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Increasing reader participation

There's always alot of talk about how to increase readership of our comics. But I haven't heard many ideas on how to increase the interactivity of readers. I've noticed that there are some comics who's fans seem to fill the forums with discussions about the characters, fan fiction and theorizing plot points. But then I've seen other comics (even some with greater readerships) that don't generate nearly as much discussion.

Why is this? Any ideas? I assume more vocal audience reaction is something that we'd all want, wouldn't we? It would seem that more active fans would also be more active in spreading the word about a comic.

So how do we get the fans that we do have to become more active in our communities?

Increasing reader participation

Mark Mekkes's picture

There's always alot of talk about how to increase readership of our comics. But I haven't heard many ideas on how to increase the interactivity of readers. I've noticed that there are some comics who's fans seem to fill the forums with discussions about the characters, fan fiction and theorizing plot points. But then I've seen other comics (even some with greater readerships) that don't generate nearly as much discussion.

Why is this? Any ideas? I assume more vocal audience reaction is something that we'd all want, wouldn't we? It would seem that more active fans would also be more active in spreading the word about a comic.

So how do we get the fans that we do have to become more active in our communities?

Tim  Demeter's picture

The forum for my comic does rather well (part of my I volunteered to help out here) and I've found the best way to encourage reader participation is to participate yourself.

If someone posts on my forum I will post some kind of response, whether it be insightful criticism or just a snappy comeback. That keeps the conversation going, and keeps the forum moving as I find busy forums tend to get busier and quiet ones stay quiet. I also let things get wildly off-topic. If people want to talk about Star Wars instead of my comic, that's cool, then they're doing it near my comic and more likely to participate in on-topic threads too. I start off-topic threads all the time just for this purpose. (And because I like Star Wars.)

The number one though is to be cool. I don't have a TON of regular posters, but my regulars do post a lot and I think it's because they genuinely like conversing with me and I know I enjoy hearing from them.

What doesn't work is treating your forum like a soapbox, making self-egrandizing posts and then never coming back to the thread. It works for some I know, but I've seen a lot of forums fail on this method.

Instead of making the first post:

"I'm Tim Demeter. Reckless Life updates twice a week, don't miss an update. Comments welcomed and encouraged"

This method:

"What up? I'm Tim, I make this here comic. Check it out.
And who might you be?"

is much more effective, I find, at least.

This is lame-ass advice after-school-special advice, but be yourself. Don't be a PR machine. If people think you're cool and have interesting stuff to say, they'll show up.

Tim Demeter
does a bunch of neato stuff.
Clickwheel
GraphicSmash
Bustout Odds

This also apply to comixpedia.org :P
It seem we have a real problem of not getting lot of users. We have a pretty active userbase but most of them who edited there are using comixpedia.org as a marketing machine and than left the site, to never return. They may be useful articles even though it crap, but it better than nothing. What we need is users who want to make comixpedia.org better, who have time. They not here to pimp their comics all the time but to help us grow.

The only way to increase participation is to be more popluar. If you got an active userbase, you can only do so much with them. So you have to get popluar. Xerexes don't participate in the wiki so much but comixpedia.org is pretty self sufficent unless it suffer sites problem and lot of evil users attacking it.

LGraf's picture

[quote:58435a7d00="timdemeter"]The forum for my comic does rather well (part of my I volunteered to help out here) and I've found the best way to encourage reader participation is to participate yourself.

This doesn't always work, tho.

We are active, as when someone posts we reply in a timely manner but we still don't have an active forum. This is something that's been true of my comic for the now four years it's been online. We have roughly 10 or so overall posters and out of that number we guesstimate about 5 or so will be active, but very now and then overall. So our forums are pretty much dead 99% of the time.

We've tried starting threads, going off topic, being active in discussions, but nothing seems to work.

I guess that sometimes, no matter what you do, a comic just doesn't have audience participation. :?

--L.G.Twilight Agency: my frustration, my insanity... http://twilightagency.com

spargs's picture

I would say it probably depends on your demographic to a great extent.
If a lot of teenage people read your comic, they're probably more likely to develop some sort of mania if your comic has that indefinable property of "coolness".

Of course, that's just speculation. For all I know retirement homes with internet connections are more likely to flood the forums of webcomics based around knitting.

[url=http://www.digi-comic.com][img]http://www.digi-comic.com/images/dcLilLink.gif[/img][/url]

Greg Carter's picture

Our forum stays quiet too but the stats say people are going there so at least two of us keep posting. What's really funny is that in other forums I frequent people will PM me about my comic. And I get email. Just nothing in our own forum. I'll never understand the intarwub.

Greg Carter - Abandon: First Vampire - Online Graphic Novel

spargs's picture

In an attempt to increase the interactivity of my comic I set up a simple script to allow people to post comments about each comic, choosing an avatar from a set list.

An example comment page: http://www.digi-comic.com/comment.php?comicId=86

My idea was that people could easily give feedback quickly and easily in something a bit more fun than bare text. I don't actually get much feedback, but I doubt I'd get much more interaction in a full-blown forum anyway. Certainly people are more likely to post comments on the website than to email me with feedback (which is probably a obvious outcome).

[url=http://www.digi-comic.com][img]http://www.digi-comic.com/images/dcLilLink.gif[/img][/url]

LineItemVito's picture

It's so true that some sites have forums that are hopping and others that are dead. Take mine, for instance... I'm the only person who has even created a forum account, and thus I'm the only person who has posted.

Should I open the forum to guest posting? Isn't that just asking for spam?

To try to generate some activity, I've starting writing posts with additional info regarding the day's comic. Maybe that will start something. I dunno. It's all a mystery.

Eddie

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Vote Vito: Line Item Vito

[quote:bfb8deef5a="Kiba"]This also apply to comixpedia.org :P

Would it help to make it more prominent in the main Comixpedia site? At the moment it's two links away from the main page, and new readers could take a long time to notice it. The title and URL could obscure it too: "comixpedia.org" looks like just an alternative address for "comixpedia.com", the main site.

Advice From Maritza Campos

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Maritza wrote about her fantastically-active CRFH boards for us - here's the link

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

You might ask Dan Shive to do a follow-up article as his forum is even more active (and friendly) than Maritza's.

But I do think one important detail is this: creator interactivity. Dan and Maritza are both decently active members of their forums (for the On Topic posts at least). In fact, the CRFH forum has dropped off a tad as Maritza's involvement has lessened (due to health, a baby, and other concerns).

I think people join these forums because they like the cartoonist. Both Maritza and Dan are truly likeable people. Of course, part of the problem is, how do you get people to start posting in the first place in order to show that you're a decent likeable person... and maybe what you need to do is get a couple of friends to start posting there, creating an environment of "family" there that attracts others. Sure, it's spiking the pot with growth formula... but I never said I wasn't evil. ;)

Take care, gang.

LGraf's picture

[quote:157a7b53d1="Tangent"]... and maybe what you need to do is get a couple of friends to start posting there, creating an environment of "family" there that attracts others. Sure, it's spiking the pot with growth formula... but I never said I wasn't evil. ;)

Been there, done that, have the bad heat transfer decal t-shirt that's peeling after one wash to prove it. :roll:

We just seem cursed with a very small and very quiet readership. *shrugs*

--L.G.Twilight Agency: my frustration, my insanity... http://twilightagency.com

LGraf's picture

[quote:d1352caa01="timtylor"][quote:d1352caa01="Kiba"]This also apply to comixpedia.org :P

Would it help to make it more prominent in the main Comixpedia site? At the moment it's two links away from the main page, and new readers could take a long time to notice it. The title and URL could obscure it too: "comixpedia.org" looks like just an alternative address for "comixpedia.com", the main site.

Frankly, if the forum notice of new posts and such were higher on the page, that may help. When I didn't know where it was, I had to search and it wasn't until I scrolled down that I found it. I just think a higher up placement, if possible, may help.

--L.G.Twilight Agency: my frustration, my insanity... http://twilightagency.com

Re: Increasing reader participation

The William G's picture

[quote:d642988111="zortic"]So how do we get the fans that we do have to become more active in our communities?
1- find out what they like

2- Pander to them


Re: Increasing reader participation

Greg Carter's picture

[quote:f750706d10="TWG"]1- find out what they like
2- Pander to them

What? You mean webcomics can be promoted just like any other form of entertainment? Damn. I thought we had to get by on our rugged good looks.

And you forgot the most important step:
3- Sell soul.

Greg Carter - Abandon: First Vampire - Online Graphic Novel

Re: Increasing reader participation

[quote:893d31e892="GregC"]And you forgot the most important step:
3- Sell soul.

Trouble with that is: if you're willing to sell, it's not worth buying.

Band together with one or more other sites with small, relatively inactive forums. Agree on a mutually acceptable theme for your forum, and away you go. If you don't get a ton of members signing up ... well, at least the creators of the webcomics can chatter back and forth.

Of course you need an ego that doesn't mind sharing center stage, since it's not all about YOUR webcomic anymore ;)

And, like someone said, encourage off-topic banter, it creates an atmosphere of good will.

Quote:

Of course you need an ego that doesn't mind sharing center stage, since it's not all about YOUR webcomic anymore ;)

And, like someone said, encourage off-topic banter, it creates an atmosphere of good will.

Blah! Nosense! Being egoless is the way to go! Beside, having ego is bad in all sort of way.... You are not in touch with reality.....Wake up!

xmung's picture

there's a forum over at TAC - The Teatons - i don't know what the hell they're doing in it but it always seems to have an extra 50-100 posts every day. from what i can tell their comic is very reader participation oriented.

apart from that - frequently and regularly updating webcomix are most likely going to get the readership much more involved and feeling like they want to say something.

mind you, i'm kind of glad not all my few hundred or so readers want to say something about my stuff, i'd never have the chance to read/respond to all of it if they did.

Magellan - superhero cadets... their own worst enemy is themselves!

[quote:20231bcb45="Kiba"]

Quote:

Of course you need an ego that doesn't mind sharing center stage, since it's not all about YOUR webcomic anymore ;)

And, like someone said, encourage off-topic banter, it creates an atmosphere of good will.

Blah! Nosense! Being egoless is the way to go! Beside, having ego is bad in all sort of way.... You are not in touch with reality.....Wake up!

Unless you were tongue-in-cheek, as the line you quoted was, you should try reading closer .... I said, you need an ego that DOESN'T mind sharing center stage. i.e., I don't have much of an ego, therefore I happily share my forum with others.

The William G's picture

Quote:
I assume more vocal audience reaction is something that we'd all want, wouldn't we?

Why should we want it? The only benefit I could see from it is this:

Quote:
It would seem that more active fans would also be more active in spreading the word about a comic.


LineItemVito's picture

More active fans are probably more dedicated fans. There's nothing quite like product/brand loyalty. Take Coke vs. Pepsi. Ford vs. Chevy. Republican vs. Democrat.

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Vote Vito: Line Item Vito

The William G's picture

[quote:c3776c2cc5="LineItemVito"]More active fans are probably more dedicated fans. There's nothing quite like product/brand loyalty. Take Coke vs. Pepsi. Ford vs. Chevy. Republican vs. Democrat.
Isn't this just building a personaltiy cult around yourself?


LineItemVito's picture

[quote:a4b6e3e903="TWG"][quote:a4b6e3e903="LineItemVito"]More active fans are probably more dedicated fans. There's nothing quite like product/brand loyalty. Take Coke vs. Pepsi. Ford vs. Chevy. Republican vs. Democrat.
Isn't this just building a personaltiy cult around yourself?
It's product marketing. So in a sense it's building a cult around your comic.

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Vote Vito: Line Item Vito

Greg Carter's picture

[quote:8be30575a0="TWG"]Isn't this just building a personaltiy cult around yourself?

Yep. It's all part of the game of popularity. There's nothing wrong with that unless you start believing the stuff about yourself. As long as you realize it's all marketing, no problem. But once you start getting a bunch of ditto-head fans the dark side becomes very seductive.

Greg Carter - Abandon: First Vampire - Online Graphic Novel

LineItemVito's picture

[quote:28638cab55="GregC"]But once you start getting a bunch of ditto-head fans the dark side becomes very seductive.Ditto. Whatever Greg says, I agree.

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Vote Vito: Line Item Vito

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

[quote:f769db5130="GregC"]But once you start getting a bunch of ditto-head fans the dark side becomes very seductive.

Where do midichloridians fit into webcomics? :)

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Greg Carter's picture

[quote:b70ec7b8c3="xerexes"]Where do midichloridians fit into webcomics? :)

That's a genetic marker for a predisposition to being a ditto-head. :twisted:

Greg Carter - Abandon: First Vampire - Online Graphic Novel

Tim  Demeter's picture

[quote:a3555bf5ba="xerexes"][quote:a3555bf5ba="GregC"]But once you start getting a bunch of ditto-head fans the dark side becomes very seductive.

Where do midichloridians fit into webcomics? :)

Not sure, I do know that RSS is an energy field created by all live sites. It surrounds us, penetrates us, it binds the internet together.

told ya' I was a Star Wars geek.

Tim Demeter
does a bunch of neato stuff.
Clickwheel
GraphicSmash
Bustout Odds

Seth Fronzoli's picture

Illuminous beings are we, not these crude URL's!

Yep, I'm a SW geek as well.

Mark Mekkes's picture

[quote:32a0d47690="TWG"]Isn't this just building a personaltiy cult around yourself?

I've just completely revised my new year's resolution...

LineItemVito's picture

[quote:f8600aba62="xerexes"]Where do midichloridians fit into webcomics? :)
meta name="author" content="Midichloridians"

Use the source Luke...

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Vote Vito: Line Item Vito

Greg Carter's picture

[quote:68f15718f0="zortic"][quote:68f15718f0="TWG"]Isn't this just building a personaltiy cult around yourself?I've just completely revised my new year's resolution...

Be careful what you wish for...

Greg Carter - Abandon: First Vampire - Online Graphic Novel

hpkomic's picture

A certain idea of mine:

In my comic, Cosmic Dash, they characters have their own form of the internet referred to as the GIN (GalactInfoNet). Essentially, my plan is to one day, hopefully build up enough of a readership to install a wiki on the site and mirror it on the visuals and information on the GIN. So when a term comes up in the comic, be it species, character, or piece of technology, a user can check out the GIN and actually interact with the universe in a small way. I can also create logs and datafiles that reveal backstories and histories, letting a user research their way into a bigger understanding of universe I'm trying to make.

Plus, I planned on making my comic somewhat open source, so that ideas and creations put into the wiki can be refrenced and used within the comic itself.

So yeah, that's my goal. It's probably a bit crazy but it's something I'd love to do.

But, that's how I would increase my reader participation. (Assuming I had readers, that is.)

HPKOMICS.COM | SCIENTEERS.COM

J-Sun's picture

[quote:0ade12c0cb="hpkomic"]Plus, I planned on making my comic somewhat open source, so that ideas and creations put into the wiki can be refrenced and used within the comic itself.

So yeah, that's my goal. It's probably a bit crazy but it's something I'd love to do.

But, that's how I would increase my reader participation. (Assuming I had readers, that is.)

Crazy? Nah!

Go for it!

If you can set something like that up sooner than later –– even if it's not as robust - or feature packed - or dynamic - or what have you - as you ultimately want it to be –– that would be very cool!

I feel it would definitely enhance reader participation - as it would certainly add to the fun over at Cosmic Dash!
:D

[url=http://www.cybertropolis.com/comics/index.html][img]http://www.cybertropolis.com/downloads/banners/cyber366x50.gif[/img][/url]

I'm thinking about opening up a thread in my own forum (which is usually deader than a few of my characters...who are spirits) asking readers if there's anything about the characters or such they think needs to be answered/explored etc.

Dunno if anyone'll take me up on the opportunity or if it'll just be another thread with one reply being me saying something along the lined of 'fine then, keep to yourselves!', but I'm thinking of giving it a go anyway.

Cheers.

Greg Carter's picture

Dutch, it never hurts to post. I know by looking at the stats that people read through our forum. But they don't post for whatever reason. So we use it for a bulletin board mostly. But I keep posting because you never know when someone might jump in.

Greg Carter - Abandon: First Vampire - Online Graphic Novel

That's a fair point too.