SocialEngine Blog

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5 Types of Hashtags and When To Use Them

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Hashtags are fantastic marketing tools and fickle beasts that can destroy a carefully laid plan. As with every community building based marketing strategy, it takes a lot of work to make hashtags appear natural. Plan ahead and create hashtag guidelines for your company with specific tags and a little room to improvise. Here are 5 of our favorite hashtag categories and some ways to use them.

1. Branded

These are specific to your company and products. A simple hashtag of your company name is an easy place to start. Depending on your company you may want to include departmental or product hashtags. (Eg. #COMPANYcustomerservice, #COMPANY_PRODUCTNAME)

Use these every time. Every single time! At least one branded hashtag should be included on your website at all times (and more on specific product pages as needed). Also in every social post, e-communication, and on digital and printed marketing materials.

2. Promotional

Company or product line wide promotions should have their own hashtags. Either expand upon a branded hashtag or build a new one that focuses more on the specific promotion.

Popular examples of promotional hashtags include #ShareACoke and #PutACanOnIt from RedBull.

These should be used through every channel you are using to spread awareness about your promotion.

3. General

Keep track of popular general hashtags in your space. For example, food brands may want to use #food or #yummy on a regular basis. Local companies should pick up city or state based hashtags. With a little searching, local restaurants may find tags like #eatinCITY or #CITYfarmtotable. Instagram is the best place to search for new general hashtags.

These hashtags will be most valuable to you when used on Instagram. Facebook is still a hit-or-miss space when it comes to tags but occasional use can be effective. Peppering in on Twitter when you have space is always a good idea.

4. Trending

These can be tricky to incorporate but it’s important to keep an eye on Twitter wide trending hashtags so you can jump on applicable ones when they appear. Depending on your company voice you may want to join in on hashtag games presented by TV shows or late night talk show hosts.

Stick to solely social use for these and stay away from incorporating them into sales pitches. It’s important to join the trending community without appearing to capitalize on it. Modern customers can be quite sensitive to this.

5. Inspirational/Comical

Have a silly phrase you always use around the office? Posting a fun or beautiful picture? Make a hashtag! Be sure to stay within the structure of your defined company personality, but never forget it’s supposed to be fun!

Use on social and potentially published employee pages where you can help foster relationships between employees and customers.

We hope this quick hashtag overview has got you thinking about ways you can make social tags work for you. Be sure to check your social analytics on a regular basis to see what’s working. Happy tagging!

Posted in Tips and Tutorials | 1 Comment

Five Steps to a Successful Branded Community

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Companies wishing to create a community bond between themselves and their consumers should consider branding their businesses online. A branded community is marketing focused on nurturing the attachment a customer can experience towards a product or brand. Below are steps to ensure building a successful branded community.

  1. Don’t look at your branded community as a marketing strategy, but as a business strategy. 
    • Recognize it as an opportunity to engage the consumer in what your business wide goals are. Impress them with your brand message. Let them know who you are and what your business stands for.
  2. Engage the customer. 
    • Get your community involved in your business. Let them be creative and express themselves too. Lego, for instance, have asked their community why they love legos and got an enthusiastic response. So far, consumers have been sharing the love by building lego monuments, making fan commercials and blog articles about legos.
  3. Do not try to mold your brand around a specific consumer. 
    • It will serve you and your company better if you remain diverse. You’ll be able to expand the marketability of your business if you broaden your market. Alienating any consumer will limit opportunities to expand the approachability of your brand and others joining your community.
  4. Let the visitors on your brand site interact.
    • Communities cannot grow if people cannot approach one another to talk, forge friendships, and strengthen bonds. Establish message boards and other areas where followers can joke around with each other and discuss their love for your brand. Let them chat in real time, create their own forums, and encourage offline social events to meet up. This will increase loyalty for your brand and popularity.
  5. Don’t run away from conflicts in your community. 
    • Sometimes a healthy rivalry can make your brand not only more interesting but also more versatile to the consumer. The popular Campaign for Real Beauty” by Dove campaign is a great example of this. It brought real women together to speak out about idealized beauty goals. Dove not only unified women, but they bolstered their community brand by welcoming an “out” group in marketing to their community.

As you can see, creating a branded community isn’t a difficult process. By embracing the steps listed above companies have widened their marketing opportunities, increased their reputations and boosted the demand of their products. To connect to a branded community is to ensure the longevity of any business. Embrace success today. Embrace the branded community.

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5 Advantages of a Custom Social Network

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Social media is a fast-growing segment of online interaction in almost all demographics. Everyone from teenagers to senior adults is participating on social media in some fashion. However, there are problems inherent with using large social media sites to interact with other people online. These problems include lack of privacy, topic focus and difficulty with in-depth discussions.

A custom social network can be a solution to many of these problems, and it is also a great way to create a specialized community for a niche topic. Here are 5 reasons to create a custom social network:

1. Closed Community

If your network is designed for a specific community such as students of a university, club members or teachers at an elementary school, then a custom social network is ideal. The network will only be open to your closed community and you can have discussions that only those members can see.

2. Privacy

A custom social network has better privacy control than sites such as Facebook. Even though Facebook has privacy measures, there are still ways to get around many of them. A custom social network would not be indexed or searchable on the internet unless you wanted it to be.

3. Focused Topic

It is difficult to have focused discussions on open networks because anyone can join the conversation. On a custom social network, members can have a tightly focused discussion about a niche topic that only members are interested in.

4. Building a Community

If you are building a community around a project, organization or group, a custom social network gives you a way to interact with others without having to use email or phone. Everything from the project is in one place, making it easy to access for everyone working on it.

5. Branding

Custom social networks allow you to use your own branding to market your company or organization. You can use your own colors, logo and sometimes even have your own ads.

Posted in Tips and Tutorials | 1 Comment

July Community Roundup

Hey everybody! Here’s a quick recap of what is happening in the SocialEngine Community in the month of July.

New Add-ons and Updates:

Advanced Blog Plugin – This plugin provides advanced features for writing blogs on your websites – custom Publish date, custom URL for blogs, location, multiple photo upload, reviews, etc.

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Reactions and Stickers Plugin – This plugin enables a user to like activity feeds with different reactions. Reactions will be available under the Like button, along with Like button Thus hovering a mouse over, Like button will display all the available reactions and user can choose one reaction amongst all, including Like.

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Community Owner Spotlight:

Blisspot.com – Check out this community dedicated to all the aspects of living well!

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Costawomen.com – A free Community for Women living in, or planning on Moving to Spain

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Helpbuildmy.biz – Meet entrepreneurs, investors, designers, developers, marketing experts and more! Help Build my Biz is an online community for everyone looking to build a business from the ground up.Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 11.40.00 AM

Posted in Add-On Highlights, Client Spotlight, Developer Spotlight | 2 Comments

Nominate SocialEngine PHP for 2016 CMSCritic Awards

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Its that time of year again! Awards season is back. Last year, thanks to all your support we won the “Best Social Network Software” award by a huge margin! This year we want to do it again and more, but it can all happen with the help of our amazing community. Nominations for this year are open and we need your votes.

Head on over to https://www.cmscritic.com/cms-critic-awards/ and nominate us for the following:

  • Best Social Network Software
  • Best Website Builder
  • Best Small Business CMS

Deadline for submitting the nominations is September 1, 2016.

As always, thank you so much for all your love and support for SocialEngine.

Let’s start a winning streak!

Posted in Company Updates | 18 Comments

7 Benefits of Interacting with Interest-Based Communities

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Interest-based communities invite interaction that goes far beyond a “like” or a “share.” This interaction benefits you — and others in the community — in many ways, personally, socially, and professionally.

Socially

1. Friend Finder

Even for the most outgoing, finding friends with whom you share a passion can pose a problem. Joining an interest group provides an immediate source of acquaintances, friends, and potential best friends — all of whom share your interests.

2. Talk Topic Template

For many, not knowing what to say presents a true challenge. Building on the shared interest of the community, you will always have something to talk about with the most outgoing and the most introverted.

Professionally

3. Idea Identifier

The chances are high that someone — or many — in the group has turned this interest into a career. What better way to learn how to make money off of your passion than to learn from others who are successfully doing just that?

4. Natural Network

People hire people. That is why networking constitutes such an important part of any professionals’ plan and schedule. Positive and professional interaction with an interest-based group puts you in other professionals’ network, greatly increasing your options and opportunities.

5. Complementary Coaching

Regardless of how much you know about your interest, you can always learn more. And where better to receive free tutelage than an interest-based community? The ideas are endless, so take advantage of this invaluable source of development.

Personally

6. Self-Satisfaction

Nothing gives you a well-deserved sense of worth than investing in something important to you. Sharing the passion with others increases its viability while exploring next-level opportunities brings inspiration and confidence.

7. Endless Expansion

With the new friends and mentors you meet, you have innumerable option for where to take your interest. When these options include professional advance, and you already have the support you need from within the community, your life takes on new depth, creativity, and independence.

Conclusion

To sum up, investing in an interest-based group:

  • Gives you friends
  • Aids communication
  • Opens professional options
  • Provides mentors
  • Improves quality of life

Bringing even more value to the experience, once you have begun reaping all these benefits, you quickly realize that you also have the privilege of providing them to others. This reciprocity is the true value of interest-based communities.

Posted in Tips and Tutorials | Leave a comment

The Benefits of Interest-based Communities

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Communities have always existed. Since humanity first began communities were called tribes, which were a group of individuals banning together against the elements. People in these nomadic groups then created their own religions, cultures, and ideals in order to form a sense of belonging as well as structure. In today’s high tech world we look to establish this belonging further than where we are geographically located. We join online interest-based communities

The benefits of these digital communities are far reaching. They enable users the ability to network and relate to others on a global scale. People are establishing their own unique communities via the internet that are based solely on their personal pursuits. Below are a few reasons why interest-based communities are so popular.

  •  Individuality – The interest-based community is founded around the idea of users creating a blog or website around their individual pursuits. By becoming a member of an interest-based blog your entire focus of that blog is what makes you tick. You’re the star. Do you like cooking? Photography? Fashion? Whatever the hobby, you are given the tools to feature what inspires you on a digital platform. You are given the gift of personalization and absolute control of your own digital space.
  • Community – Unlike Facebook, an interest-based community isn’t founded on the notion of making offline connections online connections. It is a much broader network. It allows you to meet like-minded individuals from around the world that share your pursuits. Interest-based communities are about crossing social, economic, religious, and cultural differences to unite people in their passions. Your friends list will have unlimited potential on an interested-based blog.
  • Accessibility – An interest-based community makes delving into your hobbies easier since it provides all the resources you need to fully immerse yourself in your hobbies. This means your feed will no longer be bogged down by things you find uninteresting. Why? Because the friends you will have chosen on an interest-based community will share your common interests, so their blogs will feature things you’ll actually enjoy.  You’ll have unlimited access to articles, videos, and other resources centered around your pursuits on an interest-based community because it is a space geared exclusively towards your pursuits.
  • Networking – An interest-based community also provides more opportunities to the user in terms of the real world. Such blogs can be used to network with other people or even companies that share your interests. For example, a freelance writer would benefit from an interest-based community because they could spotlight their writing and editing knowledge on it. By doing so, they are opening the door to other writers, readers and publishers to notice their passion for language. Their friends list would then serve as a means to branch out in their field as much as it would be used to connect socially with others.

As you can see, it is no wonder that interest-based communities are quickly becoming the platform of choice for most users. It allows those desiring to find acceptance and solidarity through shared passions a way to make friends and highlight their personalities. It also proves useful for individuals that wish to network or discover more about their personal hobbies. Truly, an interest-based community is a gateway to establishing long lasting connections, bonds, and a sense of belonging. Join one today. Join a community that cares.

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How the Use of Emoji can Connect Your Community

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Times have changed, and more and more people want to get a point across as quickly as possible. Enter the emoji. No longer just a silly little icon that kids use, the emoji has become a staple in everyday communication for all ages. Many people believe that using them is too unprofessional, but here is a few reasons as to why emoji may be just the thing to build your community.

  • Popularity – In 2015 the Oxford dictionary chose an emoji for their word-of-the-year. They didn’t choose the word “emoji”, they chose an actual emoji icon. This shows just how mainstream emoji have become. It is time to stop thinking of the little characters as unprofessional, and start realizing that they are actually becoming a part of our language.
  • Connection – Familiarity comes with an emoji. Using a smiley face in your communication makes the recipient feel like you are actually smiling. It may seem silly, but emotion, apology, sincerity, and other important sentiment can be portrayed to your community in ways that words simply can’t. Words can be interpreted, but a smiley face just means happy.
  • Usability – everything from advertising to data gathering can involve emoji. Huge companies, such as Coca-Cola and Disney, have paid millions to have custom emoji created for their ads. Twitter has emoji-based targeting. So if someone tweets out an emoji of a hamburger, then fast food ads will pop up for them. You can use this an infinite number of ways to connect to your personal community. Anything from giveaways to simply creating a more humanistic experience.

So, don’t shy away from the happy face. Don’t worry about replacing the word pizza with a small picture of a slice. Emoji may be the single simplest way to connect with your network.

Posted in Tips and Tutorials | 2 Comments

3 Ways Custom Social Networks Enhance Crowdfunding Campaigns

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Crowdfunding platforms are used in many different ways for many different purposes, but all can be enhanced with a custom social network. What makes crowdfunding work is the many people who contribute small amounts of money toward a purposed goal, so creating a way for these people to interact and be further engaged only enhances this effort. Specifically, here are 3 ways custom social networks enhance crowdfunding campaigns:

    • Gaining Attention and SEO Traction
    • Provides Contributors a Place to Post Relevant Information and Interact
    • Creates a Self-Help Knowledge-Based Center for Prospective Contributors

Gaining Attention and SEO Traction

A custom social network is full of unique content with related keywords toward the cause. Search engines pick up on these posts and keywords and include them in search engine results. Being visible in search engine results with multiple keywords brings attention to prospective contributors. Also, fresh content – constantly being created by users with links and related keywords – keeps the webpage alive and well for SEO purposes.

Provides Contributors a Place to Post Relevant Information and Interact

Updates, asides, and even long drawn out opinions upon the subject of the crowdfunding campaign, all enhance the experience and keep contributors involved. Depending on the purpose, these additional informative contributions can keep the campaign on-track with up-to-date relevance. At the very least, this gives like-minded people a place to interact and generate ideas.

What better place to centralize the discussion than a custom social network for the crowdfunding campaign itself? Delegate and encourage the distribution of relevant information for the purposes intended. This gives everyone a chance to be part of the experience beyond their contributions, and a way for those involved to be privy to in-depth resources through multiple channels.

Creates a Self-Help Knowledge-Based Center for Prospective Contributors

A custom social network provides more information than the summary explanation. Specifically, a self-help and knowledge-based center is automatically created for prospective contributors. Visitors funneled through the enhanced SEO, happen upon a lively discussion; they become engaged through organic marketing and are compelled to contribute to join the discussion as an insider.

Conclusion

Using a custom social network to compliment crowdfunding campaigns enhances the cause by: gaining SEO attention, engaging like-minded contributors, and informing/compelling visitors to contribute.

Considering the low-cost of having a quality custom social network with SocialEngine, this strategy should be seriously considered. If interested in learning more or starting a free trial, please contact us today.

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SocialEngine PHP 4.8.12 is here!

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We’re happy to announce the release of SocialEngine PHP 4.8.12. This release comes with a bunch of fixes that include some important security vulnerabilities, some warnings, notices and other small issues. Security of your websites is our responsibility and we take such issues very seriously. This is why we dedicated our technical team to get this release out as soon as possible. We’ve also added two important events to Sign-up process in this release that extend some possibilities. Here is the list of things included in 4.8.12:

Enhancements:

  • Added a new event onCheckBannedEmail to Signup account creation form and is triggered just after the internal check for banned emails has occurred. This event would allow site admins to consult external services with the supplied email address to catch repeat spammers right before they sign up. (Suggested in #324)
  • Added a new event onFieldsValuesSaveBefore to Signup profile information form and is triggered just before the values are saved. This event would allow applications to catch both old and new values for a field, and hence provides opportunity to enforce any business rules or customization depending on the changes in field values. (Suggested in #268)

Bug Fixes:

  • Fixed issue with invalid data error coming on ‘View All Updates’ page while accepting friend requests after 4.8.11 release. (Fixes #436 and #431)
  • Fixed an issue with user getting a Token error after right clicking on Friend Request link appearing from user profile page. (Fixes #454)
  • Fixed issue with Members’ display names being needlessly translated in activity feeds. (Fixes #351)
  • Fixed a PHP notice ‘Undefined variable: user’ that was popping up at some places. (Fixes #325)
  • Escaped parameters in output of blog search to fix some security vulnerabilities.
  • Added striptags filter to Tags field in video and blog creation that fixed important security vulnerabilities.
  • Fixes security issues in Events and Groups full text search by adding prepared statement in MySQL query.
  • Fixed a security vulnerability that existed in event creation because of Host and Location fields not being sanitized.
  • Fixed an issue with potential cross-site scripting (XSS) security vulnerability in Open Flash Chart. (Fixes #57)
  • Added code for IP Validation by applying some filter. (Fixes #330)
  • Fixed a “Duplicate column name” error that was appearing when editing a profile field just after its creation from admin panel.

How to Upgrade? You can now download the new SocialEngine PHP 4.8.12 files from your client area.

We’ve also upgraded Blogs, Events, Groups and Videos Plugins to 4.8.12. Please make sure that you do a complete backup of both files and database before performing this upgrade on your websites. If you’re not comfortable with the installation and backup process yourself, we offer upgrade services for $150 that you can purchase from here.

Changelog: You can also browse the complete changelog file for more details about the enhancements and fixes implemented in this release, and contact us if you have any queries.

Thanks to our amazing community! This release includes 2 enhancements and 6 fixes reported by you. So, keep submitting any feature requests or bug reports for SocialEngine PHP to our public bugs and suggestions tracker. Thanks again for always being there and providing your continuous feedback & support!

Posted in Release Notes | 10 Comments