Everything's easier with fans - Rand Fishkin at SearchLove London 2011

Posted by Paul Rogers on 26 October 2011

Rand Fishkin, of SEOmoz, was the first speaker at Distilled's SearchLove London Conference, which I was luck enough to attend on the 24th and 25th of October 2011.

Rand, who also spoke at Distilled's LinkLove conference earlier this year, delivered an informative presentation that outlined a number of important elements of running and growing a successful community. This presentation was definitely one of my favourites from the event as it featured countless actionable tips and real-life examples of both good and bad communities.

Rand frequently referred back to practices applied to the SEOmoz community within his slides, which acts as a great example of how a community should be managed.

Key takeaways from this presentation:

Community building on SEOmoz:

  • Every piece of content on SEOmoz automatically earns links
  • The worst performing post by Rand still has a page authority of 59
  • Rand's post on randfishkin.com is currently ranking #2 for VC Funding and all he did was tweet about it
  • Long tail content generates lots of traffic - your community can build lots of this content, but you can't do this alone
  • YOUmoz & Q&A have generated massive growth over the last 2 years – every single page generates at least a few visits
  • When you build content, you can hope that it goes viral –with a community, every piece of content has a really good chance of going viral
  • If you have a community with lots of followers/members – you have a much lower barrier to entry
  • Social signals influencing rankings = a big opportunity for SEO's
  • Successful communities grow organically
  • When Rand is out of the country, his Twitter followers still continue to grow at the same rate
  • All of the familiarity and association which is paid for by advertisers is built up naturally through a community
  • With a community you can influence all of your influencers in one place
  • Curation hubs are new and emerging and represent a good opportunity

Tips for building a community:

  • Communities that are brand focused will very rarely succeed
  • Communities shouldn't be designed to benefit an individual or an organisation
  • Find out what your customers are interested in
  • Align the interest graph of your customer target
  • You need to serve the needs of your community ahead of your own
  • Features should meet both the user's and the site's goals
  • Find the early adopters and ask for their input / feedback
  • Only takes 5-10 heavily invested users for a community to take off
  • Find the people with niche interests – don't just target the top people
  • Target those who will be flattered that you're ask for their input
  • Show people that others are engaged or interested with number of tweets, comments etc
  • Seed content internally
  • Be prepared to pour hours into creating content, curation etc to start with
  • Build strong relationships with the 'hipsters' and early adopters

Tips for growing a community:

  • Create awareness outside of your site (social media, other sites etc)
  • Profiles are critical in communities that do well – a profile should be something that the user is proud of
  • Never let the community feel empty
  • Reward contributors for exceptional work
  • Analyse the content that delivers the most ROI
  • Find those who have been exceptionally good in other communities – reward them for being active in your community
  • Recruit a Community Manager
  • Take very few brand-centric moves (don't just promote your products, enewsletter etc)
  • Incentivise contributions
  • Reach out personally to contributors that “go cold”

Dealing with community challenges:

  • Ensure that you have community etiquette – create an external document to avoid awkward situations with members
  • Kick out a “troll” early on – you will not regret this
  • Be transparent about 'what' and 'why'

12 "Kickass hacks" for communities:

  • Write about other communities and personalities – recognise others in industries you wouldn't usually be involved with – will get links
  • Name drop in titles for Google alert referrals
  • Reach out to leaders in other communities – MC Hammer = example within the SEO industry (then recognise them)
  • Use social signals as points in your gamification
  • Create a “common enemy” - example: recommend against spammy tactics or those who don't like SEO
  • Build smart notification systems (Quora = very good example)
  • Help your members become social participants
  • Get the people of your community to promote the stuff on the site
  • Publish a single, popular feed of your content – one feed = super popular (picked up by others, highly subscribed to etc)
  • If you link to a search query it will come up in suggestions
  • Bolster thin content pages by pulling content that exists externally
  • Give users the ability to share/embed/re-use content on their sites
  • Celebrity endorsement commonly generates additional demand for investment for a business, but not always more sales
All of the presentations at SearchLove were excellent - I would strongly recommend booking your place at SearchLove New York or purchasing the videos from Distilled.

You can also follow Paul on Twitter or Google Plus.

Categories: Online Marketing (49)

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