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Four Simple Tips for Communicating Setbacks to Your Post Crowdfunding Community

bannerSo, you decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign. Now it is over, the money is in your hands, and you are working hard to deliver on the project you promised your backers. Everyone in your post crowdfunding community eagerly awaits your weekly or monthly updates.

Then you hit a delay. One of the many considerations you will have to make as you look forward is – how do I tell my backers?

Here are a few suggestions from IndieGoGo, one of the more popular crowdfunding platforms.

Be Honest – Admit there has been a setback. Tell your community what is happening as plainly as you can. The more clearly your backers can understand, the better they can empathize with your situation.

Apologize – While you may not have intentionally broken any of the promises you made in your campaign, some of your backers could see it that way. A sincere apology lets them know you see them as people who care about your project, just like you do, and not just money to pay the bills.

Update Your Timeline – Let everyone know how the original timeline has been affected, and what the new timeline will be. Knowing you have a plan of action will help ease their concerns.

Share the Good News – This is a great time to share any progress updates on areas of the project that have not been slowed down, or to let your backers see the process up to this point. If someone has had something positive to say, add that in.

Ultimately, the people who have invested in your campaign are interested in what is happening – whether it is good or bad. Keeping them apprised of achievements and setbacks builds trust in your product and allows them to share in your journey from beginning to end.

Thanks for stopping by! If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to us on our contact page or over in our member community!

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SocialEngine PHP 4.9.1p1 Patch Release

Hello,

We noticed an issue that precipitated an immediate release. This 4.9.1p1 release patch fixes an issue with photo album privacy on the profile.

Changed files:

  • application/modules/Album/Model/DbTable/Albums.php
    • Fixing profile album issue
  • application/modules/Album/controllers/IndexController.php
    • Fixing search related issues

You can download your copy of this patch from your client account. The file will be Photo Albums 4.9.1p1.  No need to run the full upgrade if you already have upgraded to 4.9.1.

To upgrade versions below 4.9.1, 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 ticket and our team will get it installed in no time! Please note that those upgrading from versions below 4.9.1 do need to get all of the files and not just the photo album files. This patch relates to version 4.9.1 and not lower versions.

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

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 Public Bug Tracker or by contacting us here. Lastly we’d like to encourage you to stay connected with the community.

With Great Appreciation,

The SocialEngine Team

 

Posted in Release Notes | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Going Wild with SocialEngine Banners

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Of all the features and improvements made to SE PHP v4.9, banners would have to be one of our favorites. With banners, you can let your creativity run wild and provide a truly beautiful site experience to your users! Let’s dive into the details!

What are Banners?

Banners are widget blocks that you can place wherever you want on your site. These blocks allow you to add an image, title, subtitle, call to action button (CTA) and link. This can be a huge benefit to social networks, business sites, charities, or any other website you create with SocialEngine PHP.

What size are Banners?

This depends on where you place them. The banner shown below is approximately 1140 x 250 on a notebook screen. You’ll want to test on various screens to see how your banners look.

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You’ll see below in our “Ads” section that the banner is in a side block and changes size to fit that block.

Ok, Gimme the goods! I want to know how to use these!!

There are so many uses for banners that we can’t cover every possibility, but we want to give you a couple of ideas. You can use them to fill in empty space if pages are looking a little bland. You can use them to draw attention to specific parts of your site or link to other sites you’d like to promote. You can even use them to decorate, sell ad spots, or promote causes that interest you. The potential uses for this feature are only limited by your own imagination as these banners are so versatile.

Let’s look at a couple of specific ideas we think are pretty cool::

Ads

In the next image, we made a banner into an ad spot. The link in the lower right of the banner links to the Paypal payment page we got from our Paypal account. You can link it to any payment gateway you want to use if it gives you a purchase link. This would be manual ads but it can allow you to take whatever payment method you want.

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Here’s how we set it up:

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Easy peasy right? Notice we left the image blank. You can choose an image or leave it blank. For something with a lot of text, it’s easier to read with no image or a very simple one.

Promoting Causes

Similar to ad spots, you can set up a banner to promote your favorite causes. This could also have a “donate” button that allows people to donate to that cause.

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The above shows the March of Dimes charity and a CTA button linking to their donation page.

Promoting Members

Perhaps you want to feature some members in a banner. We used the free Gimp program to make this banner:

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When we placed it, we only added the banner heading and left the sub-heading blank. We also didn’t choose a CTA for this as we wanted the images to show better.

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Want more details about setting up and using banners? We’ve got a great tutorial to give you the full details on Banners.

These are just a few of the ways you can really make your site pop with banners. We would love to hear how you are going wild with banners! Drop us a line at our community to let us know.

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SocialEngine 4.9.1 Release

4.9.1

Bet you didn’t expect to see us with another release so soon! Our team is committed to providing a quality product for our clients. This minor release addresses some issues that impacted clients that had third party products and upgraded before those products had compatible versions. We felt we needed to improve our product in order to avoid any issues with third party products that aren’t updated. This release addresses the aforementioned concern, as well as a few other issues.

Fixed Issues or Improvements Made:

  • Fixed issue with user privacy for photo album not respecting member level. (Fixes #607)
  • Fixed issue with user profile fields info not being searchable if added before admin made those fields searchable. (Fixes #592)
  • Fixed issue with integer value “5” not getting saved in member level settings of plugins. (Fixes #341)
  • Fixed issue with edit and delete options not working for Event and Group categories.
  • Added APCu support for PHP 7 that was not working in 4.9.
  • Fixed other issues in 4.9 with PHP 7 compatibility.
  • Fixed CSS errors in Bamboo Theme.
  • Fixed issue with uploaded videos not playing. (Fixes #700)
  • Fixed spelling error on create poll page. (Fixes #684)
  • Fixed issue with mobile profile options widget not working. (Fixes #678)
  • Issue: Third party products which were not updated caused SocialEngine default CSS not to load. Solution: We separated our core CSS from 3rd party add-ons so clients have the base theme loaded to get their site running off the bat.

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.

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

You can download your copy of version 4.9.1 from your client account. 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 ticket 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 Public Bug Tracker or by contacting us here. Lastly we’d like to encourage you to stay connected with the community.

With Great Respect,

The SocialEngine Team

Posted in Release Notes | 17 Comments

3 Ways to Keep Your Online Community Positive

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A successful online community is all about a positive and supportive atmosphere. With that, members and managers can be transparent, helpful, and direct about the messages they share.

The only downside is the inevitable complaining about the other guys. Some members may be so excited they found your community that they start bashing other less-supportive communities. That’s not what your community is all about.

Here are some ways to step in and squash that negativity.

1. Don’t engage anyone bad-mouthing your competitors

It’s just not good etiquette. No matter how much your followers love you and your products or services, don’t join in when they start gossiping about the brands they left behind. They chose you. Focus on encouraging phrases, happy emojis, and gratitude you can share with them instead. Keep it focused on what your brand offers, not what other brands don’t.

2. Shut down gossip and rumors

Fake news has no place in your community. Gossip and rumors feed into that hype and that doesn’t help your community grow. Show support by thanking all of your members. Then address any gossip one-on-one with the folks spreading it. Let them know you appreciate their support, but the icky rumors need to stop. They’ll appreciate your honesty and commitment to the community.

3. Include a note in your community guidelines

Clarify what you mean by “negativity” or “gossip” or “bad-mouthing” in your community guidelines. Make sure folks know it’s okay to express opinions, just not lies or destructive comments. You can direct new members to these guidelines and remind existing members to review them. Keeping everyone on the same page is a great way to keep it positive, supportive, and focused on your main message.

Contact us for more on growing a positive online social community.

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SocialEngine PHP 4.9.0 and Third Party Products

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Hello!

Well, we’ve had an exciting time with our release of SocialEngine PHP 4.9. While many have been able to smoothly upgrade without any issue, we have had some customers facing issues with third party plugins during the upgrade. We want to take a couple minutes to help offer some advice in this realm to help alleviate any issues when upgrading.

In addition to our tips in this blog for When to Upgrade your Customized Site , we must caution you not to upgrade a live site that has any third party products or customizations until you have first checked with those experts. We sent beta versions well before release in order for experts to have their products updated, but this does not guarantee that all upgrade issues within all third party products were tested.

We are pleased that some experts either updated their plugins, or notified clients that their products are still in the process of being updated. We are dismayed that some did not take this time to update their products before our release, or at least post in our community or on their sites that their products are still not updated. As such, some clients are facing CSS issues and a few other issues from third party products.

Please note that our support cannot assume responsibility to fix third party products on sites that are broken due to those products. As such, any issues caused from upgrading with third party products that are not ready for 4.9 will need to be at the third party developer’s expense via their support systems.

We sincerely hope that you will find that your third party products are updated and that you can enjoy our SocialEngine PHP 4.9 release.

With great appreciation,

The SocialEngine Team

Posted in Release Notes | Tagged , | 10 Comments

How to Manage User Frustrations in Online Communities

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When you build a successful online community, there will be a few roadblocks. One ongoing issue to prepare for is user frustrations within your community. When users find bugs, glitches, or missing features, they are quick to point fingers and demand solutions. As long as you’re on top of your communications, you can reassure community members while simultaneously creating a to-do list for your internal team.

Keep communications clean and clear with frustrated users by following these simple tips.

1. Place your contact information front and center

Provide the best form of contact for solving technical issues, whether or not it’s different from the usual form of contact. Make sure it’s available in the community guidelines and make it the public answer to every technical question. Instead of personally typing out the actual response every time someone has an issue, refer them to your form of contact and respond in detail when you’re one-on-one.

2. Clarify your refund policies

Know all of your policies for returns, refunds, buyouts, discounts, and special offers. Your community is your haven of loyal fans and you don’t want to turn anyone away by ignoring that loyalty. Listen to any issues your members might have with products and services. Be sure to include your policies in the community guidelines so everyone can find them easily.

3. Allow members to act as ambassadors

Once your community members are active and engaged with each other, they’ll start to rely on each other for answers. The true leaders will even jump into action when they see a problem they can solve. If your contact information and community resources are readily available, these proactive members will voluntarily share those resources with others when needed. Let them. They’re your spokespeople and your champions. As long as your resources are up-to-date, your community members will do the right thing, help each other out, and vouch for you even before you know there’s an issue.

Contact us for more on developing a supportive interest-based community.

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SocialEngine 4.9 Release!

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It is finally here! Our SocialEngine team is so pleased to announce the release of SocialEngine PHP 4.9! We have been working so hard for a very long time to bring you some great new features, improvements, bug fixes, and updates. You’ll enjoy a beautiful responsive theme, an improved UI, new social sharing features, PHP7 support, and many more features to help manage your site.

If you’re already a SocialEngine Customer you can download the software for free by clicking below!

SE_DL_NOW@0.5x

If you’re new to SocialEngine and would like to buy a brand new version 4.9 license of SocialEngine, click below!

SE_BUY_NOW@0.75x

We’ve created a short intro video for you to check out the new features, but for those looking for those looking for a deepr dive into the new features, let’s take a more in-depth look. continue reading »

Posted in Release Notes | 49 Comments

When to Upgrade Your Customized Site

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SocialEngine, as with most software, periodically releases new versions. These version releases can range from small quick patches for bugs all the way up to full version updates with new features.  If you’ve customized your SocialEngine websites in order to have a unique site that matches your vision, you may be asking “when should I upgrade?” That’s a great question! This article should help answer it for you.

Generally, we recommend that you upgrade with each release just to ensure that you are on the most up to date code. However, a site with core customizations or custom plugins might have different considerations than a stock installation with no custom features. Each release, whether big or small, needs to be evaluated for your own site’s needs.

Suggestions for before we get started

  • Make a development copy: Your SE PHP license allows you to install one public instance of your site as well as a second private development instance. When doing any work to your site we highly recommend that you do everything on your private instance while leaving your public instance untouched. This will allow you to work out any bugs without bothering your users so when you are ready, you can present a beautiful, clean, bug free site update.
  • Do a backup: Remember Schofield’s words and keep them close to your heart at all times, “Data doesn’t really exist unless you have at least two copies of it.” The sad fact of development is that things can go awry. Always prepare for worst case scenario by creating regular backups of both your main site and your development site. That way, if the worst happens, all you have to do is restore.

Okay! Now with that out of the way, on to the good stuff. When should you upgrade if your site is customized?

Small Patches

For small patches, we generally will show a “changelog” for how to manually add the fixes to customized sites. You would not need to run a full upgrade in this case. You could either add the code fixes to the files yourself, or have your developer do them for you. Either way, make a copy of the files you’ll be editing so you can easily restore them if needed.

In-Version Releases (4.8.12, 4.8.13, etc)

These can contain important bug fixes, small improvements, and even security fixes. You’ll want to evaluate what’s included in these releases and weigh whether it’s worth upgrading or waiting for a major release. For security fixes, we recommend to always upgrade. If it just contains bug fixes that aren’t impacting your site or improvements that you don’t need, you could wait until a major release.

Major Releases (4.8, 4.9, etc)

These releases warrant the most consideration. They tend to contain bigger improvements, more bug fixes or deeper fixes that can’t be released in a minor version, and can also contain security fixes or improvements. In most cases, you’ll want to upgrade to a major release. You’ll definitely want to test this on a development copy of your site as it could impact third party plugins. We recommend contacting any developers whose products you use and ask them if there is an update ready, or if there will be an update for the products you use.

Wrapping it all up

For each of the above scenarios, you’ll want to plan your upgrade carefully. Anything that can impact your members might cause them stress. The good news is all you need to do to avoid undue stress on your user is to prepare ahead of time. You could keep your users informed by posting announcements about the upcoming changes/maintenance or even start a thread or blog to allow them to ask questions and allay any fears they might have of impending changes.

One more thing

Timing is very important. When planning your upgrade, try to make it for a time that is least active for your site. Set the site to “maintenance mode” in order to avoid members coming on and making changes while an upgrade is taking place. Even with a development site test done, you still can experience issues on a live site that aren’t seen on the inactive development site. Give your members a place to post bugs or contact you with issues. As long as you keep your members informed, they’ll feel more secure and will be less likely to panic if something acts up.

Good luck with your upgrade! If you feel that you can’t do an upgrade yourself, you can order an upgrade service from us or check with your favorite expert.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” ~Henry Ford

Posted in Tips and Tutorials | 3 Comments

4 Tips to Welcome New Community Members

banner_003Creating a successful online community requires you to wear many hats. Welcoming newcomers is arguably one of the most important roles you’ll take on. First impressions happen quickly.

Use these tips to make sure your new members don’t turn around and walk out the door as soon as they join.

1. Send a welcome email campaign

This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it does need to communicate some basics. Set up an email template that will automatically send out to a new member once they’ve joined. Include things like a brief hello from you and who you are, the community mission statement, where to find the community guidelines, and how to ask for help.

2. Use inclusive language

It’s important to keep in mind that the community isn’t just yours. It’s everybody’s. That mean everyone needs to feel included, heard, and respected. Getting feedback on this is also tough, given that those that feel left out will rarely speak up. It’s your responsibility to be aware of any threatening language, disrespectful users, or missing guidelines. Take a few minutes to look over what you have and be sure to stress the importance of inclusivity in your wording.

3. Review your community guidelines

Jumping off of the importance of inclusive language, your community guidelines are the lifeblood of the group. This is where folks learn about your brand’s tone, mission, values, rules, and gauge whether or not they belong. Ask yourself a few questions as you review:

  • Are the guidelines clear?
  • Can I learn the purpose of the group from the guidelines?
  • Is this in line with my brand’s voice? Why/Why not?
  • Is the language welcoming and inclusive?

Go through and make edits as you answer each question.

4. Update your brand’s information

Lastly, make sure all your brand information is up to date. All your visual assets like logos and media should be relevant. Any copy writing and bios should be updated. This is an ongoing tip. As your brand evolves and grows, so should your community.

That’s all we’ve got for now! Thanks for stopping by. Remember you can always contact us for more on creating a welcoming online community.

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