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I decided to give the message board another try but this time I'm offering a contest for forum users. After 6 hours of promoting the new message board, I got 15 registered users, 5 topics and 20 posts in 3 forums. This contest is working, but do you guys think it's working as well as it can be? Any suggestions about what other things I can do?
Hoping be useful,
Herenvardö, the Happy Hippie Heviatta (a.k.a. H4)
Since I posted this thread, I now have 45 registered members and almost 700 articles. At this rate, I would be having around 10 new members a day but I'll just say 100 new members everymonth. The prize isn't expensive, only about $100 USD + shipping and I think I can have it every month to attract more members.
I'm very interested in the score system but is there one for phpBB? I'm probably going to need moderators and it's going to be a lot of work if I rate each post myself. Can I have users rate other users post instead?
The contest I run has evolved over the last few years. In the beginning I gave points for posts & replies, telling someone else about the site (using my form), and posting a fishing report (it's a regional fishing site). There were some abusive posts and "tell-a-friend" entries, but it wasn't too bad. The first contest was a straight points contest, the one withthe most wins. I changed it to a lottery type, where members gained lottery entries by taking part in the site, i.e.: 1 post = 1 point, 10 points = 1 lottery entry (I suggest tweaking whatever formula you use to encourage whatever use you want, I wanted more fishing reports so I gave those a weight of 1 report = 1.5 points). The lottery seemed to work better, and was well recieved by the membership. There are always a few members on every site who are on it constantly, and have an insane number of posts, so this gave the others a feeling of "it's a little more fair, and I have a chance".
Contest length... I found that a 45 day (or 6 week) contest was best. It was long enough to do some good on the site without having to gear up for a new contest all the time, and short enough that regular visitors didn't lose interest.
I think to be successful in running a forum, it has to be niche. I know that's almost cliche by now, but I'll give an example based off my experience. My forum is a regional fishing site, focused on one type of fishing. Through the success of my site, I've basically shut down a Yahoo group, and a subforum on a more general fishing related forum (which I hate!). I think the reason that it's important to be targeted in your community is that forums aren't new, there are established forums for everything and anything. You will have a better chance of getting some of their traffic if you focus the theme/concept/focus (didn't I already use that word in this sentenance?) of your forum. If you are successful in THIS aspect, the forum will take care of itself. People will tell others, will find in SE's etc.
I hope some of this makes sense... too lazy to go back and proof read it! ;)