Sunday, January 31, 2010

Building A Successful Guild Part 3: The Outside Appearances

Well it has been quite some time since this series was going, so it seems appropriate to give some link love! In part 1, I described how the foundation of a guild is the guild leadership, who must be strong or else everything else crumbles. In part 2, I looked at the parallels between framing the different rooms in a house and in a guild, setting up proper avenues for members to enjoy all the various aspects of the game. Now we come to the third part of this five-part series on how to build a successful guild, and more specifically, the outside appearances.

When constructing a house, you pour the foundation and frame the sides and the rooms, and then the fun really begins. As all the details you see every day start going into place, the outside of the house also becomes finished. As seen above, this includes everything from the entry doors to the siding to the roof. Even as the inside of the house stays far from finished, the outside takes shape and becomes an inviting appearance of home. The outside appearance of a guild is just as crucial as the outside appearance of a house.

Although a guild may have a group of friends who come together and grab all their in-game friends to get the roster going, every guild needs some form of recruitment because people inevitably move in and out of guilds, servers, and Azeroth itself. Whether you have your eyes on becoming a huge guild like the two I happen to be a member of, or just sustain a certain number of members, keeping a beautiful outside appearance is important. This will allow you to bring in new members and in the case of a raiding guild, have your pick of a number of people when you need that important resto shaman slot filled (or whatever else). So what do you need to do in order to have this inviting outside appearance?

Again one of the most important things you can have is a good website. Maybe someone on your guild sees players of your guild in Dalaran or groups with them in random instance groups, and they want to find out more about the guild behind this person. A simple google search of the guild name will hopefully lead them to your website, which you set up with various communication channels as previously discussed. But just as important as the forum discussions is the front page and what your first impression will be. If you are a raiding guild, there should be proof of your progress right there on the front page. If you are a casual guild, find a way to put your guild personality into the home page. Perhaps the guild schedule of events, or some member-submitted pictures, all adds to the overall effect. There should be some single person in charge of the website who puts their all into it, so that you encourage more contact from potential guild members and show off your guild to the world.

Just like in a house, these things on your webpage are windows into your special world of the guild. It does not matter if the inside of your guild currently looks well put together...

or if you have a bit of a mess on your hands...

These windows are what potential recruits will look at in order to see if they want to add your guild tag to their character. Another way to form a good appearance is the conduct of your members in Azeroth. There should be some conduct policy put into place, as you do not want your members being the guys in tradechat sustaining the "anal chuck norris" conversation. Indeed, how your members behave when they are not in your presence reflects on all of you, and you need to find a way to communicate that message to members. The best window to view what a guild is like is to see how their members operate in the game. If you have members who helpfully answer questions in tradechat, pitch in to help people while questing, and treat people well in instances, your guild will be very well-though of. We all know the guilds on our own servers that you would not want to be associated with because they get made fun of in tradechat or people just hate them for various reasons. Thus, maintaining your outside appearance must be a hybrid effort between your website and the conduct of your current members. After all, they would like to meet new people and make more friends, presumably, so this should be a top priority.

In Alea Iacta Est, this challenge can be more unique thanks to the size of the guild. In fact, AIE has people in every walk of life and ends up having members at the forefront of every scene in the game, whether it is Arena, Battlegrounds, Raiding, City Raids, or RP Events. AIE has a fantastic website, which links in some news on the front page, has clearly defined information for interested recruits, and links to the things that bring most people into the guild, that being The Instance podcast and the related forums. Once someone clicks around the website, they will see that AIE has little groups of people doing everything, and this information invites people right in to experience it. The forums are the real selling point though, as you can see just how special the community is. For example, one of the guild members passed away recently, and the outpouring of emotions and heartfelt responses are enough to shake you at your core. You don't expect a group of people gaming to come together like a family, but AIE manages to do so and shows it right off for anyone willing to look in the windows. As for in-game conduct, the leadership keeps their ears to the ground and takes care of problems that crop up quickly and efficiently. When reports came in that certain guild members were acting rudely in the new LFG system, the leadership jumped into action, finding out who was being offensive and encouraging members strongly to be ambassadors of the guild everywhere they went. While it is true that AIE's size causes the guild to be viewed unfairly at times, once you look in the windows and give the guild a chance, you see how great it is. The guild keeps growing thanks to the outside appearances, and it's a good thing.

Meanwhile over on alliance-side, The Illuminati has taken a recent stance of staying about the size they are. We already are the biggest guild on the server for the alliance, and the guild leadership wants to keep a tight-knit sense of community on some level. Nevertheless, people come and go all the time and it all starts with the website. The Illuminati website clearly shows the main raid progression and schedule, snapshots from guild members, and some recent forum posts so a visitor can jump right into what is going on right now. The forums might not be as well-traveled as others, but the website invites people in to see what we're all about. In game, the Illuminati has not really needed to keep a conduct policy per se, but the guild leadership will take action to make sure nobody in the guild is doing anything silly in the world like treating people badly or unnecessarily spamming trade chat. These efforts continue to bring in the recruits to refill the membership rolls when others must pass along out of the guild for various reasons.

So the outside appearance of a house and a guild can invite people in and keep your public guild reputation positive. This not only helps bring in new members, it also helps your members join pick up groups for raids and things, because their guild tag starts to carry a positive meaning or connotation. The best compliment I've ever heard in game for our guild is being added to an endgame PUG raid because some other guild members had left this raid leader with a good impression of us. As the series continues to the final two parts, we will look next time into protecting or securing your guild. See you next time!

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