SocialEngine Blog

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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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SocialEngine PHP 4.9.2 Release

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Hello!

We’re back with another release, SocialEngine PHP 4.9.2! This minor release addresses some issues that were reported by clients in our Github and also that our staff found during further testing. We’ve also included some minor improvements to current features. Please be sure to read the special instructions below before upgrading.

Fixed Issues or Improvements Made:

  • Fixed issue with privacy for video browse and videos on profile similar to the photo privacy fixed for 4.9.1.
  • Fixed privacy issue for Email being passed in verification URL. (Fixes #493)
  • Fixed issue where privacy options were not showing on the user profile. (Fixes #713 )
  • Fixed spelling error on the performance caching overview page. (Fixes #694)
  • Fixed TinyMCE editor formatting issue in announcements. (Fixes #669)
  • Fixed TinyMCE and BBCode editor formatting issue in forum. (Fixes #719)
  • Fixed issue with networks that caused sorting in Admin not to work on next pages.
  • Improved banner CTA button background to be more visible.
  • Fixed Viglink settings and description in Admin Panel.
  • Fixed issue with editing post from notification. (Fixes #732)
  • Issue: Some server configurations caused settings files to be deleted upon upgrade. Solution: We improved the upgrade routine to skip any files in the application/settings/ folder. (Improvement #724) **See instructions below for this fix
  • Improved display of long user profile photos on members home page by using cropped thumbnails. (Improvement #139)

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.

**Special upgrade instructions -DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP-

We’ve included a special patch (not necessary for fresh installs) that you can download in step one below, but this patch does involve a couple of vital steps. If these steps are not followed it may appear as if your database has been deleted. This patch addresses an issue with some server configurations but is best for all clients to apply before upgrading. This manual patch is for any version and can be applied by following the steps below.

  1. Download the patch .
  2. Unzip the file.
  3. Upload the unzipped files to your server, where you have SocialEngine installed (in most cases this would be the public_html or httpdocs folder), before upgrading. Make sure you overwrite the original file.
  4. Clear cache.
  5. Follow the standard upgrade procedure to upgrade your site.

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

We’ve also upgraded Albums, Forums, Music and Videos plugins to 4.9.2.

You can download your copy of version 4.9.2 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 | Tagged , | 20 Comments

Build A Lasting Social Community

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Lately it seems everyone and their dog is on social media. Groups and companies use it for a variety of reasons. But if you’re not distinguishing yourself with something to offer, chances are even your own group members will fall out of touch. Here are a few suggestions for how to keep your online community alive and thriving.

Be Relevant

This is an obvious point, but don’t kill your momentum by blabbing off-topic. If your group is all about vinyl records, don’t post content about farming. Members of your community are there with you to strengthen your specific interests. They’re genuinely interested in what you have to offer. Keep confidential and personal content away from your professional landscape and stay on topic!

Be Helpful

Nobody wants anarchy within their beloved group. If you’re the leader, be sure to interact with your members. Create conversations, not a one-way stream of conscious that’s all about you. Most importantly, answer questions. The minute you offer good quality guidance, you become an asset to the entire community.

Use social mentions as testimony

Remember that funny tweet with a photo of your product? Did somebody Pin your logo to Pinterest? How about that great review on your Facebook page? You can use these kinds of social mentions to bolster your community’s credibility. Not only will it garner more social sharing, it will provide community-centered testimonials.

Be Honest

Online networks rely on trust between members and their community leaders. Let them know of any changes, troubles, or concerns. Respect your group members by being truthful and transparent. This way, you can avoid unwanted behavior and create a loyal following.

With a little practice, you’ll soon be thriving within your own community. If you’re ready to begin, let us know how we can help you achieve your custom social network.

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The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Crowdfunding Community

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When it comes to raising money online, crowdfunding provides probably the best avenue. Crowdfunding campaigns, however, are often fraught with overlooked details that could drastically limit your success. What many people do not realize initially is that crowdfunding campaigns entail more than just setting up a project and waiting for donors and sponsors to pour in. The most effective campaigns involve creating a long lasting community instead of creating a short term audience. So, what steps should you follow to create an effective crowdfunding community?

1. Follow up communications

Communication is the key to maintaining meaningful connections and meaningful connections are what lie at the heart of every great community. Ideally, you should contact each of your investors as soon as they pledge funds to your business in order to reinforce the idea at the core of your campaign and begin the process of connection through communication.

Staying active and consistent in this area will help investors avoid any feelings of “buyers’ remorse” where donors ask themselves whether their pledge was well placed. This can be done with an auto-response or if you want to go the extra mile you can even write a personal note to each investor. It doesn’t have to be long. Even a couple sentences expressing gratitude will go a long way to build this connection between you and your investors.

2. Don’t ignore the power of social media

Social media networking provides a the largest opportunity to build your crowdfunding community if used correctly. Social media is the place where every one already exists online. Your task as the crowd funding campaign owner is to locate your potential members, get their attention, and move them from the big pool social networks (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram etc.) and move them into your specialized crowdfunding community.

This can be accomplished in many ways. There are new and unique tools popping up every day to help you locate and call your potential members to action. Some of the more tried and true methods would be purchasing ads through Facebook and Twitter, reaching out to influencers in your community’s sphere and asking them to post about you, or even the good old grass roots method of finding three friends and asking them to share your project with three more. The possibilities are virtually endless and extremely powerful.

3. Employ Virtual support technique

The community member must feel supported if there is any hope for them to stick around. In the first point of this artilce we talked about how you can reach out to your community. This point deals with the opposite. What about when they need to contact you? You can and should provide a method of contact for any support inquiries  a community member might have. This will allow your community members to make their voices heard as well as encourage other potential donors to take your project seriously. This method of contact could take many forms. It could be a simple email address posted somewhere on your page, a contact from built into your site or even a live chat line. No matter what form it takes, however, make sure your customers know you are there to help them and listen to their feedback.

We hope we were able help clear some things up or maybe even spark some inspiration! If you have any questions please feel free to contact us for more info on developing your own crowdfunding community!

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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

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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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