Fostering Loyalty on Your Forums

NICOCLUBcom

Nissan / Infiniti guru
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Feb 11, 2006
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NICOCLUBcom submitted a new Article:

Fostering Loyalty on Your Forums

Fostering Loyalty on Your Forums

Running a successful forum requires enormous commitments, ones that few people are able to sufficiently make. After all, you'll spend countless time, effort and money on developing an idea, creating a forum, promoting your site, pursuing membership, posting content, optimizing for search results... Not to mention the day-to-day investment of managing a staff, keeping up with technical bugaboos and putting out those inevitable "fires" that seem to come at the most inopportune time.

Yet some forum owners seem to be on Easy Street. Their members police themselves, their staff goes above and beyond what's asked of them, and volunteers pop out of the woodwork almost before the need arises.

Well, I'm one of these fortunate owners. Quite simply, I try to foster loyalty, because loyal members not only stick around, they're more likely to spread the word about your forums for you - and THAT is powerful stuff.

So, what do those select few forum owners do differently than the rest to develop a loyal membership? Here's a start:

1) Welcome your new people.

This doesn't simply mean post up a generic "Welcome to The Forums!" every time you run across a member whose screen name you don't recognize. This means taking a minute, reviewing new members' profiles, and maybe adding a personalized touch. It can be a comment on their hometown, their avatar, even their screen name. "Hey, welcome to The Forums! I see you're from Ozark. I was born about 10 miles from there. What's the area like now?" People LOVE to talk about themselves - after all, that's why they're on a web forum. This all but guarantees a return poster (which you want), and allows an opportunity for others to converse with the new member as well (which you really want).

Say you run a larger forum, like I do - At 50 new members per day, there's simply no way I could keep up with this many "Welcomes". Rather, I've fostered this type of welcoming attitude among all of my Administrators and Moderators. Roaming the site, handling their day-to-day "duties", they recognize new people coming into their assigned areas and can extend the same warm greetings. They feel genuinely welcomed and in turn are more likely to feel comfortable welcoming others This is STEP ONE in fostering loyalty among your members.

2) Answer questions.

Yes, even those that are discussed on your forums ad nauseum. So many forums, especially those with a lot of...

Read more about this article here...
 
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Kathy

Tazmanian Veteran
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Jan 1, 2004
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Really good stuff here Nico. Thanks for writing this article! :tiphat:
 

simsim

means seasme
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Nov 3, 2005
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Perfect article. No wonder it's the most voted for. Thanks for taking time writing it.
 

curt_grymala

Participant
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Sep 10, 2005
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Indeed. This is a great article. Unfortunately, I learned all of this stuff through trial and error, but it's really nice to see an article showing all of the great stuff you can do to keep your members loyal. Nicely done.
 

ForumBulge

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Jan 15, 2006
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Nice article.
I think the Be Human point is huge. It's so true, I just can't believe how many Admins get stuck in their "admin role" and try and just be a robotic machine who bosses everyone around.

Show a personal side and you will really start connecting with your members more.
 

NICOCLUBcom

Nissan / Infiniti guru
Joined
Feb 11, 2006
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Thanks all - I wish I could contribute more on the tech side of things, but I'm more of an idea / people person...

I'm very married to the idea that the subject matter is just a tool to get people "in the door" - What we do with them next is what really matters, because as far as I'm concerned, it's about the PEOPLE, not the CARS.

I'll keep learning if you guys will keep sharing. :)
 

mike79

Aspirant
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Mar 7, 2006
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Great Article. I have one question, which is currently going on with my staff. The question is about:

4) Hold "off-board" events.

Do forums need insurance to have "Off-site" events? If not, what happens with law suits if someone gets hurt? I own a fishing forum and we want to have off site gatherings where a group fishes together for the weekend. The problem is, we have to state that these are actually "Unoffical Gatherings" to protect us. As you never know what will happen.

Do you have any information for me about Step 4 and the need of insurance?

Thanks,
Mike
 

NICOCLUBcom

Nissan / Infiniti guru
Joined
Feb 11, 2006
Messages
809
Great question, Mike.

My first knee-jerk response is to consult with an attorney on that matter. We have our forums set up under a holding company, categorized as an LLC. While this doesn't limit ALL sorts of liability, it's certainly a deterrent for the "small-time" casual lawsuit-filer.

We require insurance because our events typically involve high-horsepower cars, going very fast, either sideways or in a straight line. :)

However, you can look into an "unmbrella policy", typically of $1M or more, that's relatively cheap.

For simple casual fishing get-togethers, I can't imagine you'd need more than a Waiver of Liability form or an "agreement to hold harmless" (like you sign when you drive go-karts at a kiddie park).
 

curt_grymala

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mike79 said:
Great Article. I have one question, which is currently going on with my staff. The question is about:

4) Hold "off-board" events.

Do forums need insurance to have "Off-site" events? If not, what happens with law suits if someone gets hurt? I own a fishing forum and we want to have off site gatherings where a group fishes together for the weekend. The problem is, we have to state that these are actually "Unoffical Gatherings" to protect us. As you never know what will happen.

A good way to avoid some of the legal problems that can go along with that sort of thing is to piggy-back on someone else's event. For instance, I run a video-game web site, and we occasionally hold conventions to show off our stuff and have a good time. Whenever we hold a convention, we make it a part of a larger convention that's being held by someone else.

For your fishing expeditions, you could always hold your own little get-together within a larger "tournament" or something like that. Then, the responsibility falls on the people that organized the larger event.
 

Angel_Eyez

Participant
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Apr 29, 2006
Messages
78
This will be really useful for my forum. We have a lot of members, but I feel like some of them just aren't as loyal as they once were. I think maybe we've let some of this stuff fall through the cracks.
 

Kelleee88

Participant
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Oct 17, 2005
Messages
54
I enjoyed the article. It's all good advice. I do most of it, but will try to do it better from now on.
 
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