“Community means building a grid. Attracting, converting and retaining loyalty. Community marketing means building an active social matrix which ultimately allows the community to work for you.” These were the words of Fred Roed, one of the many speakers at Wordcamp Camp Town 2011.
WordCamp is an informal gathering of WordPress bloggers, developers, programmers, designers, podcasters, coders and tech-heads.
We investigated both tracks of the conference, the publisher track which focused on blogging, content creation as well as light SEO elements and the tech track which appealed to programmers, plug-in creators and web developers. In truth, attendees could chop and change between the various conferences but I decided to stick to the publisher track. My colleague’s view of the tech track can be found here.
Roed, CEO of World Wide Creative led the charge with an interesting comparison between the Grateful Dead and online publishing, and raised what we thought was an intrinsic point regarding WordPress in general. Building a community as fervent as the Grateful Dead’s should be any webmaster’s goal. He said that there is too much noise online, which leads directly to confusion regarding the state of marketing. He also mentioned how important traditional marketing was in comparison to online marketing methods.
Marketing via Twitter, Facebook and other social media avenues, while lucrative, is ultimately unsustainable as it is impossible to interact with everyone.
The holy grail of community marketing is far humbler than traditional advertising methods; it is an active social matrix which the community runs. Roed tells the audience that the Grateful Dead outlasted many rock bands because they had a cause, loved their brand and empowered their public. This is a lesson all community marketers can learn from.
Craig Strachan, an IT and web consultant echoed these sentiments and pushed the idea of community even further with his tips regarding content syndication. His favourite tool, Dlvr.it acts as a hub for all published content, pushing it into email newsletters as well as social media streams and comes highly recommended by Strachan.
Jess Green, managing director at UbuntuDeal Group Buying and founder of Immigration South Africa summed up his non-technical client management style in a simple word, love. Love stands for Learn, Organise, be Very strict and Educate. Learn your clients’ needs, organise (structure) your clients’ technical expectations, remain very strict in the sense that you must stick to your guns and educate your client as much as possible. This will prevent them from constantly harassing you with technical questions and in turn, will assist them in discovering a further set of features which they can purchase.
WordPress is world-renowned for its plug-ins which turn it from a vanilla blog into a fully fledged eCommerce platform. Dan Milward, owner of Instinct Entertainment and creator of the WP eCommerce plug-in took the audience through his creation and discussed the potential for WordPress to become a monetised platform with little to no effort. He is incredibly committed to the WordPress platform, collaborating with fellow luminaries’ such as Ashley Shaw to assist him with his projects.
Perhaps the most challenging lecture came from Nur Ahmad Furlong, whose focus is on coding highly customised WordPress websites. Point in fact; his was the only presentation which came in the form of a WordPress slideshow, and not a PowerPoint display. Entitled “WordPress is a CMS”, he demonstrated how innately flexible, scalable and easy to use WordPress can be. There is simply so much that can be achieved with WordPress, and visiting his presentation online will guide anyone with even the mildest interest in WordPress towards a better user experience.
The sessions ended in the late afternoon with Rafiq Phillips and Neil Pursey talking about the basics of SEO. This lecture was aimed at novice SEO users, beginning with Phillips’ theory of SEO which touched on keyword research, WordPress plug-ins which do the work for you and which SEO Twitter experts to follow for advice. Pursey concentrated on an incredibly handy WordPress plug-in called Yoast which automates the SEO into a simple, one-click process.
Phillips mentioned a simple SEO trick which he believes is highly relevant. Article tags, he says, have lost their relevance and create duplicate content with each tag. Many sites use tags for easy reference, and the effectiveness of removing these is debatable, but Phillips argued his point well.