Online Community Building Field Test – Week 3

(If you didn’t read the first post in this series, you really ought to start here)

I was really, really caught up with other issues last week, but even with that, the experiment somehow managed to continue rolling along on it’s own, which honestly is a big surprise to me.

  • The cycling.com server was upgraded to use the Akamai Dynamic Site Accellerator system, which has greatly increased page rendering speeds.  It’s not something a user would generally notice, but a fast site helps to create a good customer opinion.
  • We’ve had three User Generated Articles uploaded, and I’ve got one which is quite good live on the homepage right now.  This was unexpected at this stage, and is very exciting.
  • Since the little experiment started, we’ve registered 87 new users.  That is about as many as had registered in the previous 4 months.  The registration pace appears to be accellerating.
  • The forums aren’t really being used.
  • We haven’t had any impact on the Google Analytics – currently  traffic is somewhat static.

Next steps

  • I’m not the right person to really build that site.  My theory has always been that to really build niche media you need some credibility in the field.  While I’ve got that in the Saltwater Fly Fishing space, I don’t have that in the Cycling space.
  • It’s time to develop a plan to start engaging users.  A newsletter to subscribers recapping Olympics coverage, and outlining a plan for the next month might be the ticket.
  • The site needs a real moderator.  Someone who is at home wearing lycra and talking about biking issues.

There are a few other things I’d do if I had the time, on a system level.

  • We stupidly didn’t build an email alert into the system to warn us when a new bit of user content was uploaded, such as an article.
  • BBpress needs to be removed and replaced with a more full featured forum package.  Maybe it’s just me and my vBulletin snobbery, but I find that system doesn’t meet my minimal expectations for functionality.

The total time commitment I put in last week was virtually nill.  I honestly was thinking that I was going to have to admit that I wasn’t going to be able to have an impact.  Now I’m reinvigorated, even though the time constraints I face are still a huge impediment.