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August 09 2012

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December 15 2011

21:00

The Most Effective Tools To Enrich Reader Engagement On Your Site

What do we mean when talking about reader engagement? Well, in terms of blogging the first things that come to mind are comments, sharing, questions, conversion rates. To sum up we could compare reader engagement with building a community. A community where readers care about each other, where action doesn’t stop after reading the final paragraph and where exciting discussions are born. Unfortunately, good content and neat design aren’t the only factors which affect reader engagement. You need to learn to focus readers attention and start a conversation. Developing an engagement is a win-win situation. Your visitors will want to explore more and join the conversation but you, as the publisher, will be looking at higher conversion rates.

Gamification is a whole branch in reader engagement which brings together game mechanics and marketing to create engagement and solve problems. What do we understand with game mechanics from a web standpoint? Well, that doesn’t necessarily has to be the traditional online games as we are used to seeing them. Gamification relates to things like points, badges, activity levels, leaderboards, challenges etc. Gamification is an excellent way to help shape user behavior and influence them to take actions. There are already lots of successful companies who’ve implemented these game mechanics into their services. Foursquare and Farmville are only two brilliant examples of efficient use of game mechanics.

How do you start then? While there are many ideas and tips to help you improve reader engagement this article focuses on tools and services that do the work for you. Polls, comment platforms, newsletter and gamification services – continue reading and check out these 15+ awesome tools to enrich the readers engagement. The post also contains some neat examples of user engagement and gamification techniques in use.

Tools & Services

1. Badgeville

Badgeville-1-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

Badgeville is the leading Social Loyalty and Smart Gamification Platform. Badgeville makes it easy to drive reader loyalty and increase retention by rewarding targeted behaviors, such as visiting, reading pages, commenting, and sharing links.

You can use Badgeville pertaining to retail & ecommerce, media & publishing, entertainment, health & fitness, education etc. Basically the principle stays the same. You implement a social rewards program into your website, in that way being able to offer a variety of rewards to make the experience more enriching.

The platform

Badgeville gives content, commerce and community brands the power to drive and measure user behavior with social game mechanics. Badgeville’s industry-leading customers are experiencing increases in key business objectives by more than 30%.

Dynamic Game Engine

Badgeville-2-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

Badgeville’s patent-pending Dynamic Game Engine (DGE) makes it easy for smart brand marketers and product leaders to use social game mechanics to drive user behavior across their web, mobile, and social experiences. Chosen by industry-leading brands, the DGE is the most flexible and lightweight gamification solution available on the market today.

Widget Studio & API

Badgeville-3-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

With the Badgeville Widget Studio, you have access to an extensive library of skinnable, turnkey widgets that make it possible to deploy a deeply integrated social loyalty program across your web experience in a matter of weeks. For additional customization, the Badgeville API can be quickly integrated into any digital property.

Social Fabric

Badgeville-4-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

Social Fabric is a groundbreaking technology that brings the social interactions found on Facebook, Twitter, and similar social sites to any web property, delivering relevant, real-time social experiences tied to site-specific user behaviors and content. Social Fabric offers real-time notifications, follow functionality, and relevant activity streams.

Engagement Analytics

Badgeville-5-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

Marketers can now take advantage of the same analytics that social game developers use to build compelling, revenue-generating user experiences. With Badgeville’s Engagement Analytics, you’ll gain deep, real time insight into the health of your user community, measuring daily active users, lapsed users, as well as a host of behaviors.

2. Polldaddy

Polldaddy-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

With Polldaddy you can create stunning surveys, polls, and quizzes in minutes. Collect responses via your website, e-mail, iPad, Facebook, and Twitter. Generate and share easy-to-read reports.

Features:

  • Create stunning online surveys. Use the survey editor to create surveys quickly and easily. Collect responses via your website, e-mail or on your iPad or iPhone
  • Market-leading online polls. What does your audience think? Embed simple, one-question polls into your website to find out.
  • Test their knowledge with an online quiz. The perfect tool for the classroom, colleagues or just for fun. Create quick and fun quizzes to test their knowledge.
  • Get your content rated. Create simple five-star and Nero rating widgets to attach to your blog posts, images, videos, and more.

Pricing:

  • Free (200 survey responses per month, 10 questions per survey): $0
  • Professional (5,000 survey responses per month, unlimited questions per survey and more): $200/year
  • Corporate (unlimited survey responses per month, unlimited questions per survey and more): $899/year

3. Outbrain

Outbrain-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

Outbrain is a simple way to increase engagement, generate new revenue and drive traffic to your mobile-optimized site. Outbrain automatically places your best content at the foot of your article to guide your readers towards more of what you have to offer.

Features:

  • Improve site recirculation. Targeted content recommendations increase page views by 3-12% and move readers between your blogs, site sections, and other properties.
  • Make money. Customers pay Outbrain to distribute great articles and content that they want read. When quality articles match your content, links to these articles may show and generate revenue for you.
  • Editor friendly. With Outbrain, you decide which content sources will be recommended to your readers. You will also have a full control over the sponsored recommendations that drive you revenue.
  • Extend to mobile platforms. Outbrain recommendations are a great addition to your mobile platforms.

4. Disqus

Disqus-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

Disqus is a comment platform that helps you build an active community from your website’s audience. It has awesome features, powerful tools, and it’s easy to install.

Features:

  • Realtime comment system. Comments become more like live discussions with realtime posting and updating.
  • Notification and reply system. The notification system lets people know when they’ve received a response. Best of all, they can continue the conversation straight from the email.
  • Inline media embedding. Full integration with media services such as Youtube, Flickr, and more. Attach media such as photos and videos right within the comments.
  • Mobile commenting. Fully compatible with mobile websites for commenting while on the go.

5. The Slide

Slide-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

The Slide by SimpleReach recommends related posts from your site on a widget that “slides” in at the bottom of the page. You’ve seen a similar content recommendation widget on sites like NYTimes.com, and now SimpleReach is allowing anybody to take advantage of this awesome tool for free. The Slide uses ‘asynchronous loading’ and will not affect the load time of your pages.

6. Readability

Readability-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

Readability delivers a great reading experience that compensates publishers and writers without slowing down the web. Why would you want to use it as a publisher? 70% of all Readability membership fees are earmarked for writers and publishers. Every time a subscriber uses Readability on your site, a portion of that subscriber’s fees are allocated to you.

Features:

  • Snappy auto-rendering of content on mobile & tablet devices.
  • Innovative analytics that provide new insights into reading activity.
  • A powerful API that is simple to integrate and build upon.
  • Enhanced accessibility and instant printable + single-page views.
  • A rich mobile experience — without installing an app.

7. Intervue

Intervue-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

Intervue is a quick and easy tool for publishers who are looking to gather short video responses online from anyone with a webcam.

8. Zooshia

Zooshia-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

ZOOSHIA is a simple yet clever tool that arms websites and blogs owners with fresh content from across the social web. ZOOSHIA is the first and only social plugin that enables you to mix content that interests you and your audience.

9. BigDoor

Bigdoor-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

BigDoor use game mechanics to increase user engagement, loyalty and monetization.It’s goal is to help web publishers, marketers and developers grow and engage their communities. BigDoor offers a cost-effective, flexible and easy to use suite of tools to quickly build game mechanics into your online experiences and applications.

Pricing:

  • BigDoor is free as a widget and for developers, yet you have to pay for the enterprise service.

10. Bunchball

Bunchball-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

Bunchball is yet another gamifaction platform which allows you to influence users behaviour and optimize the way they interact with the website.

Nitro Platform is designed to make it easy for you to offer meaningful experiences to your users. Highly flexible and scalable, Nitro can be customized to your needs, but offers intuitive, easy set-up.

WordPress Plugins

1. Newsletter

Newsletter-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

This plug-in lets you collect subscribers on your blog with a single or double opt-in subscription process. Double opt-in is law compliant and it means the user has to confirm the subscription following simple standard instructions sent to him via email. Newsletter Pro can send emails directly from your blog, collect statistics, has a built in feed by mail service and an auto-responder for follow up you new subscribers.

2. Subscribe 2

Subscribe-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

Subscribe2 provides a comprehensive subscription management and email notification system for WordPress blogs that sends email notifications to a list of subscribers when you publish new content to your blog.

3. GD Star Rating

Star-rating-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

GD Star Rating plugin allows you to set up rating and review system for posts, pages and comments in your blog. You can set many options for displaying the rating stars, and add widgets into the sidebars for displaying top ratings and other statistics generated by the plugin. Plugin includes advanced settings panels that will allow you to control many aspects of rating.

4. Sharethis

Sharethis-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

The ShareThis plugin seamlessly enables users to share your content through Email,Facebook,Twitter, Google +1, Like, Send and many more. You can customize the ShareThis widget on your site and register with ShareThis to get access to enhanced share related analytics for your site.

5. Quick Chat

Chat-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

Quick Chat is WordPress chat plugin with support for translation, chat rooms, words filtering, emoticons, user list, gravatars and more.

6. Gigya

Gigya-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

The Gigya Social optimization plug-in aggregates authentication and social APIs from Facebook, Twitter, Google and other OAuth & OpenID providers, giving sites the ability to authenticate users via social network and OpenID providers and increase site traffic by enabling users to easily share content with their friends and followers.

7. Facebook Comments

Facebook-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

Allows your visitors to comment on posts using their Facebook profile. Supports custom styles, notifications, combined comment counts, recent comments

Examples

1. Foursquare

Foursquare-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

Foursquare uses badges as a reward for challenges completed. Badges is a great way to engage users and keep competitive mood around them. Bagdes will be the stimulus for existing users to keep using service and an attractive detail for the newcomers.

2. Dropbox

Dropbox-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

Dropbox is another great example of efficient use of user engagement. They’re offering extra free space for completing challenges. One of the challenges include inviting friends so in that way the service is being popularized.

3. Tribesports

Tribesports-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

Tribesports is a social network for people interested in sports and an excellent example of website gamification. In the screenshot above you can see the user profile page. Tribesports have implemented the whole package – activity level, leaderboard and badges. One the main site’s features is challenges. You can take them., challenge your friends, create your own ones and see the progress of others.

4. Mint

Mint-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

Mint has this fitness feature which allows you to do drills, take challenges and view your progress.

5. Dribbble

Dribbble-tools-enrich-reader-expierience

Dribbble is also a nice example of user engagemenet. As you get the status and gain more exposure you’re also promoting your business. Plus the exclusivity of the site also plays a role in user engagement.

December 05 2011

14:30

August 17 2011

12:10

August 16 2011

12:10

August 05 2011

14:30

June 25 2011

10:00

Why Facebook is King: Success and Competitors

We all know what Facebook is. Most of the people we know use it to connect and to entertain themselves through games. What made it popular and successful is how it revolutionized social media, sharing of information and online entertainment. Facebook users range from civilians to politicians, actors and actresses, music bands and charity organizations, and just about anybody that can use a computer and has internet access.

Of course Facebook has its issues with user information being used in advertisements and tons of privacy and security issues, but let’s not dwell on the dark side and see why Facebook is hot. You know, ignorance is bliss.

One News Feed to Rule Them All


All of the status updates, photos, videos, and links shared are seen on one page. No need to load and go to someone else’s profile just to see what’s up with them.

Among social networking websites, Facebook gave way for idols and businesses to have their “page” and be noticed by people. With its massive user base, of more than 500 million active users, it is surely a place where business can be advertised for free or by using Facebook’s advertisement system.

Now I will state and list the obvious thing about Facebook’s News Feed:

  • Right now, advertisements to your right are refreshed depending on what you are talking about on your wall posts. Making it easier for services to reach their target users.
  • To your left are all the application requests, group notification, online friends, and shortcuts to applications you frequent.
  • Your news contains every update of your contacts that you are in regular contact with.
  • To the right, there are friend suggestions, sometimes random stuff about the “past”.
  • There is also group chat and individual chat.

All of these on just one page, without the clutter.

Uniformity

Blue and white on every page, red for notifications, not too many graphics, and every profile page design looks the same. For me, this is the first thing Facebook did right. No background glitter that seem to run through the bloodstream of anyone who visits a page, no annoying GIFs on comments, no annoying background music or anything that can alienate users.

Updates


It took me quite a while to notice that not all of my contacts are appearing on my news feed. It appears that Facebook is filtering people whom I regularly interact with and only their updates are delivered to my feed. That’s a very nice thing, in my opinion, less mess.

Facebook’s interface sure has changed a lot, with each change there were campaigns from its users saying “bring back the old news feed!” but nothing happened. Unlike websites like Digg and the Gawker network who had a major redesign, Facebook did not suffer from their redesign partly because key elements of the previous interface are still there and not totally redesigned/removed. The air of familiarity is important, like a comfortable cat smelling its own scent.

Text updates used to be immediately right after the poster’s name, now they’re placed below. Instead of clicking a button to comment, users now only need to press the return key.

Entertainment


There are many games that have risen to fame through Facebook. Games like Farmville and Backyard Monsters enable their players to play with their friends. This is not a new concept, but integrating gaming and social networking sure is fun. Many young people, like me, migrated to Facebook from Friendster or MySpace because of the games. To this day I am competing avidly with my friends just to get the highest score.

Another important thing to point out is the real-time update on the home page. You see things as they are posted, no need to refresh the page just to find out if there’s something new. Then there’s the Like button, is it not entertaining when many people like your post? Kind of makes you want to be more constructive and post funny, important, and striking updates.

After seeing the success of games in Facebook, Friendster began incorporating the idea to at least save themselves from sinking. From millions of users a day down to just a few thousand, Friendster tried to survive the social networking competition and now it has downgraded to a social gaming website like Kongregate. I don’t know the figures, but I’m pretty sure that not much of its user-base remain now. I am among the people, along with 90% of the people I know, who have migrated to Facebook.

A couple of days ago I saw a thread in Reddit where people talked about music. That Facebook should also have music, then one commenter said “Facebook is not MySpace.” Do you think Facebook will be better off without music as one of its major feature or do we need it? For me, I prefer it as it is now.


Where are they Now?

Friendster

In my opinion, Facebook’s foundation is so deep that it will be very difficult for it to fall now. There might be a new thing to rival Facebook, but it may function totally different. Does that even make sense? Well, I’ll try to explain so please bear with me.

You see, Friendster was like a bulletin board where people post on your profile and look at everything you upload. If people will look back now, Friendster is very different from Facebook. Although they’re both social networking sites, whose purpose is to connect people, their elementary function is so different. That difference is what spelled Facebook’s success. And if ever there will come a time soon that Facebook is to be defeated by another, its purpose might be the same but having a different function.

Twitter

I’m not sure if Twitter is a competitor to Facebook or they go hand-in-hand in all this social networking buzz. But I know a few people who left Facebook for Twitter.

Twitter was featured in our local news (Philippines), apparently many of my countrymen are using it to connect with their idols like Lady Gaga and other Hollywood actors and actresses. The good thing? They reply back.

Another is the 140 character limit set on every tweet. Remember the time when people used telegrams to send messages and were charged per letter? Neither do I, but I know what that is and I’ve been told that people learned how to live the saying “less is more.”

MySpace

Right now, MySpace is focused more on entertainment than any other social networking site out there. What MySpace is trying to do is to connect individuals based on their taste in music and celebrities. It may be a good thing, this way of trying to salvage what used to be the most used and visited social website.

Just a month ago I remember having some difficulty with MySpace, and being the lazy kid that I am, instead of learning my way through my problem, I contacted MySpace. Lo and behold, in less than 5 minutes I was talking to one of their customer service representatives through e-mail. Problem solved, five stars for being helpful.

Multiply

Multiply used to be like Blogger, add only the social networking side where people can “follow” someone and be updated on just about anything. I used to religiously update my Multiply with things I want people to read, I know many people do too. Now, Multiply has shifted from that to supporting online sellers.

In their about page, they defined Multiply as a “Social Shopping” site “that feels like a visit with friends to the Shopping mall…”

Don’t even get me started on those Facebook Killer startups that didn’t see the light of day…

What do you think?

May 10 2011

18:58

May 06 2011

18:26

February 15 2011

15:20

December 21 2010

11:10

December 13 2010

14:40

December 09 2010

14:45

December 03 2010

12:59

December 01 2010

18:43

November 24 2010

15:00

November 19 2010

19:40
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