IMO, community is the best path to link building and social sharing success, but I think it's a bit of a misnomer to assume that everyone can or will be interested for a few key reasons:
- Community in most spheres tends to be a winner takes most to all market. You don't see a huge long tail with it, you usually see the big 3-5 communities in a given niche getting a huge percentage of the activity.
- Community is highly strategic, not tactical. And even the really good tactical stuff is only helpful is you're already strategic about building and nurturing community. If the execs/founders/leaders at the company aren't making it a priority, the marketing team or their consultants have very little ability to move the needle.
- Inbound hasn't yet reached far enough outside the relatively focused group of folks who care primarily about SEO/CRO/etc. There's a self-perpetuating problem here in that unless we get a bunch of community-focused participants, we won't have a lot of content on the homepage that looks appealing to them, and that will drive the few we attract away.
In summary, I don't think you should stop submitting community content, nor should any of us who vote on it stop voting for it. We should maybe try to bias toward expanding our world views and voting for more stuff that is GOOD but isn't necessarily right up our own alleys. That's a hard thing to ask a community to do, though :-)
I didn't know about this site until you tweeted out a PHP job for it today. Maybe put a prominent link to Inbound on SEOmoz?
Interesting! I know we've tried to keep Inbound separate from SEOmoz, but I do wonder what impact that might have.
Perhaps a mention in the Moz Top 10 + HubSpot Newsletter would help? I'd be wary though of it biasing too far towards SEO. Nothing wrong with SEO (!!), but there's more to be discovered with Inbound I think
Heh. I didnt know about this site until someone mentioned it on stage at SEMPDX
"the marketing team or their consultants have very little ability to move the needle."
That rings true. I know the value of building a community. I appreciate the topic and understand that it can produce far better SEO results than half of the link building posts written. But, it's usually a long term proposition and too high level or far-reaching for smaller businesses to get on board with. So, I think might limit it to a medium to corporate-scale crowd that is really excited about that realm of content.
One exception to that might be forum owners and high-quality niche site owners. They'd be in the target audience for Inbound because they're probably also concerned with everything else posted here: SEO, content, etc.
In most people's eyes SEO = $$$ while community = FREE. Even the notion that you need actual community management is alien to most. Thus nobody wants to invest time and money in community. Inbound.org just reflects that. It's even hard to sell CRO and UX to SEO clients let alone such outer worldly things like community! Community is still an afterthought for businesses like content was for the last deacde.
This is old, but I've seen a lot more PPC and Analytics based stuff cropping up as of recent! :)
Hopefully Inbound will see some more PPC based stuff as that's a forte I'm hoping to learn a lot more in!
"Aint nobody got time for that!"
Seriously, though, most folks only talk about the things they do because they don't have time to focus on other things. And I imagine community managers are likely so squeezed for time they don't even have time to talk. LOL
So you're telling me only community managers care about community?
No I am telling you that few have time to talk about it. I care about a lot of things that I don't talk about, because I don't have time to talk about them. And I also would assume that there are very few community managers that are amateurs. Where as there are more amateur SEOs than fish in the sea. And all of them have time to talk all day long.
I think there are tons of people performing the tasks of a community manager that have never heard of that term. Forum moderators, niche site owners, social media manager for smaller businesses, etc. So, I'd agree that there are few people with the actual role of Community Manager that are amateurs, but largely in part because they're early adopters of that title, in a sense. I think smaller organizations have simply lumped those responsibilities onto someone else in marketing or customer service. The same way many SEOs were once upon a time webmasters who were given the responsibility of "getting more traffic, uh, somehow."
I agree Kane, I think lots of people are managing communities but don't know that's specifically what they're doing. I don't like the idea that only "Community Managers" should care about information about community management. You want to show your boss you're a badass, start bringing up ways to build up and manage your community and all that other stuff you do... like link building, content sharing, etc. will come easier. :)
I'm from the school of thought that we are ALWAYS managing communities in marketing, whether thats our title or not. Just like every company is a "marketing company"
I think that there are a few reasons.
1 - I don't think that SEO's are sold on the benefits of community (regardless of this being correct or not)
2 - It's possibly still difficult for an in house SEO to warrant enough working time spent on community let alone an agency SEO limited by time/budget by their manager/client etc.
3 - SEO's are still hardwired to think about links and although community based work can lead to links it is a task that could be seen as too variable or 'not worth the time'. Again this isn't necessarily my view but lets face it pressured SEO agencies may see community work as dispensable.
4 - Maybe some people see community based posts as a bit 'fluffy' or 'dull'? Perhaps less average posts and more actual brand case studies might interest people/encourage more shares?
Hi Jen! I think it's because it reflects the profile of the most active people in Inbound, much more focused in SEO specifically. Maybe also there's a "wake call" need as happened with content last year, since as you can see there's a lot more of posts about content now than it used to have before. An additional reason might be that although SEOs take into consideration community in their processes is not something that they are directly in charge of ... there's usually a social media specialist or a community manager in charge, so although they might coordinate with them, SEOs don't "feel" as something they "own". Some ideas to change this would be to invite SEOs along Community Managers or Social Media specialists to share their success stories together, as you usually do with SEOmoz, so people see the potential and importance.... not only to the SEO community but also to Community Managers and like that they might start also participating more in Inbound.
The question should be "how do we get more people to post here" fullstop. The number of comments and votes is simply too low to ensure that we get wisdom from crowds, not just crowds.
As Rand pointed out, I think the amount of content submitted, upvoted and commented on around community is proportionate to the amount of SEOs vs. community managers on Inbound. Let's face it, the SEO space is crowded with low-quality SEOs whereas community builders don't quite suffer the same dilution.
On that same note; I agree that I see much more SEO and linkbuilding submissions at the top, but it is often crap, to be honest. I think that is also a result of the low-quality SEOs upvoting low quality work. Whereas a good article on community will get buried because there aren't enough knowledgeable people in that space to appreciate/upvote it. Anyways, I'm rambling. I need caffeine.
This is a good point. I bet more often than not, a submission that isn't SEO related gets voted down or ignored. Hard to pull other marketing types in with feedback like that. That said, I'm another marketing type and I come here to see what the SEOs are saying.
Have you considered an adjustment to the ranking criteria of Inbound, so that lesser used categories get exposure onto the front page with less up votes? That way great content that isn't in the most used categories will get more exposure, help break the filter bubble that most live in & produce greater diversity on the home page as well.
It's something I've been thinking about for a while. Might start testing that in a week or so.
I agree with this idea. I think for start less popular things need to be pushed to get more exposure, over time this will bring some effect.I am the owner of a local IM forum that covers few nations on the southeast of Europe and it's a leading community in that area (but we don't have that big competiton). So I can say I am the owner of a "community". My experience is that if you want community to go in some direction, you have to have very active role in doing that. You need a strategy for community development. I gotta say, I love inbound.org but I kinda see the lack of that strong strategic leadership here. For example, categorization system here is just not good enough. People naturally come to homepage but you don't lead them to categories. There is no mention of categories unless you click on a dropdown. You have to show people those other categories exist without them "actively" searching for those. So some kind of a fixed category list in sidebar would be much better than what we have now. Reducing the number of categories (merging some smallers ones) or creating categories and subcategories so that Community, Social subcategories are part of some bigger category. SEO, Local SEO can also be subactegories of bigger category, Blogging, Content etc. can be part of bigger category etc. Forums have clearly visible categories on homepage and this is why it's easier for them to attract broader public. I have to say SEOmoz blog category system is also not perfect. SEOmoz website is perfectly separated into sections, but blog itself is not. You can barely find SEOmoz blog categories, and only if you search for those. I think partially you transfered that issue to inbound.org since there is much of SEOmoz's influence here.Creating less categories or implementing more general categories and specific subcategories you can easily make categories more prominent in sidebar.
You should also make it much more prominent on homepage to which category article belongs. On the right side instead of photos of submitters you should probably put some icon of a category and put some big bolded title that it's from "COMMUNITY" category. Than people will be aware that "community" category exists. So when someone new comes who wants to contribute in community section they will know this is not a "SEO specific community" because homepage is screaming "SEO only stuff".
Writing descriptions of categories would also be a good idea because now categories are just filters. I know we are all into SEO, but category pages descriptions are not good just to get "content" on category pages for Google, those descriptions actually explain to users what they should share in that category.There are many other things you can do to "lead" community in other directions, but you need to have strong active role in doing that. Owners/community managers should post more of the desired content they want to see, as suggested above less popular topics should get more push from the system etc. For example, SEOmoz posts are here published right away? Use that fact, publish more community topics on SEOmoz. I know it's tricky for business reasons but you should at least think about similar ideas.
But strategy is the key. You have to think about where do you want inbound.org to be 1 year from now. If you want it to be "inbound marketing" and not "SEO" community, everything you do here needs to reflect that. When 1 topic is too strong it pollutes the community, you need to find a way to lower it's dominance so other topics can breathe. With my community I had a problem some topics were so strong that nobody even knew other stuff exist. I had to do implement many things to change that. But now it's much more quality community than it was.
Kind of in Joe Hall's boat on this one, but there's another reason too.
I'm actually very interested in talking about community with other community managers etc. It's just that I've found Google+ communities to be an absolute gold-mine to do so. Seriously, there's a plethora of excellent discussions going on in there regarding community.
Inbound serves up more, well, inbound marketing aspects by in large. On a completely selfish level, this works for me perfectly.
G+ communities have been our favorite places to connect, discuss, share and promote since they launched! I think 'most' people who use Inbound are just looking for another link...
See but I think building Community is the best inbound marketing tactic out there! If you focus on your community, all that other stuff comes easy.
Tom - Do you have the links to the Google+ communities you mentioned? I'd live to participate in those conversations.
Incentivize. Or make the upvote button bigger. Like 250 px wide.
Just for Community posts? ;)
Yes! A community post exclusive feature. And make it blink red with the arrow scrolling up over and over. And then maybe consider adding a popup questionnaire as to why someone hasn't upvoted if they've been on the page for more than 30 seconds. But make it multiple choice to maximize response.
haha I love your thinking! ;)
May I ask what sort of post you consider community?
Is a tutorial exploring the benefits of adding a forum to your site and how to do it classed as 'community' ?
Yea, I think I'd consider that community! At SEOmoz we have our Q&A forum and it's managed by our community team.
So a post a like this http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tutorials/why-you-need-a-forum-how-to-add-one-to-your-wordpress-site/ ?
I was going to submit it but didn't think it fit in anywhere =\
I already have too many communities.
As someone who started out on the customer side of things (I'd like to flatter myself and say it was Community, but it really Customer Service) before moving into online marketing, I've stayed keenly interested in how we can do a better job connecting and communicating well with all of our users, not just our fans.
As an interesting counter-point, at PAX last year I had time to chat with some CM's in the gaming industry who I highly respect. They shared that their community teams were actually more aligned with QA than with marketing, which seemed odd considering how much the two areas would have to impact each other.
I hope that you do continue to share great community-centric content with us, and what we can learn better ways to bridge the gap.
Most of the people out here who just share content for traffic they are not thinking about sharing knowledge and all that most of the time i saw some members with anonymous username and they force to up-vote their link just for traffic and you know what these links are not going under any of inbound community category... CRAP..
Communities are tough. And selling them to a client who is just grasping SEO concepts can be even tougher. We don't (too often) get the opportunity to strategically lead a community. I would be first in line to up vote a post about how to get medium sized business owners on board with a community strategy (a real-case article would get a tweet).
Sorry, didn't read everything that has been said here... But I guess, the main reason why SEO topics do well here is that SEO is actually a really "hot" optic right now. That is because it is changing - and therefore the SEO part of our work has to adapt to a new situation that we as of now do not fully understand.
You want more posts? Incentives drive behavior. So for the most of us, karma just doesn't cut it ;) Ideas:
Curation: Sometimes good content is lost in the sea of submitted content. Why not curate something every now and then?
Let's play tag: Let's say your content gets featured on inbound.org -
you now have the power to feature the work of someone else by "tagging"
them. That person's it, and now it's their turn to tag someone else's
work to be featured (no tag-backs!)... To add onto Sean's point... it's not really "my" community and the benefits of good traffic are blurry so I can't justify spending too much time responding while I'm at work.
your (fair) criticism Jen, is not, alas confined to Community, but that's another bubble story in itself.
May I suggest an AMA with non tech community managers right here?
Well, I've actually been asked to do one, but I wasn't sure if people would care enough to come ask me questions. :D
that's just too close if you know what I mean Jen. I am referring to reverberating beyond the neighbourhood and bringing a whole new audience here. I don't think it's necessarily a followerwonk bio search of the job title to find candidates. I'd be more inclined to invite to a AMA a big brand comms. manager. (I'll follow up with you)
Sounds good! Feel free to email me! jen at seomoz.org :)
I think it's a great idea - it'd certainly get people thinking about/learning more about Community. I think you should! :-)
I have one client who buys community only because of the direct response to sharing / joining. The rest of our clients are exactly where others have said: asking for proof points of SEO, PPC or whatever they're buying. Community is a highly strategic concept. It's also very intangible and requires upfront investment. We are starting to move more into that space, but it's the non-profits and their member-centric focus who are driving those initiatives.
I wonder if SEO folks are the ones who spent all the time reading SEO related content and community and social folks actually spend most of the time building community? Facebook never sleeps :) So may be all community people are so busy they don't have time for anything ...
Agree 100% with OP
Community building and engagement strategies is something that falls heavily under my remit in my role (as a social media account manager) at my agency and it's something I've by and large been involved through various roles over the past couple of years and with that in mind, the OP has given me the impetus to become a bit more involved with inbound.
I've been browsing inbound casually for a couple of months now, but I've never really felt the urge to get involved as while inbound/content marketing are intrinsically related to what I do (and particularly what we do here at YODA London) in my role, the community seemed to be more centred around the SEO aspect of inbound marketing (which makes sense, in fairness)
But then I thought--why am I not more involved like Jennifer is? How many others are "lurkers" like I am? So yeah, here's my commitment to get involved more and hopefully we'll kick on from there.
Hooray! This is great Jerome, I'm glad to hear it. I promote posts here on my Twitter feed sometimes but if you have any other ideas on how to get more social/community type folks participating more, I'd love to hear it. I think we could all really benefit from more diverse content.
I think not many realize the depth of the actual benefits that they can get from communities.
I have a feeling that it's bound to change though. With how fast paced the internet marketing arena is, it's only a matter of time before people start talking about community management and start harnessing the fullness of its benefits.
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