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Thread: Promoting the Cyburbia Forums

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Promoting the Cyburbia Forums

    Quite a few people are visiting the new Cyburbia Forums, considering page views. However, it seems like 10% of the registered members are posting about 90% of the messages on here. There's about 150 members at last count. How many professional planners, planning students and planning educators are out there? There's 30,000 APA members. What about Canada, Mexico and beyond North America? What about those with more than a passing interest in the built environment out there?

    I'm thinking that there could be at least 10,000 folks out there that would be interested in the bulletin board. How do I promote it? I've been on the Internet for more than a decade, and I shold know how toi promote a Web site, but I'm lost. Don't want to spam, of course. "Tell a friend" hasn't worked. An ad in Planning magazine would probably be overlooked. There's not too many planning-related Web sites where I could place an ad banner. I'm considering co-branding, which vBulletin provides the capability of doing (i.e., something like "Center For New Urbanism bulletin boards, powered by Cyburbia", with a distinctive graphic and color scheme if you're visiting from that site), but among the few people I've approached about it, it's gotten a mostly cold reception.

    Thoughts? Ideas?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Promoting the Cyburbia Forums

    Short of paying the search engines big bucks, there is not a lot you can do. The link from APA's web site should get it's members and I don't suppose they would move your link to their main page for a while.

  3. #3
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Actually, Cyburbia is up there on the search engines. Since Cyburbia has been online forever, it was crawled and indexed long before the search engines got the idea of "pay for placement." Cyburbia has been on Yahoo since it was yahoo.stanford.edu, as a matter of fact.

    One thought ... small posters to schools and large planning agencies in the US and Canada.

    For some reason, Cyburbia gets frequent visitors from almost every English speaking country, except the United Kingdom. Maybe it's the planning system in place there. The US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have zoning and planning processes that are fundamentally similar. The UK, on the other hand ... well, you know. How do we get the Brits here?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  4. #4
    maudit anglais
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    I wouldn't be too surprised by the "reaction" or lack thereof - it seems that in most things in life, the majority prefer to just stay in the background and watch rather than do anything themselves. It took me a week or so to work up the courage to post something...

    It does seem that for every planner who takes great care to get involved, debate the issues, etc., there are ten more who are just waiting for the next paycheque to come along. It also seems that the youthful exhuberence factor wears off after a while, and you tend not to get as excited about things as you were when you first graduated...

    As a Canadian of British decent - I'm not sure how you'd get more of either group on board...I'll try to think of something! On that note, I like seeing the geographical locations for all the different users around here.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Dan, if it was me, I'd lobby the APA to run a feature article in their Planning magazine. I'm new to this gig, so perhaps it already has been done. If not, then I'm not sure what you would have to do to get the feature article. A sidebar in that magazine would be a nice 2nd place, but really, that can be easily overlooked by the readers.

    Another thought. Perhaps the Cyburbia forums has plateaued. Only so many people are interested in planning issues, and of that group, only a small portion are regularly connected to the net. And of that group, probably a smaller number view these boards at least once a week. To expand your "customer base," perhaps you need to advertise and/or promote Cyburbia in magazines/forums/publicatons that real estate developers, banking officials, GIS technicians, planning professors, etc read on a regular basis. Maybe you need to go to their trade shows and conventions and set-up a booth. Maybe the Urban Land Institute, ESRI, and similar organizations will host you for a nominal fee. Maybe you need to tailor the content on your site to meet the needs of these specialized constituents. For example, maybe there is a professor or two out there who have some need in their curriculum to discuss issues between two groups that are geographically seperated and need a forum to come together and discuss their project. You could provide a spot for that purpose exclusively on Cyburbia. Along those lines, maybe bankers, developers, builders, local residents, and municipal leaders need a place to discuss their local projects in a semi-anonymous environment and Cyburbia is the perfect forum for them to do it.

    I hope this brainstorm helps. Good luck!

  6. #6
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Another thought. Perhaps the Cyburbia forums has plateaued. Only so many people are interested in planning issues, and of that group, only a small portion are regularly connected to the net. And of that group, probably a smaller number view these boards at least once a week.
    Under the current resource directory backend, really the meat of Cyburbia, the site has plateaued. That's a big reason why I'm moving the server and rebuilding the database with a mySQL back end. (The main page and forums are already on the Urban Insight servers.) The existing directory back end is too slow, doesn't provide for a hierarchical listing, doesn't provide for catrgory moderators, doesn't provide for "editor's choice" type links, and has no dead link checking, among other things. Bad links galore, which are hard to find.

    I'm hoping that a rebuilt Cyburbia resource directory, without the architecture resources (which were never popular), would draw more people to the site. The UB SA&P server is an old Sun, whcih is already under a lot of stress from Cyburbia. Because of security and load concerns, I can't implement more advanced services (such as mailing lists or anything with a mySQL backend) on the UB server.

    BTW, nobody has complained about dropping architecture links.

    To expand your "customer base," perhaps you need to advertise and/or promote Cyburbia in magazines/forums/publicatons that real estate developers, banking officials, GIS technicians, planning professors, etc read on a regular basis. Maybe you need to go to their trade shows and conventions and set-up a booth.
    I'd like to, but considering that I'm working full time, I won't hae the time to convention-hop. When the site has been completely relocated off the UB servers, I plan on a little advertising; it's not going to be an income-generating machine, of course. What little revenue does come in won't pay for a trip and booth at a conference.

    Above all, Cyburbia is a fun endeavor; a hobby of sorts, and a contribution to the planning profession (and UB, for drawing traffic to the school's site.) It's not that I'd make lots of bucks from increased traffic, but rather that the site would become more useful to more people -- more submitted links for the directory, more opinions on the forums.

    Maybe you need to tailor the content on your site to meet the needs of these specialized constituents. For example, maybe there is a professor or two out there who have some need in their curriculum to discuss issues between two groups that are geographically seperated and need a forum to come together and discuss their project. You could provide a spot for that purpose exclusively on Cyburbia.
    Definitely an option -- one that can be implemented right now. vBulletin allows for co-branding -- I can change the logo and color scheme depending on the host site, and I can also change the color scheme for individual subcategory areas. There can also have subcategories within subcategories.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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