Archive for February, 2009

Featured Forum – Lifehouse on Lefora (LoL)

Today we’re talking with Nicky James, who runs a forum on the popular band Lifehouse.  His forum is growing fast, with over 7,000 posts in less then a month since it’s creation. For those of you unfamiliar with Lifehouse, there’s a good chance you’ve heard some of their songs on the radio, such as Hanging By A Moment.

Welcome Nicky James.  Besides being a Lifehouse fan, what made you decide to start a forum?
I felt that there was a major lack of moderation and an overall sense of fellowship on the “official” Lifehouse forum at lifehousemusic.com.  And after being bogged down by a horde of clones and forum trolls I simply had enough. I didn’t want to fully drop out of the Lifehouse community because of the people I met. So with determination and a whole lot of free time I looked for an answer and eventually, after doing some homework, came across Lefora.com and set up shop. Plus, the name “Lifehouse on Lefora” has a cool ring to it and abbreviates well; “LoL”.


Are there other Lifehouse band forums out there that you have to compete with?  Is there anything you’re doing differently?
Hmm… I wouldn’t say that we “compete” with any other Lifehouse fan communities/forums. In fact, my ideal goal is to come to work closely with the other 2 forums that are largely focused on Lifehouse fans (lh-bsides.shortURL.com and lifehousemusic.com) in order to provide an awesome experience for Lifehouse’s fans. But my personal thoughts are that we that there was a certain niche that needed to be filled that no existing forum was addressing. The official boards will always have the stigma of being “Official”, and that can carry them for a long time. The B-sides forum is the next step in that it is separate from being official and is built by Lifehouse fans, for Lifehouse fans. And because of those reasons, that forum is pretty successful. I feel that Lifehouse on Lefora is the next step in that evolutionary process. One of the LoL members said it perfectly. She said “LoL fills a hole that the other forums do not fulfill. People here can joke around and laugh at funny video clips or talk about current events. There’s a more concrete sense of fellowship on LoL.” We take the best parts of other places and put them all on our forum.


As for what we do differently? Myself and my admin team keep in very close contact with members, were not some no name face that looms over everyone. Our forum also hasn’t looked the same since day one. Which was a big problem I had with other forums that all looked so bland or looked good but had looked the same for the last 2 years. We’re updating our look every week. We currently have 10 themes that we switch off every week and it keeps things looking fresh. We are also heavily involved with contests and giving prizes out to members for something as small as posting, say the 5000th post, all the way to full blown month long contests. We even have a special day coming in June where were going to be giving out more than $300 in prizes. you can go to one forum to be official, one to be more intellectual and serious, and one to just have fun and laugh your butt off with people that you’re on a first name basis with.

Where do most of your visitors come from? How do they first here about your site?
Thanks to the very close-knit community of fans that are out there over MySpace, Facebook, and other forums,it makes it extremely easy for us to cast a wide-net and reach many fans with ease. I’ve spoken with other admins of different forums that are struggling to find an audience and I think it all comes down to the demographic you’re trying to reach. If you run a video game fan forum, what happens then? You’re mainly going to be trying to attract males from ages 15-25. Lifehouse doesn’t necessarily have a target demographic or part of the world. We have members ranging in age from 13 to their 40’s and we’re represented in the US, UK, the Philippines, Canada, Indonesia, Australia and beyond. From what I’ve seen thus far, new members come to us mainly from Google. I’ve brought in quite a few members simply by contacting them directly and asking them to come check out LoL and because I have enough faith in my forum to where I know that they won’t be disappointed and sooner or later, they will want to get in on the all the fun and interesting conversations were carrying. The word “addicting” comes up quite often from members when describing why they spend so much time on the forum. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ve also had some members hear about us on the other existing forums and will come from there as well.

What first drew you to Lifehouse?  Are there any Lifehouse lyrics that you find inspiring?
Lifehouse’s lyrics have been described as the sonic equivalent of a good friend, or a warm blanket. It’s a divine mix of honest lyrics, and great musical hooks. They don’t pretend to have all of the answers but they sure make the questions sound interesting. A lot of Jason’s lyrics revolve around deep and sometimes spiritual self questioning and trying to find out who you are. You know, there are some artists Like Johnny Cash, or Bob Dylan that can tell one hell of a story but fail to make you look within yourself and question. Lifehouse really fills that niche and that is why I am continuously drawn to their music. Asking a Lifehouse fan to choose a favorite song or choice lyric is like asking a mother to pick her favorite child. But if I had to choose one lyric I would have to quote a lyric from this song:

“I’d rather chase your shadow all my life,
than be afraid of my own,
I’d rather be with you,
Id rather not know
where I’ll be than be alone and convinced that I know,
cause the world keeps spinning around,
and my world is upside down,
and I wouldn’t change a thing,
I’ve got nothing else to lose,
I lost it all when I found you,
and I wouldnt change a thing,
No, you and I wouldn’t change a thing.” – Spin

Just recently, you were sitting on the other side of the interview desk, interviewing an award winning music video director (both Billboard and MTV awards).  How did you go about arranging that?  And has the interview spurred more interest on your forum?
I was setting up a forum section dedicated to Lifehouse music videos and came across the video for the 2005 song; Blind. I wanted to find a little more information on it. So while searching for some info I found out that the video was directed by Nigel Dick. I am very familiar with Nigel’s work and was surprised to see that this Lifetime Achievement Award winning director that has worked with such acts as Tears for Fears, Green Day, Elton John and has directed over 300 videos was working with our little band. I was definetly intruiged and wanted to look further into it. To my fortune, Nigel was very pleasant and we had a correspondence over the course of a couple weeks and I eventually just asked him for an interview, because that’s essentially what I was already doing. He obliged, and like in everything I do on LoL, I included the members and let them take the helm and ask the majority of the questions. They did a fantastic job and asked some very deep and intellectual questions. I posted the interview yesterday morning and we’ve had the single most busy day since the inception of LoL. I am currently trying to land an interview with Tina Majorino who has acted in over 20 movies and tv shows, but is best know for her role as Deb in the 2004 movie Napoleon Dynamite. She played the protagonist in the same music video that Nigel directed. I am also working on an interview with Lifehouse’s manager Jude Cole.

Do you have 3 simple tips you could share with other forum admins to run a fun and active forum?

  1. Include your members!!! They are the the lifeblood of the forum. This is especially important for a young forum. I rarely make changes on LoL without informing the members. I issue a weekly update usually including what has changed, why it has changed, and what’s coming up as far as new forum features or contests. If you give your members something to look forward to while also keeping your forum fresh in their minds, they will keep coming back. Another way I do this is by personally sending out welcome messages to every new member as they join the forum rather than just a cookie cutter message. Or worse, no welcome at all.
  2. Never make your forum about one thing. Sure, this is a Lifehouse fan forum. But people sometimes get confused, thinking that it is a place where you can only talk about Lifehouse and that’s not true. It is simply a place where Lifehouse fans gather. Our most popular thread right now is a thread that’s simply titled “I like cheese.” WTF, right? It’s fun to know that you can talk about anything and because you are all like minded, you can always bring it back to your forum’s purpose.
  3. Remember, you’re a leader, not a tyrant. Everett Dirksen said “I am a man of fixed and unbending principles. The first of which is to be flexible at all times.” Have fun with your members! You’re a member of your own forum, it shouldn’t be a chore. If you can find that space between being a “boss” and being a member, you will be in the perfect position to manage a successful forum. Being an admin can be a very thankless job. keep your chin up!

.

Finally, is there anything you would like to add?
Yeah! This is probably totally cliche to Chief [admin of lefora support] at this point but I want to take the time to sincerely thank you for all the help you’ve given me and all the one on one time you’ve spent with me helping to hammer out technical issues with my forum. I know that yourself and the Lefora team are working your tails off to bring us this free service and sometimes it can be very very thankless. But everyone over on LoL is so grateful for you guys because if it wasn’t for you, we would not have met some of the awesome people we have come to know. So off with the nay-sayers! lol.

To forum admins: Keep working away at that forum. Fact is, that you’re going to have to put in a whole mess of your personal time into this forum to make it successful. Utilize the Internet. if you don’t have a Myspace, get one. Also make sure your mods and admins are properly trained. There’s no better way to annoy members than to anger them with power tripping mods who want to edit or delete every post.

I also want to thank the Lifehouse on Lefora team for all the hard work and dedication they put into helping me run this successful forum. Oreolover000 and cmacd, you guys are the best I could ask for. Thanks for all your help.

I’m also going to shamelessly plug Lifehouse now. *Shameless plug* Lifehouse is currently in the studio working on their fifth album that is slated for release this summer, but until then, you can buy their newest Gold certified album Who We Are. Also be on the look out for a new music video for the song “Make Me Over” coming soon!!!


Author’s Comments: Nicky James provided some great commentary here.  I’ve visited the forum a number of times since it was first started, and Nicky James does keep the themes active and changing – which I think is great.  It always makes the forum look ‘fresh’ and hopping.  It’s very easy to change colors, background images, and header images on Lefora without changing your layout.  So members still feel comfortable on your forum, but they’ll know you’re interested in keeping things fresh.  Prize offerings are another great idea to spur activity – it doesn’t have to be anything large.  And finally, interviewing well known and respected people related to the forum is always a great way to spur interest and get new members to join – and asking for interview questions from your community is smart.

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Kicking the tires on this puppy

Last night, with a full gas tank, Lefora rolled passed the 200,000 member mark (now at 48,640 total forums), we still have a few months to go until our first birthday, so we’re all pretty excited over here.

Lefora ‘by the numbers’ for January:

  • 575,904 People
  • 8,682,123 Pageviews
  • 6.61 Average Pageviews / visit
  • 6:08 Avg. Time on Site
  • 27% of visitors came from a keyword search (mostly google of course)
  • 59% of visitors returned to the site, a third of our visitors returned 10 or more times!

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We were also recently reviewed at forum-software.org, a popular forum comparison website, we’re the first ‘hosted’ forum solution they’ve reviewed – they had to create a new category on their site just for us.


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