Do you think social networks, like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, are the best and most loyal communities you can have?
Maybe you're mistaken, as you are about to learn.
Read more and become aware of the amazing power forums have.
First, let's see a common definition of Internet Forum:
An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages.
Second, what are the opinions of some industry experts, developers and researchers?
Well, there's nothing better to answer that question than to read some great articles.
Here you can read recaps of some articles available online.
Some of this articles are in full, others were adapted and others are largely reduced here for focusing purposes.
If you are truly interested in having a forum or learning more about them, take the time to read this because there is wisdom in them and go even deeper and explore the source url.
Internet forums are a huge world and have a long history.
There are plenty of organizations, companies and individuals that have contributed and still do everyday to this fascinating part of the internet.
The Benefits Of Having Discussions Forums On Your Website
In today’s fast paced and competitive online world it’s paramount for businesses to:
- devise ways to attract more visitors to their websites
- retain those visitors
- improve their websites’ page rankings
One tool that can help achieve these objectives is a forum or discussion board because it's a popular way of engaging and interacting with others online.
A forum and discussion functionality can be a great addition to any website.
In this article, we will go through the many advantages and a few challenges.
Generate fresh content. Search engines love content.
Having a forum with lots of people all contributing and adding new posts and replies can generate enough content to really push your site forward.
It can take some time and you will need some great members, but if you can get an amazing group of users all posting away, then this can really help your site increase its rankings.
Discussions and forums play an important role when your customers are at the very first stage of the customer buying cycle that is the pre-purchase/dream stage.
Genuine, authentic customer photos, videos and comments help them to research and dream about your products and experiences when they first get to your website.
A forum or discussion area on your website gives new online visitors, clients and potential customers a reason to return to your site; especially if they need help or advice on a certain subject.
We all want visitors to keep returning to our site. So having a forum can be a great way of making people want to come back and use your website regularly.
Being in direct contact with your customers and potential customers allows you to be better informed about their needs, wants, questions and general interests.
So they can become a great research tool!
Discussions and forums can also give you insight into the vocabulary they use, helping you to ensure that your messages and content use language that they understand and are familiar with.
Forums are ideal to provide your community with a way to connect to each other.
It is a fantastic tool to swap ideas, create meaningful relationships within overlapping industries and create a sense of belonging.
Interacting with your customers and prospects
A discussion forum is a fairly informal place but you can share announcements about your business, answer questions about your products and services and generally talk about features and benefits of doing business with you because after all, it should be information that those interacting with your forum will be interested in.
While all the conversations are happening, you’re providing information to prospects as well.
People interested in possibly buying from you may browse your forum, see the community, see your ability to service and communicate with your customers and this may entice visitors to become buyers.
Whenever you open up a public forum or discussion board, then you are going to have to think about moderation.
What about negative comments? Negative comments can often provide great opportunities because they give you the chance to react with the unhappy customer openly and publicly rather than the customer festering and simply not using your services again.
Think of it as an opportunity to turn around those few unhappy customers and show potential customers that your organisation does actually take notice and react to what people say.
Other visitors often come to the defence of an organisations’ bad experience and this is fantastic when it happens.
Building a strong and loyal community can really help to police your own website and when your own community comes to your defence this completely nullifies any negative effects that may come from such comments.
Like the majority of things on the internet, a forum is just an open target for any spammer because if your forum gets big then it could have some weight in Google (and other search engines).
So it’s vital to consider how you will deal with this before it becomes a problem for you.
Kick starting your forum
It can be difficult at first to attract visitors to your forum.
An empty forum basically has no hope of attracting people that participate.
People need to see content and be able to explore topics.
Creating all this content can be a lot of work and time.
Establishing a discussion forum can take some initial time and effort but once people start contributing to the discussion, you’ll start to see the benefits that your forum is bringing to your business and the time and effort needed to maintain it will seem less and less each time you see your traffic and profits going up.
10 Incredible Benefits Of Creating A Forum
Running a forum is an excellent way of creating a community.
It can be a place for people to discuss issues share knowledge, talk about you, your product or your service.
In the long-term, providing a way for your users to be part of a community can prove to be invaluable for:
Creating a new revenue stream
Search engine optimization
Forums generally get very high rankings on search engines because they are filled with content, all related to the same general topic.
Search engines love this because it is exactly what they are looking for.
Forums will typically help boost your website's ranking in the search engines as well, since there is a link to your website on your forum.
As your forum grows and becomes a community with high quality content and a passionate group of users, visitors will return regularly to learn more, ask questions and connect with their friends on the forum.
Forums are the best way to connect with your users, truly understand their needs, get feedback, answer questions and build relationships.
Monetizing your forum can create an entirely new source of income.
Monetization strategies include:
You can charge your users a monthly or one-time fee for access to features, to your entire forum or select categories.
Place advertisements, such as Google Adsense on your forum.
Some ad networks can earn you €2.00 CPM (per 1,000 page views) or more,allowing you to earn money from your forum.
Donations from users
You may be able to raise a substantial amount of money by asking your users to make a small donatation.
As the forum owner, you are a trusted expert in your field, so you can recommend products and services as an affiliate to your visitors, directly on your forum or via rare and well-planned emails.
You can contact other companies in your industry that may be interested in sponsoring your forum for a fee.
In return you could promote their product or service and place their logos in prominent areas of your forum.
And out of your industry, to get donations for social ou charity projects.
Freelancers: 8 Awesome Reasons Why You Should Join Online Forums
Educate your customers to like your forum.
Talk to any successful freelancer about whether he or she frequents online forums and the answer is going to be a resounding “Yes”.
Many freelancers admit to using forums to establish their business and form long-lasting connections.
Online forums have managed to survive the blogging evolution because of the benefits they provide
8 Awesome Benefits of Joining Forums
1. Networking opportunities
Online forums provide a networking opportunity 24/7, if you’re active in your chosen forum and interact with people.
Just showing up and talking to people will help you get your name out there.
Folks whose thread you reply to will remember you and will be more receptive to your message when you approach them for something.
Most importantly, your thread will remain there forever, unless intentional cleanup happens and any people might try to contact you, if they found your ideas or solutions helpful.
2. Gain ideas
One of my favorite things to do when I’m stuck for ideas to blog about is to go through the topics in my favorite freelance forum.
I keep my eye open for any questions that people are asking, hot debates happening and anything else that I think will be a good topic for a blog post.
Whether you need ideas or just want to test the viability of your own idea, forums are the perfect place to go.
Online forums allow you to tap into the pulse of all things happening in your niche.
The more people there are talking in the forum, the more potential there is for you to gain ideas.
3. Increase knowledge
Let’s suppose you’re a newbie, you’ve just entered your field and feel like you’re flapping around like a fish out of water trying to make sense of everything.
You know you have a lot to learn, but you can’t afford a business coach or an advisor.
Then you join a forum and all of a sudden you see people asking the same questions you have.
Better still, people are answering those questions!
You’ve just hit jackpot and suddenly what was bound to take you months to learn become something easy to learn.
With few mistakes, you’re learning fast and avoiding common pitfalls at the same time!
So again you’re a newbie and in serious need of help, you have no money and no resources, but you’re desperate to have someone mentor you.
Someone whose advice is tailored specifically for you, so you can not only avoid common mistakes, but actually become successful in half the time it would take you otherwise.
An online forum is an excellent way to get established freelancers to mentor you for free and some of them are even industry elite.
Remember when I said that a forum increases your knowledge by allowing you to ask questions and get answers?
Well that’s your free mentorship too. You’re getting all these amazing advices for free!
If you network it right, bide your time and prove to be an overall helpful, smart and talented freelancer, other established freelancers are going to notice you
and will be more open to taking you under their wing.
But remember, the key to mentorship is that you have to do all the legwork.
Your mentor will only give advice and direction.
It’s you who has to prove to them that their time was not wasted on you.
If not, they’re not going to provide you free advice for long!
5. Build relationships
No freelancing business is successful without building strong relationship with clients and peers.
If you don’t have a relationship with them, they won’t trust you, they won’t refer you and they certainly won’t hire you.
Forums have proven to be an excellent source for relationship building because freelancers aren’t the only ones who hang out in them.
Potential clients do too.
After all, where else will they find trusted freelancers?
No one likes to put out blind ads and hire a freelancer they don’t know.
The good thing is that relationship building doesn’t take any extra effort.
If you’re active in a forum, at networking and engaging with other members, are going out of your way to lend a helping hand, then you’re automatically building relationships.
6. Establish expertise
Claiming you’re an expert at something won’t get people to hire you. Showing them that you know your stuff will.
Online forums provide an excellent way to establish your expertise.
Look for threads that deal with your particular niche, or start one yourself.
For example, let’s say your ideal clients are in the finance sector.
You can start a thread related to common writing issues you see in the articles or website copyof financial institutions and state ways to make it better.
This way, you are not only making potential clients aware of the problems in their copy, but also providing them solutions.
Now of course if they were a copy whiz, they’d fix it themselves, but they’re not and nor do they have the time.
They still want their copy to be fixed though.
Who do you think they’ll hire?
The freelancer who claims to have written for xyz clients in the sector or the one who has already shown how he can make their copy better?
7. Increase traffic and sales
If you’re a freelancer with your own blog and product that you advertise and sell to create a passive income, you need online forums to help drive traffic to your blog.
Fill out your entire forum profile and add a small description about yourself and what you do.
Keep it relevant to your work.
Add links to your website, blog and social networks you frequent.
This way, every time you start a thread or reply to one in the forum, people will see details about you.
They’ll know who you are, what you do and where you can be found online.
If your posts are relevant to them, they’ll click on your links to check you out.
They’ll visit your blog, go through your posts and leave comments.
And if you have a product page, they might even buy from you.
The more you interact, network and build relationships, the more traffic and sales you’ll get.
You won’t need to convince them with sales copy.
These people already believe in you and accept that you’re an authority.
Granted, the sales won’t be phenomenal but they’ll slowly add up.
Besides, some sales are better than none, right?
8. Making the most of online forums
The only way to make the most from online forums is to be a sponge.
Soak in everything.
Don’t disregard something just because it wasn’t meant for you.
If it’s related to you in any way, pay attention.
Even if it’s not and it’s related to a potential client, pay even more attention.
Just remember a few golden rules of online forums:
Company Forum - 5 Benefits
1. Allow discussions to take place in an open environment
One of the challenges for any company is getting the right people involved to discuss ideas and make decisions.
If you send an email and miss people out who feel they should be involved they may feel upset and disenchanted.
If you send the same email to a huge distribution list people will reply just because they feel they should which creates noise and chatter.
So how do you get the right people involved?
Using a company forum rather than email is a good solution.
This will allow people to read about the topics they are interested in and get involved if they feel they have something valuable to add.
2. Encourage the sharing of ideas with a central way of collecting feedback
Great ideas for your company are sitting in peoples inboxes collecting dust.
Although ideas do have value, the real return comes from the disciplined execution of ideas.
Quite often the person who comes up with an ideas isn’t necessarily the right one to be turning it into reality.
So rather than people quietly mentioning ideas to friends in emails, get these discussions out into an open company forum, so everybody can contribute and the correct people can take the idea and execute on it if necessary.
3. Help drive usage and adoption of SharePoint
To first time users, SharePoint is a very weird platform if you are used to saving documents to a file share.
This unfamiliarity is often a barrier to people using the tool.
If you can add areas of functionality onto SharePoint that people are familiar with, then it will help drive usage and adoption.
Many people are familiar with using discussion groups and forums from general internet usage, so offering them something similar within their corporate environment that they know how to use will get them visiting the SharePoint site and getting familiar with it.
Once the SharePoint user interface is a normal part of their work day it will become second nature to start using SharePoint sites and document libraries for collaboration and wider work purposes.
4. Share knowledge out to the people who need it, when they need it
Rather than having the same questions re-asked at your company time and time again, use a discussion forum and allow them to be asked once and then discovered by others.
By integrating a company forum with enterprise search, you can allow your forum information to be discoverable by the people who need it, when they need it.
5. Reduce email and meetings
Many people are trying to deal with the overload of email every day by moving discussions away from email.
The number of emails a person gets each day can be dramatically reduced, allowing them to be more productive in other areas of their job.
Physical meetings are also a pain point for many people.
Rather than hold a physical meeting straight away, why not start a discussion thread on a forum?
And see if the objectives can be met there.
If not – at least you’ll have an agenda detailed down that can be used to keep the meeting to the point.
Benefits Of Forums
You get support when you need it and in exchange give support to others.
You have a richer vein of experience to draw on because you can pool examples, references and ideas.
A group can often produce better work than an individual.
One person might put forward a thought or idea, often not completely formed or finished.
Someone else picks up on it and takes it forward. That sparks off more ideas in others.
Between them the group creates something much better than any one person could have done on their own.
Individual and social benefits of online discussion forums
With that said, we are not aware of any research that has directly compared how Facebook and traditional forums work, so this view requires empirical substantiation.
In the rush to embrace social networking sites such as Facebook, both academics and the broader community are in danger of losing sight of these benefits, and indeed, forgetting they exist and may be of particular use for those who have social stigmas (see also Hurdley, 2013).
For users of stigma-relevant forums, then, these aspects of online interactions may represent unique benefits not fulfilled by Facebook groups.
These qualities reduce users’ feeling of threat and allow them to develop a sense of identity and closeness to their like-minded virtual interaction partners (Bargh & McKenna, 2004; Bargh, McKenna, & Fitzsimons, 2002).
In direct contrast to Facebook groups, online forum interactions may provide a valuable source of advice and support while allowing people with stigmatizing conditions to remain at least initially anonymous as they ‘lurk’ before contributing (Davison, Pennebaker, & Dickerson, 2000).
Importantly, Facebook/Twitter are less anonymous, since users typically join them using their name and often a recognizable photo, and may also elect to advertise their membership to other friends in their settings preferences.
However, we do not consider that they are interchangeable with the more traditional forums used in the present research.
We do acknowledge that Facebook and Twitter act as a type of discussion forum.
We believe, however, that the initial anonymity afforded by discussion forums – as they are traditionally setup – is an important aspect of our findings which sets them apart from more mainstream social media.
In a sense, then, it is not exactly news to speak of online spaces in general being linked to civic engagement.
In recent years, after all, there have been many accounts of Twitter/Facebook revolutions leading to mass mobilization of users and concomitant collective action to challenge or change the existing order (e.g., the ‘Arab Spring’, and the U.S. Occupy movement).
For example, might Facebook or Twitter groups perform a similar function?
Would any online community work the same way as the online discussion forums we studied?
Comparing forums to other online communities
Thus, the strongest predictor of identification should be the extent to which social (not instrumental) expectations are met or even exceeded.
Putting this all together motivates our hypothesis that the antecedents of identification are primarily social.
Because they do not readily intuit that the experience of interacting with other forum users will result in the formation of new social ties, their expectations are frequently exceeded.
What we mean by this is that users have high initial expectations about the instrumental benefits (which are typically fulfilled), but not about the social benefits.
Given that identification has a strong emotional component (e.g., Cameron, 2004) we put forward the novel hypothesis that social factors are more influential than instrumental factors in fostering forum identification.
This approach inspires us to draw a distinction between instrumental reasons for joining forums (e.g., to seek information) and social reasons – the two main reasons that have emerged in our preliminary research into this question (Pendry, Mewse, & Burgoyne, 2012).
Because online communication provides disparate gratification opportunities compared with traditional media, individuals may find it superior to face-to-face communication, if that richer medium is not considered fit for purpose (Dimmick, Kline, & Stafford, 2000).
For example, people with an obscure interest may join an online discussion forum to obtain information or social support that is not available in their own community.
This holds that people may trade off ‘richness’ of the medium against its ability to satisfy their felt needs.
Our rationale in considering the antecedents of forum identification was influenced by the ‘uses and gratifications’ approach (Herzog, 1944; Katz, Blumler, & Gurevitch, 1974), a second theoretical perspective that complements the social identity approach.
One of the advantages of online communication is that it may allow people to fulfill needs that are not being met offline.
A key goal of our study was to investigate the antecedents of forum identification.
Forum identification develops over time – but how and why?
Initial levels of forum identification are low as a rule; users do not tend to join a forum with a sense of already being connected to other users (who are strangers) by more than shared interests.
This suggests that we may be able to uncover antecedents of forum identification that similarly reflect users’ sense that the forum has been useful for them.
Moreover, low identifiers will begin to identify with a group when they anticipate that the group is about to benefit from positive social change, but will dis-identify when change is unlikely (Doosje, Spears, & Ellemers, 2002).
People may strategically express identities when they think they will not be punished, and/or connect them to an audience that is valued (Spears, Lea, Corneliussen, Postmes, & Ter Haar, 2002).
Patterns of identification with different ingroups suggest that identification occurs when it is functional (useful).
Social identity theory has taken up the question of the antecedents of forum identification and provided some answers.
In other words, instead of taking identification levels as a “given,” we need to conceptualize them also as a dynamic outcome.
If identification has so many benefits, it becomes increasingly crucial to ask where it comes from.
Our study provides the first test of that intriguing idea.
To our knowledge, though, no researchers have asked whether these same dynamics might link online identification with offline collective action, or any other form of civic engagement.
These myriad and varied sources all suggest a mediational role for identification in fostering collective action.
And sufficiently many findings in the social psychological literature affirm the role of identification in collective action that an influential paper putting forward a social identity model of collective action was needed to integrate them (van Zomeren, Postmes, & Spears, 2008).
Within environmental psychology, too, there is suggestive evidence that identification promotes environmental activism (Dono, Webb, & Richardson, 2010; Fielding, McDonald, & Louis, 2008).
Qualitative accounts of adolescents’ commitment to and engagement with prosocial and political organizations suggest that sustained social action may be at least partly a direct consequence of identification with the goals of the organizations they belong to (Martínez, Peñaloza, & Valenzuela, 2012).
Those with a strong political identity are more inclined to engage in civic activities such as political activism (Stewart & McDermott, 2004) and protest participation (Klandermans, 2002).
Second, at the societal level, group identification is also quite often linked to heightened civic engagement, in the sense that it is almost an accepted ‘given’ that they somehow go together (Youniss, 2011).
Our prediction that identification mediates the positive impact of online discussion forums on individual well-being derives from this well established and robust connection.
For example, a significant body of work is accumulating that suggests social group memberships, and more specifically, engagement in activities associated with such groups, can play a significant protective role in both the onset of and recovery from depression (see Cruwys, Haslam, Dingle, Haslam, & Jetten, 2014, for an overview of this extensive program of research).
First, at the individual level, group identification has been robustly linked to health and well-being, both in terms of effective coping with situational stressors (Haslam & Reicher, 2006) and in the longer term.
In this section, we highlight two of the many benefits of identification already established in the offline literature that we feel merit closer attention because they map onto our outcomes of interest.
In other words, identification plays a mediating role that drives the other two outcomes of interest.
Furthermore, it is the development of the sense that this community is meaningfully connected to the self (i.e., forum identification) that creates the dual benefits of individual well-being and offline civic engagement.
We suggest that online forums are precisely this type of group; they function as a powerful site of community for their users.
Social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979) posits that our group memberships are just as important as individual identity in defining the self (see Ellemers, Spears, & Doosje, 2002) and thus are equally important determinants of our downstream outcomes mediated by the self-concept (such as well-being and behavior).
Why is identification important?
To measure individual differences, we need to specify the target (in this case, the specific forum).
Because a given user may be strongly identified with one forum but only weakly identified with another, identification is not a stable personality trait.
Joining the forum is not synonymous with becoming a high identifier; active members of the forum may vary in their identification.
Thus, forum identification refers to the extent to which users include the forum in the self-concept.
Identification reflects, and is expressed by, the inclusion of the ingroup in the self-concept (Tropp & Wright, 2001).
We follow others in conceptualizing ingroup identification as a feeling of similarity and engagement with an ingroup and its other members.
Mediating role of forum identification.
Helps to maintain geographically dispersed networks, regardless of users’ physical location.
6 Benefits of Branded Forums and Online Communities
Reduced support costs
By direct contact via this channel and the network effect of the community, you will invest far less in call centers and support staff.
Customer retention and engagement
Online communities have been proven to build trust and familiarity among customers.
Reducing customer churn has a major positive impact on the bottom line.
Simple, cost effective marketing channel
These communities are an effective channel to present information on current and pending products and services to customer and prospects.
Customer feedback on product direction
Get direct feedback: the customer knows best.
Focus groups are expensive and brainstorming is often slow and ineffective.
Cross promote and market
Increased trust and deeper engagement earns permission to sell without selling.
Build a stronger brand
Strong brand = strong customer relationships.
There is no more valuable outcome.
Promoting your forum
Often the value of a forum or a community is measured by the number of posts or active members it has.
This is why creating content and attracting new members to your forum should always be a priority.
We want to use this opportunity to provide you with some additional suggestions that might help you in promoting your forum: Be Patient!
It takes time for momentum to build.
It typically takes between three months and one year to reach the point where the community takes on a life of its own.
Make your content public
Ensure that your settings and permissions are setup so that anyone can view your forums.
Requiring users to create an account and login before viewing content means that search engines and social networks won't be able to access the content either.
Also, a lot of users won't be prepared to create an account before they get to know your community and feel that it is valuable for them.
Therefore, it's best to keep your forums open to the public so that users don't leave when they are forced to signup and so that search engines can help spread the word about your forum for free!
Focus on creating a community
Running a forum is an excellent way of creating a community.
It can be a place for people to discuss issues, share knowledge, and talk about you, your product, or your service.
In the long-term, providing a way for your users to be part of a community can prove to be invaluable in terms of search engine optimization, customer satisfaction, customer/visitor retention, brand awareness, customer support, viral promotion, building trust, and creating a new revenue stream.
Define your forum's purpose and audience
If you already have a website and an audience, you probably have a good head start.
But if you don't, pick a topic and get to know the people for whom you'll be building the community.
If it's for baseball fans, spend some time where baseball fans hang out, both online and off.
Talk to people and cultivate relationships.
The better you understand what drives your audience, the more likely you'll build a forum they find valuable.
Seed your community with great content
Prior to launch, and for as long as it takes to gain momentum, seed your community with high-quality, relevant content.
Consider inviting a good core group of people in to help.
When you launch, this seed content will spark discussions, give visitors a sense of what your community is all about, and send the message that it's a happening place to be.
Additionally, search engines will index the content and begin sending visitors to your forum.
Focus on creating a lot of high-quality content that is relevant to your forum's topic and valuable to users you want to attract.
Users will stick around and join the discussion only if they find your forum valuable.
Invite new users
You could invite friends, family members, industry experts, co-workers, etc.
Social networking sites
Allow users to register or login to your forum using their Facebook account.
This is beneficial because you can use your Facebook app to tap into Facebook's huge viral reach, it increases registrations by 35 to 50% because users know it will be easy to register or login, and it automatically logs the user into your forum when they are already logged into Facebook.
Creating a Facebook Page to build a closer relationship with your audience and getting everyone you know to 'Like' the page is a great way to gain more exposure.
Creating a Twitter account and following those that are related to your niche can prove to be beneficial as well.
Tweeting things that are happening on your forum such as upcoming contests or some informative posts may yield the best results.
Social sharing is a great way to increase the popularity of your forum through viral marketing.
Remarket and advertise on Facebook and Twitter.
You can use Facebook and Twitter to remarket your forum to people who previously found your forum through search engines or other methods but didn't sign up.
This serves as a great way to bring your top forum content back in front of users who previously expressed interest in your forum.
Once they are familiar enough with your forum, they'll sign up and begin contributing themselves.
Remarketing typically provides the best results and best return on investment when advertising on social networks.
Once you've setup your remarketing campaign, you can expand your advertising efforts by using Facebook and Twitter to cheaply and precisely target people interested in the content your forum has.
You can target people based on their interests, behaviors, and demographics.
Create topics with enticing titles, start the discussion with a few posts, and then advertise on the social networks to get others to join the discussion.
Introduce a contest
People love participating in contests so giving them a reason to participate can increase your forums activity and be beneficial for you in the long run.
For example, you may want to offer a cash prize, voucher, or something else to the person that contributes the most posts within a certain time-frame.
We recommend that you offer a T-shirt, Pen, Baseball ball or a bat with your forum logo embossed on it.
Lurkers (Forum followers who never contribute)
These people will use your forum to find value in the topics.
However, they actually will never contribute themselves.
We just need to work out a way to convert the lurkers into regular members.
Create a 'Welcome' topic where people can introduce themselves.
It has been found that lurkers at times are little worried about their first post.
Encouraging them to say 'Hello' can do the trick.
Pose questions, start up debates, ask people what they think etc.
It often has the affect of inciting a first post from a lurker.
If you have a sports forum or community, think along the lines of 'The X team's performance was the worst today.'
Point news articles to the forums for further discussion.
Invite experts to participate in your forum.
Make an announcement on your forum about the expert guest to get people excited and ready to interact.
Finally, create an area that is only available to members with a certain number of posts.
Their curiosity will always get the better out of lurkers.
Discuss hot topics
No matter what your forum is about, there will always be hot topics that automatically generate conversation and debate.
Industry news, technological developments, and current events are all great topics.
Starting new topics about these 'hot topics' can create instant conversation.
Every party needs a host.
The forum administrator needs to be active and visible in the community.
People need to feel they have a way to address any problems they might have or any disagreements that spring up between members.
When activity slows down, and there will be slow periods, it's the administrator's job to stir up discussion and activity.
If you don't have time to spend on your forum, make sure you find someone that does and assign them as an administrator or category moderator.
Send out reminders
People often join a forum, participate for a few hours or days, get busy and then forget about their new-found forum.
Use the Email Users feature to send out a weekly or monthly newsletter with forum or site news, popular topics, new topics, or new contests.
Encourage active participation
The most active and passionate members are your forum's lifeblood.
Recruit and reward them immediately.
Highlight their contributions wherever possible, and ask for their help and feedback.
Show your appreciation by sending them a private message or offer them some type of reward.
Promote it everywhere you can
If you already have a website or blog, embedding the newest forum topics into your home page is a great way to entice your website visitors to join the discussion.
Additionally, encourage your website visitors to visit your forum by mentioning the forum address in order confirmations, email signatures, and throughout the website content.
If you have a company, encourage your customers to visit the forum on the company's promotional materials and any other place you can think of.
Mention the benefits of visiting and joining the forum, such as meeting like-minded people, discussing questions they may have, reading what others have to say about the same topics they are interested in, winning a contest/promotion, learning from experts who post on the forum, or reading content that is only available on the forum.
First, try to understand where your potential members are.
It is important to do your research in this area.
Determine if there are existing forums that covers the topics you offer.
If you have found another forum similar to yours, please do not be tempted to post a new thread saying, 'Come and visit my forum' or push a direct link of your forum on to that forum.
Your post will be viewed as a spam and most unwelcomed by the webmaster.
You may end up losing your account or being marked as a spammer.
Instead, invest your time to become part of the community and post meaningful posts that are valuable.
The first thing to do is make sure there is a link to your forum in your signature.
Now try and become the most respected and helpful member of that forum, give advice, help people, make suggestions and compliment others.
If you have a strong reputation within a community, people will be curious to click on the links in your signature.
Allow off-topic discussion
Create a separate forum for off-topic discussions where users can blow off steam, tell jokes, and talk about their other interests.
This will allow them to create friendships and unwind.
Your forum users should feel like they are part of a community with similar interests.
Listen and optimize
Listen to what your forum community says.
Perhaps even create a dedicated forum for "Forum Feedback" where people can talk about the forum and give their opinions.
Keep an eye on the highest-rated and most-viewed content.
Give them more of what they want by starting new topics related to the most popular content.
Putting time and effort into creating a busy forum can prove to be invaluable in the long-term.
Your forum is all about the content and active members, so post a lot of valuable content and contact your members on regular basis.
Essentially, quality conversions are what will keep your users coming back.
Promote your forum using the techniques described above.
Your goal should be for the community to take on a life of its own, where members bring in new members, write content, and moderate categories.
That's what happens when your members get engaged, it becomes their community.
If you have any questions, please contact us.