, a Redditor based in Colorado should be perfectly within their rights to promote and sell marijuana via the website, whereas a Redditor based in New York should not.

If you’re running your own private social network, you’ll need to have content policies in place to make sure it’s a safe, welcoming environment for your members; you’ll also have to be mindful that you may need more staff as your community grows (voluntary or paid). That policy may also need to evolve as your community does. PeepSo will take care of the technical side, with a fantastic admin interface that works right out of the box; it’ll be up to you to come up with a set of rules that is clear, fair, and will allow your community to run smoothly.

What Everyone Can Learn From The Ashley Madison Hack

In July this year, a group of hackers claimed that Ashley Madison, a site designed to facilitate affairs between married individuals, retained users’ data even after they’d paid 19 dollars to have it completely scrubbed from the database. They released a small sample of the data they claimed to have stolen, and said they would release the rest of it if Avid Life Media, the owner of the site, didn’t take it (and its companion site, Established Men) down. Avid Life Media said it was a bluff, and Ashley Madison stayed up.

ashleymadison

Today, a 10GB torrent file was released on the dark web with the following statement:

“Avid Life Media has failed to take down Ashley Madison and Established Men. We have explained the fraud, deceit, and stupidity of ALM and their members. Now everyone gets to see their data.

Find someone you know in here? Keep in mind the site is a scam with thousands of fake female profiles. See ashley madison fake profile lawsuit; 90-95 per cent of actual users are male. Chances are your man signed up on the world’s biggest affair site, but never had one. He just tried to. If that distinction matters.

“Find yourself in here? It was ALM that failed you and lied to you. Prosecute them and claim damages. Then move on with your life. Learn your lesson and make amends. Embarrassing now, but you’ll get over it.”

A number of sources have claimed the validity of the data; Per Thorsheim, a security researcher, was able to confirm the validity of some of the details included in the dump (his own, from a profile he created while researching dodgy dating sites, and that of one of his sources). He was also able to verify that other information in the file matched up to users he’d viewed while investigating the site. Microsoft MVP for Developer Security Troy Hunt said that there are too many things in the file that couldn’t have been faked – or would have required an enormous amount of effort to fabricate.

While it would be easy to see the moral of this story as “don’t cheat on your spouse”, it also highlights just how careless people can be with handing over their personal data. 73% of people admit to not reading website terms and conditions before handing over their email address, if not their full name, date of birth and other valuable data. Of those who do read the terms, only 17% say they understand them.

When you’re signing up for an online product or service, you should ask yourself the following questions:

1. Why do they need the data I’m handing over?

2. What are they going to do with that data (including, but not limited to, how long will they be keeping it in their system)?

3. How would I feel if this data were released to the public (by the website, or one of its users)?

For the most part, handing over your credit card details to a website that’s planning to store them for future use (eg, ongoing automatic billing) isn’t a huge issue; if your card details get released, you cancel the card and hope you don’t end up out of pocket. If your name, date of birth, address and/or phone number are posted, you might run into some issues with stalkers or identity theft (the likelihood of that depends on your profession). If there’s something you don’t want your friends and family knowing about (your sexuality, gender identity, hobbies), think carefully about who’s on your friends list (because you never know who might take a screenshot), make sure you understand your intellectual property rights, and if you really don’t want anyone seeing your posts, messages or knowing you’ve bought a particular product or service…maybe it’s better to avoid it altogether.

Ashley Madison lied to its users, and asking for 19USD to completely scrub a user’s details (whether they did it or not) is very thinly veiled extortion. For the most part, asking yourself the above questions will help you keep your information safe online; particularly if you belong to a private social network, where you know the owners/moderators and can trust them to remove your data if you ask them to.

 

Anxiety Social Net

Interview: Salomon Ptasevich of AnxietySocialNet

Salomon Ptasevich runs his own private social network using JomSocial, the Joomla-based predecessor of PeepSo. We interviewed him to find out more about his site, and his experience running a private social network using a website plugin.

Tell us a little bit about your private social network.

Anxiety Social Net is a social network for people struggling with mental health issues. The site has been live for over 4 years, since the very beginning of JomSocial. AnxietySocialNet has many features and customizations that don’t come with the default version of JomSocial; we have a Q&A system, personal diaries for each user and live chat among other things.  The community has been featured in many publications including ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) and PSFK . Today we have over 10.000 users and new members are signing up every day.  People on the site are very supportive of each other and many users have reported that simply being in a “safe place” where they can share their experiences with others who can relate has helped them understand they are not alone in their struggles and in turn reduced their anxiety.

Anxiety Social NetWhy did you decide to start a private social network, rather than setting up a Facebook group or a forum?

From the start it was clear to me that I wanted to create an independent resource where people could come and share their innermost feelings. I think Facebook is a great tool for sharing in the good times but people refrain from showing weakness in front of their close family and friends due to a fear of being judged. The other problem is that groups and pages on Facebook are subject to (Facebook’s) own guidelines and I didn’t want to be limited by that. The last thing that really bothered me was that I wanted to create a specific type of environment and that is not possible with the current functionality of Facebook groups and pages.

What have been the biggest challenges so far?

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to create a social network. The problem was that the technology was not quite there yet (didn’t match up to the vision). Back then, when another team was in charge of JomSocial, I ended up spending thousands of dollars in customization just to make it user friendly and function the way I wanted.  At the end of that process I ended up with an hybrid monster of sorts that was really hard to maintain and impossible to upgrade. I pretty much gave up on JomSocial until Merav and the iJoomla Team (the people who created PeepSo) took over and made JomSocial what it is today. Around six months ago when I saw what the new version of JomSocial had to offer, I finally accepted that I would have to let go of my little monster to take advantage of the new, advanced direction the technology was taking. I then started a fundraising campaign to pay for the upgrade of the community to JomSocial 4. Our members ended up funding 70% of the costs, I chipped in with the rest and made it happen. I can say that today I am very happy with the results and the site is finally upgradable and pretty much in my hands without the constant need for developers I used to have.  Also, since the upgrade we are getting more users and engagement has grown considerably. It’s been a bumpy ride but I am very happy I invested time and resources in this project as it has a positive influence in people’s lives.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting their own private social network?

I would say, If you really want to create a community just go for it, It has never been easier than today (especially with plugins like JomSocial and PeepSo). I would recommend that you start a community on a topic you are really passionate about, as it can be hard to kick start it and you need to put a lot of time and energy to make it really happen. Lastly, you have to be perseverant as they may be a lot of bumps along the road but if you keep at it you will find things get better and it’s really worth it.  

Turning Brands into Communities

In his book How Brands Become Iconsmarketing theorist Douglas B. Holt puts forward that you need three types of consumers to sustain your brand; followers, insiders and feeders. Followers are people who connect with the brand’s story, and incorporate it into their own sense of identity (think people who’ve grown up drinking Coke and feel a loyalty to the brand, people who choose to drink Heineken because their father did). Insiders are people who influence other people to buy (the cool kids at school, people who are “famous” on mainstream social media). Feeders use the brand to say something about themselves (people who choose Android to seem less “mainstream” than Apple users), and are the most fickle as they tend to abandon the brand as soon as it’s no longer socially relevant to them. 

logos-brandingIf we take Holt’s suggestion to be true (which, given his experience and credentials, we probably should), incorporating a private, self-hosted social network into your marketing strategy can be an important step toward long-term success.

Private social networks are ideal for followers. By creating your own social network, you’re encouraging and fostering the idea that your brand is something they’re a part of. For people who feel (or are inclined to feel) that a brand is part of their identity, something they’ve fully embraced, social networking is a great way to connect with others who feel the same way and want to share about their experiences.

Insiders are the Pied Pipers of marketing; people follow them because they want to be wherever they are, regardless of the destination. If an insider recommends your site or product, you might see a short-term spike in visitors and sales. If an insider joins your social network, their followers will likely join as well and once they start participating in the conversation, you have a much better chance of converting them to loyal, long-standing customers.

Feeders use brands to make statements; and if they’re part of your social network, that’s a much more powerful statement than just using your product. You’re creating a space in which they can fully explore the reasons they’re choosing to use your product or service, and the part of their identity it affirms.

On top of catering to all three groups, having your own social network is the ideal way to identify which of these categories your (prospective) buyers fall into, and which you’ll need more of to sustain your brand over time. You’ll get much clearer information and insights than you would from a page on one of the mainstream social networks; people won’t be swayed by how they want to be perceived by family and friends they’ve added on Facebook, and there’s no algorithms that will prevent people from interacting simply because your post didn’t show up in their newsfeed.

In short: having your own social network is one of the best things you can do to cultivate the audience you need for your brand’s long-term success.