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Responsively Mobile with SocialEngine

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Our recent SEPHP 4.9 launch saw the introduction of our fully responsive Insignia theme. This article will introduce you to concept of responsiveness and how you can go responsively mobile with SocialEngine.

First, what is a responsive theme and why should you care?

According to StatCounter, “The combined traffic from mobile and tablet devices tipped the balance at 51.2 percent, vs. 48.7 percent for desktop access”  in a study last year. Many of these devices can have differing screen sizes. This can make it a challenge when visiting websites that aren’t “mobile ready.”

For example, if a user with a smartphone visits a site that doesn’t resize to fit his or her screen, they might not see important buttons, be able to sign up, log in, log out, or interact on the site. With that experience, they are far less likely to come back.

Here’s a view from a smartphone. In this view, we’ve used a standard theme and disabled the mobile plugin to show you what issues can be faced when a site is not mobile friendly:

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Notice in the image that the settings menus are cut off. It should show the change password and delete account menus. This is how it looks in a responsive theme:

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With a responsive theme, such as our Insignia theme, the site naturally scales down to fit the screen. This gives a seamless experience for the user and delivers content to them without hampering the view.

Ok, Responsive Themes Sound Great! What about a Mobile App Instead?

Great question! Mobile apps can be a good option if you have the spare cash to purchase the app and the yearly fees for Apple and Google. In most cases, you want to have a mobile app customized to your own site. Why? Because mobile apps need to work with every feature of the site. Since most sites have different features and settings, a custom app usually needs to be made in order to give the best experience for those using it.

Mobile apps require quite a bit of upkeep as well, which means more expense when upgrading or changing site design, logo, etc. Many find the price tag for a custom app a bit out of reach. There are third party experts that sell mobile apps and may have lower pricing for custom work. If you need a mobile app, it would be best to contact them for pricing it to suit your site.

Budget-wise Options for Mobile Devices with SocialEngine

As we showed you above, a responsive theme can be a great option as it “responds” and resizes to fit varying screens. SocialEngine also has a “mobi” plugin that further assists in delivering some items better for mobile devices. Using both of these options ensures a great experience for members of your SocialEngine community.

As such a high percent of people use mobile devices now, mainly smartphones, it makes sense to ensure your site responds well on those devices. Our Insignia responsive theme allows a great deal of flexibility to change colors and more via CSS.

If that’s not to your desire, there are third party experts with responsive themes as well. Each of the theme experts can answer any questions you may have about their themes. These are affordable options to have a more custom look with a responsive design.

We hope you’ve found this helpful! If you have any questions about this article, please feel free to ask at our community.

Today’s quote:

“Your positive action combined with positive thinking results in success.”~ Shiv Khera

Posted in Tips and Tutorials | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Name the SocialEngine Mascot and Win!

Hello!

We’re so excited to introduce the newest member of the SocialEngine family. We’ve just got one problem. Our mascot doesn’t have a name yet. That’s where you come in. We could use your help to name our brand new mascot. In appreciation of your help, whomever submits the best name will win items worth up to approximately $6,300 and five runners up will receive discounts worth up to approximately $1,700 each  ! That’s a total of more than approximately $15,300 in value!

A bit of background info on our mascot:

  • Our mascot is a Saint Bernard pup.
  • Our mascot loves the spotlight!
  • Jazz and blues are favorite music genres. In fact, our mascot barks out a tune when a good song is heard.
  • At parties, our mascot has a howling good time!
  • Our mascot makes no bones about being a “people” pup and adores our staff, our clients and third party experts.

SocialEngine Mascot

Adorable, right? We can’t wait to see what name wins!

Here are the rules of the contest:

  • We will only accept family friendly names. (No profanity or adult-themed submissions please)
  • Submission form must be filled in completely.
  • Email address must be valid in order to claim the prize.
  • His first name should start with “S” and last name “E” in order to have initials of S.E.
  • You agree that by participating in the contest, you release any rights to the name you are submitting.
  • Names cannot be copyrighted or trademarked by other companies; movies; celebrity names; or other publicly known names.
  • SocialEngine staff will choose the best name from the qualified entries submitted.
  • Winner and runners up will be notified by email and posted in a blog announcement. By entering our contest, entrants agree to receive emails from SocialEngine and third party experts in regards to the contest.
  • In the event that two or more people submit the same first and last names, winner will be chosen at random by a drawing of names.
  • Winner must respond to the winning notification email within 14 days to receive the prize or it will be forfeit. **SocialEngine assumes no responsibility for email transmission reliability. It is the winner’s responsibility to get back in touch with SocialEngine in order to claim the prize.
  • Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash. Licenses cannot be resold. Licenses cannot be transferred once claimed.
  • One entry per person.
  • In the event that no suitable name is submitted, winners and runners up will be drawn at random from those with qualified entries.
  • Contest void where prohibited by law.
  • Contest entrants must be above legal age for their location in order to participate. It is the contest entrant’s responsibility to check laws in their location.

Prizes

Grand Prize:

Prizes for Five Runners Up:

  • Five runners up will receive a 35% discount to purchase a SocialEngine license.
  • $20 discount on one theme of your choice from Pixythemes.
  • 30% off discount for any plugins from Racodes.
  • Choice of 50% off of one plugin from SocialEngine Mobi.
  • 20% off any plugins from Hire-Experts LLC.
  • Any two plugins for 50% off from SocialEngineSolutions.
  • 50% off all Plugins and Mobile Apps from SocialEngineAddOns.
  • 50% discount off any plugin or theme purchase from Webhive.

We want to thank all of the wonderful experts who have contributed prizes for our contest. As a bonus, SocialEngineSolutions has offered a 30% discount off for five of their plugins; Pixythemes has offered $10 off any theme; and SocialEngineAddOns has offered a 15% discount on the next order to anyone submitting a qualifying entry.

Submit your entries here from now until July 5, 2017. Winner will be announced on July 7, 2017. Runner up prizes will also be awarded. Good luck!

Sincerely,

The SocialEngine Team and Mascot

Posted in Company Updates | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

New SocialEngine Community Forum Coming Soon!

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Hello!

We are super excited to announce that we’ve been working on something great for our clients and experts. After much feedback, we’ve decided to change our founder’s community to use SEPHP as it’s geared towards a forum and can allow us to offer more communication opportunities for everyone.

Our SECloud product is an awesome product for “Reddit” news aggregation niches, Twitter-esque networks, and many other types of communities. However, for our own needs, we need the features that SEPHP offers in the forum plugin, poll plugin and others. As such, our community will change. The current community will be kept as a read-only archive in order to preserve all of the wonderful content that everyone has contributed. We anticipate our new community to open near the end of June.

The new community forum will allow experts to post in an expert-only area so they can get coding help, provide expert feedback about things directly related to their needs, etc. It will have a member only section for posting bugs and feature requests – moving us away from Github where clients have mentioned a few times that they felt it was disconnected and it forced them to sign up for an external site. Some were not comfortable signing up and posting there. Moving it “in-house” seems best for everyone.

The new forum will be public for now. This will allow our “trial” clients to be able to post, as well as others that might have questions or tips to offer. We will also have a private client’s only section that will be monitored by staff.

You’ll need to join the new forum as we decided not to import users. We encourage you to set your privacy settings how you want them when you join. Please make sure you select the correct profile type and member level when joining so you have access to the forums you need. You’ll see subscriptions on the signup page. All subscriptions are free. We just need to ensure everyone is able to get access to areas they need and also it helps prevent spam.

Thank you for all of your feedback regarding the community and for helping make this new community a vibrant network for everyone.

With much appreciation,

The SocialEngine Team

Posted in Company Updates | 13 Comments

Building A Better Branded Community: Top 4 Tips

bannerThe digital age offers deeper connections between companies and consumers. Social media platforms opened the communication lines, and branded community establishment fortifies relationships. Branded communities are appealing to informed consumers who want to feel further alignment with a company or organization. Companies hosting branded communities benefit through deeper customer insight and prospect conversion. Here are the top 4 tips to building and maintaining a better branded community:

Truly Know Your Audience

To target your branded community audience, it is important to truly understand your company’s role in their life. While your mission and company pride are important, it is not enough to merely know that you value your product or cause. You must also know why your audience values your product or cause. Address your audience members in a way that is meaningful to them. Speak to them regarding issues that matter to them, and how your product or cause aligns with their lifestyles.

Engage With Questions AND Statements

Avoid only addressing your audience in announcement fashion. Be part of the conversation to add depth and further dialogue.  You should certainly answer questions as they arise, but also take time to respond to statements with additional insight, ask questions back, and keep the discussion going!

Uplift Your Advocates

You will easily identify the advocates within your branded community. These members are invaluable to your company—make sure they feel important. As in any relationship, actions are an effective way to convey your feelings. Show appreciation for your advocates through @mentions, shares, incentives, and messages! A happy advocate is a continued advocate.

A Community Is Not A Commercial

Your community will value new information from your company, but they could get that from your Facebook, Twitter, and banner ads. Information to your branded community should add depth to your company’s value and relevance. Search for positive blog posts and articles referencing your brand, and share this information to offer additional perspectives along with news and updates.

Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to read up on how you can effectively build your community. Let us know if you have any questions! Also, if you have any ideas on how to start your own social network, our SocialEngine software can help you get there. Check out our free trial and see what SocialEngine can do for you.

Posted in Tips and Tutorials | 1 Comment

Gamification: the secret sauce behind wildly successful branded social communities

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Can you remember swelling with pride on seeing a “well done” sticker on an elementary school book report? Take a moment to recall how it feels (or how you imagine it would feel) when you receive a new belt in karate class from a sensei you deeply admire or your boss surprises you with a “waiter of the month” plaque after tallying up the latest round of diner response cards.

All of the above are forms of gamification. And each can be incredibly effective in generating  behaviors you want to see more of.

Using smart strategies to gamify participation in your branded social community is a no-brainer. For little or no outlay, you can earn more interaction, more social shares, more click-throughs, and ultimately, more money.

When designing your gamification strategy, it is important to understand the basic drivers that make it so effective. Once you’ve identified those drivers, it is simply a matter of customizing them to suit your particular niche.

Respect

Human beings are hard-wired to desire and derive pleasure from feeling respected, both by peers/colleagues and especially those they perceive to be in positions of power. Posts or personal emails from community leaders whose names users will instantly recognize are a good start. When a user reaches a certain number of posts, shares, or other criteria important to you, ensure that the whole community hears about it. Not only will that particular user feel respected, it will also generate desire among other members to work toward seeing a similar post with their name appearing prominently.

Recognition

Intangible but effective, customized titles or special designations for outstanding community members pack a lot of punch. Perhaps a halo appears on the avatar of community members who have donated to your nonprofit. Maybe a special graphic (e.g., a star with your company’s name ) becomes available for users to append to their sigs when they create a particularly popular post or one that has content you want to see more of. The idea make use a visible moniker to identify community members who contribute positively to your community.

Rewards

Psychologists have known for a very long time that rewards are incredibly powerful motivators. Intangible rewards can work wonders, as can more tangible goodies such as discounts on site merchandise or access to protected forums only available to a select few.

Gamifying your branded social community can unlock some pretty amazing rewards for you as a site owner. Get started today to discover it for yourself!

Posted in Tips and Tutorials | 1 Comment

3 Community Management Tips For Smooth Sailing

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In the age of the Internet, it’s now possible for us to reach out to communities of like-minded people from anywhere in the world. Whatever our interests, there are groups out there of people who share those interests, and all it takes to find them is the push of a button. However, keeping those communities safe, sane, and growing takes work. If you’re a community manager, make life easy on yourself by following these simple tips.

Tip #1: Make The Rules Fair, And Easy To Find

Every community has rules, and those rules need to be easy to find, fair to all, and applied equally across the community. As a manager, make sure everyone knows where the rules are, and ensure everyone looks at them. Additionally, when you make a ruling on someone’s behavior, point out which rule it has violated. That way people know not only that they did something wrong, but specifically what it was.

Tip #2: Listen To Feedback

Communities exist for the benefit of the members, and if something is happening that they don’t like it’s possible they’ll go elsewhere. If you want to keep your membership growing, then listen to the problems people are having, and address them accordingly. If people feel they are being listened to, and that there’s a dialogue going on, they’re much more likely to stick around. And to invite their friends to come join.

Tip #3: Don’t Scrutinize Every, Little Detail

Moderators and managers shouldn’t be like Big Brother, constantly digging into every post and conversation that happens. Let conversations happen, and give users a chance to handle things themselves. Also, let users come to you when something has grown too big to be handled. Don’t be totally hands off, but don’t turn into a disapproving school teacher threatening detention for every off-color remark that comes from the back of the classroom.

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SocialEngine Announces Anti-Piracy Commitment

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Good day!

We hope your spring has been beautiful thus far! Here at SocialEngine, we’ve been busy with some key improvements to our policies and websites. One such improvement is our commitment to fighting piracy.

Piracy, for those that are not familiar, is the illegal sharing of products – mainly digital in nature. Our product is a licensed, paid product and the fees from licenses and license renewals (when applicable) go towards helping us continue to develop our platform. Piracy is responsible for removing a substantial amount from our revenue stream which slows down our ability to give you all the new features and updates that everyone wants. As such, we are taking a much stronger stand against illegal use and distribution of our product.

In our investigations, we’ve also seen the products of experts from our marketplace being shared and distributed on various pirate sites and many people participating in sharing of those products. In an effort to protect the valued experts in our community, part of our anti-piracy efforts will also involve those products whether they are paid or free.

Our TOS (Terms of Service) is being updated to include our efforts to fight illegal distribution or use of our products and those of experts in our marketplace. We will be actively sending DMCA orders, removing access to our marketplace and community, and pursuing other legal avenues for anyone that we discover is partaking in piracy after thorough investigations are performed. We’ve also updated our Marketplace TOS. Please read all of our documents in order to be aware of the new policies.

We have created a new tool for checking whether a URL has a valid license. It will only give a true or false result and will not give out any client information. Should there be a site with an invalid license, the tool will allow submitting that URL to our Piracy Department. This tool will help any of you to assist in our fight against piracy. You can also contact our Piracy Department to send info about piracy activities via our Contact Us page.

We appreciate your efforts to help us stomp out piracy!

Posted in Company Updates | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Innovative Ways to Control Spam in SocialEngine

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Welcome to our SocialEngine blog! Each month, we provide learning tools for our clients to help empower them to have the most success with their SocialEngine communities. In this month’s post, we’d like to focus on innovative methods you can use to help control spam in your community.

First, let’s talk about what spam is

The type of spam we are focusing on today is website spam. Spam, in regards to websites, could either be a programmed “bot” that joins your site or a human. These spammers post links to their site or products lowering your SEO and making your site look unappealing to members. Spam is not software specific and could strike any site using any software with a login or comment area.

The great news is that SocialEngine has built-in anti-spam features. Over the course of this article we will discuss these features as well as  include links to third party spam control products.

SocialEngine Built-In Spam Control

  • Google’s “noCAPTCHA reCAPTCHA” is a great anti-spam tool and is easily set in your Admin Panel. This is Google’s more up-to-date method to fight spam. With this method, bots are not able to get into your site and it tends to discourage human spammers as well.
  • IP and Email Ban options are also available. You’ll want to add spammer IP addresses as well as email addresses for any spammers that manage to find their way in. This will restrict their access and bar them from joining again. Wildcard bans (example: 23.45.67.*) can also help restrict an entire IP range from access. This is very handy when you see a lot of activity from a particular IP range.

If you need help with the built-in anti-spam features send us a ticket and we’ll be happy to assist.

Free Spam Control Tools

  • Cloudflare is one of the best free tools for controlling spam. This service stops known spammers and bots from even hitting your server. This can help reduce your server load and can even help prevent DDOS attacks. You can even set regions to block from access to your website.
  • Project Honeypot is another great anti-spam tool. The folks that made Cloudflare first started Project Honeypot. This tool helps catch harvesters, website scrapers, spammers and spambots so that other tools you use (such as Cloudflare, reCAPTCHA, etc) have the spammer IP and email addresses in order to be more effective.

Innovative Ways to Stop Spammers

In addition to the aforementioned methods, there are a few other ways you can help control or catch spammers before they wreak havoc on your site. Let’s discuss those now:

  • Set up subscriptions . You can keep them free if you don’t want to charge people for access. The reason this can be effective is that generally, spambots ignore subscriptions. You would want to have member levels set up so that members that join pick the real member levels and leave the “default” for the spammers. Set the “default” to no permissions for anything. Set the other member levels to have permissions as you want them. (Example: A car niche site could set member levels for mechanic, car owner, dealership owner).
  • Set different member levels with varying degrees of access such as beginner, novice, advanced, pro. The beginner member level would have no permissions to post blogs (the most popular place for spammers to post) but could have permissions elsewhere. Each other member level would have varying degrees of access until full access for the pro member level.

When someone joins the site, they start at beginner. If they post spammy content anywhere in the site, you know to ban them and not move them up. The ones that interact with other members and post good content could then be moved up to other member levels. To make things easier, consider taking on moderators or other staff that can help with member monitoring.

  • Set your site to “invite only” registration and only allow membership to those that are invited.
  • Set the registration settings (link above) to require approval for members. This can make a big difference if you are having issues with spam but it also slows membership access. You’ll want to have staff to help with approvals if you have a lot of membership applications.

Third Party Products to Stop Spam for SocialEngine PHP

The experts in our marketplace also have some great methods to control spam. Here are a few of them:

  • Honeypot Anti-spam – This integrates the Honeypot tool (mentioned above) and makes it easy for you to see stats.
  • Mobile Verification Plugin – Verify your users with mobile verification. Spammers tend to avoid this sort of verification.
  • Mega Spam Control – With this tool, you can monitor activity on your site to help control spam.
  • Advanced Members – This plugin allows you to let your users endorse their connections. This can help fight spam as members would endorse other members and spammers wouldn’t get endorsements.

We hope you’ve found this article helpful in your efforts to control spam for your community. Drop us a line at our community if you have any questions.

Posted in Tips and Tutorials | 2 Comments

Three Reasons a Custom Social Network Brings More Focused Branding

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Can you really explain what your business’s brand is in a way that everyone instantly recognizes? For some businesses, it’s tough to come up with a focused way to look at your brand without veering into multiple directions.

If you haven’t thought this through lately, it’s time to think about how to make your branding more focused. One way to accomplish this is through a custom social network.

How can you make this occur so you differentiate from similar businesses to yours?

Private Discussions

One way to attract people to your custom social network is to create forums pertaining exclusively to products you know people want to buy. Creating a more focused discussion forum allows people to converse about your products and talk about what makes them stand out.

If you want your brand to stick in someone’s mind, conversations are going to help immensely. Adding repeated product imagery in your social network also helps product features and branding colors stay in the subconscious.

The next time your social users see your products, they’ll recognize them immediately and quickly associate them with their earlier positive discussions.

Eliminating Distractions From Outsiders

While we all know the value of social media, one of its faults is that anyone can come in and disrupt a conversation. As we’ve all seen, this can often lead to chaos, spam, and excessive arguing.

Having a custom social network allows you to set up private forums to keep talk about your brand in a controlled setting. You won’t have distractions from troublemakers, something requiring an expense in hiring forum administrators.

Adding Specific Features

To help differentiate yourself further from standard social networks, it pays to add some special features to your forum. You don’t have to just maintain a discussion group. By adding interactive games or contests, you get more exciting activities going relating to your brand.

The point is to integrate people interested in the same things. Having them engage in creative ways helps draw them closer and become more loyal to visiting your site regularly.

Loyalty is everything when you need to lean on customers to keep you profitable when business slows.

Visit us at SocialEngine so we can help build a custom social network for you to make your brand iconic.

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Building a Branded Community: What You Can Gain Investing Your Time in Social Media

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The investments you’ve made in social media have perhaps mostly paid off after spending time marketing there. Nowadays, though, social media has become a little more challenging to find new customers without more targeting. When you have brand advocates working there, it becomes a lot easier.

It’s why branded communities have become a new trend likely to become a permanent marketing interest, according to Forrester.

Creating an owned community has a number of advantages while bringing engagement among your most valuable brand advocates.

Like-Minded Buyers

When you put together a forum or portal where like-minded buyers can hang out, you let the alchemy of people who appreciate your brand take over. This saves you time having to convert new customers to purchasing your products.

The best way to approach this is creating a discussion forum so your fellow brand advocates can recommend products to newbies. A good example of this is Sephora who put together their own branded community. Called BeautyTalk, their forum features numerous beauty topics to help advocates and casual customers find what they need.

Support Communities

When you take more pains to provide customer support in your branded community, you create a true customer experience they’ll want to share. Think about the domino effect when customers receive a top-tier experience on your forum. Quickly answering questions and providing informative live chats inspires new advocates to spread word quickly on social media.

Bringing a Sense of Discovery About Your Brand

A branded community lets you set up a forum or site that lets people discover more about your brand. Doing so helps reduce costs because you can channel all contact systems through one source.

Providing self-discovery information should include a feedback forum for an agile approach. You can grow your brand and the community content you offer based on what people request.

This only brings more trust and loyalty when you listen to concerns of the customer.

Visit us at SocialEngine to ask about our unique social community software to create digital environments like this.

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