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Interest-Based Communities vs Social Networks = TKO

Interest-Based Communities vs Social Networks = TKO

Life is best spent with those you love and those who share your same interests and passions. The funny thing is, sometimes those two crowds are substantially different.

Where Social Communities Fall Short

Social-based communities have limitations. For the most part, individuals in these online communities find themselves connected to people with whom they are already acquainted, such as family, loved ones, school or work friends. Much of what they hear, say and do is conducted in an echo chamber of similar political views or endless photos of one’s life. While social communities are a great way to keep up with friends and loved ones, they do not necessarily give you the opportunity to explore topics of interest to you.

Interest-Based Communities Support and Develop Members

While still being able to connect with those around them, interest-based community members share their passions, interests and desires with a group of like-minded individuals.

One of the best things about interest-based communities is that it gives individuals the opportunity to:

  • develop skills
  • pursue hobbies
  • explore talents
  • gain knowledge
  • receive support

…in a helpful and welcoming environment.

The amount of engagement among members of a social-based community is consistent, but usually does not drive any additional thoughts or learnings.

Typically, the most a member might engage is through a like (or, if one is so lucky, a comment on a photo).

However, with interest-based communities, more time is spent looking for deeper knowledge and understanding. It is a way to explore and converse new ideas not available before the person became involved with the interest-based community.

New Bonds Amongst Members

With interest-based communities, the choice to spend time interacting and giving back is often an easy one, because when individuals enjoy the same subjects–or are being challenged by the same life circumstances–it creates a bond worth their effort.

Not only does this help everyone to enjoy life or find solutions to problems, but it also develops unique relationships among the people within their interest-based community, no matter of geographic location.

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SocialEngine PHP version 4.8.9 is here!

4.8.9 image

We’re pleased to announce that the highly anticipated SocialEngine PHP 4.8.9 is released! We’ve made many important changes, including a fix for the issues caused by Facebook and YouTube API updates. If you’ve been waiting for a better import tool to migrate your website from Ning to SocialEngine PHP, the time is now! We’ve updated our Ning importer and now it’s better than ever.

Where to get the update: You can download this latest version of SocialEngine PHP from your client area.

Caution! Please be sure to do a complete backup of your files and your database before upgrading to 4.8.9. If you’re not comfortable doing the backup and installation yourself, we’d be happy to help you out! Simply go to the client store and purchase the upgrade service, and we’ll take care of it.

Changes: Below is a list of all the fixes included in 4.8.9:

  • Fixed compatibility issue in Videos that appeared because of YouTube depreciating their API v2 and switching to v3. Note: After upgrading your website to 4.8.9, you will need to enter a new API key for Google Services, accessible in the Admin > Plugins > Videos > Global Settings section of your site. To learn how to create that key with correct permissions, read our Configuring Admin Panel for YouTube Update article. Fixes #44
  • Fixed a compatibility issue with Facebook integration that appeared because of Facebook deprecating their “offline_access” permission. For more details, check out this article on the Facebook integration fix. Fixes #42
  • Updated our Ning importer tool, fixing multiple issues and enabling import of pages. Read our Ning Archiver Importer article for more details on this.
  • Fixed a log error that appeared when Albums section was being accessed by non-logged users.
  • Fixed issue with “Translation Performance” setting not getting saved in a few cases. Fixes #45
  • Fixed a javascript error appearing after Fancy Menu widget was placed on website.
  • Fixed an issue where empty Music Playlists were not being displayed in “Manage Playlists” section of administration.
  • Fixed issue where incorrect timezone was being displayed in the email that goes to site admin on every new signup.
  • Fixed the order of member names that was being displayed in pop-up clicking on or showing list of members’ name in alphabetical order for inviting to join group.
  • Fixed issue with “Name” field of signup form that was conflicting with another form’s Name field when existing on same page.
  • Fixed issue with newly registered members getting two emails: “Welcome email” and “Welcome email with Password”.
  • Fixed an issue where search engines were indexing the website in maintenance mode. Fixes #18
  • Fixed issue with search corresponding to custom profile question “Country” that was not working on “Manage Classifieds” page.
  • Fixed a javascript error that was appearing on a few multilingual websites on photo selection page during signup.
  • Fixed an issue where a few activity feeds on the “Member Home Page” sometimes appeared missing.
  • Fixed issue with “Allow Messaging” setting that was not working fine in mobile site.
  • Fixed issue with albums link that was redirecting to a “Page Not Found” message. This appears when a photo received in a message is viewed.
  • Fixed an issue where edited discussion posts in Events were displayed with HTML Tags. Fixes #48
  • Fixed issue where custom pages having hyphens (-) in their URLs were not working.
  • Increased the width of Layout Editor’s “Page Block Placement” area for better accessibility at admin panel.
  • Fixed an issue allowing multiple line breaks in comments. Fixes #40
  • Fixed an issue that caused photos to turn sideways when captured and uploaded from a few android and iOS devices.

Plugins: We’ve also upgraded Albums, Classifieds, Events, Groups, Mobile, Music and Videos plugins to 4.8.9.

Changelog: You can browse the complete changelog file for more details about the fixes implemented in this release.

Super sleuths: Six of those fixes were reported by our amazing community. You can always submit any feature requests or bug reports for SocialEngine PHP to our public bugs and suggestions tracker. Thanks for your continued support!

Contact: Please contact us if you have any questions.

Thank you!

Posted in Release Notes | 20 Comments

May 2015 Keeping It Rolling Update

We couldn’t resist taking advantage of the beautiful weather on Mike’s birthday, so we had a successful disc golf outing. Play was so competitive, no one thought of snapping a photo. In the meantime enjoy a picture of a bunch of discs:


Here’s what we focused on and accomplished in May:

SocialEngine Cloud

Cloud received over 10 updates this month. We have an internal versioning system that hit 10 releases for the first time! You can always view the entire list on the SocialEngine Founder’s Community. Here are a few highlights:

  • RSS updates
  • Searchable dropdowns if there are a lot of items
  • Facebook invites are back
  • YouTube link previews
  • Bandcamp scraping
  • Substantial amount of bug fixes
  • Switched to monthly billing instead of quarterly (active starting now)

SocialEngine PHP

Work on the 4.8.9 release was a focus for the month.

  • Finishing touches put on the roadmap
  • Conversations with PHPfox community of developers about an import script
  • Outlined and began work on fixing Ning importer thanks to feedback from Ning community


We’ve taken the first steps in organizing ourselves internally to create a Customer Success Team here at SocialEngine. Beyond customer and technical support, our Customer Success efforts will include developer relations, internal and external community participation, and client on-boarding support. In addition, this team will be creating and updating knowledge base content to make sure we keep our product documentation updated and relevant. Our intent is to provide a heightened level of personalization and interaction with our third-party developers as well as current and prospective clients.

  • Marcus has stepped into a role of Customer Success Manager
  • Starting to utilize a new marketing email provider, MailChimp
  • Cloud pricing changed from quarterly to monthly billing, making it easier financially for new customers to on-board

What’s Happening in June

  • PHP 4.8.9 release will include permanent fixes for Facebook, YouTube integration,  and an improved Ning importer
  • Release of the PHP product roadmap
  • 3rd Party developer to offer PHPfox importer
  • More knowledge base articles and developer outreach by Customer Success Team
  • Comment editing and comment attachments in Cloud

Thanks for your continued support of SocialEngine.

If you are interested in building a custom branded community, please contact us at

With appreciation,


Posted in Company Updates | 1 Comment

Build Your Own Interest-Based Online Community



Forbes Magazine recently published an article titled, “Are Interest-Based Networks the Way of the Future?” Writer Drew Hendricks explored the idea that people naturally come together and prefer to be with others with whom they have something in common.


“Today, our tribes are often found online. These are the sites where we gather, share information, discuss topics of interest to us, and communicate with each other. Now, interest based networks are becoming increasingly popular. These are topic specific sites where people are able to communicate with a more targeted group of people,” he wrote.

That’s seen regularly in the major social media networks. People join groups, follow pages they like and share information about their likes with their friends.



Jay Jamison, writing in Tech Crunch, says social media giant Facebook set the stage for the next evolution of social media. He specifically points to “interest-based” social media. These sites allow people to set what they like first and find like-minded people. Personal relationships come after mutual interests. He wrote, “[T]hese new interest-based social networks enable users to express their interests in new, engaging ways and offer authentic, high value connectivity with new people we don’t already know. The different approaches of these interest-based services are distinct from Facebook, and they are powering the massive growth and engagement we are seeing in these new services.”

This kind of engagement of interest-based communities is not new nor is it rare. One only need look at the sporting world, much older than the Internet and today’s “social media,” to see how people come together. Here are some examples:

• Fantasy league football. Brings people from all social groups together.

• College sports. Alumni and fans rally around their team, regardless if they are rich or poor.

• Hobbies. Rock hounds, bird watchers, sewing circles, fishing and hunting are just a few activities that bring people together. If you can think of something to do, someone has a group for it.

• Patient-based. You may not think medical issues bring strangers together, but these communities are extremely useful and valuable to its collective membership. Communities for individuals or families for hospice support, cancer support, lupus support, kidney transplant support, addiction recovery groups are just a few examples of thousands of patient-based communities that provide peace and connection for millions of people.



Now, it’s easier than ever to bring like-minded people together to share their passions, their interests and their desires. If you have a passion and want to share with others who feel the same way, contact us to find out about creating a = community designed just for you and people who share the same interest.

If you are interested in a fully customized community for your brand or mission-based organization, please contact us at:

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May Community Roundup

Hey everyone! May is over so its time to take a look at what has been happening this month with the SocialEngine community!

New Add-ons and Updates:

Team Showcase & Multi-Use Team Plugin – This plugin helps you to add team members to your website with their names, designations, short descriptions, social profiles link with smooth hover effects and many more.

User Feedback – This plugin makes leaving feedback easier for users either registered or non-registered. Other users can see each other feedback and vote.


Advanced Comment – Advanced Comment provides nested comments and replies to helps users communicate with each other on a matter effectively. continue reading »

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Five Reasons to Start a Branded Community

Five Reasons to Start a Branded Community

Milllenials and Generation Z have forced many marketers and business owners to realize just how powerful branded communities are as a business strategy. Because these generations grew up with social media and the internet, they expect more meaningful relationships with the companies they chose to buy products from.

Though a select few brands have enjoyed brand loyalty throughout the years — like Apple or Harley Davidson — to most marketers, these seem like rare occurrences only elite brands enjoy; not an active business strategy to help build loyalty. However, the internet now enables businesses of all sizes to build a community around its brand and enjoy frictionless sales paths and free word of mouth marketing that comes with these communities.

What are Branded Communities?

Branded communities consist of like-minded people who enjoy interacting with one another in an environment designated to represent your customers and brand. Though some people have been able to successfully build forum communities around their brands, forums don’t function like our favorite social media platforms. Social media sites encourage social interaction and foster, (in many ways), very satisfying casual, friendship-like social interactions. In fact, experts find that people spend 28% of their online time on social websites. In addition, if you observe your friends and family, you will notice even new social sites can find an audience quickly. How many people have you heard mention that they, “were on SnapChat,” just a month or two after the developers launched the app?


Building a community around your brand turns your brand into a pleasant part of your customers’ daily life. Here are your five reasons to build a branded community:

  1. Customers associate your products with recreation, fun and escape
  2. You gain free word of mouth advertising
  3. You gain instant support for any new products you introduce
  4. You can promote more often and spend less money on advertising, because all your customers are in a concentrated location, (Does Harley Davidson really have to advertise in Time Magazine, USA Today or even Men’s Health? It’s just not necessary.) and
  5. Lastly, you gain a deeper understanding of who your customers really are, where they come from, what they value, why they love your brand and what they want to see next from you

Customers that have socially engaged relationships with their favorite brands say that they spend 20-40% more on those brands than they would otherwise; so build your branded community today, on!

Do you want a custom branded community? Contact us via email:

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Our Public Bug Tracker and Our New Demo Site


A while ago, we moved our public bug tracker from Redmine to GitHub. Most of you have already been filing requests / suggestions over the new bug tracker, which is great!

We undertook this change after evaluating multiple options and settling on GitHub as the best solution. GitHub has a nicer interface than the Redmine repository browser. It’s quicker, has more reliable highlighting, nicer URLs, and other improvements. Also, because we use GitHub for SE PHP development, handling your suggestions and mapping them with our internal issues becomes a much more streamlined process.  continue reading »

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Important Fix for Sites Using the Facebook Integration Feature

Facebook recently updated their integration API. This means that if your site is currently using the Facebook integration there is a minor adjustment that needs to be made to continue the use of the Facebook integration. Please click HERE to view our support article explaining how to make the needed changes to ensure that Facebook integration continues to run smoothly on your site.

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April 2015 Keeping it Rolling Update

April was another month of getting things done at SocialEngine. We’re thrilled to have met a majority of our monthly projected items.

In May we are pushing hard to bring an improved customer and developer experience with our new website. As of May 4 we brought on a new full-time developer to help drive development efforts and deliver features at an increased pace.

Here’s what went down in April:

SocialEngine Cloud:

  • Launched Single Sign On (SSO)
  • Launched access to the SocialEngine Cloud roadmap. You can reference our previous post to find out how to engage with us and the roadmap
  • Launched the Post Editing feature. This was a big one as post editing touches almost every aspect of the content on the site. We hope you enjoy the improved experience
  • As always, for a list of additional updates please check out our release notes in our customer community
  • We created wireframes for an updated Menu Settings feature and we’re excited to move this into production

SocialEngine PHP

  • Continuing working on the roadmap for versions 4.9 and 4.10 and beyond
  • Worked on updating the demo to the latest version. We still have updates to make, but it now represents our current version
  • For the site relaunch we are entering the final phase and have completed:
    • Outlined work left to be done
    • Made progress on all fronts to bring forth a robust system

SocialEngine Support

  • Updated LiveChat strategy to better convert sales


What’s happening in May

Our goals for May are split into 4 main categories:

  1. Work on relaunch of the site, with the majority of our available hours dedicated to this task. Third-party developers will be able to submit their applications and we’ll be putting finishing touches on the content and purchasing experience
  2. Continual improvement of Cloud. With Post Editing done, our focus will shift to Comment Editing and updating the Menu Settings functionality. And, as always, we will continue to improve the platform with smaller changes and bug fixes
  3. PHP will receive a lot of love, including getting more content in the newly-updated demo, a roadmap announcement, and new Knowledge Base articles
  4. The marketing team will focus on outreach to emerging markets in need of communities


As always we truly appreciate the ongoing support from our developer community and the excitement for the updates and future direction of the company.


Posted in Company Updates | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

April Community Roundup

Hey everyone! April is over so its time to take a look at what has been happening this month with the SocialEngine community!

New Add-ons and Updates:

Location / City Specific Content – This package enables you to get your locations centric website up and running quickly in few minutes.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 3.57.41 PM

Dating system – A plugin to help develop a dating site that features Mutual Likes, Gifts, Dating photos, Ajax searching and any fields searching, Highlighing members widgets and much more! continue reading »

Posted in Add-On Highlights, Client Spotlight, Developer Spotlight | Leave a comment