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Author Topic: How to build a successful forum  (Read 302832 times)

Offline Noddegamra

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How to build a successful forum
« on: August 23, 2007, 09:47:41 AM »
What works, and what doesn't

I've had a lot of experience in forums. Over the years I have created and moderated about 10. Yes, it's not a HUGE number, but forums take a lot of time and effort in order to build a successful member base.

I'm offering to help as much as I can. So here is a brief post to get you on the right track.




Paying for Posts
There are quite a few services out there that will offer to do 10 posts for $1 etc. Whilst this may look like a good 10-post-boost to your forum, it can really harm it.

People aren't dumb. When they start seeing about 20 people only making 10 posts then never returning they will notice somethings up. When they feel that members are bots or paid people they will most likely leave. Who the hell wants to get into discussions with "fakes"? Members want to have REAL discussions and get to know each other.

In my experience I have found that this can really hurt a forums reputation.




Adding your Link to Signatures in other Forums
A great one this. You can get people to know about your forum/site for free, simply by joining other forums and having your link in your forum/profile signature. An added bonus to this is that search engines like Google can see these links, and it will help boost you in search engine results.

However! Please be careful about this. I have seen people join up to forums and do a huge advertising spam post about their website in hope to get clicks. THIS DOES NOT WORK!
In actual fact, it ruins the reputation of your forum. It makes you look like a worthless, desperate spammer. Who wants to sign up to a forum run by someone like that? No one!

The best technique is to join other forums with a positive attitude. Have a link to your site in your sig, but try to make 10 or so really great posts each day or week (whenever you have the time to spare). If you get a great reputation on the forum, people will check out your link. If you are a really cool person, it is highly likely that someone will join your forum. People like to join up on sites run by really great people.




Make alternate profiles
One technique used when starting a forum brand new is to make about 10 profiles yourself and get posting. Whilst this can seem like a good boost it can look pretty bad. Each time you post, your personality leaks into it. People can quite easily tell if its the same person or not. It also requires a great amount of effort to have 20 or so conversations with yourself, trying to present different views and make it look good.

Instead, contact your friends. Ask them politely to sign up and help by making a few posts. Offer to get them a beer or something if they do, or just reward them with your kindness. Get them to tell their friends about your site too. Word of mouth is great for getting people to join your forum.

Also, if you are lucky enough. Get your friends to put a link to your forum on their websites (if they have one). you can also link back to them.



Competitions
Competitions can create a real buzz for your forum. There is one thing that is very improtant though which can either make this a great idea, or a very bad idea.

If you are going to have a great prize, you really need to have a great way to promote your event (competition). If people dont know about your forum and competition, then hardly anyone will participate. Put all you can into word of mouth, links etc. you can even try contacting other webmasters to see if they will help advertise the competition on thier sites, linking to yours!

One great competition I have found is to do it based on referrals. The member who gets the most of his friends to join up and get posting will win a prize. PayPal cash, eBay items, or coupons all work great. Be creative and see what you can come up with! :)





That's all for now. I will try to provide some more information later. See this more as PART 1, hehe. I really hope this helps some of you, at times it can be really difficult to think of how to improve your forum and get more members.

You may notice that the current forum I am working on only has just over 80 members. You may be thinking "how can this person be going on about how to be successful if he only has 80 members?". Well, like I said I have worked on more. Things change over time and I can still try to provide the most useful information I can think of. I really hope some of you find this useful and go on to make some great, successful forums.

Good luck everyone! :)


PS. I will try to add PART 2 asap. I'm quite a busy man recently. In the meantime, also try and check out my forum and see if there is anything you can learn from it. If you have any questions or comments, I will be more than happy to look at them, answer them, and guide you :)


LINK: noddegamra forum




(edit)
Part 2 is now here: http://www.simplemachines.org/community/index.php?topic=204741.0
« Last Edit: November 15, 2007, 04:25:38 AM by Noddegamra »

Offline K0H_K1u

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2007, 09:49:12 AM »
This is great, mods merge part 2 when done and sticky this please!

Offline Dragooon

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2007, 09:56:03 AM »
Nice ideas. Also try to get members which HAVE interest on your forums genre and try to make your forum a bit customized as being with default features is not always a good idea. Keep trying new things and see which affects most.

Offline Noddegamra

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2007, 10:00:31 AM »
Thanks for comments :)

+ good idea Dragooon. I will add a section about forum branding/uniqueness in PART 2  :)   

Offline Dragooon

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2007, 10:03:16 AM »
Also be careful while using some mods which can drag your members attention from posting like Arcade. I am not saying it is bad to have it, what I am saying is people can get distracted on only playing on arcade rather then posting. Try having it with some minimum posts required feature.

Offline Lilac

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2007, 05:34:55 AM »
Something that always disturbs me when I see a new forum is people making scores of empty forums for exceedingly specific topics that no one has an interest in posting in (least of all them) because no one has posted there.

New forums should be made when one topic overwhelms the general discussion, or is offending part of your membership (religion and politics, for example).  It takes a few minutes to move the relevant threads over, yes, but it's really no big deal.
Elliquiy Adult Role playing is a mature roleplaying community with some 500,000 posts in over 100 boards.

I don't know everything.  Please ask questions in the support forums instead of PMing me!

Offline Noddegamra

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2007, 07:19:46 AM »
I've recenlty added a 5 Free Online Marketing Tips guide to my blog which some of you may find useful. It suggests 5 free ways of promoting your forum/website :)

Offline Dragooon

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2007, 07:24:01 AM »
Why didnt you posted this before :(
My forum is going very good now :( Now I have no use of this guide ;'(
:P

Offline onlinecooking

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2007, 02:40:27 PM »
Man it is so refreshing to see some good advice on building a successful forum.  I've tried starting about 10 or so and I help moderate 2 or three, that was hard work.  But thank you for posting this, I think its time to go back a revist a few things.
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Offline Noddegamra

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2007, 07:29:45 AM »
Thanks, I'm glad some of you have found this post useful. I will post more stuff like this in the future :)

Offline Mother Goose

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2007, 10:09:19 PM »
This is perfect.. thank you!  We have gotten well establish now.. and ready to begin marketing. Your posts have been *very* helpful! 
   

Offline Neorics

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2007, 07:02:36 AM »
Paying for Posts
There are quite a few services out there that will offer to do 10 posts for $1 etc. Whilst this may look like a good 10-post-boost to your forum, it can really harm it.

Make alternate profiles
One technique used when starting a forum brand new is to make about 10 profiles yourself and get posting. Whilst this can seem like a good boost it can look pretty bad. Each time you post, your personality leaks into it. People can quite easily tell if its the same person or not. It also requires a great amount of effort to have 20 or so conversations with yourself, trying to present different views and make it look good.

i'm sorry but this tips is just sad... sorry i just got to say it... it's really sad... and i dont recommend doing any of those that i quoted...

"quality is better than quantity"

you'd want real people around the world with different time difference to log-in and be 'active' at different times so that your forum activeness is not concentrated in a period of time and if 'you' make up the 10 people who are active in your forum then the activeness of your forum is concentrated at 'your' online times...

also a forum with like 5000 members but has 10 active members and over 15000 posts is kind of a failure for a forum, it means that the registered members never check back after they got what they wanted and the post count is due to spam by the 10 active members plus the posts of the people you paid to post for 1$


i know you already mentioned on the bad sides when using those tips but i just wanna elaborate...
« Last Edit: September 15, 2007, 01:36:25 PM by Neorics »
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Offline Mys Videl

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2007, 08:30:15 PM »
You could simply be patient and always add new content to your site, offer your members helpful ideas and do things yourself for them instead of asking others to do things. That is how you get a truly successful forum, not by bribing people. We have a SMF forum with nearly 200K members and we have never paid a single member for anything. Our website depends on not only the community to contribute but the staff does things to contribute to the community, no money besides costs for server had been put in to getting us advertisement or anything of the such. We lasted for two years and now we are getting nearly 250 members a day without having to do anything at all.

Offline christicehurst

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2007, 05:49:06 AM »
I'm starting on a new forum myself and It might be hard to get this one going. My last forum is growing well at 21 000 posts.
www.brisbanelionsunited.com - A forum for everyone!

Offline charlesmentor

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2007, 02:02:59 AM »
hello guys, i am kind of confused here but all thesame i need somebody to reallly explain how i can build a forum site like hxxp:www.igoldforum.com [nonactive] or hxxp:www.nairaland.com [nonactive]. especially the lattter one, i need the info pls.my email is charlesdmentor@gmail.com.thanks
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Offline Mother Goose

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #15 on: September 23, 2007, 02:20:22 AM »
Charles..... your forum looks like it is going well!  What's the problem?
   

Offline K0H_K1u

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2007, 08:37:44 AM »
Charles..... your forum looks like it is going well!  What's the problem?

Read his post again.

Offline Oldiesmann

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2007, 08:44:35 PM »
Cleaned up the topic and stickied it. The other replies have been split off into a new topic which is now in the Chit Chat board. Try to keep things on topic this time :)

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2007, 12:38:29 PM »
Well then, let me take your advice and ask friends to join my forum! My site is [link removed], and since we are all in this SMF craziness together, for everyone who signs up on my forum I'll also sign up on yours. no money involved and you don't have to post if you don't want I guess, but atleast we can help each other out.

Make sure to PM me if you sign up though, so I know to sign up at yours.

removed link, please do not spam.  Links go in the showcase board
« Last Edit: September 29, 2007, 07:13:32 PM by metallica48423 »

Offline Mother Goose

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Re: How to build a successful forum
« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2007, 05:20:00 AM »
Well then, let me take your advice and ask friends to join my forum! My site is [link removed]
, and since we are all in this SMF craziness together, for everyone who signs up on my forum I'll also sign up on yours. no money involved and you don't have to post if you don't want I guess, but atleast we can help each other out.

Make sure to PM me if you sign up though, so I know to sign up at yours.

I like it Danny!! I have already been helping out at a couple of other forums... with out being asked to... I'll be at yours asap!


Edit: Your site won't let me register, I get a fatal error message.  :(
« Last Edit: September 29, 2007, 07:13:56 PM by metallica48423 »