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Website Growth Question

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Peggy, Apr 25, 2011.

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  1. Peggy

    Peggy Well-Known Member

    Granted, my site has been open only for a few weeks. But I'm having a bit of trouble growing it. This is a common complaint among many website/forum owners, I know.

    It's a regional board, for residents of the Mahoning Valley, which covers much of NE Ohio and NW Pennsylvania in the US. I have 14 members so far, only 3 of which have even posted on the forum. I should also point out that we have a FB page, a twitter account with a few followers, etc.

    I have asked for suggestions - what do they want to see on the forum? What kind of features, topics, etc. Only one has replied.

    I post what I think are good topics, then tweet it and add it to Facebook. Both draws in alot of visitors who do read the topics. But they don't join and don't post.

    What would you do in a situation like this? Opinions please.
    And be nice.

    Mahoning Valley Talk
    erich37 likes this.
  2. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    Have you considered putting flyers up in the local area?
    Shops, cafes, schools, apartments, etc.

    I started a residents website for my area and every time we put flyers up we always used to get a surge in registrations.
    Brandon Sheley and Peggy like this.
  3. Peggy

    Peggy Well-Known Member

    Yep I have to find a way to make some flyers. I can put them up in our local laundrymats, grocery stores, etc.

    Had one college guy join and posts quite a bit for the first 3 or 4 days, promised to spread the word at his college, then he's never returned. I don't know what to think about that one.
    Brandon Sheley likes this.
  4. Sadik B

    Sadik B Well-Known Member

    Shock people. If people are coming and reading but not replying, they are not getting the urge to reply. Ask yourself, what is it that your forum's audience would 100% disagree with. Post that (as a different user, of course). And see how many can resist saying, how wrong you are. And then applaud them, as yourself, for putting matters straight, so they love you and the forum.

    Ya ya, Guilty as charged! ;)
    Diana Poudel and Peggy like this.
  5. Peggy

    Peggy Well-Known Member

    I like this idea. I'd have to get political in order to accomplish this. hhmmmmmm...
  6. jmurrayhead

    jmurrayhead Well-Known Member

    Create a fake account and say some really crazy sh*t that will push some buttons. You may get some reactions then ;)

    EDIT *** nevermind...that's exactly what sadikb just said lol :rolleyes:
    Fuhrmann and Peggy like this.
  7. physicspirate

    physicspirate Well-Known Member

    I would create an ad in the newspaper, maybe go do some interviews of local businesses on it as a showcase item, and get some really cool flyers done up. Maybe do a once a month meet and greet at a bookstore or coffee shop or something.
    ArnyVee and Peggy like this.
  8. iTuN3r

    iTuN3r Well-Known Member

    This is good idea & if you walk around the neighbourhood it's always good to pass on information to others if they are into web surfing alot .I do samething when i walk my dogs around park in evening time . Also see if there are any facebook group for your areas :p you can always put up your flyers there too.
    Peggy likes this.
  9. Trombones13

    Trombones13 Well-Known Member

    Do you know other MV people on Twitter? Ask them to spread the word--either through RTs or by starting a local hashtag of sorts. For example, I'm a resident of East Lansing, MI, where MSU is, and the local hashtag (I dunno where it started, but it's kind of awesome) for MSU and the capital city of Lansing, #lovelansing, is used for general discussion about the city, promoting events, advertising businesses, and more. If I were starting a Lansing-based forum, I could then use the #lovelansing hashtag to promote it to those users. You could also use Twitter's Advanced Search to find people in the area and ask them to check out your site. :)
  10. Ingenious

    Ingenious Well-Known Member

    Reader apathy is a fact of life I'm afraid and every forum owner has to fight this. The key thing is not to lose motivation, so keep trying to generate support and acknowledge those who do contribute. Your public face needs to always smile and always be keen to engage new people.

    One thing I found useful was asking someone with no interest whatsoever in my subject matter to go on my site and let me know their thoughts. Their responses were quite interesting, look for feedback on how friendly your community is.

    I've found there is no substitute for the personal touch. Thank people for contributing and never underestimate the power of the private message. It's a great way to acknowledge someone's input and getting a personal thanks from those running the website is hugely motivating for those receiving it.

    It might also be worth sitting down with a blank sheet of paper and brainstorming what your community is about. What actually matters to your readers? Find that out and start discussions on it. Is there a news story at the moment or something happening in your community that would be a good subject for a lively debate?
    Michael, Peggy and erich37 like this.
  11. Peggy

    Peggy Well-Known Member

    ok this is great stuff, thanks folks and please keep the suggestions coming. I need all I can get.

    Lots to do!
    1. Find a cheap way to make flyers.
    2. Look up area news and post it.
    3. Find something controversial and post it.
    4. TRY to get people to follow MValleyTalk on twitter so those hashtags will be useful.
    5. Promote fb page.
    6. Use Twitter's advanced search.
    Trombones13 likes this.
  12. Rudy

    Rudy Well-Known Member

    Hi Peggy!

    It takes time. In the early days, back in the mid to late 90s, it was unusual to find any "special interest" site on the 'net, so users would usually jump on it with a lot of excitement. My earliest forum dates back to 1997, and was the only one of its type. I still have a lot of loyal followers. Today's environment is different. Many are online just for the social aspect--nosing around the walls of their Facebook friends, etc. Their attentions are being pulled in several different directions. I know your board is geographically based, but think of a larger area like Detroit--there are several prominent websites that target our metro area, all more or less competing with each other (even if not directly). You need a niche, and a good way to fill it.

    The "big board" I administrate (I run the server but refuse to handle moderation or post in the forum anymore)...well, I won't say publicly, but so many long-time members have gotten upset enough to leave. To help the staff, I set up a separate, private forum for them to talk things out without Daddy™ being around. Only a few staff took to it, but they have all registered. I also opened it up to disgruntled forum members, and have a small group of "longtimers" who post there now. But, it's not like I am going to overtake the other place. I don't even want some of those members finding us.

    What I've done, though, is base this new forum (just over a year old now) on a collection of new sites I'm in the middle of launching. I found a niche that hasn't been filled yet, and this forum will be the central discussion point for all of them. We definitely will get the attention of members from the "big board" who have the same interests, but they'll be there more for our niche sites, not as a replacement for the other forum.

    Overall: patience. And persistence. And some "marketing" as suggested above. More importantly for you, and for the search engine spiders: get your site linked from any other related sites in your area you can think of, and offer reciprocal links back to them. Even if there are local businesses with pages on Facebook, see if they'd list you there, or give a mention of your site in a post. Always keep your posts professional and honest, too--it shows you have integrity and that you expect the best from your visitors. Local businesses and other sites are not going to link to you or send visitors your way if the content winds up being too "off the wall."

    It could take a year or two before it gets regular activity. Pretty much the nature of the beast. If you consider that at least half of all who sign up will never post, and only maybe 10% become truly "active," it will take quite a membership base to keep activity going.

    If all else fails, post nekkid pictures. :D
    erich37 and Peggy like this.
  13. Peggy

    Peggy Well-Known Member

    The thing is, the site isn't just for my community. It's for the Mahoning Valley, which covers a good portion of two different states.

    Perhaps I should have started small, a site for just my town, or county. o_O
    I could still do this. Change it to Mahoning County Talk, rather than Mahoning Valley Talk?
  14. Rudy

    Rudy Well-Known Member

    Actually, I'd keep it broad--a larger potential audience. If you specialize too much then you will find it dying off too soon. I didn't realize the "valley" was that large but still, it applies--it's a specific regional district that probably shares a lot in common among its various towns and cities.

    Is the area a popular tourist destination? Maybe use travel as a topic to draw in some visitors. There are large travel sites (think Fodor's), travel and tourism sites for individual counties and towns, local chambers of commerce, etc.
  15. Peggy

    Peggy Well-Known Member

    I don't know if the Valley is a popular tourist destination or not. I really only have knowledge of my specific area, which I'm beginning to understand is the issue. When I started MVT, I didn't realize just how large of a geographical area the Mahoning Valley covered. It's pretty huge.

    The owner of a local Ford dealership, who follows us on Twitter, actually suggested that I change it, and make it a more localized site. I am beginning to think that he may be correct.
  16. iTuN3r

    iTuN3r Well-Known Member

    I would suggest not to change it for a while :) Leave it the way it is try to get more advertisements out there as you listed above who knows it might turn out good in future .
  17. Slavik

    Slavik XenForo Moderator Staff Member

  18. Rudy

    Rudy Well-Known Member

    I read around the 'net a bit: Youngstown is an area "also known as" Mahoning Valley. So while the Valley actually does cover a large area, it seems that Youngstown and Mahoning Valley are sometimes used interchangeably. It's just a matter of terminology. A byline of "Covering Youngstown and the greater Mahoning Valley area" could focus attention specifically Youngstown while not excluding other parts of the Valley in the future.
    Peggy likes this.
  19. Peggy

    Peggy Well-Known Member

    That's a very good idea. Thanks Rudy. [​IMG]
  20. Rudy

    Rudy Well-Known Member

    No problem! [​IMG] This early in the game, stay flexible.
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