The first job of a community manager is to keep people talking

The first job of a community manager

The first job of a community manager is to keep people talking

The first job of a community manager is to keep people talking

I’m going to keep this simple.

The first job of a community manager is to keep people talking.

Sure, you’ll have to deal with complaints. You’ll have to answer questions. You’ll need to filter out the false profiles and the posts that breach the guidelines.

But that’s not your job.

Your main job is to make sure that your members post content and other members respond to that content.

And if your members aren’t posting content, your second job will be to find new members who will.

That’s all for now! In the next post, I’ll talk about what makes a community thrive.

You don’t need too many of those VIP seeds to get your community up and running. Twenty can be enough, even a dozen. They just have to be chosen well.

Your First Community Members – Where to find your VIP seeds

You don’t need too many of those VIP seeds to get your community up and running. Twenty can be enough, even a dozen. They just have to be chosen well.

You don’t need too many of those VIP seeds to get your community up and running. Twenty can be enough, even a dozen. They just have to be chosen well.

Communities that thrive over the long term don’t start with a flash. They begin as a small gathering and grow into a fun party. The right way to start isn’t with a mass email and a broad appeal. It’s with exclusive invitations to a select few who you know will talk and communicate—and eventually attract a bunch of friends.

You don’t need too many of those VIP seeds to get your community up and running. Twenty can be enough, even a dozen. They just have to be chosen well.

The first place to look for them is among people you know. It’s likely that you’re already part of a community so tell your friends and the people you’ve met at conferences what you’re doing and invite them to participate.

It’s possible that those contacts alone will be enough to seed your community.

If you need to look further, hit bloggers. Avoid the top bloggers in your field. They already have a community. Try to bring in the mid-rankers, people who have a way to climb and will want to work with you to reach more people.

You can also contact commenters on those blogs. You know they have opinions so invite them to share those opinions in your community where they’ll be seen and discussed instead of hiding them away in a comment section.

Amazon book reviewers can share their knowledge with your members, and if you still need more people, contact the biggest contributors to targeted Facebook pages.

It shouldn’t take you long to sign up your first twenty members and because they’ll be knowledgeable and opinionated, they’ll be real contributors who build conversations and attract more people.

That’s all for now! In the next post, I’ll be talking about a community manager’s first job.


The five different types of online community

The five different types of online communityI’m really looking forward to helping your community to grow and thrive.

Let’s talk about the five different kinds of communities that come together online.

Action communities campaign for social change. Their unity comes from a shared value. The challenge for the community leader is to maintain interest even when that change is slow to come. Small victories help, coupled with advice to help community members spread awareness in their own lives.

Local communities focus on a small area. They provide a way for neighbors to exchange news and information. While these communities often have local leaders, they also have plenty of grassroots support and no shortage of interaction. Keep an eye out for marketing that can spoil the experience and control it by restricting ads to one day a week or by sloughing commercial messages into a separate part of the community.

Professional communities let people doing similar work share advice and experience. Make sure that your content and the information available in the community is welcoming to new members but also advanced enough to interest experienced professionals.

Communities based on circumstance gather together people who share a particular situation, such as motherhood or drug addiction. Members of these communities are often looking for information. Be prepared to do plenty of curation, motivate experienced members to contribute and publish lots of your own content.

And interest communities are focused on a particular passion, hobby or brand. These can be the most fun so you’ll need to make the sure the content is entertaining and invites engagement. Videos are particularly effective. Publish your own and encourage others to upload theirs.

Know which kind of community you’re building. Understand what members of that community are looking for. Be the example that other members will follow. That’s all for now! In the next message, I’ll be talking about those first VIP seeds.


PeepSo 1.2.0 Has Native WordPress oEmbed Support

I know what you’re thinking: “Wow! Fantastic! Superb! Awesome! Fabulous… Huh?”

You were right the first time. oEmbed in PeepSo 1.2.0 is a way of presenting a link on a website. Instead of showing blue text and an underline, you get to show the actual content you want to share. So if you wanted to show your visitors a YouTube video, instead of telling them where to go, you embed the video itself.

YouTube embeded link.

YouTube embedded link.

You’ve seen this before. All the big names online— Spotify, InstagramTwitter—they all do it. It’s a fantastic way of presenting content.

Instagram embeded image.

Instagram embedded image.

oEmbed isn’t just pretty. It also helps with usability and it keeps people on your site. Instead of sending your users to YouTube, you can show them the video inline and keep them with you.

Twitter embedded link.

Twitter embedded link.

PeepSo now supports all of the embeds that WordPress natively supports. You can see the whole list here:

And if you really want to learn oEmbed’s technical details you can take a look here:


Social Community

Starting your online community

Social CommunityTogether with my team, I see my role as helping to make sure that your community grows and thrives.

In this blog series, I’ll share with you a series of tips that will enable you to get more out of PeepSo and help you to turn your users into a real society.

That’s the goal: not just to build your membership but to build a community in which people participate and to which they return.

Let’s start by talking about your very first members.

Choose them carefully.

It’s tempting when you’re building a new community to try to bring in as many people as possible. That’s the wrong approach.

They’ll arrive, they’ll look around, they’ll see nothing happening… and they’ll leave.

Before you throw open the door to the masses, build a small community that other people will want to join. Invite the movers and shakers of your topic into the community. Ask them to contribute content and get them talking to you and to each other.

When other people can see that a party filled with interesting people has already started, they’ll want to join in. They’ll also see that joining the party means participating, not lurking.

Quora succeeded in a Q&A space that had beaten both Google and Yahoo because its early members were VIPs. Choose your first members with the same degree of selectivity and you should find your membership and your engagement build naturally.

That’s all for now. If you have any questions or comments do feel free to post them on our community page here. In the next post, I’ll be looking at the differences between the various kinds of communities publishers build and what those differences mean for you.

Interview: Bridie Amelia Designs

Bridie has been working with WordPress since 2011, and is really passionate about the platform; her website includes an entire page devoted to explaining why she thinks people should use WordPress, and the advantages it has over other web design choices. We interviewed her to find out more about what she does, why she loves WordPress; and in keeping with our Women of WordPress theme, we also asked who she looks up to in the world of WordPress and how gender has impacted her experience.

bridie amelia designs

Tell us a little bit about who you are, and what you do.
I’m a web + digital designer/developer with an extensive graphic and print background. I work closely with SMBs and digital marketing agencies on a freelance/contract basis, and provide services such as WordPress websites, print collateral, and animated banners to fulfill marketing, design and online presence needs. I’ve created e-commerce, membership and e-learning WordPress websites, and my focus is providing a smooth user experience for all users of the sites I create.
When did you start working with WordPress?
I did the classic seachange and moved north from Sydney when my firstborn was 2 months old. After my second child was born I moved back into part time work, and found how much the world of design and web had changed. I mean seriously, before having chidren we were making websites with frames and animated GIFs were an acceptable inclusion on a homepage! WordPress wasn’t even around.
In 2011 I inherited a client from a colleague who had a WordPress site. I’m what is now known as a digital native, having used computers from the age of 8 – our first computer at home ran on DOS, and had 40Kb of RAM! – my brothers and I used to type in BASIC games from a book, then play them. So diving into a new platform didn’t faze me – I learnt as I went, and haven’t looked back.
How has your experience as a WordPress professional changed over time (what’s different now to when you started)?
From a design and user experience perspective, template styles have changed immensely. In 2011 there were still a lot of skeuomorphic styles (when a design mimics real life, like a calculator interface that looks like a real calculator) were still pretty common. Since then trends have moved towards flat design, parallax, and minimalist. It’s also  absolutely essential now to have knowledge of responsive design and mobile device prototyping, as users commonly visit websites first on mobile devices then complete their tasks on desktop. There are some great responsive WordPress frameworks out there – Bootstrap is my preference.
What’s your favorite thing about the platform?
WordPress is so accessible, and open source, which means there is a great developer community and lots of free options for those starting out. As you move into more complex developments, there are also some great premium plugins that are well supported, like Paid Memberships Pro (PMPro), Gravity Forms and Woocommerce. The successful ones, which have a good market share, often have excellent integration with each other also.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
I absolutely love learning, and believe it’s the secret to staying young – in mind at least! – but as with any digital field, if you’re going to work with WordPress, you’ve got to understand every job will have a learning curve. My most exciting – and challenging at times – project so far has been developing a groundbreaking organisational change e-learning site, 12 Steps for Business (12SFB). This has been a pretty complex project that’s already been through three or four iterations – it brings together e-learning, membership and forum functionality to deliver something quite unique for small businesses to large corporations.

Do you think your gender has impacted your work or sense of professional community in any way?
I think as women we do tend to being more intuitive, and approach tech in a different way. I guess I’m very approachable for female business owners, and I understand that how a person feels when they visit a website is as important as ensuring a website functions correctly. You’ve got to assure a user when they visit a site, and this is a core aspect of user experience.

Who are some other WordPress women who have influenced or inspired you, and why?

@messica (Jessica Oros) of PMPro knows her stuff, and has been a fantastic help in some gritty custom PHP dev I’ve implemented for 12SFB. Michelle Shearer of Mamabake is just bloody inspiring (can I say that?) – not only is she a fellow fan of 90s riot grrl bands like Bikini Kill – but she’s (almost) singlehandedly built an online community of over 24,000 women using WordPress and Facebook.
What advice would you give to other women wanting to get into working with WordPress?
Don’t be intimidated – learn the difference between and Start playing around with a site to learn the ropes, then move across to a self-hosted site. The more you try, the more you learn. Make use of developer forums – there’s so many out there, such as groups on Linked In and Google+, as well as support on If you’ve got technical aptitude, check out Udemy or for basics in PHP and CSS. When you start working out your own solutions, don’t forget to post them to a relevant forum or thread for the benefit of others.

WordPress’ Takedown Request Hall of Shame is Pure Awesome

WordPress gets thousands of takedown requests per day from rightsholders asserting that a user is in breach of copyright; and unlike some other internet companies (which outsource or just wave the requests through), they take the time to assess and follow up on all of them. It’s a good thing they do, because about half of the requests are ultimately rejected.

subaru copyright case

From these rejected requests, WordPress has built their Hall of Shame; a series of blog posts where they name and shame companies who try to squash free speech or limit creativity (for example, trying to stop someone from criticising their work). This truly brilliant collection of stories is thoroughly entertaining and informative; a great place to start for anyone trying to understand how trademark law works with regards to blogging, and how far its reach extends.

The latest entry into the Hall of Shame belongs to automotive giant Subaru, who tried to have a WordPress site with the Subaru in the URL and multiple references to their brand taken down.

While you’ve got to appreciate Subaru’s dedication to protecting their trademark…they should probably have done a little more research before submitting the takedown notice. Turns out the owners of the blog were applying for Leave No Trace/Subaru’s traveling trainer program, and were simply trying to meet Subaru’s request for applicants who can produce Subaru-promoting social media content through blogs, videos and photos.

Copyright and trademark law can be a minefield, so it’s worth knowing your rights and doing your research before you issue, or respond to, a takedown request. This Australian article is a good place to start (note: there’ll be some variations from country to country), but as a rule of thumb: reasonable evaluation and discussion should always be the first step. If you aren’t sure, ask somebody – there’s plenty of services (or even law students needing experience or content for their essays) who would be willing to take a look for you. If you really think your intellectual property has been lifted, send the person a polite message first (they may be ignorant of the law themselves – not an excuse, but an indication that they may be willing to remove the image or that section of their content as an act of reparation and goodwill). If that doesn’t work, take it to WordPress; if again, you’re polite, reasonable and show you’ve done your research, they’ll go above and beyond to help you out.

As we said, the Hall of Shame is, above all things, thoroughly entertaining – check it out here.

Women of WordPress: Kim Parsell, aka #wpmom

While compiling our Women of WordPress list, we came across many touching tributes to Kim Parsell – a woman whose influence on the WordPress community was so significant that a memorial scholarship was established in her name by the WordPress Foundation after her untimely death earlier this year. This is what we found out about the woman affectionately known as #wpmom, whose legacy continues to pave the way for and inspire other women working with WordPress.


Kim’s contributions to the WordPress platform are some of the most diverse and significant we’ve encountered during this project. She was an important member of the WordPress documentation team; she contributed to five consecutive WordPress releases, and was incredibly proud to have been acknowledged in Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word address in 2014. This video of Kim speaking at Wordcamp San Franscisco 2014 is a great place to start if you want to understand the breadth and complexity of her practical contributions to the platform.

Beyond that, she was an incredible cheerleader for others working in WordPress; there are countless blog posts sharing how she’d encourage over-worked developers to take a break and have some lunch, built much-valued friendships over Twitter and email, drove for hours just to go to WordPress meetups and help others with their projects, offered no-nonsense advice and hugs in equal measure; essentially, she did everything possible to help turn a group of developers into a caring, bonded community. She had a special interest in encouraging older women to get involved in WordPress.

I think Kim Parsell’s legacy stands as the very best example of what it means to be influential in the WordPress community. She not only made her own, significant contributions to the platform; she made others believe they could, too – and offered practical help wherever she could.

Kim was able to attend her very first WordCamp thanks to assistance from the WordPress Foundation, so it’s fitting that her memorial is a WordPress Foundation scholarship enabling other women to have the same experience (with older women being highly encouraged to apply).

Thanks to all those who have remembered Kim, and of course to Kim herself, for showing us what a Woman of WordPress should aspire to be.

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
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.

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.


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.