Starting a local BBS


Nov 4, 2004
mtrac submitted a new Article:

Starting a local BBS


I started a BBS focused on my town 8 months ago. It's growing slowly but surely. Here's a few things I've picked up. Some are applicable to all sites. Also, while many may be obvious to you, they weren't to me.

Ask yourself, what do you bring to the table?

Reality check time. If your area is already served by one or more well-entrenched boards, you should think long and hard about proceeding. Basically, what will you offer that your competitors don't?

The main problem with local boards is you're drawing from a very small segment: current and interested former residents who are willing and able to make a local BBS part of their routine. Basically, show up regularly, read, and post. I don't think that's even one percent of the population. Realistically, a lof of the people you'd most like to have as members have busy lives and do most of their interaction either on the phone or face-to-face or both. Politicians will show up eventually, though, if they see voters to be swayed or untruths to be corrected. :rolleyes:

You need a core group or your board will look, and eventually be, dead. There are two places to find them: at your competitors, or out on the street, so to speak. The vast majority of them are already at your competitor. Concentrate on the them. If you can find a niche and bring in people who aren't using any board, more power to you.

Don't assume that if you build it, they will come

Let's say you've proceeded and built a good looking, functional board with a lot of content and user-friendly policies. Meanwhile, your competitor's software dates from the Clinton administration and he lies awake at night thinking of ways to antagonize users.

I hate to tell you this, but unless you can get a core right away you will need to persevere for many months. No one likes a little-used board, no matter how good it is. My former employer's marketing guy tried to help me get a buzz at startup, but we couldn't.

BTW, the reason your competitor runs his board like he does is because he can. In the years he's had his board, a bunch of would-be challengers have come and gone, and he figures you will, too. So do his users. You will get even with him by spamming his users, especially the newest ones who will be most receptive to your pitch.

KISS (Keep it simple, stupid)

Don't look at popular topics of conversation and build your board with a place for everything and everything in its place....

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