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  • How to attract new members

    This is directed at people who have forums where the topic or industry of discussion is not computer-based. For example, Steve Machol's Optiboard, serving the eyecare industry.

    My site is serving the green industry - landscaping. Hardscapes, softscapes, maintenance, etc.

    How did you go about attracting members? (other than search engine ranking efforts)

    I'm a little on the impatient side. The site has been open for biz 4 days, and though I've been able to attract the most influential moderators from all other green sites to my site and resign their posts on the other sites, I'm getting frustrated with the pace of new members registering.

    It feels like to a large degree I'm talking to myself, which would be OK if I found myself interesting.

    So what steps did you take? Did you email related associations? Did you mail hardcopy info packets to those related groups?

    Did you try to attract people en-masse, or try to pick up the good ones, one by one?

    I'm feeling hypocritical sending unsolicited email ensuring that if they register we don't send them junk e-mail....

    Thanks,

    Jeff


  • #2
    I started OptiBoard in 1995, so patience was definitely a key factor. Since I was very active in the Optical industry and had a job that put me into contact with lots of eyecare professionals around the world, it was simply a matter of me spreading the word person-by-person.

    I also posted frequently on a usenet newsgroup for vision care and put the URL to my forums in my sig. No blatant advertising though.
    Steve Machol, former vBulletin Customer Support Manager (and NOT retired!)
    Change CKEditor Colors to Match Style (for 4.1.4 and above)

    Steve Machol Photography


    Mankind is the only creature smart enough to know its own history, and dumb enough to ignore it.


    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Steve Machol
      I also posted frequently on a usenet newsgroup for vision care and put the URL to my forums in my sig. No blatant advertising though.
      That's exactly what I did. Just a simple link. Also in my case I felt I needed to offer more than just a message board. The message board was actually an afterthought, until I realized the power it had to help my site succeed. My site is music/nightclub related, so I offered dj voting, club reviews where members can rate and comment on the club, some tutorials, free homepages, downloadable and streaming music (original artists with permission), top site list, and now I just bought an image gallery that I think will be just as important as the message board. It supposedly works with the vb database so they can use the same login and pass.

      The message board will always be the backbone of the site, it's where the community begins. But a message board is nothing without anything else to back it up. Plus you also need all these parts of the site to mesh together well. And believe it or not, the look of your site and board can make a big difference.

      Plus I like to think my amazing personality kept my original members posting hahah . I'd also add that I just started using vb this week. i was originally a UBB user and I'm glad I finally made the switch. It was something I wanted to do for over a year and now I think I can take my site to a new level.

      Comment


      • #4
        sicktracks - That's a neat site concept.

        I think part of my impatience comes from knowing that the people are involved are real players in my industry.

        I've got a referral program going (not tons of freebies, but a little something), but I don't expect much from that.

        Are there other methods I might try to build awareness? I've kind of been employing your tactic, Steve, by trying to be as helpful as I can on a competing forum I've been involved with for 3 years, but it burns me to add content to a competing site.

        I may try to mail some info packets to the various associations to see if that helps. But I'd love to get other ideas you've tried, or things that maybe you haven't. For example, once I have enough content to make the site respectable, press releases will go to every green magazine in the country.
        Last edited by ImageConstrux; Mon 3 Mar '03, 7:38am.

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        • #5
          Another idea is to issue Press Releases concerning your forum to any of the publications that may serve your industry.
          Steve Machol, former vBulletin Customer Support Manager (and NOT retired!)
          Change CKEditor Colors to Match Style (for 4.1.4 and above)

          Steve Machol Photography


          Mankind is the only creature smart enough to know its own history, and dumb enough to ignore it.


          Comment


          • #6
            Um.......ok.

            Comment


            • #7
              Hi I'm in the same boat - just started my website in the last month.

              We had a problem where a large board we were all on shut down, and now there are a dozen or so boards struggling to attract new traffic.

              I've taken a different route, instead of trying to get traffic from competing boards, offer a link page on your main site, and do google searches for related sites and email the webmaster for link exchanges. While it may not generate traffic initially, by having more sites link to you, the quicker you will get in the search engines.

              Haven't tried the usenet thing...I'll have to give that a shot!
              Talk about pets and post pictures at Talk Pets!

              Comment


              • #8
                What a great signature!

                Your idea is one to consider - your board is a cute idea. I hope it does well for you.

                As for becoming more of a prolific poster, I'm not quite sure how Steve does it - he's got 21,000+ posts here, has his own board, and says he posts a lot on outside boards. He must have one of those neural interfacet things I saw on Star Trek once. Either that or 2 brains and 4 hands. For me, I'm just about maxed out on the # of posts I can make in a day.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ImageConstrux
                  What a great signature!

                  Your idea is one to consider - your board is a cute idea. I hope it does well for you.

                  As for becoming more of a prolific poster, I'm not quite sure how Steve does it - he's got 21,000+ posts here, has his own board, and says he posts a lot on outside boards. He must have one of those neural interfacet things I saw on Star Trek once. Either that or 2 brains and 4 hands. For me, I'm just about maxed out on the # of posts I can make in a day.
                  Sore fingers and a very understanding wife!
                  Steve Machol, former vBulletin Customer Support Manager (and NOT retired!)
                  Change CKEditor Colors to Match Style (for 4.1.4 and above)

                  Steve Machol Photography


                  Mankind is the only creature smart enough to know its own history, and dumb enough to ignore it.


                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Many people will not want to register for a site that does not yet have any discussions. So it may be helpful to allow unregistered users to post messages for a while to help get things started. Also, you might consider *seeding* a few discussions in the beginning.

                    Once the site picks up momentum you might want to then turn off posting abilities for unregistered users.

                    Reciprocal linking is always a good way to get the traffic started. Posting in usenet with a link to your site in your signature is also good - but be absolutely sure to post valid messages, no cross posting, etc - not good to be labeled as a spammer.
                    ...john2k...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by john2k
                      Many people will not want to register for a site that does not yet have any discussions. So it may be helpful to allow unregistered users to post messages for a while to help get things started. Also, you might consider *seeding* a few discussions in the beginning.

                      Once the site picks up momentum you might want to then turn off posting abilities for unregistered users.

                      Reciprocal linking is always a good way to get the traffic started. Posting in usenet with a link to your site in your signature is also good - but be absolutely sure to post valid messages, no cross posting, etc - not good to be labeled as a spammer.
                      If you dont mind spending a little money I have a friend who offered promotion for the first few months of his site's existence. This got people to the forums and yes some just came for the promotions, but quite a few stuck around and are loyal members to this day.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        What kinds of promotions were run?

                        I have seeded a couple discussions, and have a drone username or two that help me with that. What's more, some of the smart folks that are already on board I gave a warning that I'd be serving up grapefruit questions, and would appreciate it if they knocked them out of the park. For the most part they've obliged.

                        I've begun getting a little response from some of the related state associations, and a national trade magazine is evaluating an article I wrote about the site - they've asked about whether they'd have exclusivity to the article, so I think that's a good sign.

                        Thanks for your continued input,

                        Jeff

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ImageConstrux
                          What kinds of promotions were run?

                          I have seeded a couple discussions, and have a drone username or two that help me with that. What's more, some of the smart folks that are already on board I gave a warning that I'd be serving up grapefruit questions, and would appreciate it if they knocked them out of the park. For the most part they've obliged.

                          I've begun getting a little response from some of the related state associations, and a national trade magazine is evaluating an article I wrote about the site - they've asked about whether they'd have exclusivity to the article, so I think that's a good sign.

                          Thanks for your continued input,

                          Jeff
                          Well their site is a console gaming site. I believe there was magazine subscriptions, console games etc.. given away. In truth Im not positive off the top of my head all that they did, but it was highly effective. If you want PM me and I can give you info to get in contact with them.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ImageConstrux
                            What kinds of promotions were run?

                            I have seeded a couple discussions, and have a drone username or two that help me with that. What's more, some of the smart folks that are already on board I gave a warning that I'd be serving up grapefruit questions, and would appreciate it if they knocked them out of the park. For the most part they've obliged.

                            I've begun getting a little response from some of the related state associations, and a national trade magazine is evaluating an article I wrote about the site - they've asked about whether they'd have exclusivity to the article, so I think that's a good sign.

                            Thanks for your continued input,

                            Jeff
                            Hey, I just looked at your site. A couple suggestions....

                            1) Do you really want your front page to be the board? When I clicked on your site I have no idea what it is about, I'm just thrown into some message forums. A front page that says what you are about with a prominent link to the board might be a better idea.

                            2) Is your site just for trade members or can people (like myself) who are homeowners come in and ask questions? If you open it up to consumers, you might get more traffic.

                            3) You should put your site in your signature like I did. Yes, I come here to talk vBulletin, but if some folks here have an interest in dogs/cats and other pets I would love them to come over. I also post on non-pet-related boards with this in my sig and have gotten a few new members that way.

                            OK, I'm gonna go register for your site and ask questions - hope this helps!
                            Talk about pets and post pictures at Talk Pets!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hi JW -

                              Saw you on the site - thanks for registering.

                              And you're right about the main page - you may have noticed you get a redirect from .com to .com/forums - there will be a main page soon, but it's not ready quite yet.

                              We also need better intro text at the top of the forum mainpage for non-registered users.

                              I'll wait to see if one of the other members jumps in to answer
                              (I've had a habit of monopolizing conversations). Otherwise, I'll answer your lighting question.

                              Thanks for your input!

                              Jeff

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