If you’re not paying people for their contributions, then you need to reward them with exposure and an ego boost.

How to persuade your members to post content that counts on your private social network

If you’re not paying people for their contributions, then you need to reward them with exposure and an ego boost.

If you’re not paying people for their contributions, then you need to reward them with exposure and an ego boost.

Once your private social network is up and running, you should be looking to pull back, focus on marketing and leave much of the community management to the members.

That includes content creation.

You’ll still want to create some of your own content but if you can persuade key members of your community to publish their content on a regular basis, the community will be healthier and your life will be easier.

One way, of course, is to ask them directly. Contact the key members of your community that you know and invite them to publish a post once a week. Give them a general topic and when they do post, praise them to the skies.

Promote that content in the community and invite comments about it.

If you’re not paying people for their contributions, then you need to reward them with exposure and an ego boost.

You don’t need to approach members directly though. Often, engagement alone is enough to motivate contributors to keep publishing. If you want a key influencer to keep posting, make sure that you comment on their posts, refer to their posts in your own content and ask other members to weigh in on the discussion. If that member feels like a leader in the community, they’ll have a status they want to protect with continual publishing.

And you can make that status clear by awarding some members of the community with a title such as Community Organizer or Community Manager. When they feel responsible, they’ll also a feel a duty to keep posting.

That’s all for now! Next time, I’ll discuss private messages.

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.

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).

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 wordpress.org and wordpress.com. Start playing around with a wordpress.com 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 wordpress.org. If you’ve got technical aptitude, check out Udemy or Lynda.com 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.

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.