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Asking BYB: How can we make the FanPosts and FanShots sections more interactive?

The FanPost and FanShot sections exist for you, BYB readers. We want your feedback on how to make them better.

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Whether you are new to Bless You Boys or a grizzled veteran to our little corner of the internet, odds are you have read a FanPost or two. This look at the Tigers’ ineptitude on the basepaths from cmdevins is a shining example, as is this discussion created by Riff_Raff about a recent FiveThirtyEight article. Posts like this are among the most informative and thought-provoking articles we feature at BYB, and are a wonderful way for members new and old to get more involved in the site community.

We want to figure out how to best incentivize you, the reader, to write more. The FanPost and FanShot sections are what makes Bless You Boys and the SB Nation community unique, and we as a staff can be better to make sure your excellent work is recognized. The BYB staff has already been hard at work brainstorming ideas for re-invigorating the FanPost and FanShot sections, but I want to gather opinions from the community at large before we dive headfirst into anything.

To get new folks up to speed and jumpstart the conversation, I’m going to outline what we’re talking about here, identify a few of the FanPost-focused things we have done before to promote great work, and propose a few ideas staff members and friends of the site have already pitched. Please offer your honest feedback, and don’t hesitate to voice your opinion in the comments! The waiting period for new members has currently been lifted, so even those brand new to BYB can jump right in with their ideas.

What are FanPosts and FanShots?

For those new to the site, FanPosts and FanShots are ways that members of the site can contribute to the community in a deeper way beyond leaving a comment on a front page article. FanPosts are community-generated articles of 75 words or more, and FanShots are community-generated links, pictures, tweets, videos, and the like. The daily lineup posts that have graced the front page of our site this season are FanShots, for instance.

You can find both the FanPost and FanShot sections along the right side of the home page just below the cover (more on that later). The post featured in the screenshot below is a FanShot.

(If you scroll down the front page of the site a bit more, you will see the FanShots)

At the bottom of the FanPost section, you will see two links: View All FanPosts and Post Your Own. These are self-explanatory, but often overlooked. FanPosts provide readers the opportunity to share their research and opinions with the staff and the rest of the site. They have been a staple of the SB Nation network since day one, and create a more authentic community than the vast majority of websites you may visit in a given day.

Want to get started right now? Chris Faulkner of Grizzly Bear Blues wrote a great step-by-step guide to crafting FanPosts and FanShots that has been recycled many times over by the rest of the SB Nation community.

What do we currently do to promote FanPosts and FanShots?

If you’re worried that your hard work won’t get noticed on the FanPost sidebar, don’t. Trust me when I say that the BYB staff pays very close attention to these. Here’s what we’ll do to help it catch more eyes:

  • Pictures: It seems silly, but we will often put a picture at the top of a new FanPost. This is an easy way to do two things: (1) make it look way cooler, and (2) show you, the writer, that we are paying attention. We’ll also take the time to correct any minor spelling errors that crop up (it happens to the best of us), and fix any formatting snafus that have occurred.
  • Social media promotion: The vast majority of our site traffic is derived from various social media sources like Facebook and Twitter. When we find a FanPost or FanShot we like, we will share it through our various social media accounts just like any other BYB article. We’ll try to step our game up in this regard as well. In the meantime, make sure you are following us on Twitter and have liked us on Facebook!
  • Promoting FanPosts and FanShots to the front page: There’s no hard-and-fast rule as to what gets promoted to the front page, but we know it when we see it. Quality FanPosts will likely get bumped within a day or two, in order to maximize timeliness and visibility. From there, keeping good FanPosts in the limelight is up to you! If you click the “Rec” button at the bottom of the post you’re reading (just above the comments), you are “recommending” that post to the rest of the community. FanPosts that generate enough recs stick at the top of the FanPost section for a while, which helps readers find them again to jump back into a lively discussion in the comments.
  • FanPost Friday: This season, we have made a concerted effort to feed readers ideas for FanPosts. Since alliteration is key to any marketing venture — it’s not called Taco Monday, y’all — we throw out these ideas on Fridays. These thought-provoking articles will have closed comments in order to “encourage” you to voice your thoughts in a FanPost.

What could we do to improve FanPost/FanShot activity?

Here are a few ideas we’ve picked up from various sources to help increase the number of FanPosts and FanShots our readers create.

  • “BYB’s Hottest FanPosts and FanShots”: Other SB Nation sites have created specific sections to highlight the great work provided by their readers, and we have recently done the same. It takes a bit of effort on everyone’s part, but frequent readers can jump right to that section to see the best FanPosts and FanShots created by members of the BYB community. Better yet, this group doesn’t reset or turn over. If your post makes it here, it will be here for as long as BYB is still alive and kicking.
  • Permanently “reserving” a spot in the cover for FanPosts or FanShots: Other SB Nation sites have committed to keeping a community-generated post among the top few articles promoted on the front page. The “cover” is the group of posts at the top of the site where articles are adorned with big, fancy pictures.

We have the power to change this section in any number of ways, including pinning posts from anywhere on the SB Nation community to that group. We could reserve a spot in this group for a FanPost or FanShot to help make them more visible. This takes a bit of work on our part — and may be amended on days with high article volumes — but it would help promote your work, which is our main goal.

  • Adding FanPosts and FanShots to daily links posts: The daily links are one of our most popular features at BYB. Depending on FanPost and FanShot volume, we could create a BYB FanPost/Shot section in these posts that highlights the community’s recent work.

We want to hear your ideas! Leave your feedback in the comments — or, better yet, in a FanPost!

Like so many of our best ideas, this post was initially crafted by someone else. Shoutout to Nate Parham of Golden State of Mind for the inspiration.