My main site has been active for 3-1/2 years, but we've grown considerably in the past year and it's time for to refresh things.

At the stroke of midnight, New Year's Eve on Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean (the first time zone to pass into 2005), we're kicking off a 24-hour online launch party. I'm hoping to generate some enthusiasm and reinvigorate the community.

Why a launch party? We have some big changes in store. We're moving to a dedicated server. We're updating the site with a whole new design. We're switching from Snitz Forums (running ASP) to vBulletin, and adding a lot of new features.

So what are we doing? Well, we're planning hosted IRC chats, contests with prizes, including an instant messaging trivia contest, arcade competition and a mind-bending lyrics game created by one of our moderators. We'll also have webcams sharing some of the real-world New Year's celebrations, and a virtual guestbook where members can share their favorite BigBlueBall memories, best wishes for the new year, and post photos from their New Years celebrations.

We were accepted as a Google News feed last month, so some of this will no doubt be picked up by them. I also submitted my first ever press release via PRweb; it'll be interesting to see what if any response that brings.

It will be interesting to see what impact this has on the site going into our fourth year.

I'd love to hear back from the rest of you and get your feedback on the concept.

I definitely think that a launch party, and everything you are doing for it, is a superb idea. It's great for word-of-mouth marketing as well. The only thing that I am not entirely sure of is your idea to host it on New Year's Eve. That is usually a time when people are out partying and celebrating the New Year - I'm sure there are going to be a handful of people who would have otherwise checked out your launch party if it wasn't for the date. When trying to drive traffic to your site, it's hard enough to compete with all of the other great stuff to do online. But now you are trying to compete with people's offline real lives as well.

We'll see. The convient thing is that it's always turning midnight somewhere in the world, so even if you have plans in the real world, you can join in the online celebration with other folks on the other side in the morning or the middle of the day. :)

BigBlueBall, how did the party go? I'm curious to see how effective it was despite the fact that New Years Eve is such a celebrated event.

The launch party went very well. The IRC channel was very busy all day, and has remained active ever since. I awarded everyone who signed the "guestbook" on New Year's Eve with launch party badges next to their name in their forum posts.

The net result was that many members crawled out from the woodworks and posted again for the first time in ages... months or even years for a few. New registrations for January are up by >30% and people are enthusiastic about the changes.

The buzz factor is probably the greatest benefit. Regardless of the actual number of people who participated, I can leverage the buzz from the event for months to come. Those first-time visitors to the site will not know how many people participated, but they will see the news about it and have a positive impression that the site is active, dynamic and growing.

Fantastic. Congratulations! I'm very glad it all worked out so well for you. Never would have expected it, to tell you the truth.