ShoutEm

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If you would like to add a new link to your navigation toolbar, here is a piece of code that will help you do that.

<script type="text/javascript">
//<![CDATA[
jQ(document).ready(function() {
var linkUrl = ‘www.shoutem.com’; // replace this with your link (w/o http://)
var linkText = ‘ShoutEm’;       // replace this with your link text
jQ(‘.pageHead .nav’).append("<li><a href=’http://&quot; + linkUrl + "’>" + linkText + "</a></li>");
});
//]]>
</script>

Copy this code, open your admin pages, go to Settings –> Ads and paste it in the Analytics code textbox (at the bottom). Change linkUrl and linkText properties and Save everything. You should see it now at your network homepage.

new_link

Update: this post is outdated as of March 17th, 2010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

In addition to 6 other languages you can use on your ShoutEm network, we are very proud to announce that you can now also switch to Chinese! Not just that, you can use versions of Chinese: Simplified and Traditional.

All we can say is:

歡迎ShoutEm

 

How to change the language of your ShoutEm network?

Changing the language of your ShoutEm network is very simple; go to Admin pages –> Settings –> Languages, and select any of available languages.

shoutem_languages

Also, you can always customize any of the current languages, and even translate the entire ShoutEm to your language. Using ShoutEm for local micro-blogging networks has never been easier.

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!

Whether you’re starting a forum, web group or launching a microblogging network on Shout’Em, the launch can make or break it. While working hard on getting your community a success is a continuous effort, why not get your launch right? Here are a couple of ways to do so…

Launch Your CommunityPick the right domain name

Your domain name is your brand on the web. You may want to get a keyword specific domain name. For example, insurance.com would be a great name for a community about insurance. Unfortunately, domains like that are either already used or sold for a lot of money. You can always get insurancetalk.com… On the other hand, you can go with a unique domain name (like we did with Shout’Em) that can make you recognizable. In the example mentioned, there are dozens of insurancetalks, insuranceforums, etc. It’s hard to remember one. If you’re ready to build a brand, you should have both keywords and a unique name in mind when choosing your domain name.

Test the site

With dozens of different web browsers (Firefox, Internet explorer, …) testing your website on  the most popular ones is really important. If your users see a broken design, they might now come back. Don’t lose potential users in the very beginning. Take your time and check your design in your browser. Also, go through all the features you want your users to use. Don’t let them get a broken link or reach a dead end. Be sure to check your server logs as well. It may take time, but it will make your community website even better.

Get your team ready for launch

When you launch your community, be sure to give yourself enough time to dedicate to it. The same goes for your team. Don’t give them other tasks if you’re just launching. You’ll need everyone on board, welcoming new members, troubleshooting and getting the community going. First you need to launch, leave the shiny new stuff for later.

Launch early in the week, early in the morning

Why? If you launch on a friday, you’ll be getting those bug reposts over the weekend. If you don’t work weekends, you’ll end up fixing them on Monday morning. Your users will have two days to see those bugs – and leave. Don’t give them a reason to leave your community. Launch on a tuesday, early in the morning, and stand by. Tuesday and Thursday mornings are a traffic bump for most websites. Use the bump, launch your website.

Introduce yourself

People want the backstory, they want to know who’s behind it all. Make a concise about page, introduce yourself and your team. Put a face to the username and give people the reasons why you launched your community. You have a special reason for launching it? Say it.

Aim, Fire, Launch!

Aim, Fire, Launch!

Get ready for the press

Journalists and bloggers love new stuff. Make it easier for them to report on your community and write about it. Prepare a basic media package with an introduction to the projects, images, screenshots, even a little multimedia maybe. Give them an easy way to contact you. Don’t expect them to come screaming to your door looking for an interview. Contact journalist as well as bloggers who you think would be interested. You might be surprised by your feedback.

Be available – have a contact page!

Bloggers aren’t the only ones who would like to contact you. Your users, potential advertisers, future partners,… Put some contact information and give them a chance to do so.

Get the conversation started

If you want your users to talk to each other and start conversations themselves, you’ll need to help them. Start the initial conversations yourself and have your team participate other conversations. Make people feel at home and feel heard. Giving a good example is key to making the community friendly. If you’re nice, chances are others will follow your example. No trolls please!

Help them participate

Your users want to participate? Great, make it easier. If you have a forum, show them how to use unique features such as RSS feeds… For Shout’Em microblogging networks, users can use Twhirl, Ping.fm, HelloTXT, integrate on Ning, etc. Find out how you can make it easier for your users to be on your community every  single day!

Community 2 community

Facebook, Twitter, Myspace,… There are a lot of social networking sites out there. General ones or ones in your own niche. Use them and promote your own community there. You can create niche groups on the mainstream networks such as Facebook to get users informed of the existence of your website. You can monitor keywords on Twitter and help people with their questions. They’ll see you know your stuff and visit your own community to find out more!

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.

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!

In real life with meetups

While social media is taking off, people 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.

How did you launch your community?

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3 Steps to Designing Your Shout'Em Network

After setting up your Shout’Em network, you’re all ready to start customizing it’s design. If you’re really into web design and know CSS/xHTML, you can always add your own css style settings. If you’re not all that comfortable with dealing with the CSS frontend – don’t worry. Shout’Em gives you an easy to use, yet advanced design editor. You can choose the colors and fonts you want, upload your header and much more. Let’s get to it….

1. Choose Your Style

Choose Your Style

Choose Your Style

You can choose between 15 high quality skins (more skins coming soon!) for the core look of your Shout’Em community. Customizing the chosen skin is then just a matter of tweaking the settings like the color of a headline,  etc. How to choose your skin:

  • Go to Shout’Em and choose your network from My networks;
  • Click on Skins and choose a light style like “Elegant Gray Paper” or a dark one like “Elegant Monsters;
  • Save it!

2. Tweak the Details

Tweak, Tweak, Tweak,...

Tweak, Tweak, Tweak,...

In Skins, click on Settings. Here you can tweak every visual detail of your Shout’Em network settings for the header, body, shout, ads and background. You can change the colors of each of the elements with the color picker. You can choose the size, as well as the type of font you want to the content to be displayed in. As far as the fine details, upload a 16×16 px favicon of your choice which appers in a browser’s address bar.

3. Edit Your Images

Prepare Your Images

Prepare Your Images

Use an image editor like Photoshop or Gimp to prepare the header and background of your choice:

  • The header should be 990 pixels wide and 95 pixels high;
  • The background image can be any size, but if you want the image to be tiled, check “Tile image”.

Design? Done!

Design? Customized.

Design? Customized.

In a couple of steps, with a few images, we’ve customized a network from header to footer. Here’s how it looks! Have you tweaked your Shout’Em network yet?

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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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