Tag Archives: Website

30 May

Got an online community? Here’s how to work with Facebook and Twitter

Are you in the lucky position of having a very active online community on your own website? A busy comments section, or a chatty forum?

Bravo – in today’s world of Facebook and Twitter fever, it’s often hard to get a dedicated community involved in a discussion on your own site. It’s a powerful thing: the discussion is likely to be focussed and relevant to your user and all the discussions go on under YOUR brand’s name. The user knows where they are, who you are and what you stand for. There are also obvious benefits to your on-site advertising revenue as well!

However, a forum on a specialist website, or post comments, can easily become a walled garden. Your community is active, but may not be growing. Despite the increase in sharing tools (eg ShareThis) members rarely flag up their activity off-site so potential new users may not even know you exist.

If you want to maintain the rich discussion on your site, whilst also promoting it to the outside world, you could try setting up accounts with the big boys – Facebook and Twitter.

Graphic showing comment symbols(Note: several of these ideas may not be relevant if your forum runs on a membership-only basis, or deals with particularly sensitive or private issues.  In these cases I would suggest setting up a friendly, simple introductory page explaining who you are, the purpose of the site and the forum and why members get involved and linking to this as opposed to particular discussions). 

 

 

Keep Branding Consistent

Marketing 101 this, I know, but you’ll be amazed how many companies do not have consistent branding across all of their accounts. Use your regular logo/images and use descriptions (or edited version) from your website so people know the site is genuine. If you are not already on these networks, chances are someone else has set up an unofficial page  – make sure your new account stands out as the official one. (If someone has set up a fan or unofficial site – make contact with them, they may be happy to promote your arrival!)

Be Open

Don’t be tempted to match a members-only environment on your site with one on Facebook or Twitter. You are not trying to replicate your on-site community – this is a tool for promoting the discussion and you want it to be as visible and discoverable as possible. 

Don’t Cross-Post Everything

Graphic showing comment and Facebook symbolsThe benefit of the larger social networks is that they’re SO easy to access via phones, tablets and of course, computers. If you replicate all the discussions on Facebook, you are giving your customers an excuse NOT to visit your site.  

Keep your unique selling point – the fact that all the conversation happens on YOUR site. By selecting occasional content to flag up on FB or Twitter, you are saying “here’s what you’re missing, get involved”.

Be smart with your messages

Don’t just cross post the title. Instead, draw new audiences in to your community with phrases like “Great discussion going on about England’s chances LINK” or “Dave reckons England are doomed – what do you think? LINK“. 

Deep link

Make sure the link in your social media message links directly to the content – none of this “front page, find it yourself” nonsense. The user won’t do this: they’ll get fed up and probably won’t return or click on one of your links again. 

NOTE: If your site runs on a members only basis, deep linking will not be relevant here as the user will immediately be faced with a login screen. Send them to a friendly introductory page instead, or use the link to promote your community on a general level, instead of a specific discussion. 

Short link

Use a tool like Bitly. Not only does this help with analytics (Bitly can tell you the number of clicks the link has received) it also makes the messages look tidier and easier to retweet/forward. 

Monitor

(this goes for all social media usage)

Make sure you have at least one eye on comments and postings referring to your brand. Use a desktop tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, and have searches running for the various iterations of your name including abbreviations and nicknames. This means you can respond to any feedback swiftly (and in private if necessary)

Point Back

If someone asks a question that is answered in a forum post, send them the link to a relevant discussion (or introductory page if members-only) and encourage them to get involved. If it is not already covered on your site, either create some content or start the discussion yourself, and point them to that. 

Hashtag

Graphic showing hashtag and comment symbolsYes, on Twitter hashtags are sometimes overused (or used inappropriately), but they can be useful for engaging with a whole new audience.

Keep an eye on trending hashtags and, avoiding spamming, get involved in the debate. Similarly, keep an eye on relevant events or discussions happening and make sure you your brand is in the mix.  if there is a genuine link i.e. “Great to see #internships in the headlines: one of our hot topics this week LINK” or “We’ve been having this very debate recently LINK #internships”

Engage with Other Accounts

There are likely to be a host of organisations similar to your own, or working in the same field, already on these social networks. Find them and connect with them. Chances are they’ll help promote your work by retweets your messages or mentioning you in Facebook posts. All this helps drive users to your site. Also don’t forget to return the favour – start talking about what they are doing too – share and share alike!

 

Twitter and Facebook are still great ways to promote your brand – due to the sheer numbers of users and the diversity of interests. Handled well, you could generate a lot of interest for your on-site discussions.

 

08 Aug

Making Online News Pay – Pt 1 paywalls

I am currently exploring the various avenues for making money from online news as part of my MA Online Journalism.

Over a series of Posts I hope to explore the various methods of generating revenue from online content – looking at the various issues, and pitfalls along the way.

The Project

My idea is a website that offers short, exclusive video interviews with bands – often bands that would not get mainstream coverage elsewhere (e.g. radio and television) but have a small, but cult, following.

The Money Making Options

  • Paywall
  • Standard Banner Ads
  • Ad-content (more on this in future posts)

Paywalls

First, then – the big talking point of the moment, Paywalls.

I would not even consider a paywall model, were I providing standard, general interest news that could be read anywhere. Why would people want to pay for my content, if they could read it for free on a rival site? The beauty of the internet is the sheer volume of material out there, and the means by which to get at it. Websites, RSS feeds, email, social networks – they are all serious competition now for the news outlet.

“The Times”
Image by tripu via Flickr

The Times is attempting to do exactly this with their paywall. Initial figures are not healthy (losing 2 thirds of their online readership). Of course, that means a third of their readers are happy to pay £2 a week for online news – and those figures may eventually work in their favour, who knows. This is The Times, however, they had more readers to play with in the first place. A small local paper that attempted a paywall would be looking at 33% of not-very-much – an impossible situation.

There have been more successful attempts at a Paywall, all of them offering something unique to the reader (the old ad-men phrase of the USP) be it useful information (in the example of the FT or Wall Street Journal), or “celeb-toriety” (right wing commentator RushLimbaugh in the USA). In fact, many of us already accept paywalls as a way of life – Sky TV subscriptions anyone? Again – offering something that you cannot get for free elsewhere.

The question really is not, WILL people pay for “exclusive” content, but how much?

The Content

  • The content I am offering is exclusive video interviews with bands.
  • These will be video interviews, which are quick to digest, interesting to watch and entertaining.
  • The bands I am interviewing are small enough not to get mainstream media coverage (radio or TV) hence the content has a unique value
  • The bands have a cult following within their field and there is a genuine interest in their activities
  • Content will tend to gathered in batches (ie at festivals) so there is an opportunity to promote interest between similar bands

The Audience

  • This audience are not a business audience – they are music fans (teenagers, early 20’s) who consume their magazines, news etc online via social networks, websites and apps.
  • They will be happy shopping online, and in theory, would be comfortable using Paypal to sign up to a site
  • However, would they see the value of this content? And how much would they be willing to pay for it?

Maintaining the Exclusivity

This is icon for social networking website. Th...

Image via Wikipedia

I would go to great lengths to maintain the exclusivity of this content – attending small niche festivals where no other media is interviewing, locking the content as private on video website Viddler,  and embedding it behind a subscription page on my own site.

The downside of this is that the content itself cannot be shared, passed on or promoted – only the link to the page – for which you would need to have paid to access.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

07 Aug

Facebook: groups V fan pages

I am currently working with several companies to develop their online marketing via Twitter, Facebook etc.

A new client currently has a profile, which they actively use, and a Group. However, I wonder if this is the most effective way of marketing their company, besides which, having 2 searchable profiles (group and page) is confusing to the searching user and hard work to maintain.

I am proposing they focus instead on a Fan page.  However, with more than 2500 members of the group, moving away from it is a big decision. Or is it?

I have started investigating the pro’s and con’s of a Page, against a Group, and I am still convinced that, for a business with ongoing activity, a Page is the better option.

  • A Page is Open: once a person “likes” the page, updates will then appear in their News Stream. The only way for Group members to find out what you are doing is for you to invite them to an event or message them. Many people are now event and message weary on Facebook.
  • Cross Promotion: a persons activities within  a Group are not posted onto their wall – so other people are not exposed to the group or it’s activities. A fan page, however, is open and Likes, Comments etc, appear on that persons wall. This leads to free promotion to their friends.
  • Easier to join – like buttons on sites etc automatically add people
  • Clear message – Groups can turn into a free for-all with random people posting random things on the wall. The Group messages are then lost in a sea of irrelevant chat. A Fan page allows the reader to pick JUST the page owner, or page owner and others. The message is more focussed.
  • Remote posting/monitoring – You cannot post to a group remotely (from a 3rd party programme like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, only a Page) For round the clock management and monitoring, a Fan Page is easier to monitor, along with Twitter and other accounts, from one location.
  • Analytics: Fan Pages come with detailed analytics of members, interactions, quality of posts etc so you can monitor how your page is doing. Groups do not have this luxury.

How to make the jump:

  1. First thing is to HIDE the profile – we still need it as a base for the new fan page – but we don’t want more people to join it.
  2. Launch a fan page, Anyone now searching for the product will find the Fan Page NOT the profile – this is what we want.
  3. Promote the fan page on the Group and  the profile page encouraging people to LIKE
  4. Place a button on every page of the website/other social networks, which people can simply click to “like”
  5. Phase out activity on the group but continue to advertise the Fan page
  6. Close the group.

It may seem like a risky move but the effort currently going into promoting through the group, which people are not reading, interacting with or mentioning on their own site, seems wasteful.

All content (c) Caroline Beavon 2020