For a long time (forever?), the way we've brought people back to the forum has been through a game we've been playing. We play X game, we recruit, peeps come back here and they naturally become part of the community. That's how most of us got here, right?
Some games aren't always suitable for recruiting in though, sometimes we don't always have members playing said game who have experience at recruiting, sometimes we're just "waiting for that next game", not always playing the same games, different time zones etc. Star Citizen is on the way and looks very likely to be that "next game" where we can do this but in the mean time, maybe we should try a different approach?
Rather than gaining new blood through a game > forum. How about we focus on just the forum and meeting people here first instead?
What I mean is, and I'll give an example - Last year when I failed to draw anyone into WildStar with me (hoping for it to be our next game) and due to our activity levels, I went and looked elsewhere instead. GAF is the only other forum I post on besides here and I spend a lot of time on there (more so recently due to me talking to myself on here so often ), they were the obvious choice. As such, it was through being a GAF member that I grouped up with a nice bunch of folk from there at launch and we set a little guild up together. I didn't join that community through the game though but the other way around.
Now I know this place is never going to become GAF, but how about we promote the forum first and foremost? Still try and play games together when we can (and we should push this too as that's what we're here for right?), and recruit in those that we can and are able to, but focus on promoting our forum first as a place for gaming discussion. Focus on getting people here just to talk about games first (and other stuff) and then the community we end up shaping should naturally look to grouping up in games together, as I did with WildStar. Attracting people to the forum itself first, then later comes the gaming. Rather than doing it the other way around like we've always done (finding people in a game and bringing them back).
Question is, how do we go about that?
Our push into social media is a start. One would hope that our views & followers on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook etc may one day start to spill over here. In the past I made a point of linking forum threads on Twitter too, and my YouTube videos (up until this past week or so) always linked to the site. Tweets often resulted in instant forum guests but when you're liking to a thread where you're struggling to get your existing members to engage with you in and actually reply to you... I had a feeling it was probably doing more harm than good and much more likely to leave a bad impression. As such I stopped doing it for a while as it seemed like I was wasting my time. I have, however, started to do it again. We need imput from everyone else though as if our community is ever going to attract anyone and make them want to sign up, the community has to actually talk
How else can we promote the forum?
Twitch could be of great use to us I think. We've hardly touched it all year but we really should I think. (It should be noted that NF has recently set himself up for streaming a bit too. Great!). Thoughts though.. If your internet connection is capable of it and you're playing a game - doesn't really matter WHAT it is (just look at the Twitch listings and you'll see people are stream all kinds of games). Why not stream it? No need for recording segments of gameplay, video editing, uploading, tagging etc which you have to do with YouTube and requires a lot more time. Just play whatever it is you were going to be playing anyway but stream it so other people can tune in. Unfortunately, due to my net speed I'm unable to do this myself but I'm talking of a few people here and sharing the workload between you. We already benefit due to the kind of community we have too, since we could quite easily be streaming different games during different time zones if a few peeps can work together. You'll start off with no viewers at all but if we can gain a small following on twitch, making a point of plugging the forums during your stream every now and then (maybe we can do some extra graphics for it too). This could really help get our name out there and see some new life on the forums. What better place than Twitch? You're streaming straight to fellow gamers there. Let's try it. It's a real shame to see it go unused.
Unable to stream? How about writing some game reviews or articles of that nature for the main site (which can then be linked to a forum thread for comments)? We have a great front page to make use of now yet I've often been the only one to use it. If you don't have access then Anny is only a PM away. We can post this stuff on social media too.
I have Twitter under control (and Twitter & YouTube are more active than anywhere else) but there's no reason why more of you can't make an account of your own on there too if you wanted to. To have us create a group presence on there through more than one account that is. @ShatteredStar97 was left left open throughout the year but as I had been the only person to ever really use it and have been managing it by myself all year, I decided to take a more personal approach with it (rather than just trying to advertise or post like a STR bot) and have been using the account both as a representation of STR and as my personal account too. As such the account was re-linked to my e-mail address etc and has had M.Steiner on the profile page & STR banner for a little while now. It might be good if other people joined twitter with their own accounts though and under names such as "John Doe of STR", "Jane Doe of STR" etc (just as an example). This would be better than the original intention of multiple users trying to manage 1 account too I think. Stick a link to the forum on your profile page, tweet STR related things, retweet some of my stuff, I'll retweet some of yours etc. Having a few more STR members on Twitter under more than one account could help increase our group presence on there and cover more ground.
Facebook on the other hand could really do with some attention by the looks of it. I don't use FB myself (and have no intention of ever doing so) but every time I've popped over there to see how things are going the only stuff I've usually seen on there are my tweets being fed across from Twitter or my YouTube uploads/likes being fed across instead, bar the odd comment in relation to some of those. I don't check it everyday ofc but I can't remember the last time I saw anything else on there tbh. Have I been checking at the wrong times to get an incorrect view of its activity levels or is it really as it looks? If you're a FB user, give it some love if so
An idea I had some time ago as well (for trying to promote the forums) was to maybe rent out a 64 player Battlefield server (I did think SW:BF but I'm not sure how that is going to work with no server browser. We'll have to see next week) This would cost (obviously) and I'm not in a position to fund something like that myself (though I would donate when I could) but have it set up in our name with server messages linking here, a STR banner etc. If people were actively playing on our server together maybe some of them would trickle across to the forum? I dunno. Just a random thought that crossed my mind.
Whilst saying all of the above though I do think it's important to stress (again) that unless we can pick forum activity levels up a little bit ourselves with the existing community we have, we're only going to make life harder for ourselves and potentially turn visitors away.
One final note and I mean no offence here but I do feel that some people take this place for granted sometimes. Not intentionally or because they don't care, but just because of life really. Completely understandable. People pop by for a visit every now and then (and it's REALLY nice to see old faces and those we don't see much of), they make a driveby post or two and then just disappear again for weeks, months, sometimes even years at a time. You gotta remember though that a community like this doesn't stay alive by itself. It stays alive because of people. Without the people, and without those individuals among us who put that extra effort in to help ensure it. We'd not be here. It would be sad to think that someone might just do that one day only to return again X amount of time later and see that we're no longer here, and left wondering what happened. I'm not meaning to offend here as I say and I know some of us lead busier lives than others - we've always said that RL comes first. All I'm saying is, STR will continue to be here for as long as we want it to be but not by magic. Let me quote myself from my Arbiter nominees post:
Just something to keep in mind that's all <3M.Steiner wrote:It doesn't matter how much I or a couple of others here do to keep things going and moving forwards if others don't involve themselves too. This place will live and die by the community. We're all part of it.
Anyway, you guys got any thoughts? How do we go about promoting/advertising the forum? Does anyone have any experience in doing similar elsewhere which might work for us? Let's discuss
(Also side note: The Star Wars Battlefront beta begins 1 week from now and runs from Oct 8th - 12th. Hope some of you can find the time to give it a try. Would be nice to see a group of us decide to buy it at release next month as it should be a good game to jump in and out of. MP shooters are always better with friends too ]