Building A Community
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 1:19 PM


I have many blogs and websites that get some traffic but nothing that I would really write home about. I can’t say that I have in the least bit been successful in building a community but I think I can at least try and point you in the right direction or help you get the right state of mind when trying to build a community.

Give them Tools

Providing people with tools is a great start to building a community. If people can interact with the website and the people running the website then they feel better connected and more a part of the community. Allowing people to create log-ins and leave comments and participate in chats or forums is a great why to build community. This is another reason Twitter and Facebook and other social networks are so valuable because they are great for building community.

Give them Heart

Does this mean if you built it they will come? No HAHA I wish. Tools are not enough to create a community. It takes heart to built a community and heart is something you can’t fake and you can’t manufacture. If there are people participating on a website that care about what is being discussed and take care of each other then the community can't help but grow. Even if you start with only a couple people it will grow, maybe slowly but it will grow. The amount of heart you put into a project will show in how the community grows and will attract people to your community.

I have been really impressed with this guy Chris Parillo who started Lockergnome a blog engine community website. He gave a speech about building community at a conference and I thought it was really good and I think it will help anyone get a good idea of what building community really is.

by willburns1 | with no comments
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The Compact, Yet Extremely In Depth, Guide to Twitter
Wednesday, July 1, 2009 9:12 AM
What is Twitter?

Twitter is simply a means to communicate with other Tweeple (Twitter people) in a 140 characters or less.

But why?

I think people enjoy Twitter so much because of the frankness. It makes you condense your posts into the most important information. In short, you get right to the point.

Why should I use Twitter?

The Lemmings mentality - everyone else is doing it. But in this case, it means that by establishing a Twitter account you can talk to everyone in one social media outlet.

Ok, then what can I do with a Twitter account?

The main benefit is that you can easily get your information out to thousands or potentially millions of people. However, one has to be careful about "spamming" or only posting information about your company or URLs to your pages. The Twitter population is very wary of spam and will easily peg you as such and unfollow. There's one simple way around this - share information about you that's genuine. Don't just pipe out the corporate PR. Make the account personal and interesting. It also gives the public a way of communicating with you the Company/ Person that it didn't have before. That's why Celebrities get on twitter -- people can feel they can interact with them.

So... how do I do this?

Well first, go sign up for an account. Make the name memorable. Most people say just go with your name. I think it's fine to go with a nickname or moniker, just stay away from underscores and numbers. Once that's done you need to develop your profile. This means selecting an avatar for yourself (usually just a personal picture), writing a brief biography and stylizing your profile with a background and colors. Now, here's where people make the first mistake. Instead of immediately trying to build a followership, work on creating a few posts. Get about 10 or so under your belt before you actively recruit followers. Think of it as your time to develop your style or test how to post and retweet information. Some people will find you and follow you just based on what you're saying. Now comes the hardest part - attracting followers.

Again, how do I do this?

The universally agreed way to build a group of followers is to first follow people. Tweeple are fairly reciprocal. If you follow them, they will follow you (there will be more on this below). Start following people that are like-minded or share an interest in what you're going to be talking about.

Sigh... how do I do this?

Search and cannibalism my good friend! First, search for terms that relate to your interests. By using the Twitter search function you can easily find people who have mentioned your keywords in the last few months. Follow them. Then search more words and follow those people. Eventually you'll come upon the jackpot - an account to cannibalize. This is an account that is doing the same thing you're doing - either talking about the same subjects or tweeting about the same type of products. This means they've already done the work for you. Obviously followers of this account are either interested or (at the very least) not turned off to this account's message. Simply see the people who are following them and BAM you now how a list of followers to feed from. Who says cannibalism is all bad? Finally there are channels within Twitter that are defined by hash tags (#). You'll see tweets that use the terms #followfriday, #tv, etc. This means they're tweet is related to a specific keyword or subject. With Twitter tools like TweetDeck (more on that in the Tools section) you can follow channels and then follow the people that use them. Fun!

So I just shotgun follow as many people as possible? Is that it?

Well, not really. If you follow a couple of hundred followers a day you're going to look like a spammer account (rightfully so). The trick is to follow in moderation and let those people you've followed follow you back. Here's a good rule of thumb: When first starting out try and follow 30-50 people a day.  Then, after three day go back and dump the people who haven't followed you back. Show some tough love. This is a great way to gain a bunch of followers quickly without being a spam account. By dropping the follow only group every three days, you keep your following/followers ratio to near even. Example: if you are following 750 people and only 200 are following you back then you look like a spammer. However, if you are following 500 and have 450 following you back you look like a legitimate account that has content people want to listen to. The key ratio to have in mind is 1.5:1 following/followers ration; or, never following more than 150% above your follower total.

Ooookay. Anything else?

Yes. There are good times of the week and bad times of the week to follow people (yes, people have devoted time to studying this stuff). The key times to follow Tweeple are between 1-3PM and 7-9PM on weekdays (CST) and Sunday afternoon and evening. It's been shown that your reciprocal followers average 35-50% during these times. On the off times you can average 10-20%. That's a big difference when you're talking thousands of potential followers.

Well, thanks for all your help! I'm off to start an account!

Hold on a minute! There are a few rather important things still left to say. First, let's talk about your posting strategy. You want to be a valued and popular member of the community. You get to be this by promoting your site or products on occasion, not every other tweet. Only 10% of your tweets should actually be about your business, product or contain URLs to your webpages. The rest breaks down to: 30% personal or real comments about your day, 30% retweeting (RT) other people's tweets (this builds good loyalty between members and creates an "I'll pat your back if you pat mine" mentality"), and 30% general useful comments (usually helpful links to pages that aren't yours, news, or funny web items). That, in a nutshell, is how to succeed with Twitter.

Useful Twitter Tools

Here are a handful of free tools that will make your Twitter experience much, much better:

Free Twitter Backgrounds (give your Twitter site a non-generic look without much work): http://www.agglom.com/agglom/1320/Pimp_my_Twitter_Twitter_backgrounds_and_design

Twitter Mission Control (TweetDeck - a way to keep track of your responses, follow channels and top keywords in one handy application): http://www.tweetdeck.com/beta/

Twitter Karma (The site to use when you're doing a bulk unfollow of those who haven't followed you. Sign in, select "only following", go to the bottom and "check all." You may want to unselect some Twitter accounts that aren't following you - in the case of news or interest - and then click "bulk unfollow." This will purge your Twitter account of those not interested in what you have to say and keep your ratio low: http://dossy.org/twitter/karma/

Twitter Grader (A fun site to see how well your Twitter account is doing):http://twitter.grader.com/

Twitter Top 40 (An assortment of other great Twitter tools you can explore with): http://www.longest.com/2008/10/28/top-twitter-tools/

by Raikus | 2 comment(s)
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How to get the most traffic out of StumbleUpon
Tuesday, June 30, 2009 6:07 PM

StumbleUpon is a social networking website that rates and reviews webpages so people can find interesting and fun stuff on the web. Any website or webpage can be reviewed and commented on through the StumbleUpon's website. The most interesting websites get good ratings and tons of traffic. StumbleUpon is a great way to get traffic to your website or blog. SU can to increase traffic because everyone that gives a "thumb up" to what you submit helps to promote the page on their account.  It's like a snow ball effect, the more people who give it a "thumb up" the more likely people are to see it and visit your site.

So all you really need to do is get the ball rolling. So how is this done? Well I should start off by saying it will take time. You have to build a fan base of people who like and trust you to send them good content. So this is where we will start

Getting Started and Building a Fan Base

The Setup

First you need to sign up for an account. Once you have done this fill out your profile to some extent so people know you are a real person and not some kind of spammer only out to get traffic to their website. Don't name your account something like freecoupons.com use your name or some other name that people will assume is an average person on the web. After your profile is setup get the StumbleUpon toolbar. This is the easiest and fastest way to sent and receive pages on SU. I know, not another toolbar, you can turn it off when you don't need it to cut down on space.

Building Friends

The first thing you want to do is stumble several popular or trending stories or articles that fit in with what you are planning on submitting to SU. You want to do this before friending people so they can see that you like interesting and relevant articles. The second thing you want to do is decide what demographic you are trying to hit. If you are going to be submitting articles about computers then you need to friend people who like articles about computers. Your article will fall on deaf ears if your friends aren't interested in what you're sending. In order to do this go to StumbleUpon's website and click into a category that will fit what you're planning on submitting. On the right sidebar you will see a grouping of people who like this category. These people are your audience so friend them J .

The Right Kind of Friend

When you friend people you want to let them know you care. So when you send them a friend request go ahead and review their list of favorites. Say something nice about their collection of websites and try to be genuine. This will let them know you took the time to promote their page and they will appreciate it. You are only allowed to friend 25 people a day with a maximum of 500 friends. So if you hit the maximum every day and you added friends 5 days a week it would take you a month to hit the maximum.

Don't get SU Blocked

StumbleUpon has a filter so you can't submit all your pages to StumbleUpon in one day. They will block you from submitting websites from a URL if you abuse it. A good rule of thumb is to only submit 5 articles from the same URL a week. This will prevent them from classifying you as a spammer and you can keep your account and all your friends.  

Play the Game

To be a good stumbler you have to play the game. If one of your friends sends you something and you like it give it a thumbs up and review it. It will give them confidence in you and we hope they will return the favor by helping you with your submissions. You can't ignore your friends and never respond to what they send. Talk to them and always try to be nice. Don't send too much stuff in one day or people will start to complain and will unfriend you.

Sending Content

You can send a page to just one person at a time or you can send it to all your friends from your favorites page. Hover over the thumbnail of the favorite you want to share, and in the bottom right corner you will see a share button pop up. Click it and it will give you a box to send the page to all your friends. Type a message that will get their attention or ask them something related to the page that might get a response. Try and engage the user as much as possible. Don't only send pages from your own site make sure to send other content as well. If the only thing they see from you is the same site they might unfriend you or report you for spamming. 

Conclusion

So there you have it, a good start to building a successful StumbleUpon account that will build your traffic to your website or blog. This is only the beginning so keep trying to figure out ways to make your friends list a more productive and traffic building network.

by willburns1 | 1 comment(s)
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Build Your Blog: Titles and Tags
Thursday, April 16, 2009 4:13 PM

And we're back! This time we're going to talk about how to title and tag your blog so it gets effective search engine traffic. In the last post we talked about building your blog: how to select a theme that will gain readers and a design that promotes your theme. Now, we discuss content.

As I mentioned last time, as far as content is concerned, you want to have a focus. No one wants to read about how your day was or how long the line at the post office was. You need to write what you know and be a resource for that subject. People should be able to say in one sentence what your blog is about. What are your thoughts on this Rob?

It ultimately boils down to style. Each person has an attribute to bring to their blog posts. It could be wit, humor, knowledge, reference or a variety of other things. Just find your personal style and stick with it. Couple that with focus and you could have a winning blog on your hands. But back to this post's focus: Will, what would you say is THE most important part of a blog in regards to generating search engine traffic?

Well Rob, if I could pick one major thing it would be the title of the blog post. Your title needs to be informative as well as contain popular keywords that pertain to your subject. Having a catchy title is great but without important keywords it’s never going to be found on Google. The best way to discover what the keywords are for your subject is to use a keyword search tool like this: http://tools.seobook.com/keyword-tools/seobook/. All you have to do is enter a term relating to your subject and it will tell you know how many searches those keywords get searched for daily. This is a great way to discover hot and popular keywords to put in the title of your blog post.
 

Bookmarked! I'll definitely start using that link. Now, we're not advocating that you deceive your blog readers with misleading titles. That won't get you anywhere in the long run. But if you're writing a blog on the current economic situation don't title it "Pinching Pennies from Paycheck to Paycheck." Avoid the alliteration (ahem) and call it something like "What is wrong with the American Economy?" Think about what terms people would use if they were searching for information that your blog contains. Use Will's link and see what the most popular terms are for that subject (note: this IS the internet so the top terms will mostly likely be porn or sex related -- welcome to the world wide web). Always be mindful of how your blog post will result in a good, searchable title.

Good point Rob. Thanks for clarifying that for me. Let me also say that one of the reasons the title of the post is so important is because a lot of blog engines will take the title of the page and put it in the URL -- all important things if you want to be search engine friendly. Some blog engines like Wordpress will allow you to change the URL to whatever you want. This can be useful when you are trying to target certain keywords.

Sooner or later you'll get hit by the bolt of inspiration and think, "why not plug every searchable term I can think of into the title?" Well, you're not the first or the last person who has thought of this. There are two reasons not to do this. First, search engines cut off your title length between 60 to 70 characters. So if your blog title goes past that character limit, the search engines will only pick up what came before the cutoff. Second (and most important), the more terms you use in your title the more it weakens your keyword density. Keyword density is the number of times a term or phrase appears on the webpage or post. If you really want your blog to rank high for the phrase "greatest blog ever" then try and stick to that phrase for your title. If you call it "The Greatest and Best Blog in All of the Known Universe" you now introduce additional terms that will reduce the keyword density for your phrase.

Now for tags. Tags are basically the keywords of the post. When you use tags blog engines will put your tags into the metadata as keywords so Google can easily index them. That and it helps add keyword density and makes your post easily searchable on your own site.
 

Maybe your post didn't talk about some key terms that are very closely related and you'd like to show up in searches for those terms -- put them in the tags. Try and think of phrases that people will be searching for. If they're strong phrases tag them as one phrase (meaning don't separate them with commas). Personally I like to tag my title and variations of my title. For instance, if my title is "What is Wrong with the American Economy?" then I'll probably tag items like "American economy," "what is wrong," "wrong," and "economy." If someone searches for your exact phrase (for instance, "American economy") you'll rank higher than if you tag the words separately ("American" and "economy"). Conversely, if someone only searches for one word in your phrase the search may not show at all. It's always helpful to make tags that keep both those things in mind.

So I think you get the point, let’s finish up by talking a bit more about keyword density. If you want a page to rank well for a specific keyword make sure that the keyword is prominent on the page. You can figure out the keyword density by using tools like SEO Quake which is a Firefox plugin or by using a website like this one. http://www.seochat.com/seo-tools/keyword-density/

And the more you get to know about keywords density or post optimization the more useful links there are to help you out. For now, just focus on good, readable content topped with your unique style. As always, if you have questions for Will or I just ask us in the comments sections. We’ll be sure to answer promptly. See you next time!


by Raikus | 2 comment(s)
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Build Your Blog: The Blog
Tuesday, March 24, 2009 10:45 AM

 

Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Rob and I work at Blogiversity. After some talk around the office we thought it might be beneficial to give our fellow Blogiversity members some tips on Build Your Blog -- or, as I like to call it "How I Learned to Send Server Exploding Traffic to My Blog" (Build Your Blog was chosen due to character limits).


 
Hi, my name is Will and I also work at Blogiversity, and we chose "Build your Blog" because I wouldn't let him call it "How I Learned to Send Server Exploding Traffic to My Blog." It sounds too dirty. Anyways in the up and coming posts we are going to discuss how to promote and drive traffic to your blog. The skills that you learn can help you win the upcoming contest held here at Blogiversity.


 
There you go, spilling the beans again. We're supposed to wait until the end of the post to entice people with a contest. Well, too late now. Yes, we're having another Blogiversity contest. You may remember the last contest where those nice people on the front page received two Toshiba laptops and an iPod Touch. Well this time we're giving away a brand new Flip Mino HD (applause!). If you haven't seen one of these things let's just say they are the bee's knees (or whatever the kids are saying now-a-days) of small, HD camcorders. That is to say, they rock.


Clap clap clap. Oh, sorry I was still excited about the Mino HD because they are awesome. I don't know when I was in high school people said "Off the Chain" a lot so I guess this next contest is going to be off the chain. In all seriousness it's going to be super easy and I think you can learn a lot about building traffic as well.


And that's where our new blog comes into play. Will and I have been able to get great blog posts (written by me) and even poor to mediocre posts (written mostly by him) tens of thousands of hits using the methods we're going to lay out in this series. Why, might you ask? Because the Blogiversity server sits in the room behind us and the thing is loud. L-O-U-D loud. It's like trying to work in front of a jet engine and we want to improve our employee environment. We can't active destroy the server by, say, throwing a sealed Diet Coke bottle full of Mentos in there. No, we have to be subtle. So we're going to show you how to blow up the server for us by driving mass amounts of traffic to your blog.


Woah, woah wait a minute, I write the mediocre content -- I don't think so. Just because I spell words differently and don't really use punctuation doesn't mean that I don't write good content. Huh? I see your point, moving on to more important things: I think that first subject we talk about should be about how to setup your blog to be attractive and make people want to read your content. What do you think?


Always best to start at the beginning. After creating your blog on Blogiversity, you can choose to change your blog's theme through the control panel. Try to pick a theme that supports your blog's subject. Example: If your blog is about the weather in Fargo, North Dakota, it's probably not a good idea to get the Islander theme that has palm trees in the header. Don't just stop once you've completed the theme selection though. Each theme can further be customized through the ‘Theme Options' window. Pick your page size, font, text color, link color and background images. You can also design custom headers or even attach your own CSS sheet. Just make sure it's easy to read and won't cause migraines or sudden epileptic seizures.


Please do us all a favor and don't have music that plays automatically when you load a page. This drives me crazy and it will drive your readers crazy as well. Something else that you might want to consider is adding links to your best and most popular articles. This is a great way to show people who are visiting for the first time what kind of content they can expect from you. If you have links to some of your best stuff they are more likely to see it and more likely to return to your blog.


Heed Will's advice on the audio part. Nothing makes me close a window faster than being assaulted by a Papa Roach song. That said; don't be afraid to dress up your blog with pertinent pictures and video. You can easily add flavor and quality to your blog with a few multimedia objects. In fact, some of the most popular blogs are little else than one page full of embedded video or images in a certain subject. If you provide all the content you're talking about in one place, then your reader won't suddenly forget about you when they start watching the recommended YouTube videos after clicking the link you provided them. If you can embed it, embed it.


Rob brings up a good point. It can be a good idea to stick to one subject with your blogs. If you like coffee then you could make a coffee blog. The reason for this is so that people who like what you are posting can always find content on the same subject. If you post all random content it's hard to get repeat views. This doesn't mean that you can't start a blog about random things, I'm just saying if you attack some kind of niche you will get better traffic and have a better blog.


Exactly. There are ∞+1 bloggers out there that write in "stream of consciousness." They write about their day, the new type of lip gloss they discovered (in Will's case), and a billion other things that NO ONE READS. Unless you are Felicia Day or Wil Wheaton you won't have a successful blog by doing this. Pick a subject matter or topic and stick to it. Develop an audience and expand from there. Otherwise you're better off typing up your memoirs, sticking them in a bottle and finding a nice piece of coast with an out tide. Anything else to add Will?


Nope. That about sums it all up and very well put I might add. I liked the part about sticking your memoirs in a bottle and floating them out to see -- great imagery there, man.


Thanks. Tune in next time when we discuss how to properly title and tag your blog posts for maximum search engine results (and maybe Will will even reveal his mystery lip gloss flavor - I'm betting Paprika Gloss). As always, we encourage any questions. Just post them in the comments section of the blog and we'll get right on them.


Yeah and no question is a dumb question. We are not here to make fun of people who ask questions. We are here to help so bring on the conversation!

by Raikus | 4 comment(s)
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