Devblog


Results of the update to CommunityOfSweden.com

Although we still have some important improvements to do from the back log since the christmas update I still want to share with you some numbers.

Increase the start page conversion rate of visitors to members

• Conversion rate: +68%

Increase the activity between members

• Page views: +36%
• Pages / visit: +47%
• Time / visit: +45%

I’m quite happy to see such a great result. This shows that the new start page does its job of converting members and the new activities feed strengthens relationships and promotes activity amongst members :)

(I used Google Analytics to get this data and compared week 2 in december with week 2 in february.)

CommunityOfSweden.com down for 24 hours – launching new site!

EDIT: check the comments below for the latest info of how the re-launch is going!

If you just came from http://communityofsweden.com you will have notice that the site is down for maintanance. This will go on for 24 hours while our technicians are launching the new version of the site. Please be patient and check back tomorrow. The clock will keep counting down to the new release.

Updates

There are many big and small things that have been improved, changed and added to the new version of CommunityOfSweden.com. I will only mention three of them briefly here:

  1. News feed
    The Home page is now your center for information. Your news feed will keep you updated on what your friends have been doing, comments to your content, activity in the groups you’re a member in, and much more.
  2. Photos
    The whole photo upload process has been streamlined and changed quite a bit. We have abandoned the concept of “geo tags”(cities) and replaced it with actual coordinates. You’ll be able to say at what place the photo was taken. We then know that place’s coordinates and which city it is in. If you create a new place in this process you’ll later be encouraged to show on a map where that place is.
  3. Facebook connect
    Finally I’m glad to say that we’ve integrated our site with Facebook.
    New members can now log in with Facebook instead of creating a CoS account.
    Returning members can/should log in normally but can then from their settings connect to Facebook.
    Facebook connected members can then “like” CoS content and Share stuff they want to show to their Facebook friends.

Ok that’s it for now. I’m sure you’ll notice a lot more stuff that has changed and I hope you’ll like it :)

Please be patient with any design glitches or technical bugs that might occur during the first days after launch. Use our support community to report any bugs or problems you find as well as praise and ideas for improvement.

Thanks! See you in the new version of CommunityOfSweden.com! :)

A new VisitSweden site is born!

Today we´re launching our new site (in beta) for the business to business market. The site is dedicated to you who work in the Meetings & Incentive industry (b2b) and for you who arrange meetings and incentive trips. The idea is to make it easy to find and select you´re meeting venues, restaurants, hotels and activities when planning your trip to Sweden.

We release this first version in beta and we´re working on improvements and adding new destinations as we speak. But we would also like your feedback. Visit the site at http://meetings.visitsweden.com, get inspired and give us your opinion and suggestions!

December update – new features and changes!

You spoke and we listened!

Our developers are currently hard at work on a big update for CommunityOfSweden.com.
The update involves upgrading the entire community platform to a new modern version but it also involves some major feature and design changes that I hope you’ll enjoy.

As I mentioned earlier, the CoS starpage currently has some flaws.
It is not

  1. Converting new visitors into members
  2. Encourage activity amongst existing members
To improve this we’re launching a new startpage for guests and for members.

Some key features in the december update:

  • simple and clean start page for guests. Focus on inspiration to join (video) and some value propositions and quotes from the guest’s fellow countrymen.
  • registration and sign in by using Facebook Connect!
  • Feed of activities from your friends!
  • Show photos and stories on a map!
  • Real map coordinates on photos and stories! (no more geo / city tags)
  • Improved tag input system when creating your content
  • Easier to find new friends with shared interests
  • Recommendation of photos and stories that we think you will like
  • A new system to indicate a member’s level of activity and popularity. This will replace the current points system.
  • and more….
See the prototype wireframe below for a sneak peak into what’s coming on the new logged in member start page ;)

How should your new start page look?

We’ve started a big project here at VisitSweden to improve and expand http://CommunityOfSweden.com.

This project involved a lot of the areas of improvement and new features that I posted earlier here but in this post I’d like to focus specifically on the CoS starting page.

The CoS starting page today is not fulfilling its two most important objectives:

  1. Converting new visitors into members
  2. Encourage activity amongst existing members
The main reason the start page is lacking in its current form is because it is a compromise showing the same content for guests and logged in members alike. We will change this.

I’d very much like your input in the comment section below regarding these two objectives.

Some questions that might stir some thoughts to get you started: What made you join up in the first place? What expactations did you have that the start page met? What do you think would help a new visitor to take the leap to register? And perhaps more important for you existing members: how would you wish your logged in start page looked like? What info there would encourage you to upload photos, write stories, stay in touch with your friends etc?

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated. This project is happening right now and it has just started so you have the opportunity to make yourself heard and influence the development of CommunityOfSweden.com, as it should be :)

Crowdsourcing logo design

VisitSweden crowdsources logo design at 99designs for our Adademy of Sweden concept. 900 USD prize! http://bit.ly/9KzjVa

Show photos and stories from entire regions of Sweden in your widget!

Yes, the CommunityOfSweden.com now allows you to show content from entire regions instead of just a specific city like before.

Try it out! Update your widgets if a region suits your site’s visitors better.

Example below:

Fighting spam

We’re trying to reduce the amount of spam in CoS and I think we’ve come a long way with the latest update: privacy settings.

Have you noticed that you can now only write in other member’s guestbooks and in their photo/story-comments if that member allows it? And even then, if you are not already friends, you’ll be asked to type in a code (captcha) in order to publish your post.

It is our hope that this will greatly reduce those unwanted spammers and I think it has already had a big effect. I’ve gotten a lot less abuse reports.

Please comment below your impressions of this update.

Join and create Groups in CommunityOfSweden.com!

We launched a new feature a while back, namely Groups!

Anyone can create a group and other members can then join this group and discuss the group’s subject and upload relevant photos.

The group could be about a city, an activity or perhaps a swedish musician.

Of course, as usual, the group must somehow be related to Sweden. This is the CommunityOfSweden after all.

The groups will have advertisments in them and we’ll try hard to show you as relevant ads as possible.

A group can also be sponsored by a company that wants to be associated with that particular group. The sponsor will then have exclusive ad exposure in that group for the entire duration of the sponsorship.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor then click on the “Advertise” link in the page footer and send an email to our sales manager.

How to use Twitter, a beginner’s guide!

Introduction

I had already written this Twitter guide for internal use at VisitSweden when I came across this article: “Twitter is widely adopted by the travel industry” from NewMedia TrendWatch. I thought I would do my little part towards promoting Twitter usage in the travel and tourism industry by making this beginner’s guide to Twitter public.

I hope you’ll enjoy it and find it useful and please feel free to add comments below with feedback and constructive suggestion for improvements.
Thank you!

What is Twitter?

“Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers who are known as followers.”
More in depth information about Twitter on Wikipedia

Twitter explained in a short video

This video explains what Twitter is and how it is used by regular people. If you know nothing of Twitter this is a good place to start.

Twitter SEARCH explained in a short video

One of the powerful aspects of Twitter is how it is searchable which allows us to find trends, topics and other people. This video explains this further and is a must to watch.

Using Twitter

Username / URL

A Twitter’s username is shown in the web address as such: http://twitter.com/username

Twitter Search

The direct web address for search on twitter and to look at the current trending topics is http://search.twitter.com/


Find other users and follow them

This page allows you to search for other twitter users (you must be logged in to do this) or to find them through contacts on other networks or to invite by email etc.
http://twitter.com/invitations/find_on_other_networks


Following

Your Twitter Home page will show a “feed” / a list of the tweets of those you are following. If you’re following other users who you find interesting then this page will be a constant source of useful tips and great inspiration for you.

Followers

These are the other Twitter users who are following you and your tweets. Every time you post a tweet it will show up in their Home page, in their following feed.

“Mentions” -- what it is and how to use it.

When a Twitter user writes “@” in front of another user’s name, that user will then get a notification that somebody has posted a tweet mentioning him/her.
This helps to visualize that a public conversation is taking place between certain users. It’s also a way to make another user aware of the fact that you’re talking/mentioning him/her.
Example:

bjarkesvendsen wrote:
Lidt sært, at de seneste dages meget hypede @visitsweden twitter på svensk. Ikke så imødekommende over for turister… 3:56 PM Nov 6th from TweetDeck

Sweden wrote:
@bjarkesvendsen Actually we twitter in English with this account for tourists. With @VisitSweden for the press and tourism ind. 3:58 PM Nov 6th from TweetDeck in reply to bjarkesvendsen

Sweden wrote:
@bjarkesvendsen and every market have gotten their own local twitter account for their language to engage local press. This work starts soon.
4:00 PM Nov 6th from TweetDeck in reply to bjarkesvendsen

bjarkesvendsen wrote:
@Sweden I take back my words! Sorry bout that 4:01 PM Nov 6th from TweetDeck in reply to Sweden

(Notice the time stamps for the tweets in this conversation and how quickly I could discover this negative post and turn it into a positive reaction instead.)

“ReTweets” -- what it is and how to use it.

When a user encounters a good tweet he/she might want to tell others about that tweet. Instead of stealing it and taking the credit for it he/she can make a “Retweet” of it.
By publishing the same tweet but adding the letters “RT” to it the original publisher will be notified that somebody liked the tweet so much that it was retweeted.
This allows a viral spread of interesting tweets while maintaining the chain of twitter users and giving credit where credit is due.
If there are still characters available after adding the “RT” then adding a personal comment is appropriate.
Example:

Utalkmarketing wrote:
David Attenborough spoof to boost VisitSweden Lapland Tourism: VisitSweden has turned to a British outfit to dri.. http://bit.ly/4clA9B
3:40 PM Oct 19th from twitterfeed

Sweden wrote:
RT @utalkmarketing: David Attenborough spoof to boost VisitSweden Lapland Tourism http://bit.ly/4clA9B
3:26 PM Oct 21st from TweetDeck

(Notice that the Retweet (RT) is also a mention (@). Also notice that in this case I failed to add a personal comment…)

“Direct Messages” -- what it is and how to use it

All conversations and tweets on Twitter are public and available for anyone to read, except for “Direct Messages”. This can be compared to an internal message system within Twitter from one user to another, although the 140 character limit still applies.
A direct message is written by adding a “D “ before a twitter username.
Example:

“D tommysollen Hi how are you?”.

This tweet would only be visible to the user “tommysollen”.
This feature might be more commonly used by friends, family and coworkers but rarely in any kind of marketing or pr purpose. If used commercially it would likely be considered spam.

“Hashtags” – what they are and how to use them

It is often appropriate to include a descriptive tag to a tweet to help describe what the tweet is about and thereby group it together with other tweets of the same topic.
Example:

Sweden wrote:
“Blog post about http://CommunityOfSweden.com coming updates http://bit.ly/cos2010 #social #communities #sweden
3:50 PM Nov 2nd from TweetDeck”

This post has three hashtags telling the reader that it has something to do with social, communities and Sweden.

Hashtags are useful when searching Twitter for interesting tweets.
If you were to search for “social” then you will find all kinds of irrelevant tweets including the word “social”. But by adding the hashtag so it becomes “#social” instead it has now become a descriptive tag instead of just a word and you can be sure that hits in the search result will have relevance to social media.

When considering what hashtag to use try a few test searches first and see which one seems to be most actively used already and then proceed with that one.

It’s common for product owners and event organizers to invent a unique hashtag for their product/event in order to easily filter out all twitter posts with relevance for research and evaluation. Do this whenever appropriate.

Tools

Short URL/web address generators

Since a tweet is limited to 140 characters, including any RT, @ or usernames, a web address often threatens to eat up too many characters, barely leaving any characters for any meaningful message. URL shortening services have therefore gotten very popular.
For the purpose of this guide I’m recommending the URL shortening service Bit.ly. You might already have noticed that many of the URLs in the examples above looked something like this: http://bit.ly/4clA9B
Services like Bit.ly take your long URL and makes a unique shorter version of it. They also provide click statistics on your short URL which is very useful.
Example:

Bit.ly click history

Sign up for an account for free here: http://bit.ly/

Twitter client – making all this and more, easy

It might seem daunting to remember all these letter combinations to achieve the desired result and the website of twitter.com can be rather confusing.
It’s no surprise then that there’s cropped up quite a few “Twitter clients” that you can install on your PC windows or Mac and use to interact with Twitter in an easy and user friendly way. Not only do these clients make Twitter easier to use, they also makes it easier for you to visualize the tweets of those you’re following, to stay up to date with your mentions, retweets and direct messages and even saved searches.
Depending on the tool you choose you will also be able to manage several twitter accounts through only one client, without needing to log in and out between them.

For the purpose of this guide I’m recommending the Twitter client “TweetDeck”. TweetDeck is free and available for PC Windows, Mac and even as an iPhone app.

Click the screenshot or here to visit the TweetDeck website. Also visit their help section online for support.

Photos on Twitter -- is it possible?

Yes it is, kind of. You can upload a photo to a website and then link to it in a tweet. There are some services that makes this process quite easy and for the purpose of this guide I’m recommending TwitPic.

If you have a Twitter account then you already have a Twitpic account, just login to Twitpic with your Twitter username and password and you are all set.

You then upload a photo and enter the text you want to show up in your tweet along with the link to the photo. Immediately when the photo is uploaded a tweet will automatically be sent telling your followers of the photo and how to view it.

Click here to visit the TwitPic website.

Sharing files on Twitter – is it possible?

Yes, in the same manner as described regarding photos above.
Here I’d like to recommend the free service FileTwt for file sharing on Twitter.

Click here to visit the FileTwt website.

Twitter etiquette

Finally I’d like to recommend a quick glance at some simple eqiquette guidelines of how to act on Twitter. As a new Twitter user you might have some questions of how to behave in certain situations. Although there is no manual or rules set in stone, here’s a good blog post by Chris Brogan where he’s written a brief and informal Twitter etiquette guide. Enjoy.

Click here to read Chris Brogan’s Twitter etiquette guide

Closing comments

I hope you’ve enjoyed this beginner’s guide to Twitter and found it useful. Please feel free to add comments below with feedback and constructive suggestion for improvements.
Thank you!

Follow me on Twitter:

@tommysollen (my personal Twitter)

@sweden (VisitSweden’s Twitter to travellers

@visitsweden (VisitSweden’s Twitter towards english speaking press