Personally, I would be posting in the forums daily. When I first look at your forums categories, I see a post from 13 hours ago then Oct 23...May 24th...Nov 1, 2011....this just shows little activity. If you keep writing something, people will read it and will make your site appear more active.
Also, until your classified section takes off, I would maybe move that either do0wn the page or onto its own page. Again, this is due to a lot of empty listings that make it seem like you have little activity.
Other than that, you site looks great.
Good feedback. Thanks.
Your site looks good: Clean, emphasis on content, not over-designed.
Like Tyler says. It took us a while but we figured that putting our most active sections on top of the page was stimulating engagement.
You could also try this tip here from Jen.
That's how we did it:
Constantly fresh content is a requirement. Whether created by you or by your members. At first, it will be mostly you. Later, your star members will carry the load. Look for star members and support them. Let them know you need their help and they are doing a great community service. You will find people that LOVE being involved in their local community and will work very hard to keep your site full of great local content.
Since you are so geographically based, you will need to do a lot of offline marketing to the community. This can include sponsorship of local events where you can get a mention and place a banner (a real physical one), business cards in holders at the checkouts of local businesses. Do an ad swap where you exchange promotion of their event to your members for a sponsorship mention, banner, ad in the program, whatever. You can do this with any event that has a printed program: plays, high school sports, etc. These events would LOVE to have an announcement of their event sent to your 500 LOCAL members. You already have a valuable asset you can trade for being a sponsor of their event. As you get bigger you will be able to charge for this promotion but for now you will swap it for more exposure for your site.
Years back I had a local directory site (pre-Ning). I sold it and it has subsequently folded but it was a great source of local information. I used the businesses I already had within my local directory as the source of traffic. Approach that business with a stack of business cards that say "I'm a Featured Business in Stapleton Connect - Your Source for All Things Stapleton". Include your URL and a great tag line call to action. Give the business a business card holder to put your cards in and ask if you can place these at the checkout/front desk. Most will. Put a sticker on the card holder that says "I'm a Featured Business in Stapleton Connect - If there are no more cards here please contact StapleConnect.com for more." When you have gone to all the business in your directory, YOU enter more businesses and then approach these businesses as well.
Once more locals arrive, always be promoting a local event and encourage all members to share this event announcement on your site with their Stapleton friends. That will get more locals to the site. Once they arrive, have a compelling reason for them to sign up: perhaps a weekly newsletter with all the local community events, etc.
You will need to be sending an email newsletter weekly anyways that highlights the best of Stapleton Connect. Keep your members engaged and they will want to invite more locals if you make it easy to do.
I have made some updates to the design... would love additional feedback. the insights given below have really helped! Here's the latest and greatest: http://stapletonconnect.com/
Hey Dan O,
You know I've been following your work for a long time. I also have a geographic niche site, and can appreciate your efforts. Congrats on the success. That's good for a narrow market segment.
My advice to you in general would be to think of expanding your scope to be more inclusive. That is, you serve the interests of your community better by allowing them to relate more to the broader region, the country, and the web. Additionally, the best interests of economic development and increasing business for your sponsors/ advertisers is to promote Stepleton outward.
The advice above is good. I really liked Clark's suggestion on the business card. What I did is come up with a very simple site branded promo card that I can mass produce, and then customized business card holders specific for participating businesses to the effect it points out they are a member, a call to action to connect with them online, and their profile/group address (while not functional, shows the web address, that profiles/ groups can be set up, and that they have one).
Maybe you ought to stick that Stapleton Video promo above your latest activity feed. The thing I learned over the years about local networking is that it is just too boring. However, video allows for a more entertaining online experience (vs. reading), and sharing media can be accomplished with clicks (vs. writing).
Hope that helps! I didn't realize you were located right by an MLS club. As an example, that is really relevant to what I am working on for my own featured social media campaign. So right there is common ground for connecting separate geographic concepts on mutual social interests- and doing so adds value/ interest in what your area has to offer.
Nothing going on in Stapleton? Was just kind of surprised with you being "within biking distance" of Dicks Sporting Goods Park that you don't have anything going on to support the U.S.A. in our upcoming World Cup qualifier. http://www.ussoccer.com/News/Mens-National-Team/2013/03/US-Soccer-t....