Building a new online community

Building an online community is never an easy task, especially if you’re trying to empower people who aren’t usually included in the conversation. Karel spoke to Hermann Pretorius from FAN and Jason Werbeloff from EduXpert about their roles in collaborating on an exciting new project trying to do exactly that.

FAN - a catchy acronym! What does it stand for? What does FAN do?

Hermann : Thanks! I quite like the optimism sort of built into the acronym – and that’s very appropriate for what we at FAN are doing. FAN stands for the ‘Freedom Advocacy Network’. Our mission is, well, to help save South Africa.

FAN wants to make politics about people - that means making politics less about power and parties, and more about people and freedom - getting people involved again in actually running our country and getting solutions to work.

Research shows us that millions of people have simply given up on fixing our country. This sort of thing can’t continue. There is after all that old saying about what happens when good people do nothing. And that’s what FAN is doing – getting good people to get involved to fix this beautiful country of ours.

So the next step was to get that inspiring message to the people. Jason, how did EduXpert drive paid traffic to the FAN website?

Jason : There are lots of ways to increase traffic to a site, such as Google ads, SEO (search engine optimization), and email newsletters. We prefer to use Facebook advertising traffic - targeting Facebook users with specific interests in narrowly defined demographics (e.g. specific age group and gender) who respond to issues important to FAN. We find this narrow targeting allows us to drive not just high volume traffic, but high quality traffic.

Why use Facebook rather than other advertising platforms?

Jason : Facebook provides fantastic ways of narrowing your audience targeting. This means that the users who see your ads will be more likely to engage with your content. Moreover, because the clickers are highly interested in the content we show them on the FAN site, they’re more likely to donate to FAN through the signup forms we offer (i.e. high quality traffic).

Why is traffic to a website important?

Jason : Without traffic, the site isn’t useful. There’s no point in showcasing your business on a website if nobody visits that site. But not all traffic is equally valuable. You need to know the goal of a user on your site.

Juizi and EduXpert collaborate to create optimized landing pages that convert visitors to paying subscribers. We do this by combining slick design with data-driven methods that track user behaviour on the site, and find users similar to those who convert.

We had such fun working on FAN with you both! We certainly learnt a few things. What stood out for you, Hermann?

Hermann : Joh, without Juizi and EduXpress, I really don’t think FAN would have, in only a few months, gotten to a place of having more than twenty thousand people like what we do on social media.

People don’t realise how difficult it is to get different pieces of technology to communicate properly with each other across platforms and databases – all those fancy things – but FAN’s work relies on the flow of information between the website and different systems we utilise - our email database, our membership database, our social media content, and our advertisements.

But, with long hours of collaboration, Juizi and EduXpert got us what we needed to run our thing and reach people.

Still early days, but what results have you seen so far?

Hermann : Well, the results show that stuff’s working! FAN’s first two months saw us reach more than a million people with over 4 million impressions. This would simply not have been doable for us on our own, or without Juizi and EduXpert as partners who we could contact almost any time for advice, insight, ideas ... anything.

So, for the results we’re seeing, I really want to give you guys a massive thanks.

Building a new online community