Monthly Archives: June 2014

Three Simple Ways to Get More Members from Twitter

It seems a lot of admins fail to use social media to recruit members for their forum which is a shame; Twitter can be a great tool for getting people to visit your forum. From what I’ve seen, a lot of admins like to connect their forum’s RSS feed to their Twitter account and call it a day. But we all know that method isn’t really good for attracting visitors or even getting followers. So, what are some ways you can use Twitter to get more members and to build your forums social following?

Follow Your Members on Twitter
Generally, your members’ friends will have similar interests as they do. So, it makes sense to try to reach them first. A good place to start is by following the members that are currently on your forum, and reaching out to them through simple communication. Saying hello or sending a message about how you appreciate their activity, or even replying to their tweets is a great way to build a stronger relationship with them, and since they’ll be responding to you, most likely their friends will take a peek at your account and forum.

Help People
Depending on your niche, people are going to always need help with something. While you shouldn’t spend a bunch of time helping one person, answering people’s questions or directing them somewhere with an answer is a great way to get people to check out your profile and follow you.

Really, there’s not many forums out there with a strong social media account that is actually engaging people and helping them. So, by answering questions and helping people, you are already doing more than most communities out there. Even if they follow your account and don’t join your forum, you still have access to one more person that will probably actually click your tweets.

Promote a Landing Page on Twitter
While a bunch of us know what a forum is, there are still a huge amount of the population that doesn’t. So, while some people will know what do when they get to your forum, a lot of people won’t.

So to capture everyone you possibly can, I think it’s important to have a landing page you can link to, instead of just the main index that describes what your forum is about, how to join, and all that – just so you have an increased chance of capturing the people who are interested, but have no idea where to start on a forum. Plus, it prevents people from being overwhelmed by a bunch of content the first time they visit your site.

Conclusion
So, those are some simple ways to get some more members from your twitter efforts. If you do any of the above, then you’re better off than most of the communities that are starting today. Just remember: engage people, help them, and just keep your name out there for people to see. Not everyone is going to join, but having your name out there is extremely important. Aim to create a tight community on and off the forum, and don’t just spam Twitter like most admins do.

Anyway, what methods are you using to get more members off Twitter?

5 Challenges a Forum Owner Often Faces

A lot of people nowadays owns a bulletin board (also known as forum). The world wide web is literally filled with thousands of forums. It shows that, many people prefer to have their own communities, hence they launch their own forums. Launching a forum is as easy as making a cup of tea, but the hardest part is managing it.

I have been visiting internet forums for many years, and over the years I have seen many different types of forums. Some forums had amazing communities while some were pure crap. One thing I learned is the fact managing a forum is often much harder than managing a blog or other type of site.

With that in mind, I feel that there are 5 challenges that forum owners often have to encounter:

Keeping Members Active
I think the biggest challenge for a forum owner is keeping members active. Very often than not, a forum becomes a graveyard due to members not interacting with each other. When that happens, it can be hard to revive the forum. Normally when a forum is new, it can be quite hard to convince people to stay active.

Finding Good Staff
Another challenge is the fact a forum owner has to find great staff for his/her forum. Very often a forum gets disorganized and chaotic because of incompetent and immature staff. A forum is as good as its staff, so having proper staff is very important.

Technical Side
Many forum owners are not really good at the technical aspects (i.e. fixing bugs, adding plugins, etc.) of running forums. As a result, they are often vulnerable to hackers and technical errors. They often have to hire people to do these technical tasks.

Insufficient Funds
A lot of forum owners do not have the required capital to properly manage a forum. Even though one can own a forum with minimal expenses, a good forum will always have some major expenses (i.e. hosting, domain, premium plugins, contests, etc.). That is why, one should only open a forum if he/she has the required capital to make sure it is a success.

Personal Life
Last but not the least, personal life often comes in the way of a forum webmaster. If a forum owner has a lot going on in personal life, it can affect his/her activity on the forum.

As you can see, managing a forum is not very easy. One has to face many challenges to own and maintain a successful forum. Webmasters who are up for these challenges thrive, others succumb.

5 Tips To Start Your First Forum

After many weeks of thinking you have decided to add more interaction to your website via a forum. Well, even though setting up a forum is a pretty easy I do recommend for you to sit down and do some stuff before hand. Time after time, I run into very smart people who make the dumb decision of starting something they don’t know how to run. Sure they learn eventually, but by then the community has been destroyed. So, here are a few tips for the average person looking to start their first forum.

Dive into the Internet and Do Some Research
Yeah, Yeah….You’ve probably heard this tip a million times, but it truly is some of the best advice you can get. Nobody likes to be stuck in a niche that they know nothing about, so always research it! Make sure to look into competitors to see how they have structured their forums and how active they are. Don’t completely steal their ideas, but you can use a competitor to set yourself in the right direction. Also, while you are researching your topic make sure to look into different forum software’s

Take Your Choice of Software Out For A Spin
While you have probably set your mind on a forum software already, whether it be because your friend told you it was “cool” or because you found a blog post about it, you should probably install it before going any further with creating your forum. Make sure to dive into the admin panel so you can get a feel for its power and to see what is like to sit in the king’s throne. The main purpose of this is to see if you are comfortable with the look and feel of the software. You don’t want to be stuck using a forum software you are not comfortable with because it just turns everything into a bad experience.

When I created my first community, I remember using a forum software called XMB. I’m not going to say that the forum software was bad but it just didn’t work for me. The plugin and theme installation was too much of a hefty process for my newly found Internet knowledge. Eventually I ended up converting the forum to mybb but later closed the community.

Build Interest Before Launching
If you are going to create a community then I suggest that you build up some hype before launching. While most forums are created spontaneously, some of the best have been created through good planning and because they had a following before launching. You are going to need to fill up the empty forums and this hype will already have a crowd ready to join. This can be done with just a landing page that says “Come Back Soon” or even a simple newsletter!

Don’t Touch that Theme!
Free themes are awesome, but never pick the one that is the most popular unless you are going to be customizing it. The reason I say this is because a free theme can just make ya look cheap, so if you are going to choose a free theme then make sure that it is one that many people haven’t seen. Plus, you don’t want to use a theme that other forums are using because it will cause confusion among visitors and it may cause some to think that the forums are the same. If you have a unique, clean and easy to navigate theme then that is what will keep people coming back (the content will too).

Don’t Give Up But Also Accept Failure
There will be times where your forum has been inactive, but never forget to keep advertising and push through because you can always create a more active environment through some good promotion and some time investment. But also remember that you could experience a darker day where your community “goes under” and you just wont be able to get it active again. While I hope your community lives long and prosperous, a lot of you will likely see this day but just remember everyone has a project that failed at one point. Just learn from the experience and use the knowledge to your advantage when starting a new community!

These are some of the tips that I would recommend to anyone who is just getting into community creation. While you may not agree with me, I’m interested in hearing some of your tips as well! So, feel free to leave a comment and share this post on your social networks!

Be Smart About Your Business’ Tweets

I don’t know why people think that tweeting out a link every couple minutes is acceptable, but a lot of people do it. It’s kind of painful to see people doing this because they are probably getting no returns from it and it’s probably annoying the hell out of their followers. Plus, when your feed is filled with nothing but links it’s pretty easy to see that you’re not engaging with anyone, but you’re just there to push your product. I mean, you are on social media to push your product, but you can’t do it by spamming.

There is a way where you can put out less social media updates, and get more returns … here’s how.

Find Out When Your Following is Most Active
Finding out when your following is most active allows you to build a schedule, and send out tweets at times when they are most likely to bring results (traffic, leads, etc.). Not only that, once you find out when your following is most active you won’t be sending out tweets mindlessly at all hours of the day.

There’s plenty of free tools out there that will analyze your twitter account. Here’s the ones I recommend checking out:

  • TweetWhen
  • Tweriod
  • SimplyMeasured

Tweriod will provide you very specific times when your following is most active, but in general most people are active online when they first wake up, during lunch hours, and almost right after work. Just use the tools above to try to get a basic understanding of when your following is active, so you can do the next step.

Create a Schedule
Creating a schedule makes things a lot easier. When you have a schedule, you can set up social media updates/tweets days in advance and target times when your following is most likely to engage.

BufferAPP makes it pretty easy to manage multiple schedules, and track stuff so check them out, but keep in mind that it does have limitations unless you pay.

Use the reports from above to generate a schedule for the week. If you want to experiment with multiple schedules, the BufferApp allows you to do that if you have the “Awesome” plan.

Track and Adapt
BufferAPP has analytics built right in, but if you decide not to use Buffer, then at least use Bit.ly or Goo.gl to track the clicks that your links get. You’re a business, so you need to be tracking stats to see if your time is being spent correctly. Time is money … don’t waste it.

But really you need to keep track of how things are going so that you can adapt, and change your schedule as your following grows. It’ll also help you get an idea of what your following is most interested in, so you can “optimize” your tweets even more.

Just remember to track and adapt.

Start to Engage
Once you’ve developed your schedule, you can now start to spend a little time communicating with your customers. Even though you are posting less links you’re still spamming if that’s all you do. Make sure that some of your twitter account is communicating with your customers, and not just links to your own stuff.

Conclusion
If you’re one of the businesses who are sending out tweets every minute, then please stop. It’s really annoying considering you don’t have to be sending out so many tweets to get good results. Studying your following, and optimizing your tweet times is the best thing you can do. It’ll save both you and your followers some frustration, and you will actually get the results you expect from social media.

So, have you developed your schedule?

How to Install phpBB

The installation process of phpBB is pretty similar on all control panels, but I’m assuming you have purchased hosting that uses CPanel. CPanel is the most common control panel in the web hosting industry, which is why I chose to make my installation guide based on that. Plus, I use web hosting with CPanel so it makes things a tad bit easier on me :D.

Softaculous
If you have CPanel, then you most likely have Softaculous. Softaculous is an auto installer that allows you to install almost every popular free script in just a few clicks. To see if you have it, log into your web hosting CPanel account and search for “Softaculous”. If you have it, then click on it.

You will probably see phpBB under the “Top Scripts,” but if you don’t then you can find it under “Forums”. Hover on “phpBB” and click “Install”!

Everything is pretty much explained on the installation page.

Regular Install
1.) Download and extract phpBB.

2.) Upload the extracted files to a web accessible directory on your web hosting account. (Public_Html, or a sub-directory in the public_html)

3.) Use your browser to go to the location where you uploaded the files with the addition of install/.

For example, example.com/install/ or example.com/forum/install/

Click on the “install” tab, then click on “proceed to next step” and then click on “start install”.

4.) Create a database by logging into CPanel, and by going to the “MySQL® Database Wizard”.

Enter a name in the “New Database” field and click next.

Enter a username, a password (make sure to remember it) and click “create user”.

Check “All Privileges” and click “next step”.

5.) Go back to the phpBB install page and enter the database and username information.

Ex:

phpbb3databaseinformation

Click “proceed to next step”.

Your test connection should be successful.

6.) Setup an admin account by filling out the admin configuration fields.

Ex:

phpbbadminaccount

Click “proceed to next step”.

You should pass the administrator settings test.

Click “proceed to next step”.

7.) Click “proceed to next step” on the “configuration file” page.

8.) Click “proceed to next step” on the “advanced settings” page.

9.) Click “proceed to next step” on the “create database tables” page

10.) Delete the phpBB3 install directory off of your webhost.

After you’ve done that your phpBB forum installation is complete. All you have to do now is login and edit your board settings to change your site name. In addition to changing some default settings, you will want to install a theme!

How to Install a phpBB Theme

1.) Download and extract the theme.

2.) Use an ftp program to move the extracted theme into the styles folder of your phpBB3 forum.

3.) Now you can set about installing the newly uploaded style. Go to your forum, login and go to the ACP.

Once you’re in the ACP, you need to go to the “styles” tab”.

In the styles tab you should see the style that you just uploaded, all you have to do is click “install”, check “make default” and click “submit”.

clicksubmitphpbb3

The theme is now installed and all members will see it by default.

Conclusion
Well, that’s about it. You’ve now installed phpBB and your first theme! Anyway, I hope your installation went swiftly and if you have any questions, then ask in the comments below!

Ways to Use Instagram to Build Traffic

The art of good site traffic building comes from staying on top of evolving trends. It requires a bit of thinking outside of the box, as the standard keyword-linked blog post isn’t always your site’s best bet. Often site owners forget to look to social media, the centerpiece of the web, for marketing help. Since Instagram is one of the most popular forms of social media today there are some ways to use it to your site’s advantage.

Naming and Hashtags
The importance of choosing the correct keywords still applies here, but Instagram uses them a bit differently. Include your keyword in the title of the picture, or use them as hashtags. Where Google can slam you for embedding too many keywords into a blog post, Instagram will only improve your visibility and traffic when you include more hash tags. Be sure to link the most relevant but commonly-searched terms to your pictures for the best results.

Pique Interest
Have an upcoming product that has yet to be revealed? Take a picture of the box, or snap an ambiguous photo of one of the edges of the product. Try to hint at the object without giving away its full presence. This will generate interest in your product and will keep Instagram followers interested in following links back to your site for more information. If you have an upcoming event, you can use Instagram photos to build interest for that as well.

Connect with Others
Instagram makes it easy to connect with and “shout out” to other followers and brands. You can tag other accounts on your pictures and strike a deal with them to return the favor. Connecting with influential Instagrammers boosts your visibility significantly by tapping into thousands of their followers. It’s also a good idea to form real and positive relationships with other brands, as strong partnerships yield fruitful results for business and SEO.

Hold Contests
One of the most effective and fun ways to use Instagram to your advantage is to hold contests. Most are naturally based on visuals, whether it be similar to Heineken’s scavenger hunt contest or Tiffany’s submit-a-photo contest. Create a competition that is visually stimulating and enjoyable for your followers to boost your traffic in a way that you may not have thought possible.

Post Consistently
It’s easy to forget about a brand that you do not see daily, especially when there are so many other posts to see on Instagram. Make sure you are providing consistent images for your followers, and try to provide interesting or intriguing content as often as you can. You do not want to get lost in the dust of every other filtered image, so try to think outside of the box! Create an Instagram campaign that takes your company’s image in a whole new direction. Take silly pictures that people will want to share with their friends. Do whatever you feel matches with your site’s tone, and will also help it stand out on Instagram. As long as you are posting interesting content often, you’re on the right track.

By providing links to your site on your Instagram page, you can turn successful Instagram usage into steady, traditional SEO for your main site and grow traffic. If you need more SEO help, check the Boostability reviews below and other SEO companies for their services. There’s a lot changing in the world of SEO, so it helps to have an outside opinion when boosting your company. But if all else fails, giving social media a try will at least get your name to one of the most concentrated markets out there.

Theo Schmidt has an interest in computer science and engineering, and he uses that interest to fuel his blogging. Theo also enjoys spending time in the outdoors, and he is passionate about protecting the environment. For Boostability reviews, check Boostability.com.

Fatal Mistakes That Staff Members Can Make

Many problems that forums both new and old can face is mismanagement. Mismanagement is something that can destroy even an extremely successful forum in a matter of days. The decisions that staff members make can easily alienate an entire base of members. This article will outline some of the things staff members can do to easily alienate their entire base of members.

Sweeping Changes
Imagine that you have a forum that has been up for a few years as a gaming forum, and you’ve got a pretty large base of members. One day, you wake up and decide that you’re going to change your forum to a place for remote control car enthusiasts. You post an announcement stating your intentions in the announcement forum, and to your surprise, very few people are as enthusiastic about this idea as you are! In fact, many of them say that they will leave if this happens! You think that people are just being dramatic, and you go through with the change. The next day, your forum is a ghost town.

This scenario shows that making huge changes without taking what the members want into account is a very bad idea. If your forum has been one way for a long time, members get used to having it the way it is. If you want to make a drastic change (i.e. converting to a light theme when your forum has had a dark theme for years), you should probably consult the community first. Get their opinions. Make sure that most members are okay with the change. If you make sweeping changes without even thinking about the opinions of the members, then the results can be disastrous.

Unknown Staff Members
Many people use the hiring service on FP to hire staff members for already established forums. Usually, these new staff members for the established forums will register as a new member to become staff.

This, in my opinion, is a really bad idea. You should never hire people you don’t know to help staff your already established forum. A lot of your active members who weren’t even considered for the job might feel cheated. In fact, I would say that you should only hire people as new staff members if they have been in your community for a long time or if you have known the person for some time. Make sure the person is honest, respectful, and committed to the job. Remember that when you make someone a staff member, you are giving them a lot of power over your forum. This power could be used to delete all the topics on the forum (even though you probably have backups), ban members just for fun, edit members’ posts left and right and make them say insulting things, or even delete your forum. These things can easily take your forum from thousands of active members to zero in a heartbeat.

Choosing staff members is a huge responsibility, and you should treat it as such.

Inactivity
Especially on newer forums, the staff members have the responsibility to create new content to keep users around. Unless your forum is very large, there usually aren’t enough members to continue generating content for each other. That being said, if the staff members become inactive all at once, it can easily kill a forum. It’s also not all that attractive to see inactive staff members, and inactivity among the staff could easily stall your forum’s growth as well.

If you (the administrator) are going to be absent or extremely inactive for a period of time, make sure that you leave plenty of people who are willing to create content and moderate the forum in your absence.

Aggression
Often, if it becomes too stressful to run a forum, administrators and moderators will become extremely aggressive. They will start excessively handing out warnings, bans, etc. They will overmoderate and make the members feel oppressed. If you give out warnings or bans for every little thing, your members won’t be able to have fun on your forum; they’ll be too worried about getting in trouble. At that point, they will probably find somewhere else to go where they can actually enjoy themselves.

If running the forum becomes too stressful for you as an administrator, then you probably need to staff up to decrease the load on yourself. If you decrease the amount of moderating, coding, etc. that you have to do, then you won’t be as stressed; you’ll be able to enjoy yourself and the community again. If one of your staff members is being too aggressive due to stress, then you need to have a talk with that staff member. See what you can do to lighten his/her load. If this staff member continues being too aggressive, then it’s probably time to let him/her go. Some people can’t handle being staff of a forum that isn’t small and intimate.

Cheating
You decide that you want to make your forum look more active than it is, so you copy some topics in your trash forum. Nobody will see it, and it will make members more likely to join and post, right? Well, that’s not exactly true. Members will join expecting a lot more posts than they find, and they will probably just leave when they realize that your forum isn’t as active as it appeared. It is also not hard for members to add up the amount of posts in each forum and realize that a few hundred thousand posts are missing. Once that happens, it’s all over. You’ll be humiliated, and many of your members will probably be very upset that you deceived them. People aren’t stupid, and they don’t appreciate it when others act as though they are.

Status Quo
If you think that your forum is doing very well and decide that you don’t need to create anything new, then you have a problem. While some members will be content with the same old things on your forum, some will want new features and things to do on your forum. It can easily get stale when the same old thing is happening for so long. Be sure to always update your forum. A forum is never “finished.” Your forum needs to always be under construction with improvements and updates being made constantly.

Put the Members First
Now that I’ve gone through some fatal mistakes that staff members can make, I’d like to remind all administrators that the members need to be your first priority. If you keep getting the opinions of your members and following their advice, then you generally can’t go wrong. Make sure that your members feel like your staff members serve them; they should never feel like the staff members don’t care about members and their opinions.