If you’re trying to perform the same action in each phase, your community won’t grow as quickly as you’d like.

Why your community isn’t growing as quickly as you’d like

If you’re trying to perform the same action in each phase, your community won’t grow as quickly as you’d like.

If you’re trying to perform the same action in each phase, your community won’t grow as quickly as you’d like.

When you launched your community, you would have been super-busy. You would have been corralling your first members, welcoming new members, looking to raise the community’s profile, answering questions and creating content to spark discussions.

You’re probably still doing that but what you need to do to kickstart your community isn’t necessarily what you need to do to grow it.

Once your private social network is up and running, changing your activities may help your community to grow faster.

Cut back on the actions that your private social network members can do for you, such as answering basic questions, and reduce the amount of content you produce. Your members should be able to fill that gap for you. If they don’t, ask your most active member to publish a post once a week or so and reward them with a higher status in the community.

You can also skip the community-based welcomes, letting other members meet new people at the door.

Use the extra time that withdrawal frees up to open more doorways into the community and increase engagement. Build stronger connections with bloggers in your field. Quote community opinions and information in the content you place on the community—and off it. Review the stats and focus your efforts on the parts of the community that attract the most activity.

Communities have different phases. They start with a slow launch, grow then split into small sub-communities. If you’re trying to perform the same action in each phase, your community won’t grow as quickly as you’d like.

That’s all for now! Next time, I’ll talk about motivating your key influencers.

You don’t want your customers to buy once and disappear. You want them to keep coming back.

Understanding the benefits of a community

You don’t want your customers to buy once and disappear. You want them to keep coming back.

You don’t want your customers to buy once and disappear. You want them to keep coming back.

In the last message, I discussed monetization. An online private social network always has the potential to make money but a cash flow isn’t the only benefit that an online community can bring. Those benefits aren’t always as easy to measure (or spend) as money but they are valuable.

Customer Retention

You don’t want your customers to buy once and disappear. You want them to keep coming back. That means keeping in touch with them and ensuring that they always feel close to you and will buy from you as soon as they’re ready to make their next purchase.

Easier Support

If you’re used to wasting hours each day answering customer emails that often ask the same question, an online private social network gives you an easy way to address issues publicly. And when the community weighs in, you’ll have even less to do.

Feedback

Launch a new feature and you won’t need to survey your members to find out what they think. You’ll be able to track the discussions on the community and see what people are really saying—to each other as well as to you.

Branding

This is the big one. An online community gives you a platform to give your product an identity and make it a part of your customers’ lives. That’s invaluable.

When you’re trying to squeeze money out of your community, you’ll have to make an effort. These other benefits though should come naturally from a community that’s popular, thriving and growing.

That’s all for now! Next time, I’ll explain why your community isn’t growing as quickly as you’d like.

Why Everyone Should Learn to Code

Learning to code is like learning to speak another language; you have to learn a whole lot of new “words” and phrases, and if you get just one word or letter wrong, the person (website) you’re talking to might have no idea what you’re trying to say. Many people prefer to outsource coding work, or use plugins that allow them to do really cool things without needing to write a single line; even if that’s you, it’s worth knowing the basics so you can spot if something’s wrong, or make small tweaks if you need to. If supermodel Karlie Kloss can learn to code between international flights, fashion shows and photoshoots, you can fit some basic coding lessons around your busy life too.

code

It turns you from a consumer into a producer.

If you can’t code, you’re always buying someone else’s project or time; if you can, then you’re either building and selling entirely original content, or taking bits and pieces from other people and incorporating them into your own creation to make it better (like building your own house, and getting furniture from someone else to add colour and variety to your creation). It’s a guarantee that you’re going to stand out.

It allows you to fix – or at least patch – problems right away.

Rather than spending long hours waiting for the person who developed or maintains your website to come to your aid, knowing how to code allows you to fix the problem yourself – or at the very least, patch it so that your customers and visitors aren’t at risk of malware or suffering serious glitches during that time. The amount of money an online shop might lose just by being down for a few hours in a busy period could be staggering. You might not get to a point where you can perform major surgery on your website, but you can learn how to tie a pretty damned great bandage.

You can make sure that your project matches YOUR vision.

Trying to get another person to see the picture in your head is an incredibly different thing; even if you and your developer/designer are totally simpatico, they’re not always going to get things the way you want them. Knowing how to write your own child themes or even make small tweaks to someone else’s design will make it that much easier for you to transform your design dreams into reality.

PeepSo and ChatSo 1.4.0 Are Out!

As Abraham Lincoln said:

ChatSo is fantastic. I use it every day.

ChatSo is fantastic. I use it every day.

Well okay, he didn’t say that. But he definitely would have done. PeepSo with ChatSo is that good! It will totally change the way your users interact on your site.

ChatSo is based on MsgSo and requires that plugin to be installed and activated. Without MsgSo, ChatSo will not work.

ChatSo Is So Pretty!

Looks aren’t everything… but boy, are they important. ChatSo looks amazing. It’s clean. It’s neat. It just works. Whether you want just one chat window open or need a tidy stack of conversations for easy browsing, ChatSo keeps your screen clean and clutter-free.

Chatso design.

Chatso design.

ChatSo Works Everywhere

With ChatSo, instant chat will be available on every page of your WordPress site. Users can chat while reading one of your blog posts—whether they have PeepSo view open or not. They’ll always be able to receive a message on your site and talk to a friend.

Chat, Break, Chat More

People will leave your site. They need to sleep, eat, bathroom breaks… but as soon as they come back to your site, they’ll find their chat windows exactly as they left them. Open windows will still be open; minimized windows will still be minimized.

ChatSo remembers where you left off.

Automatically Sync Chats Across Tabs and Browsers

Your users are likely to have multiple tabs open on their browser. Not a problem for ChatSo.

The chat windows sync continuously across tabs. Close a chat window in one browser tab, it closes in the other. Write in one, your message will display in all of them. Receive a message in one tab… you get the idea. Oh, and yes… it also syncs between browsers… neat, huh?

ChatSo syncing across tabs and browsers.

Mobile Messaging

MsgSo already works like chat so we’ll redirect users to the messages view on mobile devices. We don’t want to clutter the screen.

Moods, Photos, Location

You can see moods, photos and location tags in the chat view. Click the location, and you’ll see the map. Click a photo thumbnail and we’ll bring up the photo in a modal window.

While this version of ChatSo does not enable sending moods, location and photos, you can share them in the messages view and navigate to the full conversation view by clicking the ‘cog’ icon and selecting the full message view. We’ll add sending moods, location and photos in the next version of ChatSo.

Want Some Quiet Time? No Problem!

Users who want to browse your site alone can disable chat for a single conversation, just by clicking the cog icon on chat and  or turn it off completely using an option in their profile settings.

Disable Chat for a conversation.

Disable Chat for a conversation.

Changes to PeepSo Core

We have also made some improvements to PeepSo core. Like reorganising settings in the backend. As well ass adding the new setting for you to decide whether you want to use round or square avatars on your community.

Avatars settings.

Avatars settings.

Already Have Bundle #2?

Just use the Promo Code Below to get $10 discount on ChatSo!

chatsoisout

Go to your account and to your bundle #2. You will see ChatSo there. Click on ‘Add to Cart’.

You will be taken to the checkout view. All you need to do is add the promo code, checkout and enjoy ChatSo!

Upgrade PeepSo Now

Oh yes! Automatic upgrades are here! You can do it all in the backend of your site! Remember to upgrade plugins first, and PeepSo core as last one. After all of that is done. Install ChatSo. Here’s documentation on how to do it. You can see the full changelog here.

No PeepSo?

The free PeepSo core version is fantastic on its own. If you want to unlock the true potential of social networking for WordPress, get the other plugins today. You can buy them by clicking the link below.

Buy Today!

If you’d like to see what’s coming up next, check out our roadmap here.

Comments? Questions?

Please leave them below.

Not only is it possible to make money with a community, it’s also possible to do it in a number of different ways.

Can you monetize your private social network?

Not only is it possible to make money with a community, it’s also possible to do it in a number of different ways.

Not only is it possible to make money with a community, it’s also possible to do it in a number of different ways.

Building a private social network is fun. It’s exciting, it’s rewarding but when you’re building it as part of a business, it should also be profitable. Not only is it possible to make money with a community, it’s also possible to do it in a number of different ways.

Advertising

Advertising is the most obvious way to make money out of a community and the simplest—it works for Facebook! But it’s also the most intrusive. By all means, use advertising to fund your community but don’t depend on it.

Sell Products

A less intrusive form of advertising is to use your community to promote your own products or those of partners. Mumsnet (www.mumsnet.com) has an Offers section that promotes products from its partners. Members get exclusive offers; partners get sales; and the community gets a cut.

Sell Information

Interest-based communities will attract members with different degrees of knowledge. Offer courses and ebooks to bring newbies up to speed and you’ll both deepen the quality of your private social network and earn some valuable cash.

Organize Events

An online community is great but if you can bring your members together offline, then you’ll really cement the sense of communal identity. Organizing an event will take a bit of work but share it out among other members and charge a fee to participate, and you’ll have an enjoyable way to pay for the community.

Create Merchandise

Members who feel a close affinity to the community will want to show off their membership. Use sites like Zazzle and Cafepress to offer print-on-demand hats, tees and tote bags and you’ll make sales while advertising your site.

There are plenty of other ways to monetize a community, from building a marketplace to charging for premium services. If you’re not making money out of an active community, you need to take action.

That’s all for now! Next time, I’ll talk about the other benefits a community can bring.

Identifying a Good WordPress Plugin

Earlier in the week, we talked about how understanding plugins can be the key to success as a developer/designer; here’s some tips for deciding which plugins are worth yours and your clients’ time (before you consider how well they’ll integrate with the client’s chosen theme and business strategy/functions).

plugin directory

Check reviews – and remember that more doesn’t always mean better.

See what people have to say about the plugin, any tips, any complaints. At a glance, it might seem like plugins with only a handful of reviews are less successful – but that’s not always true. If the reviews all rave about the plugin and appear to be genuine, chances are you’re uncovering a lesser-known gem or something completely new.

Check when it was last updated

WordPress is always changing, and plugins need to change with it. Unfortunately for those creating plugins, it’s a very rare (non-existent!) scenario where you can create a plugin and then just never touch it again. Bugs will need to be patched, the plugin will need to be adjusted to work with updates to the WordPress core. The plugin’s page will tell you what version of WordPress it’s been tested with, and when it was last updated.

Check how good their customer service/support is

Find out where their support services “live” (some of them will house their support forums on their own website, others will stick with the “official” WordPress support forums), and see how responsive they are to questions. If you run into a problem or notice that something isn’t quite working, you want someone who’s going to help you out as soon as possible (for your sanity, and your client’s satisfaction).

Check the code

You may need some help with this if you aren’t a code wizard, but: if you go to the plugin directory, there’s a page for developers where you can have a look at the plugin’s source code. If you’re not able to identify some of the hallmarks of well-written software, it’s well worth getting someone else to check it out for you – particularly if it’s a paid plugin.

Have a play

Obviously this is something you’d only do for free plugins, but: you can always test out plugins on your own website before you recommend them to a client. Really get a handle on how they work, as a user. Some plugins (like PeepSo) will offer a demo on their own website, others will put up videos that show you exactly how it works (OptimisePress is a good example of this). Ask friends what plugins they’re using, and ask whether they’re willing to let you have a look and a play (as long as you erase your footprints later).

WordPress News: a Rise in Brute Force Password Attacks

Malware removal company Sucuri noticed a massive spike in WordPress malware “visitorTracker_isMob” in the last two weeks. The purpose of the malware is to gain access to as many computers as possible via infected websites. At the same time, they’ve noticed a spike in brute force attacks; a particularly insidious kind, where the people attacking your site aren’t restricted by a limited number of login attempts before being locked out. As described by Sucuri, this is how they work:

Instead of going against wp-login.php (which can be easily blocked or protected via .htaccess) or doing a single attempt against xmlrpc, attackers are leveraging thesystem.multicall method to attempt to guess hundreds of passwords within just one HTTP request.

Sucuri-VisitorTracker-Malware-Campaign-II

In other words – rather than getting three guesses before being locked out, they’re getting a hundred times three. This particular type of attack is called Brute Force Amplification.

So how can you protect yourself against brute force amplification attacks, and in turn, from increasingly common malware?

Sucuri suggests that you block all access to xmlrpc.php – this does break some applications’ functionality, primarily JetPack. They also suggest blocking system.multicall requests. They’re hardly ever used and this will protect you against these amplification methods.

Plugins Could Be The Key to Boosting Your WordPress Client List

When people commission a WordPress site, they’re looking for something unique; something that is as visually appealing as it is functional. They want a website that will give them an edge over their competition. They want people to think their site is as “cool” as it is useful. As a WordPress developer, there’s a number of tools you need in your professional toolbox to create sites that are so visually appealing, functional and interesting that you don’t need to fish for clients (instead, they come to you).

The ability to write good child themes is important; this is what sets a website apart visually, lets you choose colours and fonts that really celebrate someone’s personality and underlying business philosophy. What’s perhaps even more important is taking the time to test out a range of different plugins, with a range of different functions so you can turn your clients’ dreams into reality, whatever they might be.

plugins

There’s a lot of plugins that do similar things, but not all plugins are created equal. For example: BuddyPress is the best known social networking WordPress plugin (for a while, it was the only option), but support can be lacking and it doesn’t mimic the social networking experience people are now accustomed to (ie, Facebook). There’s a wide variety of plugins and services for people wanting to run online courses, from OptimiseMember to Moodle; which one you choose will depend on their content, and how they want to deliver the course. On top of that, not all plugins work well together; other plugins are an unintentional match made in heaven. What will make you really stand out as a developer is being able to give reasoned, individualised advice that will help your clients choose a set of plugins that’s really going to fit their needs and make their website shine.

If you’d like to see what PeepSo can offer your clients, join our community to see how it works. Once you’ve got a handle on the practical, it’s up to you and your client to dream big about what’s possible.

When you’re looking to improve engagement on your community, you need your members to share videos.

Video content is vital to the success of your private social network

“In five years, most of Facebook will be video.”

That was Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook’s first community town hall meeting in 2014. He’s since gone further. In a Facebook-based Q&A a year later, he predicted that future content would be immersive. The picture that accompanied the interview showed a pair of the company’s Oculus Rift virtual reality glasses on his desk.

Video is currently the most immersive and the most engaging form of content on community sites. A short clip is easy to watch even on a mobile phone and more engaging than any other form of content. Researchers have found that video promotions are 600 percent more effective than print and direct mail combined, and can generate purchase rates as high as 12 percent.

When you’re looking to improve engagement on your private social network, you need your members to share videos.

Tell them what kind of videos to share. Explain to them how to share. And teach them how to shoot simple videos that relate to the subject of your private social network and that people want to see.

Now that everyone carries a video camera in their pocket, there’s no reason that your members shouldn’t be filming all their community-related activity. Remind them to pull out their camera every time they climb on their mountain bike or bake a cake. You should find that, like Facebook, most of your community content is video too.

That’s all for now! In the next post, I’m talking money!

If some aspect of your member behavior is puzzling you, sending out a survey can clear up the mystery.

Surveying the members of your private social network

If some aspect of your member behavior is puzzling you, sending out a survey can clear up the mystery.

If some aspect of your member behavior is puzzling you, sending out a survey can clear up the mystery.

Your stats will tell you a great deal about the health of your private social network but it won’t tell you everything you need to know. Occasionally, you’ll need to dig a little deeper and talk to your members directly.

You need to send them a survey.

A survey will give you three kinds of information that stats can’t deliver.

Surveys Provide Explanations

Stats might show that users aren’t uploading videos or are engaging less with content but surveys will tell you why. If some aspect of your member behavior is puzzling you, sending out a survey can clear up the mystery.

Survey Predict Responses… And Prepare Them

Whenever Facebook makes a change to its platform, members always complain. Sometimes, those members are right; the changes make usability harder. (Facebook does that a lot.) Sometimes, they just need to get used to doing things a new way. A survey will tell you how users are likely to respond to a change, and as the rumors of an impending change spread they can prepare members for those changes too.

Surveys Supply Ideas

Many of the features you’ll see on PeepSo came directly from users. Ask your users what they’d like to see in the community and you’ll got a bunch of suggestions back. Not all of them will be usable but some of them will be fantastic and will massively improve your private social network.

Ask a mixture of open-ended questions and rating scale questions so that you get both qualitative and quantitative data back. And don’t forget to thank your members for their time! Their thoughts are valuable and they will make your community better.

That’s all for now! Next time, I’ll be talking about video content.