I have the privilege of being the recruitment officer for my guild. It's something that I enjoy doing overall, since I do like meeting and talking with new people and I really do believe in what our guild is and what we represent. But sometimes I get slightly frustrated with the state of guild recruitment in WoW. It seems like players don't have one specific, easy-to-use place to look for a new guild, so players up to this point have come up with all sorts of ways to do it.
What are the normal ways to advertise your guild?
You could advertise in your realm forums: This seems to work the best, particularly since it's primarily seen by people who are already playing on your realm and it's the first place most people look when they decide it's time for a change. The bad thing about the realm forums is that they only reach a limited number of people. There might be a slew of people out there that would be a great fit for your guild, but they just haven't found your server yet. You also open your guild up to possibly being trolled, although most of the time the trolls will leave you alone as long as you don't have a bad reputation.
You could advertise in the official WoW recruitment forums: Honestly, these forums are a mess. They have them split into two boards, one for Alliance and one for Horde. If you actually peruse those forums they have hundreds of posts, all with a slightly varying but generally similar subject line: 11/12 25H - 12/12 10H Pro Core LFM Heal/DPS/Tank. First off... that is soulless and reads like a line in an IT hardware catalog. Second, all of these posts have been bumped hundreds of times, probably several times a day, and those boards move FAST. Wait an hour and you're on the third or fourth page already. So you're left furiously bumping your recruitment post so that you might possibly get seen among all the eye-bleeding pandemonium.
The other side of this method is that the guild representative can peruse those forums for players who are advertising looking for a new guild. Again, this is hard on the eyes and involves scanning through about 20 pages of posts, searching for a needle that might not even be in the haystack. But, it can also be very rewarding if you do find some promising players.
You could advertise in trade chat: Oh yes, we've all seen it...
Knights of The Azerothian Hamster are recruiting all classes, all races, all levels! We are a fun, friendly, mature guild with 5 bank tabs, a tabard, and a website! PST for more info!Granted, the KotAH might be a really fantastic group of people. But that advertisement really doesn't tell anybody what the guild is about. Most guilds would need to be "fun" and "friendly" in order to retain members, and "mature" could mean several different things. Most guilds also have bank tabs, a tabard, and a website, so that's not necessarily something to brag about. Even worse, if you're advertising in trade chat there's no telling what kind of folks will see it and want to join. The few times that I've tried it, I've generally gotten whispers like "invte now plz" or "i join ur guild". Responses like that get put on /ignore.
What are some alternate methods?
Alternate guild recruitment websites: Sites like lookingforguild.net are a good option if you are looking for a quieter and much more user-friendly place to post. I really like their layout and it's much easier to search for recruitment posts by faction, battlegroup, server, server type, playstyle, raid times, progression... just about any possible criteria you might have can be filtered. Plus, you don't have to deal with trolling. The bad thing is that of course it's a third party website, so you likely won't be seen by as many people.
If I could shoot for the moon, I'd love it if Blizzard implemented a similar system on their website. Then instead of maintaining server guild lists and individual recruitment posts, a guild could set themselves up once and be done. Entries could be easily changed and maintained at any time to reflect guild needs.
Mentions on fansites: Probably one of the more difficult things to do. This includes getting mentioned on WoW.com or in podcasts. First, you have to do (or plan) something really nifty and unusual. Then you have to notify those outlets about what you did, and hope and pray that it's a slow enough news day for them to take notice. If they do mention you, what kind of recruitment that'll generate is a bit iffy. I've seen some guilds grow by leaps and bounds after a WoW.com announcement, and I've seen others that didn't see any new recruits at all.
Multi-media: Of course, if you're so inclined you can always start your own WoW fansite, podcast,or YouTube channel and make your own splash. Look no further than the Instance podcast or the MooingDruid's Crimson Blood Clan videos for great examples of this. This isn't an option for everybody but if you have the resources and the creative and technical talent to do it, go for it!
What kind of results can be expected?
A few months back, I went on a recruiting spree for my guild. I tried all of the above methods for two months, except for the trade chat (of course) and the multi-media option... my skills aren't quite up to that point yet! But here's the results we got with a fairly detailed post describing our guild:
Server Forums : 13 recruits
Guild Recruitment Forums: 11 recruits
LookingForGuild.net: 2 recruits
WoW.com: 2 recruits
28 recruits over a two month period... not bad! However, don't get too excited yet.
15% of the applications were rejected outright.
30% of the recruits were invited but didn't make it through our associate period.
So really, we ended up with a little more than half of the recruits actually becoming full members. We're still quite happy with those numbers, as we got some really excellent players that fit with the overall group dynamics and atmosphere. It's important to not get discouraged when recruits don't work out. If it isn't a good fit for both the guild and the player, it's much better to acknowledge that and give each other a friendly "Best of Luck!" before moving on.
What about you folks? Have any of you discovered any other unusual methods of recruiting that have worked pretty well for you?