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My New Job at Vanilla Forums

Two weeks ago I started at Vanilla Forums as their Marketing Manager. If you are not aware, Vanilla Forums is an amazing open source forum software company located in Montreal. Now that I work with it every day, I don’t think the word “forum software” really does Vanilla Forums justice. When I think forums, like most I  think of the bloatware like vBulletin, Simple Machines or Invision Power Boards. Vanilla Forums is much lighter. It’s actually more like a community software, but stripped down to what one needs to make a community work: Simple to administer for the owner and fun for it’s users to participate. Add in something the cool kids call “Gamification” and the fact it has native support for mobile devices, you have a real winner.

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Thursday, August 15th, 2013 at 20:31
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Introducing A New Day – A Personal Note

So I am back. Did you ever think it would be that long? By nature I am a writer. I need to express myself. The truth is the original impetus of this blog was to share with you the news of the day for online marketing and the latest developments affecting SMBD, Part-time webmasters and DIYers. At the time it was a relatively new idea to focus on SMB marketing. The truth is the amount of news coming out made it near impossible to keep up. I felt enormous guilt and pressure to keep up. I kept meaning to write posts on this or that, and by the time I got around to it the news was so old, my site would be another rehash of what was happening you could get elsewhere. In short, what I came to realize is that I would need to quit my job and write this blog full time in order to keep up. This was (and still is) not doable. Not with a mortgage or car payments, at least. And to be honest, this blog was never about money. It was always a way for me to give back and to share what I learnt and take you along for the journey. I really had to rethink why I was here and what I was writing about. I am still not 100% sure, but I have started a new job where I am working even closer with businesses and customers. This has led a re-ignition of my passion for sharing and it has led to my writing muscle getting back. I figure this blog will be more personal this time. Not to tell you so much about a cat, or what I ate for dinner, but about strategy — and real ideas. I would also be remiss to not also state it might be heavy on communities and social media, because let’s face it, that’s what I do all day. Anyway, suffice to say, there are changes are afoot and I am back icon smile Introducing A New Day   A Personal Note If you have a question or just want to say hello, don’t be shy to hit me up via the contact form.

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Wednesday, August 14th, 2013 at 22:45
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Creating A Community: Should You Bother?

community 300x229 Creating A Community: Should You Bother? Social Media is a powerful tool. Almost every week a new social media site is popping up. It can easily make a business owner go crazy. Sadly, it seems, lost in this conversation is the original social media: the  community.  Community software or forums have been around since the beginning of the internet. It’s a place for like-minded individuals to talk about topics or a topic that interests them. Even since the beginning, though, starting a community was not as easy as just getting a great script or software on your server.  Running a community can be a full time job — don’t kid yourself. If you think you just set it up and your customers will come, I have some bad news for you. You are dreaming. The truth is, you need to do more than build it. You need to plan it, promote it, and monitor it. Before your head starts to spin let’s really break it down to the issues you need to consider.

Should I Even Have A Community?

Should you build it? This really is the the first question. I think there are quite a few businesses that can benefit from a community, especially as forum software companies start to make it easier with SSO (single Sign on) with Social Media credentials. At the same time, there are some niches where it may not make sense — or you may need to be creative. For example a company selling piping to plumbers, might want to create a plumbing forum. The broader the appeal, but staying within a global niche should give you a better chance to succeed.

Do you have the know how ?

Once you have determined it makes sense to have a community or you have your niche in mind, you need to consider: Do I have the technological know how? If you do not have an IT team, or your website is super basic, you might want to opt for a hosted solution. In most cases, I would think you do not have the time to muck around in the code. Your business is selling, not the infrastructure of a community. Vanilla Forums has a 30 day free trial, and some great plans to see if it’s the right fit for you.

Do you have the staff/time?

Next comes the question about staff. Who will promote your board? Who will moderate your board? These are things to consider too. Either you will need to spend some time and do it yourself, hire someone or best of all seek out a solution provider that offers that too.

If you are set on doing it yourself,  and just because you asked so nicely, my personal choices for DIY forum hosting is Vanilla. This is not because I work there. I have used them all (SMF, MyBB,PHPbb,Xenforo, ect). Each offers you something different, but I always came back to Vanilla for it’s simplicity. It’ s easy for you to setup, painless to manage and makes member enagement even easier. If you are not sure, I recommend you download some different software. Free demo’s are nice, but having full access to test on your own server is better.

I Have My Forum Now What?

You have your community. Yeah! Now what. Getting a community is easy, making it work is the hard part. One great resource which I recommend highly is a book called Buzzing Communities. It’s a great guide if you want to understand about running a community and all the work involved. If you are not the person running the community, it makes a nice gift for the person that will.

Final Thoughts

In the end, should you decide to create a community, the most important attribute will be patience. A community takes time to grow and create. If you do it right, a community can blossom like a beautiful flower. It can be a very rewarding experience, and a way for your customers to engage with you even deeper.

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Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 at 18:52
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Farewell? More Like Sabbatical.

It’s hard to have a blog like this. There are always new developments in the world of web marketing, and almost never enough time to cover them. Right now, I need to focus on some other projects, so I am taking a small break from blogging here. I promise to be back in the future, but for now, you can seek me out at StatStory.com, where I will be focusing on Analytics. Thanks again for being loyal, your kind comments and your thoughtful emails. If you like you may follow me on Twitter and see what I am up to.

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Tuesday, January 1st, 2013 at 18:29
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Piwik Ecommerce Stats From Magento

magento+piwik Piwik Ecommerce Stats From Magento

Recently I have been focused on analytics and posting over at Statstory.com. I guess that’s what happens when your time and energy are focused on the topic of Analytics. Nevertheless, for those of you using Magento, I wanted to advise that I did release a new add-on, that can help you get Piwik Ecommerce data populated from your Magento 1.7 install. It’s free and can be downloaded here. Get more details, including a tutorial video at StatStory.com.

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Monday, June 25th, 2012 at 20:19
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