Meta Question

augustlan's avatar

How can Fluther attract new members? Will you help?

Asked by augustlan (46646 points ) November 29th, 2012

Fluther used to be the number one “hit” for quite a few search terms on Google, leading many new members our way. Ever since Google changed its search algorithm and removed our site from the first page of search results, membership numbers have been declining steadily.

New members are the lifeblood of our community, and we need to attract more of them! Understandably, many jellies are reluctant to share the site with their friends and relatives, since anonymity is an important component of their participation here. Surely there are ways we can all get the word out about how great Fluther can be, without sacrificing that anonymity, right?

Can you suggest creative (and preferably free) ways to market the site? Let’s brainstorm, jellies!

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

49 Answers

augustlan's avatar

One idea I had was to make a flyer available for members to print and post in likely places. Say, college dorm bulletin boards?

cookieman's avatar

@augustlan: I’d be happy to design it and make it available as a hi-res PDF.

Perhaps brainstorm what you’d like it to say.

DrBill's avatar

The people on facebook or twitter could post a link, and invite friends.

cookieman's avatar

@DrBill: Yes, but that would be at a loss of anonymity. Might be tough to find any takers on that strategy.

DrBill's avatar

I would do it, so there is the first taker.

Unbroken's avatar

I would put up flyer’s as well. I have liked fluther on facebook but since I know most of the people on my page I don’t want to do more then that.

augustlan's avatar

That would be lovely, @cookieman! We can work on the wording/logos here. I have high quality logo art.

@DrBill Yes, for anyone NOT worried about the anonymity, that is a great idea. Thanks!

Unbroken's avatar

Oh what if we had fluther cards like business cards. We could pass them around to people we enjoyed conversation with on planes or in unlikely places or traveling.

augustlan's avatar

@rosehips That’s what I do with my Fluther business cards, haha! Anyone I find interesting to talk to, I give them one. :)

wundayatta's avatar

If people have anonymous blogs or participate on other Q&A sites or any news sites, it would be nice if we could have one of those link bugs (I don’t know the proper term) so we could put it into a footer on any post there. We should also talk it up wherever we go. Like one a month or something.

We might think of other free places to advertise. We want places like Craigslist, only more appropriate. But if we could generate a list of such places—like if there were a file here that we could all add onto to, and then click through whenever we want to put up little posts that include ads whenever we had the time or energy, that kind of activity would surely generate curiosity and hits.

JLeslie's avatar

Is there any money available for advertising? I think on facebook you only pay if someone clicks on your ad, and that click leads them right to your site. But, I am not sure that is how facebook ads work, it’s just what I have been told.

Has anyone tried sending links to cable and network talking heads like Joe Scarborough, the ladies at The View, Rachel Maddow, Ricki Lake, etc.

Brian1946's avatar

How about I create some more accounts? The resultant manifestations of my multiple-personality disorder should really revitalize this site, although the effects of said revitalization could be catastrophic. ;-)

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

The single biggest reason I stayed here when I joined was established members with high point totals PM’d me and were friendly. I think if the established members did this with new folks it may go a long way to encouraging newcomers to stay after a transient question or two.

bookish1's avatar

Ditto what @Imadethisupwithnoforethought said!

And I would be down for placing posters all around this college town! I used to be a Mad Poster Bandit.

I am not the most practical, market-oriented jelly but I will keep thinking on it.

JLeslie's avatar

Giving out some t-shirts also. Maybe to the newspaper staff at schools? You might get a free mention in the paper.

ETpro's avatar

I really like @JLeslie‘s suggestion about inviting media mavens in.

I share all posts except NSFW ones on Facebook and Twitter. The share check-box for Facebook no longer seems to work. Fixing that would be a worthwhile endeavor.

Sunny2's avatar

I like the idea of business sized cards to leave in waiting rooms of all kinds, libraries, schools, etc. Anywhere people congregate. Perhaps with a slogan that might pique someone’s interest.

Symbeline's avatar

Ever since Google changed its search algorithm and removed our site from the first page of search results, membership numbers have been declining steadily.

Personally I think that might be part of the problem. I certainly like the whole word of mouth idea, (which is how I myself found it, might I add) but how much does that really help on the long term? Say I distribute one thousand posters or cards, out of everyone who sees them, maybe 200 will consider checking it out, and the people who do end up checking, and those who join and stay, will be much, much lower.
Just a rough example, seriously I have no idea what I’m basing these estimates on. Just saying that since Fluther is an Internet thing, the best way to advertise it is, indeed, on the Internet. We can all do it on our Facebooks and Twitters and blogs and whatever. How do I advertise this on FB? And how do I make it permanent on my page so that it’s always in your face, every single day? Because what is true for college billboards is as true for online, if it doesn’t stay there/isn’t readily visible for more than two months.
I don’t think we need to tweak Fluther itself at all, but I think we do gotta find some means to get it out onto the interwoven where it’s more visible, en masse, and constant. Should I go slash some throats over at the Google department? Cuz I can do that. you know just sayin

ETpro's avatar

@Symbeline That’s why social media and online forums are so powerful. There, while the same low percentages apply to the first dissemination of invitations, those that respond invite others and the movement can snowball. It’s next to impossible to get that snowball effect with dead tree advertising.

Fly's avatar

I did a little Googling (sorry for fraternizing with the enemy) and found a few suggestions:
– Join forums and put a link in your signature
– Post reviews on other websites, leave your URL
– Join social bookmarking sites and bookmark your URLs (Digg.com, StumbleUpon.com, etc)
-Raise awareness to an event or public concern
-Answer questions on Yahoo! Answers and Google Groups and link to your site
-Comment on other blogs, ensuring that the comments are insightful and interesting. This will bring your blog/site to the attention of the blogger and the readers of the blog.
-Ask members who are bloggers to link to your site/blog about your site
-Obtain and carry out an engaging and interesting interview. (We used to do interviews much more often. Perhaps interview some of our more established members who aren’t as concerned about anonymity?)
– Launch a petition about something that people really care about – high fuel prices for example.
-Do something controversial. (Vague, but a good point.)
-See who is linking to your competitors – they may also be receptive to linking to you. (They suggest using this link analysis tool)

Sources:
http://voices.yahoo.com/52-almost-free-website-advertising-ideas-126065.html
http://www.marketingminefield.co.uk/10-ways-to-promote-business-for-free/
http://www.marketingminefield.co.uk/50-link-building-ideas/

I also came up with two ideas of my own.

Join other similar websites/forums and link to your Fluther profile in your profile or tell people who would be good candidates about the site. Remember the Great Answerbag Exodus? While we can’t expect such drastic results, word of mouth through similar sites is very effective.

And as much as I hate to say it, I think Twitter is a resource that is not being used to its full potential. I am not personally a fan of Twitter and I have not gotten an account, but the fact of the matter is that Twitter is a major social networking tool that could really increase site traffic. At the moment, the Twitter account is mainly targeted to people who are already users, which is really pointless overall. However, If the Fluther Twitter account was generating regular and interesting Tweets that get retweeted, following other people and getting follows in return, etc., I think the Twitter account could significantly improve site traffic. The content does not all need to be immediately related to the site, it just needs to draw attention to the account through gaining followers, and then ultimately to the site. Once the account starts to get a following, announce another t-shirt contest or other giveaway; then lather, rinse, repeat. This website offers some additional social networking options.

cookieman's avatar

-Do something controversial. (Vague, but a good point.)

Fine. I will sleep with Dr. J. too.

zensky's avatar

I have read the suggestions above and cannot offer anything new. But I would like to add a personal note – which may or may not have to do with the OP’s question.

I’ve been here for several years now. I have tried to maintain anonymity both for the obvious reasons and because of my nature/character.

Lately, that is, since the big 1–0, I have not only settled in to this account and not deleted it – but I have also asked and answered far fewer questions and posts – contributing very little and spending mere minutes to hours here a week. When I used to practically live here – even chat here.

This is only my concern, of course, but it has a certain connection to the OP’s concern. I have decided to take a step back from negative responses (in the most part) and try to encourage newbies (however ridiculous and stupid their initial questions and posts may be) to stick around.

Like many old-timers here, I would love for things to always stay the same – not enjoying change much anyway.

But a little cigar-smoked filled club room, with a few overweight and balding members is fun – only to them. I am taking a step back in order for the newer jellies to step up.

I’ll be lurking though.

CardAngel's avatar

This may be a small and simple idea, but Fluther isn’t on Wikipedia’s list of question & answer sites. Maybe the people in charge here think it would be a good idea to add us to the list?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_question-and-answer_websites

I don’t know if it is a good idea or not. I’ve had no confidence in myself for years.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s great to come up with ideas, but where the rubber hits the road is in execution. Perhaps if we had a centralized list of actions people can take to help fluther, and they can sign up and commit to doing them, and then follow through, posting a post or link when they have done something. Also post comments on how it went—any feedback they get.

We could have a second post which has the best experiences laid out so they are easy to read in a short period of time, so people who are interested in helping can learn quickly. We’d probably need an editor for this board.

We could potentially tie this into the award system, offering people awards for various kinds of actions. And if this resulted in new membership and increased ad revenues, we might even be able to afford to give away t-shirts or something to people who are responsible for a improving our linkage in a significant way.

Indeed, if it works, we could offer a set of apparel options. Maybe a new design each year, and a special hat that the most active people can get. Of course, these items could be available for sale, as well.

Do we have a store? I think we do, but I never go there. Still, if the merchandise was updated regularly, I might go more often.

But this leads me to think that there are a lot of creative people here. We might want to have a store where people can put their stuff on consignment, so to speak. We can market to each other and fluther gets a share of each sale. We can discuss items and link to the wider world, as well. This might be a way to leverage the community in a commercial, but not overly obnoxious way. Indeed, even writers and others with less tangible goods might have “market” space in which to display their “wares”—stories and poems and songs and whatnot. There are a number of musicians here. What if we put our tunes up here?

I know that it would be a whole new program to set up a way of displaying and selling things, but it’s also a whole different model (I think) for leveraging social networking. More like barter than advertising. Most social networks use advertising, but in this case we would be using our reputations and sharing market space with fluther, hopefully to mutual benefit.

To make it work, we’d need permission from the owners, and we’d need programmers to program, and be willing to program for a return down the line, based on potential sales (i.e., for love of fluther), and we’d have to be willing to put our stuff up here, and there would probably be legal issues. A lot of stuff to do.

Well, I’ll throw that out there and let it percolate.

FutureMemory's avatar

@CardAngel I’ve often wondered why Fluther doesn’t have an entry on Wikipedia. I asked Augustlan once, but I don’t remember what her response was. I think it would be a worthwhile endeavor to try to get us listed on that site.

ucme's avatar

All those poor suckers jellies with fluther tee-shirts should stand in the background on local news bulletins pointing frantically at Dr.J whilst mouthing the words “come hither to fluther!”

Yeahright's avatar

Perhaps attention should be focused not only on how to attract new members, but rather on how to keep those new members that come and don’t stick around because they don’t feel welcomed here because mods let a lot of abuse to new members (and to some of the old too) go by and protect the abusers and not the victims. Until Fluther (so not to name names) doesn’t clean its own act, new and/or incidental members, or even those who stop by out of curiosity won’t stick around.

augustlan's avatar

We’ve tried repeatedly to get an entry in Wikipedia, but they won’t take us. I have no clue why, when there are all sorts of other Q&A sites on there.

@Yeahright If it’s against our guidelines, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a new member or old, we take care of it (so long as we’re aware of it).

jrpowell's avatar

The place seems abandoned. One of the things I liked about Fluther is that Ben or Andrew were around and accessible. Andrew hasn’t visited the site in over a month. Ben visits daily but never says anything. It kinda feels like you are squatting and hoping they don’t come home and call the police.

Remember the TownHall we had in the chatroom with Ben and Andrew to discuss how things were going with the site and what we would like to see? There were thirty people in there asking about the site and offering suggestions and we were getting feedback.

If they don’t care anymore I am not sure why I should.

There is no emotional attachment. It feels like once server cost > ad revenue they will pull the plug.

Symbeline's avatar

@augustlan Never thought of that but…defuuuuqq? Why won’t Wiki take us?? I thought it took everything, and was made by everyday people, so long as the article is neat, true and provides links…that would be good to get our asses up in there, but I wonder how come they don’t want a Fluther entry? Who decides this shit? We’re not lepers, dammit.

Unbroken's avatar

This is beginning to have feel of a Dr Seuss story.

Anyone else get that vibe?

fremen_warrior's avatar

Not sure more users is a good thing. Look at what happened to StumbleUpon – used to be a place where great people met, exchanged ideas, links, now it’s just a link warehouse with the social part completely cut out, because the owners decided it would be “better” this way.

Stumbleuopn is dead because it gained popularity i.e. started looking profitable.

wildpotato's avatar

Wikipedia ain’t gonna happen. See their discussion page. Older members no longer active (PnL, eponymoushipster, phoenyx) worked on this for a while, but nothing came of it.

I’ll put up some posters if someone makes them. I think guerrilla advertising would be more effective, like some spray-stencils of Dr. J in strategic locations. Or sticker-bombing, with some of the more interesting Qs of the Day on the stickers and the site name at the bottom.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I’ve just been lurking on this one, and there are a lot of great suggestions!

cookieman's avatar

Brainstorming some tag lines for a Fluther flyer:

Life is Full of Questions
Let Us Help You with the Answers
Fluther
A community of caring, intelligent jellies.
————-
Fluther. A community of people dedicated to helping each other with life’s questions.
————-
Fluther. Questions answered. Life simplified.
————-
Red pen please. Any other ideas?

(Also, once we get a flyer settled on, I could also make some web ads/graphics, and HTML eMail, etc.)

Fly's avatar

@cookieman The first one is definitely my favorite of the group!

cookieman's avatar

@Fly: Great. Thank you.

Anyone else want to chime in?

chyna's avatar

@cookieman I like all 3! But probably if I had to choose, I’d choose the third one. No wait, the first one.
No wait, the second one.
I like all of them!

augustlan's avatar

Our official tag line is “tap the collective”, which is pretty vague without context. On the blog, this is what we’ve got for “what is Fluther”:

“Fluther is a free Q&A collective that specializes in getting
fast answers from the right people.”

———————————————————

Maybe something like, “You’ve got questions; we’ve got answers. Tap the collective!”

ETpro's avatar

@augustlan That’s good. It both touches a current nerve and is easy to comprehend.

Fly's avatar

Just thought of this: maybe make a fun/interesting but informational Youtube video that gives a short explanation of what Fluther is all about (almost like a commercial, but free) and have members share it wherever and with whoever they can think of.

bookish1's avatar

@cookieman: I like #1 and #3 the best. @augustlan‘s idea is great too. @Fly has a good idea as well. Then people could link to the video on their Facebooks.

I keep thinking about what @johnpowell said about how it feels like we are squatting and it makes me sad. I really would not want to see this place disappear :-/

cookieman's avatar

@augustlan: As you are dominatrix supreme, community manager, I’m happy to go with your suggestion. Although, I always felt “tap the collective” was slightly dirty.

Can you send me along the hi-res graphics you may have? I’ll PM you my eMail.

bossob's avatar

I would suggest a two-pronged effort. First, they need to find the place. There’s plenty of ideas above about advertising. Second, after lurking for a while, folks need to feel comfortable enough to post. Those lurking folks who are shy, thin-skinned, embarrassed, nervous, first-timers to a forum, insecure, or reserved, sometimes need a stiff drink or two before they can have fun at a party. They’re just as smart, witty, and funny as anyone, but they need to be reassured that their contributions are welcomed and needed.

I’m familiar with forums, but when I found this place accidentally, at first I wasn’t positive if it was a forum, or what its purpose was, and I’m still getting a feel for what’s kosher and what’s not, and who wouldn’t mind if I copped a feel! OK, so I’m getting an idea what I can get away with!

Here are a couple random ideas. I don’t know if they’ve been tried before and abandoned, or what the capabilities of the software are, but I’m thinking ‘ice-breakers’. I don’t know what the ‘General’, ‘Social’, or ‘Just For You’ areas are called; categories? forums? tab? Whatever; what if there was one called ‘Introduce Yourself’. It would be a safe place for a newbie to post where they can see they that they are guaranteed to be welcomed with open arms. Or have a similar place where there is a list of questions, that lurkers can find, that invites them to answer a question of their choice as a first post. People gain confidence when they are able to speak about something they are familiar with, enjoy, or are passionate about, and, when their words are well-received, it encourages them to talk more.

What if there was area that could only be seen by someone who is logged in? An area that has a bit of a teaser name or subject, but the contents can’t be read while lurking, that would entice somebody to join in order to log-in and see it? Then pounce on them when they register!

I’m all for welcoming-type auto-replies when somebody registers, but…AA has sponsors, professionals have mentors, high school students are big brothers and sisters to grade school kids…could Fluther have Veteran Jellies for Newbie Jellies? Could there be active members, not necessarily management, who could grab a tentacle of the newbie and make sure that they get fed and their drink doesn’t run dry for a while? A host who makes the newcomer at a party feel at ease?

I think I read somewhere that the ‘Social’ area is new? Is the idea working? Sometimes, having a handful of areas with specific content is more appealing to someone who doesn’t want to spend the time scanning all the topics in a ‘General’ list. Occasionally, that does create extra work for the mods, and the decision about what area a topic should be in can be subjective, but it’s not really a big deal. The advantage is the convenience to the member.

I’m still a noob, and I’m just throwing out ideas; I have no idea if any of them are feasible for Fluther.

augustlan's avatar

Just a little update: Our site traffic has grown by at least 15% this month. We think we may have finally figured out what the Google issue was, and have fixed it. (It seems to have been the NSFW questions, oddly enough. We’ve ‘deindexed’ them, so they won’t show up on Google.) Hoping the climb continues!

glacial's avatar

@augustlan That’s great news!

bookish1's avatar

@augustlan: Huzzah! I had definitely noticed the increase!

HolographicUniverse's avatar

I am a month late, sadly

My answer would have been fix the google bug, google is the biggest avenue for attracting new members, as well as other known and lesser known search engine. Great that you fixed this for traffic purposes

The second issue is that the methods use to attract new members contrast with what we are about here at fluther. Us as members are different from the users who are attracted to competition, the techniques used through simplicity and social media would attract members that would not find fluther appealing. We are not a social media driven site thus to spike numbers we would have to sacrifice the high standards we hold right now, at least in my opinion.

I would say find key spots to advertise to attract more members unless you want to change our format and make this site more media driven

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