Casual Guilds Are Not Easy! is a weekly series (usually) on Destructive Reach which is devoted to the running of those oh-so-mysterious creatures, the ultra casual World of Warcraft guild. This series covers many of the problems which arise in the day to day running of a casual guild, possible solutions to these, and the implications of these solutions.
A guild is not a guild unless it has members. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well… not necessarily. These members need to come from somewhere, and it can be tough to find people to join your guild, especially if you need to find people to join who do not know you. Recruitment is a difficult thing for all guilds. How to make yourself known, how to not look like asshats by recruiting the wrong way, who to recruit… it’s all very hard. The first thing to think about it why you want to recruit. This will influence the way you recruit and who you recruit.
Casual guilds tend to have various reasons for recruiting, whether it be to break into 10 man raiding on a casual basis, to have more people to run various guild events, or merely to increase the size of your guild to something more self sustaining (that is, enough members to allow for conversation to flow in guild chat, to have guild instances be run without too much difficulty, etc). If you are unsure as to why you want more members, you should not recruit until you have come up with a good reason. Why is this important?
The reason forms the basis for your recruitment. When you seek out new members, people like to know why you would want them. They also want to know what your guild does and why they should be interested in joining. Believe it or not, people are not going to want to join a guild because you say in your ad that your guild is awesome and the people in the guild are great. They will want to join a guild because it has the same goals and ideas as they do. This means that you need to be accurate when you state what your guild does and what you want to do.
A common trap guilds fall into is to exaggerate their achievements or overstate their goals. Many guilds feel that they need to say they are aiming for much higher content or longer raid hours than what they really are for people to be interested in their guild. There is a misconception that people are not interested in joining guilds unless they are raiding. If this was truly the case, why would your guild exist at all? Consider just how many people are playing World of Warcraft, how many people are on your server, and ask yourself – can ALL these people truly be interested in raiding? If you want people to stay in your guild, then they have to join it for the right reasons. Saying you farm Naxx might pull in lots of members, but they aren’t going to stick around when they discover you only go in there once a month and struggle on the third boss!
Casual guilds tend to have 2 large pools of people to recruit from: New players who are unguilded, and people who are quitting raiding and wish to have a more casual playstyle. Now, I don’t have statistics, but I would also suggest that the most successful recruits (i.e – people who fit well into your guild and appreciate your guild philosophy) are people who are recruited by friends. This isn’t to say that recruiting campaigns can not be successful – it is just much more likely that the people your members recruit through saying ‘how about you join my guild for a while and see how you like it?’ will stick around and be productive members of the team.
Friends recruiting friends often makes me think of a saying we used when I used to work in retail – ‘Stock sells stock’. Basically, it meant that having more stock on the shelf would increase the sales of a product. You can take this expression and apply it to your guild – members breed members. No, this doesn’t mean your guild members should go forth and multiply to create future members! The more members you have, the more members they themselves will recruit. However, this does not mean that you have to have a HUGE membership base to ensure your numbers grow. Quality over quantity, always! You also do not want to have to have members just for the sake of it – always keep an ‘ideal guild size’ in mind, and ensure that the size fits your guild’s personality and needs. There is no ‘right’ size for a casual guild – there are equally successful 25 and 300 account guilds out there. Just go with what works for you and your members.
I personally think this form of relaxed recruiting is what works best for a casual guild. Sure, it’s slow, it doesn’t really guarantee that you will get new members, but it does help make sure your members are a good fit for your guild. Active recruiting is not as likely to have as high a retention rate. However, if you are interested in active recruiting and need to increase your membership quickly, just keep these few points in mind
- Don’t over sell your guild or make false promises
- Ensure you talk to someone before you throw out the invite to see if they will be a good fit for your guild
- Don’t poach! Good for eggs, bad for guild reputations.
- Consider all the different forms of advertisement – chat channels (please don’t use LFG), guild recruitment forums, etc. Chat channels may be your best bet as a casual guild, but don’t be afraid to put a well written advertisement on the forums. Make sure you don’t spam either!
- Target the right groups in your advertising. Remember – people who are new to the game, and people who are retiring from raiding and want to kick back a bit. Don’t aim for raiders and hard core players.
If you must advertise, please, please, PLEASE avoid the following!
- ‘Have Tabard!’ (um…. yay?)
- ‘Will pay you gold to join’ (sounds like people REALLY want to stay in your guild buddy)
- ‘Have a Guild Bank’ (as does most every guild on the server)
- ‘Officers drawn by lottery each month’ (great, the guild could be led by total nincompoops next week)
- ‘We enjoy RL meet ups’ (just a bit full on for recruiting people, true or not)
- We have cleared x, y and z (unless it is true!)
- We do lots of fun stuff (very specific, aren’t you?
I don’t have space to cover advertising as well, but if there is enough demand I will certainly do a post on it. This merely addresses common pitfalls and how to avoid them, and basic approaches to recruitment.