Community Building: 3 Basics for a Solid Foundation for Success

To succeed in social media at any level means having a clear understanding of a few of the essential pre-game rules as well as the rules of engagement.

Our focus on the success of our community, and your community, is a top priority for us here at Follr, and in helping you succeed we want to offer tips, tricks, techniques and basics that will help you build a sustainable community and encourage interaction and growth.

The series begins today with 3 basics for building a foundation for success with your community, via social networks and the “rules of engagement”.

Success Starts with the Basics and a Solid Foundation
If you want to be ready for success with a Follr Communities Website, then you have to have a good foundation to build from. Whether you have been using social networking for years or are new to the digital world, it is important to learn the basics, or have a refresher course on what they are.

3 Basics for Building a Foundation for Success

  1. Understand the “Why”
    Before you can focus on the how, you need to have a basic understanding of the why. What this means is “Why are you here?” Just as with any good business plan you need to have an objective or a mission statement. Stop rolling your eyes, and realize that it actually helps maintain focus on the goal of being active in social networking and building your community.

    Spend time considering your purpose and objectives for the community you have built, be sure to write the ideas down. Brainstorm, don’t be afraid to make a long list and then narrow down the focus. If you start with the end in mind it often helps you figure out how to begin and gain momentum.

  2. Determine the “Which”
    Once you understand the Why, you need to figure out the “Which” meaning what networks or platforms work best for your purpose and to attain the goal you identified in the “Why” section. Determining which are the ideal platforms for your community, will help you achieve traction and community growth, as well as quality interactions.

    Being on the bleeding edge won’t necessarily help you – it’s not a race to be first, it’s a marathon of focus and engagement in the right places. If you are consumer focused you want to go where you will find your target demographic, your new audience. Take time to research platform use and study the most successful users, that will help you understand whether the platform will give you a good return for your time. Investing time in the wrong platform will negatively impact you costs in time and resources, be focused and efficient.

  3. Connect the “Distribution Points”
    The purpose of engaging on social networks for a budding community, or any entity, is to build relationships that will lead people back to you community, which is your home-base. Your Follr Community Website is Website 3.0 – it’s the new black and most fashionable way to provide information and encourage interaction. Consider it your hub, the social networks you select to engage on should all be connected back to your community and included in your social wall and links.

    Create the social network accounts, customize the profiles are you are nearly ready. Be consistent with user names on the various platforms, a unified identity is powerful. Then begin linking it all back to your Follr Community website. Next you will need to set up the social sharing feature so that your new posts and content are pushed out to the networks you just connected.

    You’re nearly ready to go…

Join us for the next post in this series to continue connecting the dots and bringing it all together for the most success with your Follr Communities Website.

Your success is our priority. We make it simple so you can focus on what matters, building your community.

Take your Follr Communities Website to the next level with upcoming coaching and webinars for our members. Make sure you watch for your Follr updates with information on upcoming enhancements and new features. Don’t have a community yet? Build your own, it’s Free and Fun!

Will You Take The Blue Pill or The Red Pill?

Stephen Fells

Stephen Fells

Whether you love or loath science fiction you have to give it credit for preempting technological advances.

So here’s a quick quiz using a sci-fi stalwart; Star Trek. Can you name the modern day equivalent for these four Star Trek gadgets?

Star Trek Gadgets

If you said mobile phone (‘Handheld communicator’), GPS (‘Transporter Console’), Bluetooth (‘Communications Earpiece’) and iPad (‘PADD’ or ‘Personal Access Display Device’) you get full marks!

You have to love the app that makes your iPad look like a PADD. Now that’s backward compatibility 🙂

What I find most fascinating is that Star Trek originally aired almost 50 years ago! Which makes me wonder; what other sci-fi based prophetic claims can we expect to come true?

One episode of the 1997 TV series ‘The Outer Limits’ (“Stream of Consciousness“) is an interesting blend of science and fiction; specifically it centers on a world where people are connected to a network and can access all information via an electronic implant. Crazy? Perhaps not; British scientist Kevin Warwick reportedly experimented with a similar thing in 1998, only a year after “Stream of Consciousness” aired. Also consider that 10 years ago the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) OK’d this type of technology and that we think nothing of pacemakers, a technology that keeps many people alive. Lastly I’ve seen the term ‘body Internet’ used several times. One use suggests implants can report insulin levels, via the Internet, to researchers (and ultimately doctors) to improve diabetes treatment.

Human Head BarcodeWe are at the very beginning of an historical change in the evolution of human communication – the way we connect has altered, the game has new rules and that change creates enormous opportunity. The combined advent of the social Web and mobile technology allows us to fulfill the innately human desire to belong and connect like never before. Individuals, businesses, brands and communities, in every part of the world, are increasingly sharing where they are, what they are doing and what they are thinking. This is taking place in real time and to an unlimited number of people via the new and inherently viral Internet. By leveraging countless layers of connections a single message is now magnified and exposed to a global audience. The world has changed.

But as we see and hear each other in a whole new light, as the world becomes increasingly connected, it is ever more complex and new problems are created. With more people now on Facebook than existed on the planet two hundred years ago, with generations sharing the minutia of their daily existence and with an abundance of choices in how to connect and circulate information there is a sense of confusion.

We now live in a world where our grand children will know significantly more about us than we will ever know about our parents and this raises questions. How will our message, our very identity, perhaps even our legacy be interpreted? The social Web provides a mechanism for global free speech but it has individuals concerned about just what information is available about them online. It has companies wondering how to control brand integrity, how to keep corporate information secure and how to effectively market via multiple new channels.

And these problems impact a worldwide audience. As we acknowledge these concerns we recognize the need to organize and represent every person and every organization simply and accurately.

Of course we are decades away from being able to mentally download instructions on how to fly a helicopter but is it crazy to imagine that computers will control aspects of our life? When will your reputation be impacted by what you say and do on the Internet?

Another question to consider; Brian Solis, “globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media”, states “Social influence is one of the hottest trends in social media” so at what point will your Klout score impact your ability to get a job? Is a resume useless?

Matrix Red Pill Blue PillI think these questions are rhetorical and aren’t based on a prophetic claim; you are already connected to a network, in fact many networks, and your daily existence increasingly depends on that fact. This isn’t science fiction, it’s the here and the now. Many are blind to it, others confused by it, some simply refuse to acknowledge it. Morpheus, what do you think?

“Unfortunately no one can be told what the [future] is, you have to see it for yourself. This is your last chance. After this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Remember, all I’m offering is the truth, nothing more. Follr me…”

The Micro-Sizing of Social Networks May Predict the Future

To suggest users are deserting social networks, especially Facebook, en masse is an exaggeration but the numbers and trends indicate there is a change in how people are using and viewing social networks.

In a 2013 Princeton University study (see: “Epidemiological modeling of online social network dynamics“) disease based data models predicted that by 2017 Facebook would lose 80% of the users it had in 2013. Some cite ‘Facebook Fatigue’ others just think it is the natural progression of the medium.

Bubonic Plague Bacteria courtesy of The Guardian

The Princeton Study has been criticized (see: Facebook’s reply), but the model was also run against MySpace prior to its rapid decline.

It’s not about attrition of any particular social network but how users are viewing and using them. With the Edward Snowden hoopla and concerns over the NSA violating our privacy, people have become acutely aware of what they are doing online and how it impacts their personal digital identity and legacy. Conversation also includes the impact of online sharing on children.

People are moving towards private social communities, or networks. The demand for these sorts of communities has been growing rapidly over the last year, meanwhile previous incarnations of such platforms have weakened, perhaps peeking before the demand was truly there.

What does this mean for the future of social networking? We will delve into that more in upcoming posts. What would your perfect social network offer? Large communities surrounding more intimate communities? A personal niche within the ecosystem? What do you think is next for social networking? A Follr Community?

Follr Feature – Professional and Personal Tags

The ‘Follr Tag’ feature allows you to not only describe yourself personally and professional but also to search and connect with a far broader range of people using very specific criteria.

Having logged into your account simply click on ‘Connections’ and then ‘Finder’:

Follr Digital Identity

Your search results are only as good as the quality of tags entered so make sure that for your own account and profile Website you enter as much information as possible and choose your tags (professional and personal) thoughtfully; this is also how others will find you.

Have questions we didn’t answer?  Want to know more? Ask us!

Do You Know Which Social Network Works Best For You?

If someone wants information about you, where do they look first? Is it a social network, a Website, some other online location? Which social network provides the most information, the most complete picture of you?

Today, our information is all over the Web but by using Follr we can see that, in March, most people went to Twitter to research me followed by Facebook and then LinkedIn.

Follr Social Media Data

Along with this data Follr also provides me with reports on:

  • who specifically viewed my Follr account
  • how many times my Follr account was viewed
  • what specific page they looked at
  • what files they downloaded.

To see your stats simply log into your account and click the triangle icon next to your profile image in the top right of the screen:

Social Media Statistics

With so much time wasted on social media, social marketing and social networking (they are distinct and separate things) it’s vital that you focus on platforms, services and Websites that get you the most bang for your buck or RIO (return on investment) in business speak. The best place to start is Follr – start today by creating your profile at follr.com.

Privacy – Does it Really Matter?

Stephen Fells

Stephen Fells

Increasingly, especially when discussing Digital Identity and social media, the issue of privacy arises. One common objection I hear is “I don’t want everyone to know my information” and when I hear this statement I can’t help but feel that it’s an overly simplistic view of things. Is it?

I admit I get a little frustrated when people simply repeat what others say without giving it some personal thought. I suspect that in many cases this is exactly what is happening when people throw out this particular objection especially when it is combined with ever fashionable commentary trashing social networks. The real vitriolic criticism is aimed at Facebook (one gentleman I met referred to Facebook as “privacy cowboys”) and Twitter (“I just don’t get it” – same guy).

I know this won’t be popular but I think these opinions are more than overly simplistic, I think they are naive. To conversationally put privacy into a box is natural because we humans like things in boxes but the truth is privacy, like many things, is gray. Let me give you an example.

If I asked you “How much did you earn last year?” you would, quite understandably, tell me it’s none of my business. But if your financial adviser or accountant asked exactly the same question you would answer it without hesitation. Same question, different relationship. Two things matter in this instance; control (you want control over who sees your information) and value (you need to benefit from the exchange).

This particular example could be criticized, your annual salary isn’t freely available online, but I think it’s valid because we can extend it to lots of other personal ‘data’. Do you want to share all your vacation photos with everyone? Who is ‘everyone’? Just Facebook “friends” or anyone that can access Google? Do you know all of your online contacts equally? Would you share those same vacation photos, especially that morning shot of you on the beach in a swim suit drinking a Bloody Mary, via LinkedIn?

I could ask many, many more questions like this and they would all make my point. As you actually begin to think about privacy and what information you want to share you will reach the following conclusions:

  • You don’t want to share all information with all people but you do want to share some information with all people.
  • For an increasing number of people a lot of information about them is already online.
  • You are willing to give up very personal information and will waive all privacy if the return is worthwhile.
  • Privacy is gray.

Let’s take this a step further. Have you ever ‘googled’ yourself? Consider that whatever you find is also what everyone else finds. And when they see or read it they will form an opinion about you that might be good or might be bad. They will decide how ‘technical’ you are, how much you know about marketing, how professional you are. Perhaps they will even form an opinion about your very character. And it doesn’t matter if their opinion is right or wrong, it’s their opinion and they will act (or not) on it. As a result the data that is available about online you today impacts you today.

Again, at the heart of the issue is control; we all need to be able to control who gets what information, or at least feel like we control that information. And the more personal that information the more control we want over it. So privacy isn’t good vs. bad, right vs. wrong or sharable vs. private. Like many things it’s relative. In fact privacy, at that moment of an online search, is a non-issue because people will form an opinion not only on what they do see about you but what they don’t see. Just consider Sam Fiorella. He didn’t get a marketing job because he didn’t have an account with Klout.

When I hear people ‘in the know’, especially social media guru’s, speakers, trainers and coaches, talk about the importance of privacy I can’t help but think of the following quote made by Red, Morgan Freeman’s excellent character in my favorite movie Shawshank Redemption:

“I know what *you* think it means, sonny. To me it’s just a made up word. A politician’s word, so young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie, and have a job.”

And so to this video from John Seely Brown, independent co-chairman of the Deloitte LLP Center for the Edge. In the video he interviews John Henry Clippinger, CEO of ID3, on social data privacy standards that foster a social media ecosystem built on trust and value creation. The question is do you see enough value to share more information with a wider, possibly global, audience knowing that information already impacts you?

My position is that privacy does matter, sometimes, and (with apologies to Red for the misquote) you need to either get busy sharing or get busy dying.

Follr Releases Community Platform

Wappingers Falls, NY (May 22nd, 2014) Follr, Inc., a SaaS (Service as a software) company today announced the release of “Follr Communities“, a collaborative social media based platform that significantly extends the existing Follr product suite.

Follr Logo

The product enables clubs, groups or organizations to create an online community looking to engage members, students, employees or individuals around a common interest, product, brand or shared passion. As a single point of entry members of each Follr Community can organize events, market, communicate, share content and network.

Stephen Fells

Stephen Fells

“Follr Communities is a significant enhancement to our platform and a natural extension of our focus on providing a better way for people to connect,” said Stephen Fells, Follr CEO and Co-Founder adding “Networking of any type is now predominantly an online activity. As this move takes place Follr Communities serves as the solution for all forms of collaboration, something specific social silos fall short on.”

Follr Communities can be customized to match any brand or style and members have access to advanced features including:

  • Rich profiles – Members can create highly detailed Websites encouraging richer, more human connections. The profiles also help with online reputation management, pre-event networking and serve as an online resume.
  • Events – Members can create, manage and run events of all sizes within a community.
  • Automated Social Media – Social media content is distributed to multiple online marketing channels.
  • Social Wall – The Follr Social Wall ensures members see real time social media content from every marketing channel ensuring they never miss a tweet or post again.
  • Enhanced Chats and Messaging – News feed, threaded discussions and rich messaging functionality enhance community engagement.
  • Flexible Membership – Public, private or paid options are available enabling subscription communities with a revenue share for administrators.
  • Photos and Documents – Members can share photos and documents within their community.

“Follr Communities provides a feature set that will better support existing online groups especially with the rich data provided by Follr profiles,” stated Follr Founder and Product Lead Mark Wayman. He added “In doing so it appeals to a broad audience of online community members who are not served by existing simpler solutions.”

The company is seeing schools, universities and colleges build communities as a collaboration tool for students while causes, charities and not-for-profits are spreading their message and raising funds. Entertainment brands looking to build on and increase fan engagement can leverage Follr Communities as a hub for outreach while corporations looking to improve internal and external communication or more effectively administer projects will benefit. The company will be releasing additional features to Follr Communities over the remainder of the quarter.

About Follr, Inc.:

Follr, Inc. (www.follr.com) is a software company founded in 2011. With offices in California and New York Follr provides Web-based business and personal networking products.

Follr Communities provide vibrant, social groups and event management tools to engage anyone around a membership, club, group, shared passion or interest.

Follr Profile Websites enable individuals, companies and brands to tell their story using a combination of personal or corporate history, social media profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare etc.) and content. They are personally branded Websites used as an initial point of contact and represents an aggregation of all online and offline information. Accessed by an enduring, easy to remember URL they represent a more complete picture and story in an increasingly digital world.

The Follr network provides users with the ability to create and edit their Follr Profile Website and Follr Community. It additionally facilitates improved networking while providing access to millions of jobs.

The combination of Follr products uniquely provide “a better way to connect”™.

Follr is funded through Blossom Ventures. For more information see the company Website, Facebook or Twitter.

Contact:

Follr, Inc.
Stephen Fells – CEO
(888) 201-5160
steve@follr.com

Follr Releases Enhanced Business Networking Tools

New features extend open social network capabilities as company continues to improve professional networking.

Wappingers Falls, NY (August 28th, 2013) Follr, Inc. (www.follr.com) today announced the release of several new business networking tools and feature enhancements aimed at improving the companies open social network. The new features include email messaging, activity notifications and Hover Cards, a visual summary sourced from a persons Digital Identity Website.

The company also released improvements to connection suggestions, content editing and the Follr score and user interface. The news follows recent announcements about the companies universal content sharing feature, event management tools and the release of a new marketing Website at follr.com.

Follr Logo

The new messaging feature provides a way for Follr Personal users to send up to 25 messages a month to existing connections. Follr Personal Pro users can send unlimited messages to connections and up to 25 messages per month to non-contacts.

Activity notifications have been added to highlight status likes, comments, reposts and comment likes. Vouches for tags are also detailed.

The company also released Hover Cards, a visual and highly innovative feature that summarizes a Follr users profile. Throughout the platform a simple mouse-over now highlights a persons job title, Follr score, bio (in summary form) and the number of their links, tags and contacts. It also allows for direct messaging.

“We continue to work on smarter professional networking, a process that should be people and not network centric.” stated Follr CEO Stephen Fells, adding “This release is a significant step towards making that happen while simultaneously achieving one of our primary objectives; maximizing the value of Follr to our user base.”

Follr is a business network that includes networking tools for individuals and businesses. The software allows any person, company or brand to tell their story using a combination of personal or corporate history, social media profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare etc.) and content accessible via an enduring, easy to remember domain name. A personally branded Website then acts a an initial point of contact and represents an aggregation of all online and offline information. Collectively the Follr platform represents a more complete picture and story in an increasingly digital world and helps protect and promote brands.

“We have created software that is inherently scalable, an ideal platform on which we are now building feature and functional extensibility,” stated Follr Founder and Product Lead Mark Wayman. He added “We continue to develop viral mechanisms that bridge all social networks.”

Also included in the release is an improved connection suggestion mechanism. Suggestions now automatically refresh and respond to updates and activity. The Follr score and vouching methodology has also been adjusted to better weight activity.

Menu navigation has been simplified and the content editing mechanism completely replaced which, in part, improves cross browser compatibility.

Collectively the enhancements provide significant value to all Follr users.

About Follr, Inc.:

Follr, Inc. (www.follr.com) is a software company founded in 2011. With offices in California and New York Follr provides Web-based Digital Identity Websites and business networking tools to individuals and corporations. A Digital Identity Website allows an individual, company or brand to tell their story using a combination of personal or corporate history, social media profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare etc.) and content. It is a personally branded Website used as an initial point of contact and represents an aggregation of all online and offline information. It is accessed by an enduring, easy to remember URL and represents a more complete picture and story in an increasingly digital world. Follr is funded through Blossom Ventures. For more information see the company Website, Facebook or Twitter.