How can we explain the benefits of a SE 2.0 site to people who have never heard of StackOverflow, and only use forums (if that)? For instance, when I posted on a Blender forum about a proposal, the response was, "we already have a Forum".
I would give Simon Brown's comment a +1 if I could. If I put myself into the shoes of, say, the owner of a blender forum, that's exactly what I would think. I wouldn't want two online communities (a forum and a SE site) - that could lead to quite a bit of user confusion. And the hurdles of transferring my existing community onto another platform - even if the other platform was fantastic - is significant. I would need to see actual business & community value to compensate for the effort.
To market this to non-technical people, I think we have to look at the two core audiences of SE sites:
Below, I'll give my opinions & suggestions on addressing each of these core audiences. Many pardons for a lengthy post here.
Let's look at community admins first. What are their needs? In varying levels, they may be:
Next, let's look at their concerns in adding another community platform:
Now, let's look at their concerns in replacing their forum with another community platform:
Those are quite some hurdles. All is not lost though. Some of the benefits I see in SE over a traditional forum like phpBB are:
I'm sure some of you can think of other benefits too. These bullet points can be used as part of the marketing message towards explaining why SE is better than a forum. They could fall under an umbrella message of:
That's just an example of how SE could be positioned. Then it should be followed up with details on how SE could be installed with minimal fuss & expense. At this point, I would say the best way to market a product is to build a great product. I already think SE is a great product, but some features to make installation & migration super-easy may be necessary for further adoption, such as:
Whew. That was long. Okay, let's look at community members now. What are their needs? In varying levels, they may be:
Their concerns in migrating to another community platform might be:
I may be biased, but I think SE would address their needs better than traditional forum systems can. Learning a new UI would be the biggest hurdle, but giving them a beta site to play with could alleviate those pains. Migrating their accounts & content over would satisfy their other concerns.
Obviously, I think aiming for the community administrators is the more effective way to increase the adoption of SE. It's perhaps possible to market SE so well that non-technical communities could be clamoring, "Adopt SE now! Adopt SE now! Adopt SE now!" But it might be more cost-effective to market to community admins first.
My $0.02. I hope this helps.
Point out the main benefits of the SE software.
We programmers were already familiar with existing forums that didn't have these features. Remember how frustrating it was to search and find only outdated information, or have to sift through a thread to (maybe) find the answer you're looking for? In my mind these are the main problems that SO fixes.
A good slogan can go a long way.
What about this:
(I'll delete if flagged, since 9% of SE visitors are minors!)