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There are a lot of companies that make great tools. If your tool is great, your marketing is slick and your call-to-action is amazing, you’ll convince people to sign up. Once you have them, how do you keep them?

The funny thing is that, if your tool sounds amazing and your marketing is convincing, you may have your customers expecting a miracle: a tool that requires no effort whatsoever on their part. When that doesn’t happen, they won’t blame themselves. They’ll blame you. You let them down.

The big challenge isn’t getting them to sign up, it’s ensuring they use the tool correctly, improving their odds of success. For many companies, the answer to this problem is to hire account managers.

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Call of Duty: World at WarCall of Duty: World at War was released on November 11, 2008. 7 years is a long time in gaming, but it’s especially long for the Call of Duty series, which produces a brand new, big budget title every year.

I’m a big fan of the Call of Duty series and have spent many hours playing the games. The zombies mode, introduced in World at War, accounts for a majority of those hours. Most of that was co-op with my brother, Sean. My youngest brother, Trent, joined the team when he was old enough.

The zombies mode is such an incredible value-add for the series. I have never, ever felt like I didn’t get my money’s worth out of a Call of Duty game. I spend around $100 for each game. $50 for the game itself, and then another $50 for the extra content they release over the next year. For the amount of time I spend playing zombies alone (putting aside the main game content, as well as online multiplayer), the value I receive for that $100 is immense.

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I live on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where we have a substantial tourist season in the summer.

I don’t spend much time at Starbucks. I’m not a coffee drinker. The only coffee I drink is a Coffee Frappuccino. But even with the brief moments I have spent in the store this summer, I have seen multiple people purchase the North Carolina mug from the Starbucks “You Are Here” series.

The mugs depict various landmarks, cities and states. The company has released several series of these location-based coffee cups. People travel around the country and collect them to mark their stops.

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There are many fun opportunities to send your members away from your community.

Let me rephrase that.

There are many fun activities that your members can participate in together, away from your community, that will strengthen their ties – to each other and to your community.

Don’t focus so much on keeping people on your site (time spent on page) to the point where you overlook ways to connect your members off of it. Especially in off-topic areas where your members are passionate.

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Technical Debt vs. Community Debt

Posted by Patrick on August 3rd, 2015 in Community Cultivation

In his guest post here last month, Bryant Quan, the chief product officer at Slickdeals, mentioned the concept of “technical debt vs. community debt.”

To illustrate this, he explained how Slickdeals had launched a redesign, but instead of forcing everyone to use it immediately, they made the decision to maintain a classic version of the site. They committed to supporting that version for the foreseeable future with the goal of making the new version so good that most people (or all) would willingly make the switch.

In other words, instead of accruing a community debt by forcing their members to simply deal with a change, they took on a technical burden.

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AMAs Aren’t Just for reddit

Posted by Patrick on June 11th, 2015 in Community Cultivation

reddit is widely known for their AMAs. Short for Ask Me Anything, these are reddit posts that invite questions from the community. These questions (or as many of them as possible) are then answered by the poster. Many of the AMAs that receive a lot of attention are hosted by celebrities, but plenty aren’t. To be a good subject, you really just have to be someone who people want to know more about.

A few recent examples: a retired bank robber, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a longtime NASA engineer, scientist Bill Nye and comedian Jim Gaffigan.

All of these link to the main /r/IAmA subreddit, one of the most popular sections of reddit. However, AMAs also occur in niche sections. In fact, for many who want to host an AMA, the best bet for success is to find a subreddit that speaks more directly to what they have to share.

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When your online community is focused on a particular topic – as most online communities tend to be – the emphasis tends to be on expanding as it relates to the subject matter of your community.

If you’re a toy community, and you see a lot of discussion around a particular toy or type of toys, you’ll launch a new section for those toys. If you’re a web development community, and you see a lot of questions about a particular programming language, you’ll introduce a new section for that language. And so on. That makes sense.

What can be lost in the shuffle, however, is the off-topic section. If you look for the off-topic section on most communities, that’s all you’ll find. One section, dedicated to everything that isn’t about the chosen topic. Sure, they might have an introductions section, an area for announcements and maybe one or two other forums, but for the most part, everything “else” is happening in that one section.

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In the past, I’ve seen forum owners and managers suggest that it was harder to grow their forums or their hosted community because of people spreading their time out across different forms of social media. I think that’s probably true, but I don’t see it as a bad thing.

What we’re seeing is platform diversification. Forums are fine. We just have more options, and we use the options that best fit a particular need.

But if you run a forum or a hosted community, you have to accept a simple reality: people will spend time on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and other platforms. Once you accept that reality, you can begin to utilize these platforms to offer community members more value and to engage with them – and others – with the idea of driving traffic back to your community.

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Duolingo

After his great guest post about companies engaging on reddit, Dave DiGiovanni of MarketersGuidetoReddit.com is back again with a great example of a company that has created their own subreddit as a means of building community on the platform.

Duolingo is a fun, addictive and free way to learn a new language. The Duolingo Incubator is a community that was created to give users a process for generating new Duolingo courses. The Duolingo Incubator community is a great example of what is possible when a company embraces community. You can learn more about how that community was created and developed in this post on CMX Hub.

The Duolingo Incubator allows Duolingo to release new language courses at a much faster rate and is critical to their success, but it is not the only way they leverage the power of community. They have also created r/Duolingo, a subreddit on reddit that serves as a community for reddit users that are fans of Duolingo. The subreddit has almost 23,000 subscribers and multiple active discussions every day.

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FacebookUploading pirated “viral” videos to your Facebook page is not a smart way to increase your page’s reach. It may seem like a good idea, but in the end, it doesn’t really work. Unfortunately, far too many Facebook page managers believe that it does.

They see a cool video (usually on YouTube, but sometimes on Vine), and they download it from the site, using some third party software. Obviously, you can’t download a video from YouTube under normal circumstances. They use a tool or a browser add-on and rip the video that way. Then they upload the video to their Facebook page. Sometimes they provide some lame attribution; sometimes they don’t.

This isn’t a new problem. It’s been a constant in my Facebook news feed for several months. At pretty much any given time, I can visit Facebook and instantly pick out a pirated video. Mashable reported on the issue in August, as did The Daily Dot in October.

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