Follr Community Feature: Activity Digest

Follr Behind the ScenesFor this week’s Follr Community Feature we’re highlighting ‘Activity Digest Emails’.

With your custom Follr Community, you’re able to send a weekly engagement email to all members summarizing that week’s activity. The email will highlight the most popular content, discussions, interactions, etc. Should there be a slow week with no activity, no email will be sent to avoid annoying, empty emails. This is a great way for members to be reminded of what they’re missing each week and to increase engagement!

Follr Activity Digest

Follr Community Feature #2: Social Feed

Follr Behind the ScenesFor our second installment of #BehindTheScenes (for part one see Follr Community Feature #1: Advanced Messaging), we’re taking a look at Follr’s “Social Feed”.

Follr’s Social Feed allows you to combine all of your social network, blog and community content – up to 40 social media platforms! – into one, easy-to-digest social feed. Easily browse your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest news feeds, right alongside each other, or toggle amongst them with one click! And better yet, seamlessly syndicate any piece of content to ALL of them with one click! Not only does information come in via Follr Social Feed, but it can blasted out as well. If that’s not a good reason to create your Follr Profile today, we don’t know what is!

Follr Social Feed

Follr Community Feature #1: Advanced Messaging

Follr Behind the ScenesHere is a behind the scenes look at one of our latest Follr Community Features: Advanced Messaging. We may be biased, but we’re pretty sure we lay claim to the most diverse and useful messaging capability of any online community platform out there today.

As a Follr Online Community Manager, you’re able to direct message one, several or all of your community members with just a few clicks. You can manage which email addresses the message is sent to and from, and which email address you’d like responses to be delivered to. And all of this can be done without even logging in to the community.

Follr Community Advanced Messaging

Advanced messaging, as described by our product developer, Mark Wayman, is “A powerful… and unique tool to encourage a growing membership…This [tool] can be used for general updates, to make introductions between members – a general communication tool.”

Create a custom Follr Community now and utilize this innovative new tool to connect with your network today!

Fool-Proof Guidelines for Online Community Building

Online Community Guidelines FollrBuilding an online community – whether it’s for your business, special interest, religious group, or even your child’s little league team – can seem like a constant uphill battle. If you’re struggling with your online community, or if you just want a few tips on how to enhance yours, we’ve got your all-you-need-to-know, comprehensive-yet-concise guide to online community building here. You’ll find tips on how to get started, what and when to post, and how to retain members/followers.

 

Getting Started

–               Once you’ve chosen your platform get to know the site by clicking around to other members’ profiles and communities. Take note of what you like and what you don’t like, a.k.a. learn from others’ mistakes.

–               Decide who your target audience is and don’t divert from it. Focus directly on this group of people and start following key prospective members on twitter and other social media outlets.

–               Search relevant hashtags and see what others are talking about around your topic or interest. This will tell you the kind of content you should start posting and discussing once you have your community up and running.

–               Keep in mind that building a following of members is not a one-time job. Keep searching and following, keep joining conversations and continue to invite key prospective people to your community. Shoot for one new active member per day.

–               Once you have a small community of members, start connecting them! Search their profiles for skills or interests they might have in common and encourage them to communicate with one another. If your followers see you as a connector who wants to help build their reputation and career, they’ll be more inclined to do the same.

–               When you get stuck, take a peek at this great list of Online Community Building Resources.

Posting & Engagement

–               Post content between 3-5 times per day and always once at the very least (yes, even if you’re on vacation!). Members want to see consistency and commitment.

–               Post original content – a link to your most recent blog post or, a conversation starter, etc. – at least once every other day, and post other relevant content often. Just make sure the source is credible and you’ve read the article in its entirety first.

–               ALWAYS respond to a member’s contribution with a thoughtful and gracious response.

–               Keep in touch with members who may become less active over time. Reach out and ask about a project their working on or a life event.

–               Frequent and meaningful Engagement is the key to scoring and retaining members. Keep at it no matter what and always be positive.

Member Retention

–               Offer thought-provoking content related to your topic of interest or business. Your goal is to make your community a staple of their online experience.

–               Try one of these 4 Online Community Engagement Ideas and see which one(s) your members respond to best.

–               Be candid. Put yourself out there. Tell the truth. Give members something they can relate to. They’ll feel more connected and feel drawn to keep checking in every once in a while to see what’s new.

Good Luck with your new online community!

A Lesson Everyone Could Learn: How to Listen Better

The problem with social media is sometimes we can be so focused on what we want to say that we are not focusing on what others are saying.

Listening is a difficult skill. Online or offline, listening requires us to focus on what we are hearing or reading, not in how we want to respond. Most people are not actively listening, they are passively listening and deciding how to reply. It’s similar to taking notes during a class, if you are writing down what is being said you are not actually listening, considering and learning.

The hardest part of listening is often relearning how to listen. We all think we are doing it, but most likely you are not. In 2014 many people have the attention span of a gnat. How do you relearn the skill of being a good listener?

Focus on the person who is speaking and what they are saying, what their words are, the meaning behind them. If you focus in this way and truly consider those words, their meaning, and actively try to hear each word and intonation, you will find you understand faster and save a lot of time in many areas of life. This can even remove the word “What?” from your vocabulary.

Online, listening is a little different, it means that you are actually watching. tracking in preparation for interacting with your community. Use tools like Google Alerts, Twitter Searches and Hootsuite to monitor for topics of interest. This helps you keep up on what is going on and also to discover new people to connect to.

Online listening also means making lists to keep track of your community. Online listening can get overwhelming when you are trying to watch too many individuals, so breaking your community into smaller groups by interest, category or even time zones, helps to not miss something important they have to say that you might want to respond to.

What other measures do you take to be a better listener and community member? Tell us in the comments below.

3 Quick Steps to Find and Connect with Your Community on Twitter

You built a community, now what? Sitting there by yourself isn’t a lot of fun. How do you find others to join you and share your community?

Since most communities are based on interests, hobbies or brands, they will usually appeal to a fairly widespread audience. The question is how do you find that audience? Twitter is the perfect place.

Use Twitter Search to find people talking about topics your community is built aroundThere are tons of searchable conversations happening on Twitter every moment of every day. There is no better way to find people who want to talk about a topic than on Twitter.

To keep it simple and quick, since we would rather have you building your community and enjoying it, we present…

3 Quick Steps to Find and Connect with your Community on Twitter.

  1. Identify Your Community Keywords
    Think of these as the 5-7 best words to describe your community focus. Write down the key words you would or those that someone interested in your community might search for.

    If you aren’t sure what words are best, refer to the tags that you included when you initially built your community. Those would be the search words or terms that someone would use to find your community.

    If you need help just stop by the Follr Support Community and post a message, we will be happy to help you identify your perfect search terms and keywords.

  2. “The Twitter”
    Twitter is the holy-grail of search. If it is out there being discussed, you will find it on Twitter. Twitter has great search features, whether it is the standard search on any Twitter page, or the advanced search, you will get some amazing results.

    Some people like to search for hashtag specific topics. It’s an option but results are limited to the words only with the # in front of them. An open search without the hashtag will return many more choices. Try to search without the hashtag first, then use the hashtag if the results are overwhelming. To refine the search, add additional words to the search to focus more on the target conversations and people.

  3. Follow and Share
    Now that you found people, follow them. When you follow them you might also want to reply to the message that led you to them, you could retweet it, or reply to it, and mention the common interest. But don’t ask them to join you just yet!! Wait until the individual replies to your message, then keep the conversation going. When it feels right mention your community and share the link, ask them to stop by and tell you what they think.

Be a conversationalist. Include your community in your conversations, the topic, and even share posts that are there, invite people to the conversation.

Add your Community link to your bio, and become an authority on your Community focus. In no time instead of looking for your community, your community will be finding you on Twitter.

Happy Community Building!

Types of Online Communities (and the importance of onions!) – From Our Friends at 4-Roads

onions (1)Please enjoy this post from Gina Narramore, 4 Roads Social Media & Community Manager. 

If taking steps towards becoming a social business is in your strategy, you are probably considering developing an online community.

One of the first aspects to be considered, and arguably the most important, is what type of online community will you create. This decision will largely affect how the community will shape up, and whether it will be a success.

As described in the 4 Roads ‘Social Business Cookbook’ your social presence should be a “complex menu of offerings to the audience. It is also layered like an onion.” 

Ideally, a true social business should be active in as many layers (of this onion) as possible. It will have an integrated presence in multiple layers, providing the audience a unified experience of your business.

Social networks 

The outer layers of the onion consist of social media spaces. This is the first layer of the different types of online community.

First there are ‘participating’ communities, which are formed on external social networks, such as LinkedIn, Facebook etc. usually set up by your customers, about your products or services. You can’t run these communities but you can participate, listen and monitor conversations taking place within them.

The next layer of this onion, within this social media space, is your ‘managed’ community for example, your own Facebook page or YouTube channel etc. This is where you are in control of conversations and messages, although you do not own the data being created. Social networks are great for building trust and relationships in your market, but this is only the first step in using online communities to acquire and retain customers.

Social networks and online communities do work together. Therefore, it may be wise to participate in these social networks, with an aim to attract some of that audience to engage more deeply, with your brand, on your own online community. Check out the differences between online communities and social networks.

Public online communities

The next layers of the onion are the spaces you own, create, manage, and control, and which can link to your CRM software. These ‘owned’ communities consist of public, private and internal communities.

Anyone can join a public online community and today, public, or external customer online communities are what most people think of when they think of online communities. Organisations such as Dell and Starbucks both have thriving customer communities, comprising of primarily customers that share common interests, product purchases, or support issues.

These communities refer to a company-owned online property, a branded community nestled in a company’s website or as part of the website. Within a customer community, you can talk securely with your customers and prospects and offer them a range of relevant content, products and messages to support the conversations taking place.

The focus of this type of online community is to help customers become more successful with a product and service and solve a customer or member’s most critical problems. A customer community can also address specific business challenges, such as the need for improved customer service, cutting down on service call outs, or making content more accessible.

Through a public community, the organisation is able to energise the market, position themselves as a trusted leader in its industry and reach out to brand advocates – in a way, which has never been possible before

Also within this layer is the extranet, a private space for developing your offerings and strengthening relationships with both suppliers and partners. Collaborating with these groups within an extranet, not only builds loyalty, but also strengthens relationships and increases satisfaction. Suppliers and partners are able to ‘self-serve’, which reduces sales, and support costs and creates more efficient supply chains.

Ultimately, an owned public online community increases the value of doing business with an organization.

Private online communities

In this type of community, which is at the heart of the onion, members must log in to the community to take part in most, if not all activities and social features available, which is subsequently integrated into the organisation’s CRM system or membership database. Members are either personally invited or screened in some way prior. Private online communities have a select target audience and members are often charged membership fees to join.

Often deployed by B2B or membership organisations, these ‘gated’ communities can create greater sense of trust and intimacy among members due to more in-depth profile requirements. This can lead to more open and focused engagement and collaboration between members and the organization.

This is a space where customers and companies can plan and build for the future. For instance, private online communities can be a part of an organisation’s product strategy or where trusted people gather and collaborate to steer innovation for the business. The topical agenda is highly managed and all member activity and dialogue within the community is considered confidential and protected, and not shared outside of community walls.

Internal communities

A form of private online communities are internal communities – a place where customers, employees, partners, and other stakeholders to come together to better serve customers and achieve business objectives. And because an organisation’s internal communications lies at the heart of the onion, they affect everything else the business is trying to achieve.

This is the place where employees communicate and collaborate within the business. These communities create a space for many-to-many communication and allow employees to share information, find experts within the business and collaborate on projects.

As the ‘Social Business Cookbook’ states “Unlike the layers above, which may be ‘new,’ every organisation naturally has some kind of channels for internal communication and places for storing and retrieving data and information – without them it would be impossible to function. Yet few organisations have truly effective platforms for internal communication even though these are particularly valuable if they want and expect to be using ‘social tools’ to engage with their audiences.”

Internal communities are more easily created after deploying internal collaboration tools and should involve all employees, from entry-level staff to CEO’s. Adoption of a social platform is often a challenge, as employees may be resistant to changing the way they work. Read more about the importance of business culture when starting any type of online community.

Conclusion

It is important to note that an online community doesn’t necessarily reside in a single location, it can exist in more than one place on the Web. For instance, it can start in a social network such as Facebook, and spread into others, such as your owned private community.

Accordingly, social media has been instrumental in the way online communities have evolved – it has provided a foundation on which to communicate, and a platform for organisations to have two-way conversations with their customers. However, the true sense of an online community takes social media to the next level, and opens up a world known as social business.

Becoming a social business, and choosing the right type of online community for your organisation is important, however, the key to success is to start small and think holistically. Each type of online community should be considered when starting a social community project. Every layer should integrate with each other: your main objective should be to gain membership and engagement in your owned (public and private) community, and both your participating and managed (social networks) communities should be used as channels to facilitate that.

As the Social Business Cookbook states “The most effective social businesses allow each layer of the onion to flavour the others.”

The Social Business Cookbook has been written to help businesses integrate social at the core of their activities – request your copy.

10 Great Articles on Community Building

Here at Follr, we’re always trying to put the best possible community building materials into the hands of our community managers. For today’s post, we’re sharing ten wonderful articles from our favorite blogs and community experts who know their stuff when it comes to cultivating community. Check out all or just a few – you won’t be disappointed!

 

1. These are the Top 5 Things You Should do First as an Online Community Builder, Follr Blog

2. You Need to Know: 5 Rules of Online Community Engagement, Social Media Today

3. 5 Tips for Building a Community Management Strategy, Social Media Examiner

4. The Different Types of Events, Ning Blog

5. 6 Tips for Starting an Online Community, Social Media Examiner

6. Fool-Proof Guidelines for Online Community Building, Business2Community

7. 8 Great Tools for Online Community Managers, Social Media Today

8. These are the Top 5 Things you should do First as an Online Community Builder, Business2Community

9. 5 Online Community Types: Which one does Yours Fit Into?, Social Media Today

10. 4 Easy Online Community Engagement Ideas, Business2Community