Here are my suggestions of what is needed to be done in regards to promoting any IRC network worthwhile. The main thing about promotion, is that its all about simplicity, yet some networks forget the simple things, by being too bogged town in technical mumbo jumbo that the average internet chatter is not going to understand or really care about. People are more attracted by interesting web design and originality.
In November 2002, a survey was created by me to analyse users on the network Centralchat. The results were astounding and proved to me and those who saw the report what the network was missing. A vast majority used the word ‘community’ often and it seems this word needs a proper meaning amongst IRC networks. However the more interesting point was what attracted them to this network in the first place. The answer for almost 85% of them was not about the technology or the website, but its main source of interest… Harry Potter!
However Harry Potter can only settle the users into a community, what keeps them there and interested? The biggest problem with this network in particular is that it hasn’t move with the times, there is little new things happening, and the users have felt excluded by its hierarchy. Where we can fault existing networks is perhaps where we can reflect on our own. You can point out problems in other networks, but instead of mocking the network, use this information to help improve your network and make the word ‘community’ exist.
The biggest problem at the moment is that there are a vast majority of IRC networks out there that are full of the same people, with a maximum of 20 users on it not doing much to promote and improve their network. Why? Because promotion is an effort, and perhaps in the past there has been a lazy approach to it, to the point that no promoting has been done at all, let alone improvements to the network.
Another huge problem is the samelyness of these networks. Even their websites have the same layout (a column either side full of links to other pages, latest news in the middle and the title on the top). Perhaps changing this format of layout could make the slightest difference to the attraction, especially for those who are caught in this ring of networks that everyone else is from and sees the same layout every time, just different information!
So with all that in mind, and the need to create the community aspect of your network, what can we do to promote your product? This has to be something you believe in, without believe, your network will become another ring of dead end networks with the same people on it as the next network. You need to be passionate, and have passionate staff that are willing to put the effort in just as much as you are. That staff base is the first strength of your network and they all need to be friendly, active, and hard working. There is no room for an idle staff member, don’t keep them because you feel sorry for them!
1. The simplest form of promotion is word of mouth. You need to encourage current users to bring their friends on here and then their friends will bring their friends etc. How do you do that? Well we could set up some kind of competitive edge to it, such as the way companies get their employers to sign people up to loyalty cards by giving them bonuses for the more given out. Perhaps setting up a competition to get more users on here through other users will be good? Maybe setting up a competition, so whoever gets the most users on to the network in a certain space of time gets some form of recognition for it, a worthwhile recognition so that person will be happy too, even if it’s something simple like ‘user of the month’.
Also, you need to give your word of mouth, invite people to this network with all the enthusiasm you have for it. Explain why this network is different and what the aims are to improve it. Perhaps get feedback from your current users on what can be improved.
The other version of word of mouth is ‘looting’ users from other networks. Is this fair? Well pretty much every network does it, and they will do it to you. So why not get in there first? Make friends with people on these other servers and coax them across to your network. You’ll be impressed with how many will join and who they bring with them.
2. The second simple way is you advertising yourselves. A few people can make many banners and buttons, which can be used not only for affiliates, but to paste in livejournals, other forums and places we can advertise for free. Affiliate with other IRC networks, and make them place these buttons in there. You’ll find people who love making these kind of things and they’ll probably come out with some really pretty and attractive images. The more choice of these there are, the more likely people will use them. When you find websites you hopefully can provide your services for, make sure they have these advertisements on their website, people do click on them!
3. You almost defiantly need scouts set up to spend time surfing the net looking for potential websites that could benefit from your services. To do this, you need the admin team to clearly define all the services you offer, and for the scouts to know what these are. All potential sites could then be contacted and offered our services, hopefully bringing in users that way too. These scouts need to be harder working and be able to approach the website owners with a polite attitude and confidence. They will perhaps need some form of training to assure they are looking in the right places for the websites (in other words, perhaps their friend little geocities page can just be asked as a friend, but a big potential themed website might need a more professional approach.).
4. The team of promoters and staff involved should meet up and discuss ideas on furthering promotion on a regular basis, say once a month. I know meetings can be awkward due to time zones, so perhaps forum discussions could work better? However, every member of that team needs to have tabs kept on them for what they’re doing to promote your network. There is no point having anyone not doing anything because they are not helping!
5. You can set up and think of more ways to make your network more exciting and appealing to your target audience. Fair enough you probably already offer some good things, but could you offer anything more? What appeals? You need someone to find out these things, you need to seek what users want, and use that information to help them get it. Giving users what they want to an extent will reassure them staying on your network. For promotion is not just about getting more users, you have to keep your current ones happy too. It’s no easy task, but the main step is listening and taking action on what you hear.
Well there is some for now, I don't know what people think to this, and if I’m taking over your promotion already then forgive me, and I am just delivering my ‘words of the wise’. But I can assure you that after all the research and knowledge my IRC existence has given me, I know theoretically what will and won’t work. Although this document is not fool proof, it is a good set of guidelines for any promotion team and I hope that this will work for you and your network.
Just remember, you are aiming for a COMMUNITY. If you don’t know the meaning of this word, your network will instantly fail. People like to feel a part of something, don’t deny them that feeling.
Anyhow, toodle pip, I shall leave this to be discussed. If you need anything else, whether a chat with me or some more ideas, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
Genuine good girl.
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THE REAL BECCALICIOUS!