ShoutEm

Archive for the ‘Help & Tips’ Category

Finding some members for your mobile social network is only one part of the job. Keeping them happy and engaged is another task that you have to accomplish to have a successful social network. Here is the list of 6 steps that you can take to become a better network administrator.

 

happy_users

 

1. Make a good design.

Although we have 18 pre-defined styles that you can use on your social network, you may want to customize the way your mobile social network look like. Try to choose some nice colors, because if you choose to have red text on green background, your members will find it difficult to read, and they could decide not to participate in your network anymore. Look at some of our successful mobile social networks and their beautiful designs, and try to accomplish the same user experience for your members as they did for theirs.

 

2. Edit your profile.

Have your real picture as your profile picture and provide real data. People want to have trust in their network administrator, and showing them your picture is a good way to start gaining their trust.

 

3. Start interesting conversations.

You must have been an expert in some niche, for example, in ASP.NET MVC. That means that you know so many interesting stories for your members, and you have so many links to share with them. Then do it! Give them a reason to engage. Share your thoughts, opinions, experiences and links with them, and try to engage them with a simple sentence: "What do you think?". It’s a call for action for them, and they’ll probably reply.

 
happiness

4. Join some conversations.

Your network is not all about you, and you have to show that to your members. Follow the things they’re doing and saying, and start talking with them. Share your thoughts on a subject, and your members will appreciate that. As you have more and more interesting conversations and shouts, your network will be more interesting for your members and, most likely, they’ll come back more often, and they’ll even invite their friends and colleagues.

 

5. Set up the rules and follow them.

Write down the rules for your mobile social network. Define what is forbidden to do and to say, and define what’s going to happen to a member who violates your rules. Tell that all links to warez/porno are forbidden, that it is not allowed to insult other members… you get the point. If somebody breaks the rules, give him a warning. If he continues to break the rules, ban him from your network. You’ll lose one member, but other members will be happy, because they probably don’t want to see him on your network, either.

 

6. Reward your members.

From time to time, you can organize some kind of a prize game for your members. Try to find some prize. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one; a t-shirt should be enough. You can also try to find some sponsor for your game; software company which is willing to give one or few licenses for their product, or a restaurant which is willing to give a free dinner for one of your members; possibilities are endless. Then set up rules of your choice. The winner can be whoever writes the most shouts in one week or whoever starts the most replied shout. This will give a motivation for your member to shout more and more, and to come back more often, and to be happier… and that’s what you want, you want happy members!

 

What do you think about this? Which qualities should a good network administrator have? What are your experiences? Post it in comments.

If you think you can do all this, the create your own mobile social network on http://www.shoutem.com . It’s free!

You create your own ShoutEm microblogging network, you invest some time tweaking it, you make custom design, you buy your own domain… and you wait. But you don’t see many users joining your network, and those who join don’t shout a lot. And you start asking yourself: “What am I doing wrong?”. You may not be doing anything wrong; perhaps you simply aren’t doing enough to promote your microblogging network. We’ve assembled 12 steps that you can take to promote your microblogging network. Read them and take action!

 community

1. Engage your social networking friends
You probably have hundreds of Facebook friends, maybe even thousands Twitter followers, who knows how many friends on other social networks… why don’t you use them? As them to join your microblogging network and ask them to help you spread the word. You will be surprised by the results. Create a Facebook fan club for your microblogging network, and invite all your friends to join the group. Tweet about your social network, ask your followers to retweet and spread the word. Maybe you can even create a Twitter account for your microblogging network created on ShoutEm. There are also numerous other ways to use other social networks, like Ning, Orkut or StumbleUpon to promote your microblogging network. The important thing is: use your community!

2. Use your content
If you have something interesting posted on your network (for example, some interesting statistical data about Twitter usage in your country/region), post that data on other social media sites. For example, if your network is used by 80% student of some university (and we already wrote about possible usage of microblogging networks in education) and your network is a way students communicate with their colleagues and professors, spread the news about that. Post that info on Twitter, make a PR about it, send it to big social media sites, some bloggers… it might be interesting for them. One shout can make a difference.

3. Print the URL on your visit card
This one is very simple, print URL of your social network on your visit card. Whenever you give it to someone, you promote you microblogging network.

4. Posters
If your social network is about some region, or your hometown, maybe it might be worth investing some money and printing some posters, which you can put on bulletin boards. Or you can print A5 posters, and give it to random people on the street. You’d be surprised what a little offline promotion can do.

 

posters

Image by r@chel mOmmy


5. Give something away of value

Know your community niche? Maybe you’re an expert in blogging, insurance, web design… Why not write a short guide, turn it into a 10-page e-book and let your users download it for free? People like things that teach them how to be better at something, even more when it’s free.
Also, try to organize some kind of prize game. If you can invest some money in something valuable or interesting, then try to organize a prize game for all members of your microblogging network. This way you encourage them to spread the word among their friends, which can bring you more and more users. If your network in interesting, some of them might stay and participate in discussion. If you don’t have money, then try to find a sponsor. If you have a friend who has some product (book, software etc.) ask him to give it to your members, in exchange for maybe a link to his webpage.

6. Signatures! E-mail, forums…
You send e-mails and participate in other forums and communities, don’t you? Put your link in the signature and get people informed whenever you participate yourself. On social networks, inform others about conversations on your website. Tweet it sometimes, submit a link to Facebook. Don’t overdo it, just do it right!

7. IRL
While social media is taking off on the internet, don’t forget that people still live and meet in real life. Facilitate that and get some real life user meetups going. Twitter users around the world are organizing Tweetups. Geeks, from Toronto to Sydney, are organizing Barcamps. Find a venue, invite your users, have a beer and make your community stick.

8. Write a guest post on some high traffic blogs
Find some blogs who write about your niche. They have readers who are excellent candidates for your microblogging network, and who are most likely, willing to participate in your network. Select good subject to write about and offer it to a blogger, with a request to put your short bio at the end of your post, together with a link to your microblogging network. If he is interested (and many bloggers are interested in guest posts, especially if you’re an expert on some subject) write a good post (try to mention your microblogging network somewhere in the text) and an even better bio with a link to your network. This way you build online reputation in your niche and promote your network to surfers interested in your niche.

success

9. Paid marketing
This is also one of the possibilities; if you have some money to invest, of course. You can use Google AdWords, or any other paid-to-click systems. Try to have your link to your network on blog or website in your niche, because it will bring you more valuable surfers. Banners can also help.

10. Web directories
Submitting your microblogging network to web directories won’t move mountains, but it can help a little bit. Try to find as much web directories as you can, and spend some time to submit your microblogging network.

11. Other blogs
Follow blogs in your niche (actually, follow as much interesting blogs as you can) and write interesting and useful comments. This is also good way to build online reputation, and if you include your microblogging network URL along with your name and email address some surfers might visit your network.

12. Keep it simple, stupid!
Maybe the easiest (or hardest, depends on how you look at it) way to promote your microblogging network is to make it interesting for your members. If you have network with interesting discussions, and if you, as network owner, invest a lot of time to keep those conversations going and if you regularly start new conversations, your members will be happy and they will spread the word. There is nothing better than happy users.

 

Have another idea how to promote a microblogging network? Please describe it in the comments. 

When it comes to popularity of Twitter clients for iPhone, Tweetie is definitely one of the top contenders. With its cool features and ease of use it soon became one of the most used Twitter clients for iPhone. Our team likes it, too, and now we have another reason to like it even more: new version of Tweetie supports ShoutEm!!! Now you can use Tweetie as a ShoutEm client, and shout from your iPhone.

 

How to setup Tweetie to use ShoutEm?

 

Step One – Press the ‘+’ button

tweetie_1

Step Two – Enter your ShoutEm network’s credentials and then click on the settings button (bottom right)

tweetie_2

Step Three – Enter your network’s URL and add ‘/api’ at the end

tweetie_3

Step Four – Shout!

tweetie_4

Update: this post is outdated as of March 17th, 2010

At this moment ShoutEm supports 18 different styles that you can use on your network (and we are adding even more styles, like Marble), but you may want to customize the look of your micro-blogging network just the way you want.

Using ShoutEm Admin pages, you can change look of many parts of your network, sometimes even without special knowledge of programming and/or designing. For example, look at the great example at HorseTweet network. These guys created a great skin using Settings page under their ShoutEm Admin panel. Let me show you what can you do using your admin page, and how can you modify some of our skins to look just the way you want.

For starters, let’s see the screenshot of my test network ilijabrajkovic.shoutem.com. I use “Elegant Dark Groove” skin, which (because of its dark color) gives me good foundations for what I want to achieve.

 

elegant_dark_groove

 

Let’s try to change it a little bit.

First, go to your admin page, then from the left menu select Appearance –> Settings. You’ll see the page where you have a lot of options to change the look and feel of your ShoutEm network. The first part of this page is called Header settings, and here you can change look of the header of your network. For example, you can change the logo image, if you have a logo for your network. Just be aware that the maximum size for the logo is 990×50 pixels. Also, you can setup background image for your header, and also text, navigation and background color.

header_settings

In the Body settings part of the admin page you can change the way how the main part of your network looks like: list of the shouts on your network and users panel. You can setup Body font, Font size, colors… This procedure is pretty much straightforward, so spend some time playing with these settings and choose the right settings for your design.

body_settings

 

Shout settings area gives you ability to change the look of a single shout on your network. You can change colors of the text, links, info and background as well as shout transparency.

shout_settings

You can see the preview of these settings applied to my test network in the screenshot below.

 

shout

Also, if you want to monetize your network and you want to show Google ads on it, you can change the Ads style. You have the option to choose between five different styles: Red, Green, Blue, Dark and Light. Just choose the one the will be the best fit for the design of your network.

 

ads_style

You can also change the background color and/or background image on your network. Using the simple color picker you can select the color, or upload a background image from your computer.

background_settings

You can even upload your own Favicon. Just create an icon that is not larger than 16×16 pixels, convert it to .ico file, and upload it.

favicon_settings

I’ve been playing with these settings for a little bit, here you can see the end result:

 

final_result

As you can see, most of the design is changed. This is just a quick, rough style change; I’m sure you can do better than me with a bit of effort!

This tutorial shows you how easy is to change design of your Shout’Em network, if our predefined designs don’t satisfy you.

Also, there are some other things that you can do to change some of the design of your network, but we’ll leave that for some other post. For now, go to your Admin page and play with these setting for a while, and if you still don’t have your network, go to http://www.shoutem.com and create one for free.

followers
Image by Biewoef

1. Don’t be a spammer

If you have opened your Twitter account just to promote yourself, your services or your company, you’re doing it the wrong way. Twitter is not (only) about marketing! Of course, from time to time you can say something about your company; post a link to a product or service, but doing only that will simply annoy your followers. Worse yet, you’ll have a hard time getting new followers, and people will start un-following you, blocking you or even report you to Twitter as a spammer. There’s an exception to the rule: big companies can do this, because generally people are interested in what they have to say and offer, but for everyone else, it’s a bad idea.

2. Share interesting news and links

If you are, for example, a web designer, you’re probably reading a lot interesting web design related stuff daily. The rule is simple, but oft forgotten: whenever you find something interesting, share it! Be sure to use any of the URL shortening services (we recommend bit.ly), and shorten the URL. If the content you share is interesting, some of your followers will retweet it. Their followers will see that RT and your name, they’ll check your profile, and if they see that you post some interesting links for them, they’ll follow you. How long does it take to do this? Less than 15 seconds. By sharing interesting news and links you show Twitter community that you care about them. Don’t overdo it, though; link spam is frowned upon, even if you share great links.

3. Share interesting thoughts

Sharing links is fine but it can get monotonous; you’re not a machine, you can and should share your thoughts about almost anything. Show that you are a “person”, say what you think about politics, stars, events… This can start a nice discussion with your followers, which means your name will be shown in your followers’ timeline, which brings you name to more and more Twitter users. And some of them might join the discussion, and start following you. Don’t get offended if somebody disagrees with your thoughts. There will always be somebody who has a different opinion, if your view is different, just learn to accept the fact that not everyone is on the same page.

more_followers

4. Join the discussion

Also, if you see an ongoing discussion, join it! Tell what you think about the subject, use the #hashtags if you see others are doing the same (or you can be the first one using it), so everyone can follow the discussion more easily. If you’re an expert on a particular subject, people will recognize it and be thankful for your participation. Rule for not getting offended also applies.

5. Recognize your audience

See who your followers are, visit their profiles and get to know them. Think about what kind of followers you want to have. If you have followers that mostly speak English, that writing in German won’t be such a good idea. If you have German speaking followers, and you want to position yourself as a good web designer who works with clients in Germany, than there is no need to write in English. If your company operates only in Germany, then there is also probably no need to write in English.

Sometimes, you’ll want or need to write in two languages. You have two solutions of this problem. If you, for example, tweet in English most of the time, but sometimes you tweet in your native language, then prefix your tweet with something like [lang=ger] if you are from Germany, or [lang=fr] if you are from France. This will immediately give a signal to your readers who don’t speak your native language that you’ll write in another language and that they can skip that particular tweet.

If you tweet half of the time in English, and half of the time in your native language, than having two Twitter accounts is not such a bad idea. On one account you can tweet only in English and have English speaking audience, on other account you can tweet only in your native language. For example, ShoutEm CEO Viktor Marohnic has two personal Twitter accounts: @vikot where he writes only in English and @vikot_hr where he writes only in Croatian. Another example is Stanislav Prusac, CEO of Polar, who also has two Twitter accounts: @prusac and @stanislavprusac.

6. Attend local Tweetups

Tweetup is a live meeting of Twitter users. Follow some people from your area, ask them if there is going to be a Tweetup somewhere near, or organize one! This way you can meet many other Twitter users, talk to them, and in the end, get more followers.

So, we’ve managed to get into Seedcamp with our white label Real-Time/Mobile/Microblogging solution ShoutEm.Seedcamp

It wasn’t easy, but it’s been an amazing experience, and we’d like to share some of the important things a young startup company needs to have in mind when applying for such a fund or working towards VC investment in general.

First, some brief history. It took us three tries; the first one doesn’t really count, as it consisted of me  filling up an application in half an hour, pitching one of the social networks we’ve built; what the hell, we thought, we can give it a try. Of course, that didn’t get us anywhere.

For the second Seedcamp, we’ve worked like crazy for a couple of months trough the whole summer and had everything setup on time. Unfortunately, we’ve got another one of those “Sorry, but no thanks” emails. We haven’t given up hope, because we knew we’ve had a great product. Here’s what helped us succeed on the third try.

1. Launch a web based service, and keep working on it. Well, this one is quite obvious. We’ve launched ShoutEm at LeWeb08 and gave it everything we’ve got from there onwards.

2. Apply to all startup competitions out there. If you don’t try at all, you can never succeed. We were finalists of almost every startup competition in Europe: Mobile 2.0, LeWeb 08, TheNextWeb and finally became one of the winners at Mini Seedcamp Ljubljana in April.

3. Polish your pitch to perfection. We kept it simple and clear, making sure that our audience gets what we’re about – microblogging, real-time, mobile – in no more than a minute. We’ve also cleared up our presentation and demo. We’ve changed the initial design and made it more appealing and fun. Make sure you’ve only got a couple of slides; somewhere after the 5th slide the audience stops paying attention.

4. Now practice it to perfection. Don’t let a lousy presentation ruin your pitch. I’ve practiced our presentation in front of various audiences, such as VCs and journalists, and got rid of nervousness.

5. Build a significant user base. Another one that’s easier said than done, especially if you’re HorseTweet hoping for Seedcamp and similar events will be your starting point for reaching a wider user base. But, if you’re able to do it, it’s easier to convince your audience that your product is valuable. At this moment, ShoutEm hosts over 7000 networks. Ex: HorseTweet, NFLShouts.

6. Don’t forget the business side of things. The people that need to understand your product are Vcs. We’ve worked on understanding how they think and what they expect to hear. We’ve adjusted our pitches to emphasize our business achievements, current and past. When we reached Seedcamp, we’ve already had a couple of deals with major companies such as VIP (Vodafone Croatia), RealNetworks and 24 sata (Styria) and generated some cash income which was reinvested back into development.

7. Some other things that helped us: we’ve never forgotten about the value of good PR, which brought us coverage on TechCrunch, Mashable, TNW. Also, we’ve gotten a lot of friends and users all around a world that are spreading the word about ShoutEm!

Your Shout'Em Network - Public or Private!

Privacy is a key factor of both security and interaction on social networks, such as your Shout’Em network. If you want to create a community, keeping it as open as possible will let more people join. If you created your network for your company or group, keeping the communication private could be essential. Now lets see what exactly we can do to make it happen….

Setting up your Shout’Em privacy settings

Your privacy settings

Your privacy settings

Go to your Shout’Em settings for your particular network and click on Settings. You’ll find the privacy options under Basic settings. While most options will obviously be found under “Privacy”, you can enable anonymous shouts under “General behavior”. What do the options let you do:

Shout'Em Privacy Options

  • Allow private profiles lets users make their own profiles private, making all their shouts visible only to their friends. Users will have to subscribe. The subscription will then have to be approved by the user who set the private profile. This option is useful if the user wants to limit his or her communication to a small group of people inside the network;
  • A private network is accessible only to its registered members and hidden from the general public. Enabling this options will only let registered users see and create content on the network, but won’t restrict registrations themselves;
  • By selecting to approve every new member, every potential user will have to be approved by the network administrator (you) before he or she can see or create any shouts. This options will work nicely if you want to let only certain people join your network;
  • By restricting email domains you can limit registrations only to people who register with a certain e-mail address. For example, you could limit it to your company’s domain name. If you limited it to example.com, then john@example.com and lucy@example.com could join, while mark@gmail.com couldn’t. You can restrict access to multiple e-mail domains if needed;
  • If you enable anonymous shouts, users won’t have to register in order to create shouts on your network. This can be very useful if you don’t want to bother your users with the registration process at all.

You can always selected the predefined “Private network” option on the right side of the Basic settings, which will lock down the network securely. Remember that by making your network private, you’ll also make its content hidden from search engines!

Whether you decide to keep your network hidden from prying eyes or make it more accessible by making it public, don’t worry. You can always switch options, as you’ve seen, in a matter of seconds.


Microblogging News & Tips

The ShoutEm blog is your guide to all things microblogging. Founded by the team of ShoutEm,which lets your create your own microblogging network, this blog gives you the latest news, guides and insight into microblogging and the mobile web! Get our RSS feed to stay up to date!






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