AM: [Fwd: ONLINE-ADS>> Can a discussion board make your site more effective?]
This is an excellent list, which some of you are no doubt already part
of. But I thought the following post was interesting in his mention of
his community site dedicated to entrpreneurship. I like the name,
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Can a discussion board make your site more effective?
I've been watching discussion groups (or boards) for the
last few months, trying to discover the secrets to making
them success. I wanted to test my theories I had
developed to see if I was on the mark.
I first developed the testing site in my mind and on
paper. The topic would be Online Entrepreneurism,
something I held close to my heart, and knew I would
enjoy following. I wanted a community that I felt I would
like to be part of. (Instead of seeing it as just a
board, I visualized it as a community, this is an
important mindset). I chose a catchy name, Emma
(Entrepreneurial MasterMind Association). I knew this
would be powerful incentive for people to remember the
site, and keep them coming back.
Next, I wanted to be able to set the Emma site up quicky
and inexpensively. I already had a domain, so I didn't
need to pay InterNIC fees or hosting fees, I simply
appended 'emma' to the end of my existing domain. Did
this hurt hits? No, and you'll see this in a minute. So
it didn't cost me much more than my time.
Getting Emma up quickly was another important factor,
because I have several other projects I was working on at
the same time. So I set aside a 24 hour period to put the
entire site together, prepare all its graphics, and got
all the autoresponders and other details in order.
This included the initial three discussion boards that
would make up the Emma site. I found and implemented the
highest quality discussion board software I could find.
It was absolutely free, and I made several modifications
to it to suit my tastes. It offered some of the highest
class options of any I had reviewed, including cookie
support (to recall names, new messages from last visit,
etc.), message previewing, and easy setup. I let several
people test it beforehand, and they were impressed with
it more than other existing boards they had used, so I
went with using it.
On the eve of the announcement of the Emma site, I
checked and double checked everything. All the boards
were working fine, as were all the autoresponders (7). But
I didn't expect the site to be perfect and bug free, in
fact, it wasn't. Several days of work after was necessary
to tweak Emma the way I wanted. Don't let perfection stop
you from moving on your projects.
I also spent time with others that frequented similar
boards. I asked them what they wanted to see and what
they wanted tobecome part of their future community.
(Notice how important setting a mindset is? A simple word
changes something that was just a board to something much
bigger.) I feel this community experience, if implemented
properly, would initially excite people, and keep them
returning over and over. Community will be king in 1998.
Finally at around 9 p.m. last Wednesday, I formally
announced the release of the Emma project to a group of
fifteen individuals that had gathered on the IRC to
discuss business. Near simultaneously, I posted several
strategic posts on similar discussion boards. These
weren't outright advertisements, but quality info mixed
with a subtle mention to the new Emma site and boards.
Within hours, hits to the site shot up through the floor.
Initially out of curiosity, but later because many felt
like they had found a home. (Email and posts detailed
this fact, which showed that the initial goal was being
reached.) But I knew it was important not to stand
So in the following days since Emma's birth, I queried
everyone I could, visitors and associates, on what could
be done to make this have a better community feel, make
people feel like they had found a home on the web, and
any problems they had encountered. They gave suggestions,
I listened. (I've found this to be a very important part
of a discussion group or community, listening.)
Someone suggested that we should have a type of reward
for those that posted on the Emma boards regularly. So I
decided to give any and all regular posters to the groups
banner ads slots in the respective groups absolutely
free! This gave them an opportunity to display their
products and services, while testing out how their
banners were working. Quite a change from the norm of
charging for banner ads space. Needless to say, there
were many happen citizens of Emma.
Another suggestion offered -- a board was necessary for
people getting started out in marketing or project
development on the Net. There seemed to be a need for a
special board to give guidance to people who needed
direction in several different areas. Thus another board
was born, the 'Getting Started' discussion board. The
theory was proved right, when the hits to this Emma board
rushed ahead of the two other minor boards. Again, a
suggestion lent itself to a successful addition to the
Other suggestions have been offered, all which are being
reviewed and implemented as time, resources, and demand
required. But the key -- listen. Listen to what they are
asking for, and do your best to follow through.
Well, what has been the result of this effort? In less
than one weeks time since Emma's birth, with no money
invested, with a 24 hour development time, and no real
content than four message boards, the site has has
amazingly pulled into the fast lane. In the past week log
reports indicate well over 20,000 hits have been noted.
(The number was confirmed at 9:00 tonight, exactly one
week after the official announcement of Emma.) I believe
the trend will continue.
I've been very pleased with the results. And I think the
community feels this is a place they can call home. Can you
use this model for your own site, or niches? I have no doubt
it can be done, and implemented successfully.
What does this mean for you? Do you have a site that
needs a little pick up? A discussion board might be the
answer, if implemented properly. Are you existing boards
not as effective as you'd like them to be? Then build
community. Ask, listen, act.
Joplin Globe WebMaster/Internet Coordinator
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