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Asking GSoM: How can we make the FanPosts and FanShots sections more active?

The FanPost and FanShot sections exist for you, the GSoM community, to share your ideas and take ownership of the conversation at the site. But we'd like to make those sections more active and would love your feedback on how to make that happen.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Way back in May we had the beginnings of a discussion in the comments of an article about how to re-invigorate the FanPost/Shot section that we tabled until the offseason when we'd all have clearer heads after the Golden State Warriors' playoff run was complete.

Now that it is in fact summertime and the living is easy since Curry's dancin' and the Dubs are champs, as Andy Liu wrote the other day, I figured it's a good time to come back to this discussion.

The GSoM staff has already been brainstorming what we can do to improve the site over the past few weeks and re-invigorating the FanPost section of the site continues to come up as both a priority and a bit of a challenge. We have some ideas of our own along those lines, but before we implement anything I wanted to gather opinions from the community as a whole to get a sense of what would actually work for you — there's no point in doing anything if it won't actually help you.

To jumpstart that conversation a bit, I'm just going to lay out what these things are for folks who are new to the site, what we've been doing to help promote them and ideas that I think are feasible to make that section more active (in terms of our time commitment and the functionality of the site). I'm hoping you'll offer your honest feedback.

Oh, and since I'd like to keep this thread focused on feedback about FanPosts/Shots because that's a priority of ours for this coming season, I'm going to encourage you to practice FanPosting/Shotting if some other big off-topic basketball news that you really, really need to post comes up: just write a FanPost/Shot and we'll promote it to the front page for you to discuss, no questions asked. I swear it won't take you much time to do that and we'll keep the posts with the most recs on the front page after today (so rec liberally).

So let's begin...

What is a FanPost/Shot?

For those of you who are new to the site and lurking, FanPosts (community-generated articles) and FanShots (community-generated links, pictures, tweets, videos, etc.) are tools that the logged-in users can use to create content for SB Nation's on their own. You can find those sections running along the right-hand side of any SB Nation site. Since Bobbita already created a screen cap highlighting that back in May, I'm just going to borrow that to illustrate the point.

FanPost section layout

(If you scroll down the site a bit more, you'll see the FanShot section)

If you're wondering what the purpose of these sections are, it's to provide readers with the opportunity to share their voices alongside the voices of the staff — it gives readers ownership over the conversation at the site and, in doing so, allows readers more control over the culture/tone of the site which in turn makes for a more authentic "community". Although those posts initially show up in the sidebar when they're created, the staff can also move them to the front page to make them more visible with a few clicks of a mouse (more on that in a moment).

If you've never created a FanPost before, Chris Faulkner of Grizzly Bear Blues (who also helps us out with social media) wrote such a great step-by-step guide on how to do it that I'm not going to bother to reinvent the wheel — if you have more questions after reading that, just let me know and I'll gladly help out.

Moving on...

What do we currently do to promote FanPosts/Shots?

So you've now created your FanPost and are waiting for people to read/view it. We'll do a few things to help out with that:

  • Social media promotion: Barring significant grammatical/spelling problems or unsourced rumors, we're going to make an increased effort to share your FanPosts and FanShots on our social media channels (and if you haven't followed us on Twitter and liked us on Facebook, why not?). You may already notice us doing this as we can, but we'll try to increase that effort.
  • Promoting news to the front page: We'll automatically promote any newsy FanPost and FanShot to the front page. You might have noticed us doing this recently when we promoted LOVEMEORSPEIGHTSME's FanShot about Kevon Looney's surgery to the front page last week.
  • Promoting highly recommended posts to the front page: If a post is not necessarily breaking news (or something that would be redundant), I normally wait to see the community response before promoting it to the front page. For those posts, I usually promote FanShots after they get 3 recs and FanPosts after they get 4. An recent example of that was Kjestrada's FanShot video (which is technically a "VideoShot") "The Journey to the 2015 Championship". And I just want to add that I have absolutely no problem with people shamelessly promoting their posts/shots in the comments of other articles to get recs because it's the quickest way to make these things visible.
  • "GSoM's Hottest FanPosts and FanShots": After a FanShot gets 3 recs or a FanPost gets 5 recs (different due to their relative locations on the site), I'll put it in our featured posts section that is also accessible from the front page of the site.

GSOM Hottest FPS screenshot

What could we do to improve FanPost/Shot activity?

For those who are wondering, we did improve our FanPost/Shot activity last season, but I think we all — readers and staff — wish it was a little bit more active. Here's a few ideas that I've gathered from that last discussion in May and discussions with staff.

  • FanPost Friday: every Friday, the staff would just promote the best FanPost/Shots of the week and add them to a section visible on the front page. We could find a way to maybe add an incentive (e.g. entering "winners" into a raffle for a prize of some sort) but I think this would be a good, low-effort way to get in the habit of recognizing efforts from the community.
  • Permanently "reserving" a slot for FanPosts/Shots in the "cover" of the site: Bobbita brought up this idea in May and it's something we've discussed in the past. Basically, the "cover" of the site is the top portion of the site where the articles are offset with blue borders.

    GSOM cover

    (This part of the front page is called the "cover".)

    We have the power to change that from one to five posts and normally set it to three or five posts. Bobbita's idea was to reserve one spot for a FanPost that we just choose as a staff and rotate at some interval. What we could also do is reserve a spot for a FanPosts section that you could click on and navigate through. Either way, the issue is that none of that would be automatic — we'd have to put a bit more effort into keeping that fresh — but it could work to make FanPosts generally more visible.
  • Adding FanPosts/Shots to a daily links post: We could also add your FanPosts/Shots to a daily links post, which is something we've normally only done on game nights. The FanPosts/Shots themselves wouldn't be immediately visible from the front page, but links to them would be available in a more visible place where they could get recs.

That's what I've got right now. Feel free to respond to those ideas or offer your thoughts on how to make that section more active at GSoM.

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