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AM: [Fwd: ONLINE-ADS>> Can a discussion board make your site more effective?]

To:     ad-market@netpreneur.org
Subject:     AM: [Fwd: ONLINE-ADS>> Can a discussion board make your site more effective?]
From:     Brian Alpert <balpert@telogy.com>
Date:     Fri, 23 Jan 1998 15:48:57 -0500

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,
'emma.'

--BA

-- BEGIN included message

To:     online-ads@o-a.com
Subject:     Re: ONLINE-ADS>> Can a discussion board make your site more effective?
From:     bprater@joplinglobe.com (Prater Benjamin)
Date:     Thu, 22 Jan 1998 13:34:34 -0500
  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
  still.

  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
  community.

  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.

                            ---
                       BenJamin Prater
                      EMMA  Coordinator
                  http://www.jipes.com/emma
                      bprater@jipes.com

BenJamin Prater
Joplin Globe WebMaster/Internet Coordinator
http://www.joplinglobe.com


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