Your community should feel exclusive and different. It should look exclusive and different.

Your private social network should feel exclusive and different

One of the most successful niche communities is for graphic designers. One of the reasons for its success is its strange appearance.

Dribbble.com was founded by Rich Thornett, a designer who had hoped to play pro basketball. His love of the sport permeates the community. Potential members are “prospects.” They’re “drafted” as “players” at which point they make their “debuts.” Uploads are “shots.” Follow-ups to those shots are called “rebounds” when they come from the same designer, and “playoffs” when they come from other designers.

It’s a quirky set-up which gives the community a unique identity. Coupled with the community’s exclusive membership system which turns older members into mentors of new members, the result is a community whose membership is valued.

Your community should feel exclusive and different. It should look exclusive and different.

People should understand that this isn’t a social network for everyone but only for people like them. When you see that conversations are drifting away from the core of your topic, break those members off into a sub-community.

Give your private social network a unique look and feel. It will make your members feel closer to you and to each other, and keep them engaged.

That’s all for now! In the next post, the difference between contribution and commitment.

More important are the engagement stats: how many pieces of content people post; how many shares they received; how many likes they won.

The right way to measure growth of your private social network

More important are the engagement stats: how many pieces of content people post; how many shares they received; how many likes they won.

More important are the engagement stats: how many pieces of content people post; how many shares they received; how many likes they won.

As you build your community, you’re going to be spending a lot of time looking at stats. One figure will catch your eye the most:

The number of members in your community.

That’s also the least important, at least when you’re starting out. (Sure, if you want to sell your site one day, telling buyers that you have a gazillion members will help to bump the price but in the first year or so membership numbers aren’t key.)

More important are the engagement stats: how many pieces of content people post; how many shares they received; how many likes they won.

Tot up those figures and divide them by the number of members on the site. That will give you a measure of engagement per user.

Do the same thing a month later.

Falling engagement per user will be a reason to worry. Veteran members may be becoming bored or you might be bringing in people with less commitment to the community. Either way, you’ve got work to do to raise that engagement.

When engagement per user is rising, though, you’re on the right track. Your community is growing in depth and you’re measuring growth the right way.

That’s all for now! Next time, I’ll talk about the importance of appearance.

From User to Developer: How WordPress is Changing Careers

When Victoria Dyte of Reindeer Riot started using WordPress, she wasn’t an established developer or web designer shifting across to a new platform; she’d simply been designing and running her own online shops successfully via WordPress for several years, and decided to take the skills and knowledge she’d picked up and turn it into a new business. With the  mentorship of Sarah Rosberg of Rafiki Mwema/Castle Design, and support from her graphic designer husband Col (who creates unique logos and artwork for the sites she builds), she’s now been working exclusively as a WordPress developer for over 18 months.

This seems to be an increasingly common career path; people learning WordPress for another project, and then making it their full time occupation. So why does it happen?

wordpress

Firstly, WordPress is incredibly user-friendly. You can build a phenomenal website with nothing but a good theme, some good artwork and carefully curated plugins. If you learn to write basic CSS, you can create child themes which allow you to customise your site’s design (colour, typography, layout) to your heart’s content. In essence: building fantastic WordPress sites doesn’t require you to be a code wizard. It requires creativity, a really good eye for layout and design, unique ideas and a willingness to learn (which arguably, is harder to find than someone who can read and write code like one of the main characters in The Matrix).

Secondly: WordPress is broad enough and flexible enough to allow you to specialise. You’re not boxed into being a web designer more generally (saving you from learning or building things that you just aren’t interested in); you can focus specifically on building sites for schools, for small businesses, for online stores. You can find your one thing, really get to know all the different plugins and design elements that will allow you to create something fantastic within that niche, and then market it to people who need that particular kind of website.

Finally: WordPress offers a great sense of community. That was one of the major drawcards for Victoria – she was surrounded by other women who were doing fantastic work, and were willing to support her as she stepped out and turned a hobby she’d become incredibly passionate about and talented at into a full time job. There’s a wide range of camps and conferences devoted to this platform, and bringing together the people who use it.

If you’re stepping out and becoming a full time WordPress developer, PeepSo is a great plugin to have in your arsenal. It can help you turn a small business website into a market network, provide a discussion space for an online course; essentially, it can turn any venture into a community.

Your rules should be fair and they should be clear. Make them visible.

Policing your private social network

Your rules should be fair and they should be clear. Make them visible.

Your rules should be fair and they should be clear. Make them visible.

When your private social network is beginning and the first people in are people you know and the people they know, your community will be a happy, friendly place.

As more people hear about your private social network though, and interactions expand from friends and acquaintances to strangers with different opinions, that politeness can start to break down.

When that happens there’s a risk your private social network will start to break down.

No one wants to visit a club with boorish members who like to hurl insults and pick fights. Just as a good bar needs a strong bouncer to kick the drunks out so a friendly community will need strict policing to keep things in order.

Lay out the rules:

Your rules should be fair and they should be clear. Make them visible. Prohibit anti-social activities like obscenity, insults and trolling, and state that the punishment may be banning. You don’t have to ban everyone who uses a four-letter word if you don’t want to, but you do want to give yourself as much power as possible to protect your private social network.

Enforce the rules:

If you’re reluctant to kick out boorish members of the private social network, give a warning. But no more than one—no matter how much they moan and beg for more chances. You’ll soon find that people who like to insult others on communities will keep doing it. Give them an inch and they’ll take your entire community away.

There are enough good people around to keep your community thriving. Don’t be afraid to kick out the hooligans with some strict policing. It makes for a much more pleasant neighborhood.

That’s all for now! In the next post, I discuss how to measure your growth.

 

PeepSo 1.3.0 Is Out!

In version 1.3.0, we focused on tweaking some of the features. These tweaks are important for future versions.

Groundwork Laid For One-Click Updates For All Plugins

We’ve started the process of preparing PeepSo for one-click updates. Instead of uninstalling then re-installing all the plugins, for future versions you’ll be able to just click the update link next to each plugin. Very simple.

This function will start working in the next version of PeepSo. This should be the last time you update manually. Please remember that this is still work in progress. It will look somewhat like this:

One click updates and upgrades for PeepSo and its plugins.

One click updates and upgrades for PeepSo and its plugins.

PeepSo’s Router Re-Written

Now that PeepSo has been out for a while, we have had reports of a few URLs and third party plugins not working well with PeepSo.

To improve the compatibility and stability of the plugins, we wrote the router. That should avoid issues with popular plugins like WPML which change the URL of the page by making additions like:
‘?lang=french’
This improvement is strictly under the hood. The only change you’ll see is the construction of the URLs. That’s usually just the addition of a question mark.

This is how the profile link appears in PeepSo 1.2.1:
http://sampledomain.com/profile/eric

And this is how the link appears in PeepSo 1.3.0:
http://sampledomain.com/profile/?eric

Three-State Friends Buttons

We also changed the behavior, look and feel of the action buttons on user profiles. Adding friends is now a three-state button with no modal confirmations needed. It’s all ajaxified too.

3-state friends buttons on user listings

3-state friends buttons on user listings

Those action buttons have also been added to all user listings. You can see them on members pages, user profiles, and your friend list. The design is consistent to give users a feeling of confidence and to avoid confusion.

Styling Tweaks and More Changes To Profile Pages

We made a few minor changes to the profile pages:

  • Blocking users has been moved to a ‘cog’ icon.
  • Users can be banned from the front end by clicking the cog icon.
  • To save space, we replaced the “Send Message” button with an envelope icon.
  • We improved the look and feel of the modal window for sending messages.
  • Square avatars
  • Removed gray shadow stripe and added shadow for letters
Profile view after styling tweaks.

Profile view after styling tweaks.

We’ve made sure that PeepSo styling is consistent. That’s why we went with square and sharp edges over rounded corners and round avatars. If you feel like all square is not your thing, feel free to check out our documentation on how to override PeepSo CSS.

Bug Fixes

In addition to those design and functionality tweaks, we also fixed a number of bugs. You can see the full changelog here.

What, No Chat Plugin?

The chat plugin is almost ready. It just needs a few design tweaks and some testing. It will be released next. Watch out for it!

Upgrade PeepSo Now

To update to Version 1.3.0 you’ll have to un-install and re-install all the plugins. Last time! Here’s the documentation on how to do it.

No PeepSo?

The free 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.

Those little figures at the top of the screen and the beeps people receive whenever someone comments, likes or shares their posts are the Internet’s most powerful drug.

The number one activity that motivates engagement

Those little figures at the top of the screen and the beeps people receive whenever someone comments, likes or shares their posts are the Internet’s most powerful drug.

Those little figures at the top of the screen and the beeps people receive whenever someone comments, likes or shares their posts are the Internet’s most powerful drug.

Every successful business has a secret ingredient.

For Coca Cola it’s “7X,” the mystery vegetable extracts that make people believe they’re drinking more than sugar.

For Apple, it’s Jony Ive’s design genius.

And for communities, it’s…

… notifications.

Those little figures at the top of the screen and the beeps people receive whenever someone comments, likes or shares their posts are the Internet’s most powerful drug.

Every time someone interacts with your content, it’s like receiving a round of applause. It’s a smile from a friend you haven’t seen for months, a thumbs-up from someone who thinks you’ve done something cool.

It’s encouragement to keep posting and keep interacting.

When even a simple “like” can trigger a notification, small interactions can have powerful effects on the life of your community. Keep your notifications turned on and you’ll keep people coming back.

That’s all for now! Next time, a tricky topic: policing your community.

Visit our PeepSo community if you’d like to ask us questions about creating communities, or about using PeepSo:

https://www.peepso.com/community/

The easiest way to spread word of mouth is by tagging pictures

Why tagging is more than a feature

The easiest way to spread word of mouth is by tagging pictures

The easiest way to spread word of mouth is by tagging pictures

Chris Meyer is a wedding photographer in St. Paul, Minnesota. About 85 percent of his business comes through word of mouth and through social media networking. Four years after turning professional, he’d picked up more than $100,000 worth of photography work through Facebook marketing.

Only a tiny portion of that work came through paid advertising. In total, he’d spent less than $1,000 on social media ads over those four years.

Most of his new business came through uploading the images he shot at weddings and tagging the people in the pictures.

The most powerful way to build a community is through word of mouth.

The easiest way to spread word of mouth is by tagging pictures.

When your members tag their friends, they drag them into the conversation. They force them to engage and they spread notifications across the network.

Tagging is a powerful tool for members. It’s a powerful tool for businesses. And it’s a powerful tool for community builders.

Encourage your members to upload pictures and tag their friends, and you’ll give your growth rate a powerful boost.

That’s all for now! The next post will be about the number one thing that builds engagement.

 

Community Growing

From seeds to saplings – growing your community

Community GrowingThe first members of your community should be people you know.

The second members of your community should be people they know.

That’s easy, isn’t it?

It’s also the way that a community should grow.

Sure, advertising can play a role and mentions in magazines and websites related to your community will help too, but the best way to grow a community from seed to sapling is through word of mouth.

That won’t just get you more people. It also gets you people who want to take part. They arriving knowing people in the community and they want to communicate with them. They don’t just look and leave.

They stay and talk. And then they tell their friends.

Once your community is starting to grow and show signs of life, encourage your members to spread the word. Suggest they link to their community posts on their blogs. Tell them to talk about it with the people they know. Ask them to recommend people with something to contribute. It’s a lot cheaper and a lot more effective than advertising.

That’s all for now! In the next post, we’ll discuss tagging.

 

An online hub is interactive; it brings all the different elements of your online activity under one roof

Websites vs Online Hubs: Your Whole Business Under One Digital Roof

An online hub is interactive; it brings all the different elements of your online activity under one roof

An online hub is interactive; it brings all the different elements of your online activity under one roof

The term “online hub” is often used interchangeably with “website”, but they represent two different forms of online communication and activity. A website is, primarily, a one-way conversation: you might have a contact form or a comments section, but for the most part, a website acts as an online brochure. An online hub is interactive; it brings all the different elements of your online activity under one roof, it encourages community and conversation.

WordPress is fantastic at enabling people to create their very own online hubs, with very little technical knowledge required. Rather than taking people to Google Hangouts on Air or another third-party site for a webinar, plugins like WPWebinar allow you to host it on your own website landing page. There’s a wide range of CRM plugins available, allowing you to edit forms and manage contacts through your WordPress site (if you’re already using Woocommerce, the “WooCommerce Customer Relationship Management” plugin is well worth a look). You can use plugins like Sendpress to manage your newsletter. If you run a podcast, you can use your WordPress blog as the foundation for the podcast’s RSS feed.

And, of course, you can use the PeepSo plugin to create your own private social network, rather than having people come back and forth from a Facebook group.

There’s multiple benefits to this. Driving people to your own website improves your search engine rankings (the more visits you get, the higher you’ll rank). It gives you full control over and ownership of the information you share, and in turn, the information people share with you. Plus, while people are on your website doing other things, they’re likely to have a look around and see what else you have to offer; eg, if you’re hosting a webinar on your own website, you can put some links on the page for people to click and view while they’re waiting for it to start. You’ll also slash your advertising spend: it costs you nothing to run an advert or promote an event on your own social network (keeping your money in your own wallet, rather than Facebook’s). Plus, you can never underestimate the power of connection and conversation when it comes to conversions. If people are interacting with you and your business rather than just reading about it, that’s going to build trust and that trust is going to translate to sales.

To learn more about how PeepSo can help you go from a simple website to a thriving online hub, check out our features here – we’re adding more all the time.

What makes a community thrive?

What makes a community thrive?

What makes a community thrive?

What makes a community thrive?

All thriving communities have one thing in common.

Motivation.

Their members are motivated to post content and engage with other members. They don’t feel that community participation is a chore. It’s a pleasure. It’s fun. As soon as they post, they’re checking their notifications to see who’s replied.

And as soon as they see something they like, they share it and check back to see who engages with it.

A thriving community builds its own rewards.

Your job is to kickstart that process and tell people which content people most want to see. Do that right and you should find that taking part in the community is enjoyable and addictive.

That’s all for now! In the next post, we’ll move into community growth.