Daily active users dropping, as are posts. Thoughts?

Discussion in 'Managing an Online Community' started by pjk, Aug 24, 2018.

  1. pjk

    pjk Aspirant

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    I've run a community since 2006, growing to over 34,000 members today. The peak was probably 2011/2012, but since has declined. Many users have gone to reddit and FB Groups, and this year it's gone from 300 daily active users to around 200 now, and from 150 posts per day down to like 70 now (and slowing as less people post). Anyone else experience these changes with FB and reddit gaining traction? Thoughts on turning it around and getting people to post to gain activity? I'm open to all suggestions. It's a hobby site but a bit frustrating to see the community so divided now and the site declining.

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 2, 2018
  2. Anton Chigurh

    Anton Chigurh Ultimate Badass

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    Have you "upgraded" the platform like, right before the perceived decline? Drastically?
     
  3. pjk

    pjk Aspirant

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    No, the decline has been gradual over the last few years, not drastic. Here are general stats from the last 1.5 years:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/fj0spwhgut9tf2g/Screenshot 2018-08-24 22.23.12.png?dl=0
    It is caused I think mostly by reddit and FB groups I think. I'm wondering if others have noticed the same with their forums.

    I'm also wondering what suggestions you'd have to turn this trend around. We're still getting lots of new users, but overall most older members have left and daily topics aren't super interesting like they used to be.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
  4. LeadCrow

    LeadCrow Apocalypse Admin

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    If peak was a few years ago, then your userbase might be aging out.
    Younger visitors could be expecting a more instantaneously gratifying experience they might not be finding on the forum compared to reddit or even discord groups. How active are users registered since your forum's golden era, and if you have enough information available their average age back then and now ?
     
  5. Alfa1

    Alfa1 Moderator

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    It seems like your niche is an easy prey for Facebook groups and Reddit. What can you offer than they cannot get there? How can you compete with the functionality that social media has?
    Facebook has puzzle Apps so they can play with their friends.
     
  6. mysiteguy

    mysiteguy Devotee

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    Have any competing forums started and/or grown during this decline?
     
  7. I A 1

    I A 1 Enthusiast

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    My forum has a similar decline and I'm sure many forums are facing the same. The reasons are as mentioned by Lead Crow:

     
  8. Maddox

    Maddox Moderator

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    Sign of the times - the social media leeches strike again.

    As the Internet landscape changes and people flock to social media it's a natural move to end of life, as we know it, for once busy forums. It doesn't matter what you throw at a forum in terms of features and easier methods of registering and posting, people will flock to where the crowd is. It's sad, but true and it sucks big time, but you must never give in - keep the lights on no matter how few come into the fold. Fads, like fashions, have a funny way of turning around and every one of them has its day and resurgence; there's no time scale on this, so how long you keep the lights on for is down to you and how quickly the landscape is reshaped once again. I feel for you, for the time and effort you've put into giving people of like-minds to meet up and share their interests; there are not many in today's market that would do the same; this is why I take my hat off and have the greatest respect for those who choose to give rather than take.

    Best of luck to you mate and I hope the hemorrhaging slows down and you have the will to carry on.

    ;)
     
  9. R0binHood

    R0binHood Fan

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    Going by the site name 'SpeedSolving Puzzles', it strikes me that all of the users are concerned with speed!

    Exactly this, I imagine this niche benefits massively from having a platform that allows users to quickly take photos and videos on their phone and upload them to their community.

    The facebook mobile app, plus the ability to upload video is a massive forum killer. One of your largest forums with nearly 100k posts is dedicated to video.

    Support this suggestion on XF to help get it implemented.

    This site seems like a prime example of a hobby forum that is easily cannibalised by facebook's better cross platform engagement features to allow faster responses to questions and better infrastructure for processing resource intensive media.
     
  10. R0binHood

    R0binHood Fan

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    Some of them could get back on the site if there was better re-engagement features. Something as basic as a weekly/fornightly/monthy newsletter is something that's sorely lacking from the XF core to get users re-engaged. Discourse has a very well designed system for this that constantly gets me revisiting forums I may have only visited a couple of times, and those that I don't consciously decide to visit frequently, but I'm happy to get occasional updates to get me back on the site and see what the craic is.
     
  11. we_are_borg

    we_are_borg Moderator

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    If your users are going to reddit orFacebook then it will be hard to compete and get them back especially Facebook users. Forum software does not have the benefits in them to compete.
     
  12. mysiteguy

    mysiteguy Devotee

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    Just like when Google does an algorithm update, you'll hear 100x more from those who lost traffic than those who gained.

    A client of mine with a big board, through SEO and content, I helped double their traffic over a year's time. Increased time on site by about 30%, and decrease bounce rate by about 20%. My own forums have either grown or held steady. I know several board owners who have seen growth and continue to see growth. Take a look at some of the tech solution forums, they are growing or maintaining quite well.

    Sure, there is plenty of competition from social media and there's the difficulty of posting with phones. That doesn't mean there's no hope, it means the marketplace has done what most do --- it matured into a very competitive place. There is tough competition and to succeed one must work harder and smarter, assuming there's a viable market for the niche.
     
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  13. pjk

    pjk Aspirant

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    Well said thoughts.

    Interesting observation, since doing the upgrade from XF 1.5 to 2, daily active users went from 210ish to 160 now the last 3 days:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/zh9djypriantqtn/Screenshot 2018-08-26 08.48.35.png?dl=0
    Any idea why there would be such a drop? I've never seen this before after an update.

    Edit: Also noticed on Google Analytics 600 less visitors per day since the upgrade:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/kmhv9z9u0bsn68k/Screenshot 2018-08-26 11.35.42.png?dl=0
    Any ideas on why this is and how to fix it? Very strange and concerning issues.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
  14. Miyukichii

    Miyukichii Aspirant

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    Xenforo doesn't have great SEO features. I remember the prime days of vbseo and vbulletin but that is all history now. Also google changed dramatically and now offers traffic to whoever pays for it. So you need to invest a bit in advertising. Also have a youtube + twitter accounts
     
  15. esquire

    esquire Habitué

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    Without knowing more about your site and other relevant details, this is all just baseless speculation. Average forum posts means nothing without breaking down what that means, e.g. how many users posting? How many new? How many repeat, etc. There is an often mentioned rule about the percentage of your active community, e.g. 10% or less are performing 90% of the activity.

    As far as SEO features... and what vbseo actually did is more because of the times than it was about fewer tools being available. Google's computing power has dramatically increased as has the modifications to the algorithm to make it more complex and remove some low hanging fruit from the mix. It's a continuously challenging arena.
     
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  16. southernlady

    southernlady Coder/Designer

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    I know mine is a bit cyclical. Summer participation/joining drops cause most people are out away from their computers altho this is less than before since most people now have a mobile device and access most of the time.

    But my forum is unique in many ways. I do have a small core of individuals who pay it forward. But most of my members join before they have weight loss surgery to learn and then after a year or so, they are doing well and the desire to participate decreases. They had theirs and things are going as expected. Honestly it's the same in the particular FB groups I admin...they come in to learn and then after a couple of years, they see no need to remain.

    I know I've done the same thing...while I was less active in forum management, I didn't come here much. But I started back lately cause I needed to learn some things and this was the best place.
     
  17. esquire

    esquire Habitué

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    southernladysouthernlady - Nice site. IMHO, you'd do very well by having FAQs that are visible for various topics. Your site also probably should receive cyclical visits as people are going in and out of needing help and support. Many encounter period issues (mine are weekend warrior sports related injuries. :rolleyes: ) and I've been there, also setting up support sites that are meaningful to me, etc. In that regard, sports related sites can be very cyclical, depending upon times of years and activities dictated. It's interesting how much there always is to learn and I am constantly learning new things every day...
     
  18. southernlady

    southernlady Coder/Designer

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    Thank you.

    Pinned posts in the various boards is about as close to an FAQ one can ask for as there is SO much information depending on the topic. Except for the admin area and ONE board called Rants & Raves, which requires 30 days AND 50 posts (not one or the other) to access, the rest is wide open for anyone to read. I did it that way on purpose. Not everyone wants a forum. Our companion site is a static set of pages owned and maintained by a surgeon and his staff, including two of our high profile members, that handles the FAQ far better than a forum can.
     
  19. pjk

    pjk Aspirant

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    How do you get those metrics? how many users posting? How many new? How many repeat, etc. There is an often mentioned rule about the percentage of your active community, e.g. 10% or less are performing 90% of the activity.
     
  20. esquire

    esquire Habitué

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    I've been doing this for a very long time and I'm not the origin of the phrase that is a general observation .Here it is spelled out, we just called it the 10% rule. The last part was that 10% of the 10% were the most active. Here it is spelled out by someone else.

    https://www.nngroup.com/articles/participation-inequality/
     
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