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Five Website Startup Tips with SocialEngine

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Starting a website can be an exciting time. It can also cause some anxiety if this is a new adventure for you. The good news is, SocialEngine Cloud and SocialEngine PHP are easy to set up and get started. Here are some tips to help you on your way with your new website so you can achieve your goals whether using SocialEngine Cloud or SocialEngine PHP.

Know Your Audience

Before you start your website, you should jot down the “target audience.”  The following questions can help you narrow down the focus of your site and help find your target audience.

  • Who would most likely want to join your site?
  • Who would benefit from it?
  • Why would someone come to your site?
  • What need does it serve?

All of those questions can help when it comes to setting up your site.

Know Your Competition

Once you know your target audience, it’s time to research the competition. Google is a great tool but you can use any search engine that you prefer. Research using various terms to find the same type of site that you want to focus on. Find some of the top sites that have a lot of members. Join those sites and see why they are successful.

You won’t want to clone (copy) those sites though but you do want to learn from your competitions’ strengths and weaknesses. Start by listing things you see that make these sites great. Perhaps keep it to the top 10 things. Then, on another list, jot down the areas in which you think your competition could improve. This will be your window where you can grab members that might not be happy. The “needs improvement” list will be what you use to excel against the competition. For your site, you’ll want to try to take that “needs improvement” list and implement things that can be made into great features on your site. You can then use these unique features to advertise and set your site apart!.

Plan Your Site

After you’ve done the above steps, you’ll want to plan your site. It’s a good idea to know how you want your site to look and function before you start setting it up. Here are a few examples of some things you can plan:

  • Theme colors – including header, footer, background, font color and style.
  • Phrases – menu names, categories, topics.
  • Site Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
  • Site features – things you want to enable/disable, features you need for the site (third party products or customizations).
  • Sign up method – normal, invite only, social logins (Facebook, Twitter, etc).
  • Content – plan on adding good content such as blogs, photos, articles, etc.

Mail and Security

You’ll want to consider using a transactional mail service such as Sparkpost, Sendgrid, Amazon SES or others that you may find. Make a note of their terms as each has their own posted terms. Some of these mail services are free and others are paid services. Why do you want to do this?

Email these days is getting harder to get into the mailbox and keep out of the spam box. The transactional mail services already have a built up reputation and can offer better deliverability. Plus, you don’t risk having your entire server IP blacklisted if someone accidentally reports your messages as spam.

For security, you may want to look into using Cloudflare. They have free and paid versions. This can help keep spammers from taking server resources and can block known bad IP addresses from accessing as well. Cloudflare is easy to set up and quick to implement.

Final Tips

Our last tip is the most important of them all. Keep active on your site! Plan to be on your site every day. Post on it every day. Check for and remove any spammers or users that are breaking terms. A start up website needs to be monitored and needs attention in order to build your audience.

You can get free promotion by signing up for various social sites and posting from your site to those. Both SE Cloud and SE PHP offer features to post to Facebook and Twitter. This is great free promotion.

Blogs and article posts are great for SEO to help get your new site into the search engines. Post relevant articles or blogs to your SE PHP or SE Cloud site to generate the type of content that search engines love to grab. This is more free promotion.
We hope these tips help you get your website up and running. If you have questions or need more help, please feel free to post at our community.

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Spencer’s Adventures – Team Adventures

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Hello Everyone!

Hope summer has been great for you! It’s been great for me. I’ve been traveling some!

I went to visit Kyle in California! I didn’t know he would be away so I chilled with his cat who turned out to be a great surf instructor. Got a little fur and claw marks on his surfboard but I don’t think he’ll notice. Wondering where he was? Come to find out, he’s a musician! He went on the coolest tour!

“Recently I got the chance to head out on the road for a whole month! I was playing guitar for a band based out of Los Angeles and they asked me to hop in and come play some shows with them. We got to play all over the mid-west and the east coast.

During the days on the long drives I had a mobile hot-spot so I could keep up with the SocialEngine community and at night I got to play a rock show! There was a lot of sleeping on couches and driving long distances, but I loved it! I got to see new places I’d never been to before like Burlington, Vermont. What a beautiful place! I also got to spend time in cities that I know and love like Chicago and New York. I’m very glad to be home with my friends and family now, but I sure did have a blast when I was out there.” ~Kyle

Once I got back, I found James and he gave me some info while taking me for a walk. I guess it was more a run than a walk. In fact, we raced around a bit before getting ice cream.

“For the past four months, I’ve been biohacking toward reducing knee and back pain. As an avid trail runner, I can’t imagine life not getting on the trails, but the recurring knee pain was making that a reality.

I was listening to a Trail Runner Nation podcast and the discussion about shoes and barefoot running came in regards to pain management. After that, I listened to Freakanomics Podcast episode “These Shoes Are Killing Me!” and it was then that I decided to try going toward zero drop shoes.

Come to find out, there are two zero drop shoe companies in Boulder, Zero Shoes and Lems. I bought a Zero Shoe sandal and started slowly walking around in them. In just four months, I’m able to run a local trail in Boulder, called Mt. Sanitas, wearing just the Zero sandals. My knee pain is gone, my feet are reconnecting me to the ground and the world around me in ways I never expected.” ~James

Pretty neat right? Donna was brushing my fur and told me that her daughter is making a cool app that should be in the Apple store soon. As her daughter has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, this app is geared towards those in the autism spectrum.

“ASD Journal is a guided journal app, geared toward helping people on the Autism spectrum (as well as others) work through and process things that would normally be difficult, whether it be emotions, significant events, sensory issues, triggers, or a combination of these.

The app guides the user through this process with a series of questions, followed by plenty of space in scrollable text boxes to write any thoughts that apply. This can be especially helpful before, during, or after a shutdown/meltdown, when communication and rational thought can often be inhibited and thoughts tend to be disorganized and frantic.” ~Donna

Another very cool update from some members of our team.  We’ll keep you updated on our team members from time to time. For now, this is your buddy Spencer signing off.

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Create a Twitter Clone Quickly with SocialEngine Cloud

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Twitter has always been a staple of the social media scene. The platform created a genre of social networking that has seen steady growth since its inception. As the medium continues to grow you can grab a piece of the action by making your own Twitter clone with our SocialEngine Cloud.

SocialEngine Cloud is sometimes referred to as a Twitter script or Twitter software because it’s so easy to create your own site just like Twitter.

Why make a Twitter clone? There’s already Twitter.

True, Twitter does already exist and has a huge following. However, it’s a mix of topics and has a very strict character limit. If you create your own Twitter clone site, you could narrow the focus in order to discuss particular popular topics in a more in-depth manner. This could grow quickly depending on the topic you choose and the interest level in that topic.

SocialEngine Cloud doesn’t limit the characters like Twitter does for posting. This would have an obvious appeal for those that would like to express their thoughts in more than 140 characters.

Is it hard to do?

Not at all! It’s very simple to set up an SECloud site. It’s just a matter of setting up your account and payment details. The cloud instantly deploys once you enter the details.

Once you have your site, it’s already all set to post. For the theme, we suggest choosing the Stream or Clean theme as they present nicely for this type of site. You can set this with a simple click of a button.

Getting started can take less than an hour. It would be best if you add some personal touches to the site so it matches your site focus. Categories can easily be added or changed. Menus and pages are also easy to handle. Depending on how much you want to personalize, you could be ready within hours to a day or so.

Sounds great! How do I start?

Glad you asked. :) You can get started with a free trial for 14 days. This will seamlessly change to the paid version when the trial ends so you don’t have to worry about losing anything you’ve worked on. To get started, go here to sign up for your 14 day free trial and enter your details. Once you’ve chosen the subscription you want to start after the trial ends, you’ll enter your payment details and account details and Checkout. Your cloud will instantly be created and you will have a website just like that!

Here are some getting started videos to help you learn the ropes but SocialEngine Cloud was created to be simple to use. Your Twitter clone will be well on it’s way in no time at all!

Got questions or feedback? Please feel free to post at our community!

“The cloud has become the next-generation supercomputer, and the smartphone has provided the revolution to spur its use.” ~ Jerry Yang

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Announcing SocialEngine Atlas Premium Theme

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Hello Everyone!

We are pleased to announce our first premium theme, Atlas! This responsive theme has a modern look and feel, unique features, and does away with the need for the mobile plugin. Spencer released a sneak peek with features and images so you’ll want to check there if you hadn’t already.

To recap some of the new features in Atlas, it contains:

  • Autocomplete search
  • Fully responsive design
  • Visitor page banners
  • Redesigned posts and comments
  • Profile header redesign with profile banner
  • Redesigned music player
  • All Browse sections redesigned for optimal viewing
  • Activity feed redesigned
  • Full width video in feed
  • Full width/height chat
  • Forum topics redesign for best viewing
  • Edit form redesigned

Here are some screenshots of the mobile view from an iPhone

Activity Feed:

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Menus:

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Visitor Sign In:

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Subscription Selection:

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Want to see more? No problem! Check our demo :) . Want to own this great theme? Purchase in our marketplace after logging in to your dashboard. Atlas theme requires a minimum PHP version of 5.3.2.

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SocialEngine Beta Certified Marketplace Opens!

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We are pleased to announce the opening of the Beta Certified Marketplace! This update to our current marketplace allows experts to submit their products for testing and receive a certified SocialEngine icon.

Clients will then be able to choose between certified and noncertified products. Choosing a certified product will allow clients to rest assured that the product has been tested to install on a fresh SocialEngine site while producing no errors. Clients will also have peace of mind knowing that SocialEngine has tested the product. Reviews are greatly appreciated on all products in order to encourage experts to make more!

Certified listings will show which versions are supported and a revision history for the plugin. All Certified plugins are also required to have support from the expert per their support terms. Only products that work in current SocialEngine releases (4.9 and up) can be certified. This should help clients to easily find products that work in new releases. We also require that a certified product be updated within 30 days of SocialEngine releases in order to help clients to upgrade their sites faster. Major version releases will require re-certification testing to ensure they still work.

The certified marketplace should allow experts to have better exposure for their certified listings as we’ve included these listings in the clients’ admin panel. This will make it easier for clients to find great new products to purchase as well. As tested products will be more appealing, we expect experts to see increased sales of these type of products.

We’ll include more promotional opportunities for certified products. This can include blog posts, community posts, social media posts, paid sponsor listings, better position in the marketplace for optimal viewing, and more. If you’re a SocialEngine Expert or want to be one, now’s the time to get on board with the certified marketplace!

Please note that all terms of service and submission guidelines have been updated. All experts and clients are encouraged to read the updated documents.

This is a beta launch and could have bugs and/or areas that might need improvement. We welcome all feedback on the feedback section of our community. Please note that, though this is a beta, it is fully functional and any sales will be actual purchases. With that in mind, please only purchase what you want.

Thank you all for your feedback that helped bring this certified marketplace to fruition. More improvements will be coming so stay tuned!

With Appreciation,

The SocialEngine Team

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Vote for SocialEngine for 2017 CMSCritic Awards

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It’s time to vote! With your help, we’ve made it past the nominations into the voting stage. Thank you all so much for nominating us.

SocialEngine has won Best Social Network Software in 2013, 2015 and 2016 thanks to all of you! We would love to continue the winning streak. More importantly, we want to know that we’re providing the best in Social Network software for all of you. We can only do that with your help again. Your votes let us know we’re on the right track and spur us on to do more.

Please vote for us for Best Social Network Software:

https://www.cmscritic.com/awards/2017-web-nominations/

Voting is open until November 1, 2017.

Thank you all for your continued support. You are what makes SocialEngine the best there is!

With Great Appreciation,
The SocialEngine Team

Posted in Company Updates | 8 Comments

A Look at SocialEngine Profile Questions

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Hello and welcome! Today, we’ll introduce you to Profile Questions in SocialEngine PHP. We’ll cover what they are, how they work, and how they can be useful to your community.

What are Profile Questions?

Profile Questions are custom fields or questions that members answer for their profiles. The Profile Questions can correspond to Profile Types in order to have customized questions for different member types. For example, you could have a Profile Type called “Actor” with profile questions that correspond to to the profile type. Examples would be movies, awards, Actor’s Guild Member, etc. You could also have a Profile Type of Director and have pertinent questions for Directors that don’t show on the Actor’s profile and vice verse.

How do Profile Questions Work?

Profile Questions work by connecting specific questions to a Profile Type. As members join your community, they select the Profile Type that they belong in. This then enables Profile Questions that have been set to that Profile Type to show on the member’s profile for them to fill in.

Here’s an example of some basic profile questions filled in on the member profile:

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How are Profile Questions Useful?

Profile Questions are a great way to customize member profiles, help connect like-minded members, and sort members. These can be useful for dating, business, sports, music and many other types of communities.

You can choose whether the Profile Question shows on the member browse page, the signup page and the profile. Having these options allows you to control which Profile Questions show in public areas and which ones don’t.

Here’s how it looks on the member browse search section:

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As you can see above, Profile Questions can be very useful for your community. With Profile Questions, your members can provide a better view of who they are, their business details, or perhaps even their band info. This versatile feature can be used however you envision – from personal, business, pets, religious or any other type of profile that you’ve set up.

Thank you for spending time with us! If you have any questions, please feel free to post at our community.

Posted in Tips and Tutorials | 7 Comments

SocialEngine PHP 4.9.4 Release

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Hello!

We’re back with a new release –  SocialEngine PHP 4.9.4! This minor release addresses some issues that were reported by clients in our community along with a few issues our staff found during further testing. We’ve also included some improvements for the upcoming certified marketplace.

A big improvement we’ve made is to add LESS parser support for themes!. This combined with the improvements we made in 4.9.3 are sure to drastically improve SocialEngine templates!  **Note: if using Admin Panel to edit the LESS variables, you’ll need a minimum of PHP 5.3.2 on the server.

Fixed Issues or Improvements Made:

  • Feature – Adding LESS parser support for themes.
  • Fixed – default language only worked if set to English.
  • Fixed – issue with installing plugins on Ubuntu 16.
  • Fixed – issue with session_write_close() for some servers.
  • Fixed – added password field for Redis cache, optional setting.
  • Fixed – using quotes in About Me caused ASCII characters to show.
  • Fixed – issue with saving CSV to PHP setting if setting did not exist in DB.
  • Fixed – changed notification to DESC to allow new notifications to show for those with lots of activity.
  • Fixed – error with Archive_Tar has a deprecated constructor.
  • Fixed – issue with widgets loading for disabled plugins.
  • Fixed – critical error with “Already Liked.”

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

We had mentioned in our 4.10 sneak peek that we would remove older themes (all themes except Insignia) from the core download. We’ve removed them for this release but they can now be found in the marketplace for free and can be downloaded once logged in to your account. You’ll see them listed as SocialEngine PHP Legacy Themes in one bundle. Support and updates for these themes will not be provided as they are legacy products and we cannot continue to support them. We suggest you contact third party experts for assistance with any theme issues. Experts that may want to update and release versions of these themes for sale or free need to contact SocialEngine first.

In preparation of our certified marketplace launch, we’ve added some improvements to this version. In your Admin Panel, once our certified marketplace opens you’ll notice certified plugins that you can purchases. At this time, these install in the normal method (via the Package Manager after you purchase and download them).

We’ve also added headers in your Admin Panel package manager to separate each expert’s listings that you’ve installed. Here’s a screenshot with two different expert’s products installed:

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Please ensure that you have set your domain for your license in your client dashboard at SocialEngine. This is very important as the site validation tool, https://www.socialengine.com/php-site/verify , checks by domain name. We have had sites reported as invalid by people checking them, and they actually are valid sites. This will also be important for future marketplace product validation.

As always we highly encourage all users to 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. Always check with third party experts for compatibility with any products you use before upgrading.

Important: If you are on a version below 4.9.2, you will need to follow the steps in this blog before upgrading and apply the patch mentioned.

Your copy of version 4.9.4 can be downloaded in your client account. The Zend download is no longer required as it’s part of the core product. The link still shows but does not work to download and will be removed on our next website update.To upgrade, please view our upgrade documentation or, if you’d rather we take care of the hard stuff, you can order an upgrade and we’ll do it for you. Fresh installs should follow this installation tutorial or you can order an installation and our team will get it installed in no time!

Thank you all for your help in posting any bugs you may have found! If you find any more issues, please let us know by filing a bug report in our Bug Tracker or by contacting us here. Lastly we’d like to encourage you to stay connected with the community.

With Appreciation,
The SocialEngine Team

Posted in Release Notes | 6 Comments

4.10 Roadmap

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Hello!

It’s time for a roadmap! We know how much you look forward to new releases and in getting information for upcoming ones. We wanted to let you know what’s on tap for version 4.10 and a basic idea of when to expect it.

New Features

Tagging Members

Ability to tag a member in a post or comment. Username tagging is popular in social networking and it’s coming to SocialEngine PHP 4.10!

Smileys/Emoticons

Smileys/Emoticons are a staple of social networking. We’re including smiley/emoticon support for all text areas!

Profile and Group Banners

We will be adding support for banner images for both individual and group profiles. This adds a customization feature that members tend to love.

Hashtags

We’re adding hashtags! Similar to how Twitter #hashtags work, this will also include a tag cloud to show all of the hashtags added. This is great for SEO and user engagement.

Enhancements

Remove Flash

Remove flash components and replace with HTML5. This is something that clients have requested and we find it necessary due to browser changes. It’s not something we could release in a 4.9 minor release as it’s a big change so we will include it in 4.10.

Networks Update

We’ll be updating Networks so that it’s a more robust feature. Members will be able to choose which of their networks they want to post to (via standard privacy settings).

Profile Types Update

Profile Types is getting some attention. We’ll add the ability to hide on registration and/or member browse, allow admin to assign profile types and edit a member’s profile type.

Remove Old Themes

We will remove the old themes from the core download. These will be added to the marketplace as free, unsupported downloads. Experts are free to update them as they choose and can contact us for details.

PHP Requirements

PHP has come a long way since PHP 5.2 and we find it necessary to update the requirements for SocialEngine PHP version 4.10. It will require at least PHP 5.6 but we strongly recommend using PHP 7.

All of the above are in addition to bug fixes that we’ll incorporate into this version. We anticipate this release during 4th quarter 2017. Got questions? Please feel free to ask at our community!

Posted in Company Updates | Tagged , | 30 Comments

Spencer’s SocialEngine Marketplace Adventure

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I’m back! Did you miss me?

These got pokey under my pillow so I’m going to put them here for you and then take a nap. Here’s the last of what I dug up in my first trip to the marketplace. I’m sure I’ll go back there to play as it’s full of so much fun stuff!

SportsPlus Responsive Theme – SportsPlus is a multi-color, user friendly theme with an attractive landing page. By Stars Developer “I love sports! Tennis balls are awesome!!”

Questions and Answers – A plugin that gives your users functionality to post questions and get answers. By WebHive. “Here’s a fun way to pass the time. Members could even make fun question games.”

French Language pack – Fully translated language pack. By Social-Zone. “Did you know that “woof” in French is still “woof?”

SMS Plugin – Send SMS to your contacts directly from the SocialEngine interface. By iPragmatech Solutions . “Oh this is fun. I borrowed James’ cell phone to send messages with this!”

Desktop Notifications – This module will add awesome Desktop notifications (PUSH) feature for your website. Your users will be prompted to allow your site to show them notifications (just like on Facebook). By SocialEngine Mobi . “This is great! I could friend everyone and they would get notified and then come play ball with me!”

That’s some great stuff! I hope you enjoyed them all. I sure did. :) This is your buddy Spencer signing off until next time.

Posted in Developer Spotlight | Tagged , , | 2 Comments