So you want to have a popular build thread, do you?
I’ve had my fair share of horribly unsuccessful build threads. Some I felt like I put my heart and soul into and in return had 5 views. Not to mention they didn’t even bother to comment on what I felt was a priceless work of art. After a few days it quickly went into the junk drawer of the internet. I saw people that had similar vehicles, doing similar things have hundreds of comments, great interaction, and some great insights on vehicle modifications. So what were they doing? Here’s my 10 best tips on how to make a successful build thread.
1.) Pick the right forum.
Don’t expect to get much interest in building your 1992 Honda Civic on Expedition Portal. It’s just not the right place for it. It’s not to say the vehicle doesn’t have a cult-like following and that it isn’t anything but a superbly engineered vehicle, it’s just that it’s key to find the correct audience. Now if you were building a Land Rover Defender 110 for round-the-world travel, this is your place.
2.) Consistency is key.
Take a quick look at the most successful build threads; you’ll notice they’re all regularly updated. People follow these religiously. If you go a month without an update or a post, you’re likely to lose a lot of interest.
Patience is a virtue that many don’t have, especially when they first purchase a killer new vehicle. The reality is that this new vehicle has to be paid for, and so do the modifications and accessories that will go onto it. I’ve seen hundreds of build threads start with great enthusiasm only to die because the original poster didn’t have any content to put into the threads. Why? Because like most of us, they’re probably a busy person. It doesn’t hurt to wait a week or two and create a reserve or backlog of posts just incase you get busy. It can be really difficult to create a good detailed build thread when you’re limited on time, having a backlog can help. Again, consistency is key.
4.) “This thread is useless without pictures.”
You’ve seen it before, sometimes it’s even spelled in little emoticons. Unless you’re the Hemingway of build thread writing, don’t expect people to follow your build up if you can’t be bothered to put up images. Images help to show people a progression of your build and give detail on technical installations you’ve done.
5.) People love detail.
To save yourself and others some time in the future, if you’re doing something unique try to describe it and photograph it in detail. People are always researching interesting modifications and product installs, the more detailed and concise you can be with yours, the more populal and respected your thread will become. For example, if you’re doing a disk brake conversion on a unique vehicle be descriptive of each step you’ve taken, photograph those steps, and describe any difficulties you’ve encountered. It helps to provide some real value to the forum members around you and gives back to the community.
6.) Don’t make controversial blanket statements.
Everyone is entitled to their own personal opinions, I have mine, you have yours. Even if you’re sure that the 1992 Ford Explorer may be the best 4wd ever made, be careful how you say it; especially on a forum that has multiple vehicle brands. If you’re going to make a statement, make it in an educated manner with reasons to back up your thoughts. Avoid saying things like “My 1992 Ford Explorer is better than every other vehicle on this site because I say so and it was in Jurassic Park so it’s dinosaur-proof”. It’s just going to ruin the entire thread you’ve put work into and become seriously off-topic.
7.) Small town rules apply.
I’ve seen threads that have ruined the reputation of companies and people alike. I find it’s best to go by small town rules. The internet links people together from across the world in ways we’ve never seen before. Think of it as a small town - if you say something bad about the guy down the street, before you know it, everyone knows what you said. The same goes for a business, if you’re providing a shady service to people your name and reputation can be tarnished quickly. Depending on the context, if you’ve been wronged, you may want to start a discussion outside of the build thread you’ve been working on for so long. Off topic discussions tend to go south very quickly.
8.) Use your real name.
Behind the HTML you’re imputing into a forum there’s a real person with real feelings. People are social animals, they like to interact with an actual person, not ‘sexytruckdaddy92.’ Regardless of your screen name, associate your build with a real person, that is hopefully yourself. You’ll notice the most successful build threads are from people that associate themselves with the community as if they were a real person.
9.) It helps if people actually see the vehicle being used.
If you’re goal is to have a popular vehicle and to become an internet sensation it helps if you’re not a just an internet character. You may have the most expertly modified vehicle on the planet, but if no one sees the vehicle being used for it’s intended purpose they’ll quickly dismay the entire project. People like to know how the vehicle performs, how the modifications have improved it, and they like to see it in action.
10.) Become a part of the community.
Associate yourself with community events. On Expedition Portal our members frequently schedule events. Whether they’re just a gathering at a local bar or coffee shop to chit-chat about vehicles and trips or if they’re actually planned and organized trips, it helps to get yourself out there. There are also larger events like Overland ExPo and Overland Rallies to help you to make stronger connections with people on the forum. Other forums have similar events. I’ve attended events with BMW forums and VW forums that were a blast. I met some great people in the process and learned quite a bit.
So there you have it, the 10 best tips I can give you for a successful build thread. I’m not saying that it’s the ultimate must follow list, but I think it’s a good start.