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Idea to boost engagement and retention


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Hey

 

As the title states, I have some ideas to help grow the site activity faster than it is currently growing (about 2% per week).

 

There are numerous factors that help forums grow, that help music sites grow:

 

  • New visitors
  • Returning visitors
  • new members
  • referrals (recommend membership of our site to others)
  • longer visits
  • more pages viewed,
  • more new topics
  • more trending new topics
  • more replies
  • more useful, on-topic replies
  • more new songs posted

 

Harder to measure are things like:

 

  • A friendly, welcoming environment
  • A supportive environment
  • A knowledgable membership
  • A motivated membership
  • A membership with compatible mindsets
  • A site + community that delivers good value
  • A useful site / essential resource

 

Some of the above are outside the scope of this post (though undoubtedly this topic may affect long term outcomes). What I thought to do was to see if I could encourage any members to join me in trying some initiatives to improve the experience of members (particularly new members) and the value Songstuff represents to members. Some may see us nudging the dials directly. Others may gradually effect some change, for example effecting a culture change. For this we could try initiatives to improve our critique boards, improving the quality and standard of replies with post templates, or by agreeing a minimum content and leading by example (easier if several sign up to this initiative), or changing rules around the ratio of songs you critique versus the songs you get critiqued, or member self policing to encourage more posting.

 

My point is, my fellow members, that we can effect positive change on this site activity, content, growth and engagement. The staff work on this stuff all the time…. among the many things we do to keep Songstuff ticking over. Still, If even a few members would be willing to help (or even visitors who simply share content on their sites, blogs, socials etc) then we can multiply how quickly our site will grow and just how truly useful this site can be for visitors and members alike.

 

Some ideas may be one off experiments, others regular activities, or ongoing activities.

 

I am open to gamifying it.

 

For example:


A 24 hour challenge

You must enter into the spirit of the contest. If you game the system you will be disqualified 

A challenge for members to start new topics. 5 points for each topic, bonus 50 points for every 5th topic If they are on different boards.

->Only new topics on different boards will count towards the 50 point bonus. Ie 5 topics on 2 boards counts as 2 
->If each topic is about a different, unrelated subject you get a bonus 10 points per topic
If the original post in the new topic is at least 50 words, you get 10 bonus points

If the original post in your topic contains an on-topic link to Songstuff content, you get 10 bonus points

 

Total up your own points

Post links to your topics in reply to this challenge topic

Staff will check the tally of the person with the highest point count

 

If that person’s tally is correct, they win release support for their next song release (or the nominated release of another). This includes:

 

An interview on Songstuff

First play song in a Songstuff playlist

Release process guidance

Help with your bio, press kit, and press release

 

 

 

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Anyone? Interaction is key to the success of the community and the site overall. (Thanks for likes so far!)

 

If this is not for you, I’d like to hear that too. It’s all useful when it comes to making plans to improve. :)
 

@Mahesh
@Peggy

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I gave this a 'like' because I dig the idea! Thought unfortunately I didn't have enough time to reply at the time 😅

 

I think that the direction itself (i.e incentivizing people) is a good route to take, though there are a few thing's i'd like to point out about the challenge which I think could either pose an issue, or potentially hinder participation.

 

The point system is cool, but if somebody happened to have prepared relevant content in advance (i.e content meant for release in various places), with a few minor tweaking, wouldn't they be able to copy-paste their way to victory? Maybe I'm getting this wrong, though if that tactic is combined with a single person or group dedicating an hour or two souly with the intention of scoring as much points as possible, then they may even win by default, due to them possibly being among of the few people who might be really going at it. I can come up with more ways, or maybe I'm over thinking it, but you get the idea.

 

Another issue I think is that the time frame is too short, while the prize itself is too big. I mean, those are fantastic offers and they open a lot of doors. Though, I dunno. Maybe its just me, but if I were to offer services off of my own dime/time, I would come up with a challenge that takes longer then 24 hours. I would have also placed the contest/submission itself in a place where it is more visible on the site, in addition to tagging specific people of interest.

 

In fact, I would have even altered the challenge itself into more of a group activity. I mean, this is a community, and I think there would be value in tapping into that. Just my opinion of course.

Edited by VoiceEx
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3 hours ago, VoiceEx said:

I gave this a 'like' because I dig the idea! Thought unfortunately I didn't have enough time to reply at the time 😅

 

I think that the direction itself (i.e incentivizing people) is a good route to take, though there are a few thing's i'd like to point out about the challenge which I think could either pose an issue, or potentially hinder participation.

 

The point system is cool, but if somebody happened to have prepared relevant content in advance (i.e content meant for release in various places), with a few minor tweaking, wouldn't they be able to copy-paste their way to victory? Maybe I'm getting this wrong, though if that tactic is combined with a single person or group dedicating an hour or two souly with the intention of scoring as much points as possible, then they may even win by default, due to them possibly being among of the few people who might be really going at it. I can come up with more ways, or maybe I'm over thinking it, but you get the idea.

 

Another issue I think is that the time frame is too short, while the prize itself is too big. I mean, those are fantastic offers and they open a lot of doors. Though, I dunno. Maybe its just me, but if I were to offer services off of my own dime/time, I would come up with a challenge that takes longer then 24 hours. I would have also placed the contest/submission itself in a place where it is more visible on the site, in addition to tagging specific people of interest.

 

In fact, I would have even altered the challenge itself into more of a group activity. I mean, this is a community, and I think there would be value in tapping into that. Just my opinion of course.


All good points.

 

Just to be clear this topic isn’t a challenge. The example within it is only intended as an illustration. The idea is overall challenges, time periods, tasks, rewards will all change. While members may know a challenge is due they won’t know any of the details or even the challenge type.
 

One point to highlight is the “spirit of the rules”. If gaming the system is suspected… then disqualification beckons.

 

We do want to make it fair. We will be looking for suggestions of contests, anti-cheat methods, prizes etc. If for example copy/paste was an issue, then 500 word posts posted 2 minutes apart might be a give away. If people are prepared it certainly becomes a bit tougher.

 

I like the idea of groups. Perhaps declared groups ie teams of 3 or 5 or 10, where you declare your team before the challenge is declared, then teams are frozen pre-go. Group points would then work. We can think on suitable prizes.

 

I know the example prize is big, I was just spitballing potential reward components. Not that the size of reward wouldn’t happen, but the tasks might be different.

 

Ideas for contest kinds would include 24 hour, weekly, 2 weekly and monthly tasks. It could be focused on topics, comments, posting so many times each day, each week, two weeks or month, it could include optional content or fixed content, optional tasks, fixed tasks, using site features, critique that the writer has to ‘like’, off-site tasks like social likes, comments, shares, including site promotion, even previous winner’s music promotion. The gloves are off. :)

 

Oh and the challenges will happen on a dedicated challenge board. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Though I am not such a member, I do believe other members here do more creative works than just write a song or write song lyrics, or record music and music videos.  I for one would like the Showcase to be opened up to let members post their other works of art to share without looking for a critique - their paintings, poetry, photographs, non-music videos, short stories, pottery, jewelry, candles, and other fine arts and creative "stuff."  But please, for the love of god, ban slide shows of family vacations!  Those might give me bad flashbacks of being forced to sit through my dad's boring slideshows as a kid. :)

 

David

Edited by HoboSage
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Showcase is not meant to be used for critique, it’s for showcasing! It’s not a sub-board of the critique category. :)

 

Being fair, the fault tends to be with the people leaving critique style comments on that board… and I’ve had more than a few members complaining about that kind of comment being left on a showcase topic. Imagine selling your house and someone stands at the door handing out leaflets pointing out all the faults and highlighting what you could have done better! Same deal. Artists just want people to say “that’s great” or “love it!” Etc. If you don’t like it or feel like commenting on things you see as faults… don’t reply. If they had a critique post for the song, post it there. Otherwise PM them or keep it to yourself!

 

As for things other than songs, an interesting idea. You can showcase your lyrics there, but video, art, photos etc. would seem like a good idea too.

 

Family vacation photos, baby photos and home DIY projects… can we not put that down as a special notification FAO Hobosage? ;)

 

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Its bizarre how much work it is to engage musicians and songwriters.  There aren't THAT MANY forums out there, and yet they all seem deserted. At the same time, I can kind of see why. Artists tend to be quite insular, particularly if they are looking to be individual.  Many are introverted, and self-deprecating, but at the same time, self-centred. My, what a combination. It's no wonder that the boards are dead. 

 

I've had difficulties engaging on SongStuff. I mean I have co-written six songs with three SongStuff members over the last six months, and I'm currently working on two more, but my forum contributions have been pretty lacking, I'll admit. I've been criticized for not contributing enough to the forums (bizarrely, on a thread that mostly consisted of a back and forth between me and the OP on music theory). I won't lie. That really put me off SongStuff. Made me pretty annoyed at the time too. I came here to help me learn more about writing lyrics. I've been a musician for a long time, but I don't have the ability to critique lyrics for example, and my own niche interests in musical genres leaves me with very little musical knowledge in other genres.

 

We all have our personalities, our own stuff to deal with, our own knowledge and ability to help others, and our own limitations on time that we can use to contribute to the community. You get out what you put in, no question, but for many, you just can't do it all or what you wish you could.

 

I've seen this struggle on audio and song-writing forums since the start of the century.

 

I realize this post doesn't help the thread, but it might at least give a perspective that you might not be totally aware of.

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17 hours ago, MisterB said:

Its bizarre how much work it is to engage musicians and songwriters.  There aren't THAT MANY forums out there, and yet they all seem deserted. At the same time, I can kind of see why. Artists tend to be quite insular, particularly if they are looking to be individual.  Many are introverted, and self-deprecating, but at the same time, self-centred. My, what a combination. It's no wonder that the boards are dead. 

 

I've had difficulties engaging on SongStuff. I mean I have co-written six songs with three SongStuff members over the last six months, and I'm currently working on two more, but my forum contributions have been pretty lacking, I'll admit. I've been criticized for not contributing enough to the forums (bizarrely, on a thread that mostly consisted of a back and forth between me and the OP on music theory). I won't lie. That really put me off SongStuff. Made me pretty annoyed at the time too. I came here to help me learn more about writing lyrics. I've been a musician for a long time, but I don't have the ability to critique lyrics for example, and my own niche interests in musical genres leaves me with very little musical knowledge in other genres.

 

We all have our personalities, our own stuff to deal with, our own knowledge and ability to help others, and our own limitations on time that we can use to contribute to the community. You get out what you put in, no question, but for many, you just can't do it all or what you wish you could.

 

I've seen this struggle on audio and song-writing forums since the start of the century.

 

I realize this post doesn't help the thread, but it might at least give a perspective that you might not be totally aware of.


Thanks MisterB!

 

Sadly we can’t monitor or control every conversation, and it would be a very stifled environment if we did. Internet communities are like any other community. People are people and all that implies.

 

Forums in general used to be much, much busier. Pound for pound forums are still the best platform for in-industry conversations, you know, lyricist to composer, producer to musician etc. Feature wise they beat most social media hands down, because threaded discussions and topic categories are a great way to explore and connect.

 

The trouble is, that just like the rest of the world, a lot of musicians and writers and producers moved over to Facebook, Twitter etc. As it turns out a lot of social media is great for reaching out, but it is all very much in the now in largely one large shared platform. What artists, producers etc don’t realise is that while they see the advantages in reaching new people, they struggle to do so AND they undermine themselves, all the time.

 

Let me explain.

 

Artists, musicians, writers etc tend to use their Twitter and Facebook as a big sharing space, getting feedback interacting with their fellow musicians on “in-progress” works. They share work before it is ready, to get feedback, oblivious to the fact that they also share that space with their listeners. In doing so they completely ruin any magic in what they do. From what I’ve seen they also talk marketing ideas, moan and complain about a lack of support, and dead contact lists… “I have 10,000 followers but made a release and got 200 plays” etc. The trouble is they present as amateur artists. They spam everyone with their music, confusing friends, family and acquaintances with fans and listeners.

 

In short, they mix their front of house activities and back of house activities with their social activities and then wonder why it all goes wrong.

 

As you mention, artists and musicians and writers are not perfect. When they encounter you as a potential fan they might treat you in that capacity. If they meet you as a fellow artist, that is how they see you and many interactions become quid pro quo. A conscious or subconscious tally. You illustrate it well with your complaint about other members complaining about your lack of contribution (more on that later). So when artists combine “build your follow list” with “artists will follow you if you follow them” they think quantity, not quality. These people are not fans and may never have heard your music. They do not react or otherwise behave like fans, because they encounter you as a fellow artist. That is a big part of why so many musicians have large but dead, non-responsive followings. There is an obvious cure.

 

What artists, musicians etc NEED is to separate their industry talk (back of house) completely from social media, and within social media separate their personal/social accounts from their music front of house presence.

 

If they are going to do that, they would be recommended to use forums for back of house, because it is in a location completely away from potential listeners and fans other than the low percentage of fellow artists who might become true fans.

 

They then use their personal accounts to talk with friends and family.
 

They use separate accounts (or artist pages) as Artist “front of house” accounts, where they talk to prospective listeners and existing fans.

 

You might say, “Why not have a separate artist back of house account on Facebook or Twitter?” Well then both those accounts are in that same very public space and there is still potential for mix up. Add to that, Facebook and Twitter features don’t map to back of house needs very well. There is little to no advantage to writers and artists and producers in having back of house on Social media. Forums offer much better features.

 

You might say “Have an artist account on Facebook and use groups for back of house stuff”. Most groups are still publicly viewable in a place where listeners and artists hang around and Facebook’s algorithm doesn’t care about front of house back of house issues. Add to that groups are like a single category forum board minus loads of features. They aren’t great.

 

Point is, forums are much, much better for the behind the scenes, back of house stuff. If only they were busier, and that is where we can all help that situation. Just as people were lured away on false understanding, they can be lured back if we (collectively) educate them. Joining them simply gives us their problems.

 

Social artist space is excellent for on stage, front of house stuff.

 

Personal accounts remain ideal for family/friend/colleague interactions.

 

On your lack of activity, quite right you get out what you put in… only amplified. If you put in below a threshold you get a poor response. If you consistently put in above that invisible threshold, your response grows and grows. That is the same on social media incidentally. It’s not some hidden Songstuff rules.
 

We are just misled by family/friend activity on social media… they are very likely fans of you, but not necessarily of your music. The chances your grandma likes death metal are pretty low. Their activity masks and misleads your view on social media… and it screws with the social network AI algorithms too… making it very hard to make an impact, yet again another reason.

 

If you are below that invisible threshold, the community spots it, and struggle to respond positively to your activity. As a simple transaction, if you post up work hoping other people are willing to put in effort you are not willing to put in, they keep an internal tally. Is their time worth less than yours? Are they any less busy than you? They became good at critique by doing it. Simple as that.

 

That aside, learning critique skills majorly helps you as a writer, performer, engineer or producer. You are more deeply exposed to different mind sets, working processes, tools, mechanisms etc, all while having no ties to the work being discussed. That helps give you perspective without the complex entanglements that go with the work which are likely to prejudice your thought processes and decisions. Ie, as a writer we are attached to ideas, lines, messages, etc in part because we wrote them, and that prejudices our choices. By acting as a critique we exercise all the tools a writer uses to write or a producer uses to produce without that attachment. We get to build our skills away from our writing IN ADDITION to our writing, so we evolve as writers faster.

 

The fact that you give critique does not mean you have all the answers. In fact usually you are just posing questions by your observations. You and they learn by discussion. You propose solutions and they are evaluated… and you are unburdened by having to make and live with the choices. Critique is a discussion. They and you are not all powerful lyrical, musical or production gods. You are giving and getting food for thought.

 

Ultimately YOU also have to answer the question: why should someone else spend time on your project, your desires, if you are not willing to at least reciprocate?


Every single one of us performed a first critique. Every one of us goes through feeling inadequate, feeling like they don’t have much if anything to contribute. My time is just as valuable as yours. To me, more so. Yet I still critique the work of others. But then I do so partly for them, partly for me.

 

I stress again, critique doesn’t mean declare your judgement from on high, read these words and tremble. Ask questions. Seek to understand. In doing so the content creator has to think, explain, reason, justify etc. That helps them. Also by bringing up what is typical in your genre, they learn. In listening to their rationale, reason and approach you will learn.

 

Creatively, learning from what happens in other genres and settings, plants seeds and germinates them. It gives people ideas like… ok if I mix that with this… that gives me something new and different. Cross pollination in action.

 

That aside, there are many ways to contribute to a forum. It doesn’t just need to be critique. Participate in ways that go along with your work. So you are producing and releasing a new song. Write a blog series about it. Write forum posts to promote the blog posts. Embed images or videos in your posts, that can promote social accounts all while your experiences help others all for a relatively low input task.

 

Working with others also helps find musical collaborators and promotion collaborators. Help each other. If you can find time to help 20 others along the way, maybe when your next release comes along you will find 20 people to help you get word out… if you ask.

 

I would sum up saying that many writers and artists can be quite self-serving… if left to their own devices. Not all, or anywhere near it. Some are very giving. When engaged and encouraged many will see beyond simple self-interest.
 

We win over opinions one person at a time. We can be the change we want to see. Honestly, that works.

 

Nothing is handed to us on a silver platter. The world does not just fit around us at no cost.


Our community is there to be shaped by participation. More activity breeds more activity. More activity also retains more members. Sure you can post somewhere and hopefully get comments, or you could get back patting or low info likes on social media, but it’s not really in-depth, not greatly useful.

 

Just some food for thought.

 

 

 


P.S. Sorry about the long reply, but you touched on several issues!

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