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Nothing powers a store better than word- of-mouth. That's especially true on the Internet, where shoppers can multiply their opinions through social platforms such as blogs, forums, Facebook, and Twitter. That list names only a few. It's impossible to catalog all the ways that people spread opinions online, and their number will continue to increase, so this video introduces you to some that are fairly easy to implement, but that can have big payoffs. Let's start by talking about something very natural to your site. Whenever someone makes a purchase on it, Drupal Commerce creates a user, and if we go up to People, you'll remember that we have this email@example.com person.
This one was created when that person made a purchase. We can go in and edit their profile, and as we go down, you see that we can do things like let them add a picture, select their location, and also, if we go up to Configuration, and Account settings, we can add any other fields that we want to, so that people can express themselves through their profiles. What people do with those profiles, you can change by changing their Permissions settings. To do that, go up to People, and Permissions.
There is a lot to go through here, and you can learn more about it in my Drupal 7 Essential Training course, but the most important one is down at the bottom. In this User group, if you let people view each other's profiles, that's the beginning of community. There are a few other permissions on this page, which allow them to contact each other, and so forth, and as you add other modules, you might have more and more ways that people can interact with each other, but this is a beginning. Moving away from people, let's talk about one social feature that's built into your store, but is turned off by default. That's the Forums.
Let's go and turn it on by going up to Modules, and scrolling through the Core group until we find Forum. Turn it on, scroll to the bottom, and save. That creates an entire bulletin board system on your site. We can see how that works by going up to Structure, and Forums. It starts already with General discussion group, and you could add subgroups if you like, but let's just go there. Once there, you can add a topic, say Favorite recipes, and if you had added other forums, you could put that into a recipes area, or an edible oils area, or whatever you want. You can change the taxonomy of this however you like.
Let's talk about them. Scroll down, and save it, and as you can see, people can then comment on it, and so forth. Once again, you'll have to set the permissions correctly, but this gives you an idea of the power of Drupal behind your store. Now, there is a problem with forums, though. They can become hives for abuse, and trash talking, so you have to watch them carefully. However, if they're done right, they can become a reason that people keep coming back to your store. One place that I think does that really well is woot.com, at woot.com.
Woot sells one item a day, and then they have special deals as well, but the centerpiece is the community, and you can see that there are lots of discussions about what's being sold, and how to win it, and that sort of thing. Very good use of community using forums, but let's get back to our site. Another way to keep people coming back is to write an interesting blog. There is a blogging system already built into your store, but like the Forums, it's turned off by default. To turn it on, go up to Modules, and in the Core group, it's simply Blog. Scroll to the bottom, and save.
Blog posts are just ordinary pieces of content. You create them by going up to Content, Add content, and now you see you have Blog entry. Let me put something in here; I love olive oil, and let me tell you about it. Scroll down to the bottom to Save. I'm just going to take this off of the front page; let's say I don't actually want to have all of my blog posts on the front page. I'll save it, and there it is, and as with most blogs, people can then add comments, and so forth.
One thing that's interesting about blogs is that they all get collected onto one page, so someone could just go to my admin's blog, and read all of my blog posts. Now, Forums and Blogs are just built-in features. You get them automatically with Drupal, but because your store is built on Drupal, you can also add all sorts of community features from the wealth of free modules at drupal.org. To go there, go to drupal.org/projects/modules. Once there, the first thing you need to do is filter it by compatibility. We're using Drupal 7, and modules for other versions of Drupal won't work.
Then you can search by category, as well. For example, Community. There's over 100 modules available, which will help you build your community. So that covers a lot of the things that you can do to encourage people who are already existing customers to talk to each other, but if your goal is to increase business, you also have to make your store talk to other sites. We talked about one way to do that in another video in this series, Making Your Site More Visible to Search Engines. Now let's look at a few other techniques. One of those techniques is already built into your store, but it's not very well promoted.
Let's go back to our store, and to the front page. Now, if you scroll to the bottom, you'll notice this little icon here. This leads to an RSS feed. If we click it, we see the contents of this page, and remember, this is a collection of nodes showing up in a format known as RSS. Other sites can subscribe to this, and show your content, and it appears immediately as you post it, or within a very short time. Now, I'm using Google Chrome. If I switch over to Firefox, you'll see that it shows the RSS information in a slightly more human readable form, but in either case, other computers can understand it, and that's important, because if some other site wants to show everything that's happening, let's say, in the olive oil world, they'll get your products.
Finally, I want to mention a way that you can reach out to other sites where your customers already gather. That is, Facebook, and Twitter, and so forth. There are several modules that add buttons next to your products and blog posts, so that people, when they like them, can just click the Like, or the +1 buttons, and it will automatically count on Twitter, and Facebook, and so on. One that I've used a lot is called AddThis. You can get it at drupal.org/project/addthis. We'll install this in the usual way.
Copy the link, go back to our site, and put it in the Modules. Once it's installed, you activate it by going to Configuration, and AddThis. I'm going to have the AddThis button show up in both node pages, and node teasers.
I should mention, this username is if you want to track the activity on your site on the addthis.com site. Obviously, we're not going to go into that whole subject, but it is another way that you can keep an eye on what people are doing on your site, while still giving them their anonymity. Anyway, we'll save this, and then go back to the front page of our site, and you see now, next to every one of these listings, we have this little button where we can say, oh yes, I like this; I'm going to send information about it by e-mail, or I'm going to put it on my Myspace page. There are actually quite a few others available; over 300, in case you use any of these other social networks.
I'm going to just change that configuration a little bit, because I don't like having this on the front page. As people scroll through, they tend to get tripped up by these buttons, but I want to leave it available on the individual products. So I'll go up to Configuration, back to AddThis, turn it off for the teasers, but leave it on the node pages. There is one last thing about this particular module. Although we can share these items, you have to turn on permissions for ordinary people to share them. We go to People, and Permissions, there's AddThis, and we let people view the AddThis widget, and save.
A similar module, by the way, is AddToAny, and you can get that at drupal.org/project/addtoany. Now, I know that was a whirlwind tour of a big subject. As usual, lynda.com has several courses that will take you further. First, see more about Drupal's built- in features, such as Forums, by watching Drupal 7 Essential Training. Then consider looking at some of the business courses, such as Social Media Marketing with Facebook and Twitter. Not everything in those courses will be relevant to your store, of course, but every little thing you can do to encourage positive buzz will help you to increase your customer base, and improve retention.
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