SocialEngine Blog

SocialEngine is the best way to create a unique community website. Let your friends, fans or customers geek out about anything you want.

Why it’s Imperative to Create Your Own Branded Community

banner

Terms like “community” and “find your tribe” are the new buzzwords of digital marketers. Newbies will automatically believe these words mean having a large following on social media or simply having high page views on their blog or website.

In actuality, community and tribe refer more to the connectedness of the leader and the community members than to the actual number of followers or members.

In short, these terms are called branded communities. A branded community as described by Click Z is a managed community of followers and customers that are a part of a branded website (think niched blog) and are bound together by common social interests and behaviors.

So no longer does it matter how much money you have or don’t have for an ads budget, nor does it matter what size your community is. What matters is the common social interests and behaviors that bond them together which makes a tighter relationship than any paid advertisement could. Here are 5 quick reasons why it’s imperative to create your own branded community.

Customer Loyalty

This is a big reason. By growing a personal relationship with future and past customers in your branded community, you create raving fans. Not only do you give them an amazing service and/or product, you’re also a person they like and trust. Not to mention that loyal customers also are great at giving glowing testimonials.

Free Market Research

Don’t know what your customers want and need from you? Why don’t you just ask your branded community? Community members are more than happy to voice their concerns. Commonly give community members questionnaires and polls to see exactly what your next product or service should be.

Sell products more easily

People buy things that are referred to them by a friend because they trust that friend. People in your community are surrounded by other friends who have tried, loved, and raved about your product. Also, they may see YOU as a friend. This helps to lower the barriers to your next round of product sales.

Use Your Community as a Platform to Give More

Not only is a branded community a platform to sell, it’s also a great platform to give. Educate your members by giving them free resources. Also engage them daily with prompts that promote thought and action.

Have Better Accessibility to Your Customers

Ever feel like your customers are faceless numbers? With a branded community get to know the personal side of people. Most people show pictures of themselves and their lives as well as fill out a bio in a community. Getting to know customers on a personal level helps to build rapport and inspires you to provide top-notch services and products.

All in all, it can never hurt to have a branded community as there are way more positives than negatives. Improve your business today by starting a branded community using Social Engine’s platform.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2016 Year End Community Roundup

This year has been so great for everyone over at SocialEngine! After so much time and hard work we were able to re-launch our new website and marketplace giving everyone not only a better experience on the site, but also a more secure buying experience for everyone in the third party market! We are so thankful for everyone who has been with us all this time and are excited to keep things moving in 2017! Here is a quick look back at what happened in December.

Add-ons and Updates:

Auctions – Sell, buy, place bids, compete with other sellers, interact just in few clicks!

Screen Shot 2016-12-30 at 11.15.30 AM

Member Review/Rating – Build a more engaging community via reviews and ratings among members.

Circles – Try Google+ Circles functionality on your site!

Screen Shot 2016-12-30 at 11.16.03 AM

Kreative Theme – Be kreative, make an astounding website with this theme!

Community Owner Spotlight:

Songplatform.onsocialengine.com – Create powerful relationships while networking within the songwriting community.

Screen Shot 2017-01-03 at 10.41.40 AM

Maria.onsocialengine.com – Booming business network for successful people!

Citro.ro – CITRO is a place where all the highly educated people in the field of Computers and Information Technology from Romania meet.

Screen Shot 2017-01-09 at 7.47.02 AM

What Others are Saying:


Posted in Client Spotlight, Company Updates, Developer Spotlight | Leave a comment

Three ways to use community management technology to discover new talent for your team

banner_r1_c1

We’ve already established the importance of building a community around your brand and some tips on how to make it successful.

The goal is to bring vibrancy to your brand by connecting members in a forum centered around your company vision. This helps spread brand awareness as followers share and contribute content with their friends and family.

However, the benefits of a healthy community are not reserved only for consumers; it’s also vital to foster community in the workplace.

Companies can use community management apps to engage staff and promote connection between the business as a whole and each individual member.

That’s great for existing staff, but how can the idea of community be utilized to attract quality new talent to the team?

Pretty easily, actually.

Use current employees as brand ambassadors 

When on the hunt, many job seekers check out social networking platforms, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, as the first step in their search to get more information about prospective employers. When they land on your company page, you want to give them a positive and detailed picture of what it’s like to work there. From there, they can connect with current employees and link to community content which will hopefully inspire them to get in touch and learn more.

Use community technology to sell authenticity

These days, it’s incredibly important for companies to be relatable, both in the consumer retention and employment arena. Competition is fierce to retain business, as well as to ensure the longevity of quality team members. Share content that is inspiring, educational, and conveys your company vision. What does your company do to benefit the greater community? Use video and testimonials to put a human face to all you do.

Treat potential employees as you would potential clients

It’s a job-seeker’s market right now. In order to woo the best, you need to highlight the ways your work environment is the best. Displaying the strong community you’ve created using community technology is a great place to start. Show potential employees that once hired, they will be appreciated as a unique contributor to the company mission, and that they’ll have a medium to connect with other staff, and other members of the greater industry community.

For more information on how to sell your company as an outstanding employer with a vibrant community, contact us.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

4.9 Sneak Peek

SocialEngine 4.9 Sneak Peek

Hello! We’ve been burning the midnight oil getting things together for our exciting 4.9 release! As the pieces start to fall into their final places, we’d like to provide you with this Sneak Peek! Are you ready? We’ve got some great improvements and new features to bring your social networking community to a new level!

Below are just a few of the awesome new features and improvements coming. Some of these features had been planned for our 4.10 release but our wonderful development team was able to include the UI improvements in this 4.9 release!  

New Insignia – Responsive Theme

Our new default responsive theme, Insignia, enables your users to easily browse content across multiple devices with varied screen sizes. This will be the default theme when you’ve installed a fresh copy of SocialEngine.

Insignia Theme SocialEngine 4.9

Awesome UI Improvements

We’ve improved the User Interface (UI) for a smoother, more refined experience. The numbered items below correspond to the numbers on the screenshot above.

  1. New header layout with the member’s photo in the mini menu.
  2. New footer layout with social share options.
  3. “Banner” feature. Admin will be able to add photos and text for each banner. These can be placed on any page and will show the image, text and a CTA button. Above, we show it  on the Browse Photo Albums page.. You can see the text centered in the banner and the CTA button “Upload Photos” in the lower right corner.
  4. Enhanced UI for all of the browse pages of core modules. The above screenshot shows the Browse Albums page.  We’ve implemented this for all of the other core modules including: Members, Videos, Classifieds, Blogs, Music, Events, and Groups.
  5. Added a Search button in search widgets for better UX.
  6. Added a categories widget for all of the core modules for better UX and navigation. Our screenshot above shows it for the Photo Albums.

New Toggle Between Vertical and Horizontal Menus

We’ve added a setting for Admin to allow toggling between either vertical or horizontal menus. This gives you greater flexibility in website customization. Here’s how the vertical menus look, in both the “open” and “closed” views.

Insignia menu panels 4.9

Upload Multiple Photos in Activity Feed

This new feature allows your members to upload multiple photos with their Activity Feed “Post something.” When your member wants to post a status, they can now choose to include multiple images with it. This can help to create more activity on your site as members do love to share their photos!

Member Home Page Multiple Photos

reCAPTCHA Updated to Google’s No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA

Spammers beware! You’re SocialEngine 4.9 website comes with an update to the reCAPTCHA anti-spam protection. Very easy for you to use, much harder for spammers to infiltrate.

Insignia Google reCAPTCHA

Zend Framework Updated to latest ZF1

We’ve updated our Zend Framework to the latest ZF1 which allows us to support PHP 7 and PHP 7.1! This is great for everyone that wants to use PHP 7 for their communities.

SEO friendly content URLs with Slugs

Improving your SEO experience can help you place better in the search engines. We’ve added SEO friendly content URLs with Slugs for Albums, Groups, and Events. This will change your URLs from this, http://xyz.com/group/1 , to be like this, http://xyz.com/group/test-group , where “test-group” is the name of the group that was created.

Be sure to stay tuned for further announcements so you can grab version 4.9 when it releases! Don’t have a license yet? No need to wait to get started as upgrading to new releases is easy peasy, point and click simple. You can start your community today with our 4.8.13 and then upgrade later on without concern. Questions? We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to contact us.

Posted in Company Updates | Tagged , , | 39 Comments

5 Ways to Relieve Conflict in Your Community

banner_final

As your branded community grows and flourishes with activity, you will inevitably run into some sort of conflict from within. No matter how peaceful your content and connections are, people have differing opinions and will use your platform for discussion.

Never fear! Navigating conflict can be a positive experience for your brand and your fans. Just like leading your community through targeted content, leading your members through tough feedback or disagreements starts with listening and understanding needs.

1. Put an End to Any Harassment

If the conflict is arising out of true harassment or hateful content, stop those instigating it immediately. No community is safe when one or a few members are excluding others on any basis.

2. Listen to All Parties

Communication is the most important part of your brand and your community. Make sure you’re truly opening your ears and taking notes from thoughtful members. Remember: These community members are your advocates out in the social world. How you listen and respond in these situations is public and can garner respect for your brand if done graciously.

3. Find Common Ground

We’re all human and we all want to be heard. Your brand’s needs are just as important as your clients’. However, there’s got to be some similarities between the two. Talk it over and share why you see things the way you do, what you’re doing to improve the situation, and how you’ll incorporate these new ideas in the future.

4. Turn Critique Into Constructive Feedback

No doubt, initial words are sure to be harsh and critical. Keep listening and asking questions. As your members give you more information, start asking questions that lead to a solution. Don’t simply tell them that you have it under control. Get their opinions on what a solution looks like. This way, they feel heard and you can work on a compromise that pleases all parties.

5. Stay Positive

Most importantly, you are the voice of your brand and should mediate with a smile. Each conflict is just an opportunity to learn and grow in new directions. There will certainly be more than on tense moment within your community, so learning how to handle them with grace is an essential for your brand’s success.

We hope you found this helpful and informative! If you have any questions feel free to contact us on our site. While you’re there, you can check out our SocialEngine free trials!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Earning Money with Your SocialEngine Site

earningmoney

People are bored with the giant social networks, especially younger generations. Rather than joining a large network that covers a broad range of subjects, more and more users are seeking out small niche communities in which they can find like-minded people. This has given way to the golden age of startup community builders. You don’t have to have the budget of the social media giants because you don’t need the user base of the social media giants to create a worthwhile community. Once you’ve launched your social network, streamlined the user flow, and acquired your user base it’s time to think of how your community can start producing returns.

Why would users advertise on your SocialEngine based network and not on those big Social Network giants?

Let’s pretend that you are starting a business selling bikes and bike accessories. You have products to sell, but we need to find cyclists who are eager to buy. You have decided to focus on online marketing and have two choices. You can go broad and advertise to the billions of users on the social media giants or you can market to the substantially smaller niche communities that are focused on cycling enthusiasts. Which should you choose?

In reality, the answer is probably a bit of both, but when you think about it, dollars spent on smaller niche communities go much further. If you were to spend $1000 to cover all of Facebook’s 1.7 Billion (with a B!) users you’d be spreading that $1000 across a HUGE number of people. Your audience would be bigger but you’d only reach a small portion of the entire user base and many of those people aren’t going to be interested in cycling. You’ll end up paying for a ton of wasted impressions on customers who won’t pay any attention to your ad. You’d be much better off by focusing your ad budget on smaller niche communities (such as BikersPost.com) where you know every impression is going to someone who would be interested in your product.

Your community doesn’t have to have a billion users to attract advertisers. If you build a thriving focused community, advertisers will be excited to pay for space on your site no matter the size.

So how specifically can I make money using SocialEngine ?


I’m so glad you asked. Let’s go in-depth on the ways you can use SocialEngine to start making money.

Advertising:

There are several ways to enable ads using SocialEngine PHP including:

SocialEngine PHP Ad campaigns:

You can create targeted ad campaigns and determine exactly where your ads will appear, how long they will be displayed, and who they will be shown to. To do this, you can:

  1. Create various member levels
  2. Create Networks and map them automatically to profile questions by going to Manage-> Networks -> Add Network -> Related Profile Question
  3. Once your member levels and Networks are successfully set-up, you can create and relate your ads to these specific users.

Additionally, you may need to create a new page on your site explaining to advertisers how to purchase advertising on your site and your specific processes. Be sure to explain to them your process of becoming an advertiser and how the system automatically tracks Views, Clicks, and CTR(Click Through Rate).

Google Adsense / 3rd party ad integration:

If you find that managing advertisers is not something you want to do, you can simply integrate 3rd party ad networks to your site with simple Banner HTML. This option allows you to copy/paste the HTML for your ad into a text area that appears when you select this option.

  1. Place the HTML on various pages by placing HTML Blocks via Layout Editor
  2. Create an ad campaign from Ads -> Create New Campaign and insert the HTML by going to Manage Advertisements -> Add New Advertisement -> Insert Banner HTML and insert the code in the HTML Code field.

Subscriptions:

Subscription plans allow you the ability to charge users for the use of premium features on your site. Here’s how we would generally set this up:

  1. A free plan, with limited access to features
  2. Some paid plans with different level of access based on the pricing. Encourage users to upgrade by going to Settings -> Subscription; or offer the ability for users to choose subscription upon signup.

Each plan you create should include premium features based on separate member levels. Monitor and experiment with which plans work best by visiting Billing-> Plans -> Active Members or create Polls to determine which features your users would like the most and package those together in various plans. You can find more detailed information on setting up subscription plans in these KB articles.

Useful Plugins to Help You Earn

Advanced messages plugin is an easy way to start conversation between friends. Used with member level settings, you could allow only paid members access to this.

This plugin allows you to run a marketplace for your social networking site. It has support for multiple item profile types.

Enable users to create rich, targeted advertisement campaigns on your site.

The first universal plugin that can be used for different purposes: portfolio projects, albums, articles, blogs, reviews, recipes and more.

Themes Can Help You Grab Members

Catchy & user-friendly responsive design.

7 different colors, editable custom landing page and 50+ modification options.

Alright! We did it! We hope that you found this article to be helpful on your ever changing quest to increase ROI. As always, please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below or at our community and we’ll be happy to answer them. You can also contact us for any queries or if you just want to tell us how much you love us.


Thanks again and we’ll be back with more soon.

**Disclaimer:

Third party products are not endorsed or sponsored by SocialEngine and are shown as a convenience to our clients. No representations or warranties regarding the third party product’s effectiveness or usability is made by SocialEngine.

Posted in Tips and Tutorials | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

4 Tips for a More Engaged Community

banner (1)

Today, communities are becoming the new hot spot for real conversations. Growing an active and engaged online community gives your brand a captive audience. Done correctly, engaged users are invaluable to building a loyal following and gaining real insight.

As you dive in and begin building your new community, keep these tips in mind every step of the way.

1. Be There for the Members, Not the Sales

An online community doesn’t need new products or sales copy. It needs support for when the product launches, feedback from ideal clients, and a cheering section for daily wins! Keep it all about genuine connection and problem-solving.

2. Keep it Exclusive

With so many large social media sites overrun with users, the benefit of a smaller group is so every member can add value and be seen as an individual. No need to invite an entire contact list here. Simply spread the word to relevant connections and the community will grow organically.

3. Encourage Transparency

Online communities are built on trust. That trust has to come from you as you lead them through tough questions, frustrations, wins, and losses. If you show your true thoughts and positive energy, the group will follow your lead.

4. Welcome New Members Wholeheartedly

In real life, it’s pretty easy to set the right tone at an event and smile big with every new guest. Online, you need to put more effort into the welcome wagon. If you’re building an email list of members, use that to send a welcome packet! If not, be sure to personally say hello and point out the FAQs to new folks. A positive first impression makes all the difference.

Contact us to start growing your community engagement.

Posted in Tips and Tutorials | Leave a comment

SocialEngine PHP 4.8.13 released

image00

Great News! SocialEngine PHP 4.8.13 is here and includes an important security fix. As you may recall from a previous post, our team has been working on a broad range of enhancements and features. During our work, we found a few issues that we felt necessitated a minor version release. We’ve seen a great number of websites being migrated from Ning to SocialEngine PHP during the past few months. As such, this version also includes a better Ning Importer Tool to make the whole process smoother and more admin friendly.

Here are some highlights of the improved Ning Importer tool:

  • Single import request broken down into multiple small requests.
  • New interface for admin to better visualize the progress and errors.
  • Ability to Resume the import if discontinued due to any reason.
  • Ability to restart the import from scratch without manual re-installation.

These are just a few of the many features we are including in this update. Click here to read more about the features we’ve included in the new importer.

Bug fixes included in this release are as follows:

    • Fixed ‘Page failed validation check’ error that sometimes appeared in Layout Editor (Fixes #382).
    • Fixed issue with multiple albums getting created in Forums with every single uploaded photo (Fixes #105).
    • Fixed issue with third level profile fields getting stuck when changing parent field in search form.
    • Fixed a login related security glitch in subscription system.

You can find and download the upgrade file for SocialEngine PHP 4.8.13 in your account dashboard . We’ve also upgraded the Photo Albums module to 4.8.13.

Due to the fact that this release does include a security update, we highly encourage you to upgrade your website. Please see our tutorial for Performing Upgrades for instructions. If you are not comfortable with upgrading the website yourself we have an upgrade service available for $150, which you can purchase from our Customer Store .

NOTE: Please make sure that you do a complete backup of both files and database before performing this upgrade. Please have the backup performed by your host or a developer if you’re not comfortable with performing it yourself.

Changelog: You can also browse the complete changelog for more details about the changes and fixes implemented in this version.

If you find any issues, please let us know by filing a bug report in our Public Bug Tracker or by contacting us here. Lastly we’d like to encourage you to stay connected with the community. The next release of SocialEngine PHP 4.9 is coming soon and we can’t wait to share it with you! We know you’re excited too.

Thanks again for your support!

Posted in Release Notes | 23 Comments

Community Management: Unique Ways to Entice New Members

banner3

“Being effective at social media, whether for business or personal use, means capturing people who have short attention spans. They’re only a click away from a picture of a funny cat, so you have to make your thing more compelling than that cat. And that can be a high bar.” Alexis Ohanian

There are many advertisers out there competing for the attention of your target demographic. In fact, some of the people distracting them are people with no financial interest in their attention at all; people with cat videos, random memes and silly comments.

Therefore, in addition to your business or organization’s natural competition, your social community is competing with a wide variety of web entities, some of which have nothing to do with your brand or industry.

Therefore, though:

  • Giving away an incentive,
  • Using popups, and
  • Asking for signups on your website and other social media sites

… are great ways to entice people to join your branded community; in the modern marketplace, business owners should try other community management strategies as well to set themselves apart.

Make Sure Your Community and Its Members Have a Separate Name – If your business is ABC Business Phone Company, call your community anything. Get creative. The Business Call Brigade, Call Junkies, The Callerz etc. This goes a long way to help build your brand and reputation. Make sure to take advantage of hashtags, logos and other branding when establishing your community name and lingo.

Use Someone Else’s Pull – Do you know of an influencer in your industry who has a lot of followers? Do you know of a business that’s very successful, complimentary to yours, yet not in direct competition with you? Joint venture with them to offer their followers/customers something free for joining your community. For example, ABC Business Phone Company might sponsor a giveaway for customers of a local managed services provider or an office cleaning company.

Invite People to Join Your Community on Your Business Card – It’s easier to entice someone to interact with you via social media when they’ve met you in person. You’re just more interesting. If they’ve only heard of you online, you have to establish trust and show them you’re an authority worth knowing amidst tons of competition. Just a 5 minute meeting at a trade show or handshake at a business meeting is enough to get someone more interested in what you have to say and what your business is doing.

Throw a Party – People love free food, free drinks and the excuse to, “get dressed up and do something.” Hire a band. Throw out some snacks and drinks in the name of building your branded community. Again, like using your business card; when people meet you and members of your organization in person, they are more interested in what you’re about online.

Always Offer a Free Service – When you offer a service, it creates more engagement. For example, if ABC Business Phone Company offered a free video conferencing app to community members, every time someone used it, they’d be reminded they’re part of ABC’s, “crew,” or its brand culture.

Always Offer a Free Download – People like instant gratification and they love information. Therefore, you should provide a free download that tells your target demographic something the really want to know. ABC Business Phone Company might tell new community members what local vendors sell office furniture and computer equipment at rock bottom prices.

 

Thanks for reading! If all this talk of community building has you excited, we’d encourage you to check out SocialEngine. The best way to build your own social network.

Posted in Tips and Tutorials | Leave a comment

3 Reasons to Build a Branded Community

BANNER

Branded communities are back and flourishing in today’s hyper-connected world. As social media is a catch-all for online content, branded communities highlight your specific brand’s voice and encourage engaged conversation around what you have to offer.

They provide a niche platform for current and ideal customers to communicate with each other, building natural relationships right in front of your products and services. As Adam Padilla, president and chief creative officer of BrandFire, says:

They allow for peer-to-peer troubleshooting…and they provide an outlet for sharing success stories about using a product or service.

Branded communities are a personalized step up from your everyday social media. Keep these three tips in mind as you build yours.

1. Interact One-on-One

A major component of creating a branded community is the relationship-building it provides between you and interested customers. Treat your online interactions as if you’re chatting over coffee. Use their real names, show enthusiasm, and be transparent.

2. Hang Out in the Comments

Wherever your followers are commenting is where you need to be. This is where your audience lets loose and writes initial reactions. If you pay attention, you’ll see how customers interact with your product and share their needs with each other. A close community reveals new possibilities for your business strategy.

3. Encourage Feedback

Always ask for more thoughts. Yes, some will be negative, but all will be informative. If you allow a variety of opinions, you’ll allow faster growth as glitches and questions are addressed. Ultimately, your brand will become a trusted leader for your niche customers.

Thanks as always for stopping by. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions and remember to check out our free trial to see if SocialEngine is right for you!

Posted in Tips and Tutorials | 1 Comment